The Texas Energy Report NewsClips Archives October 2017
NewsClips are in order from newest to oldest

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 31, 2017
Lead Stories

Wall St. Journal

October 30, 2017

Saudis Back More Supply Cuts in Support of Oil Prices

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday said he backs limiting crude-oil output beyond an agreement among big oil producers that currently extends through March 2018. The statement by Prince Mohammad, the next in line to the Saudi throne, is the strongest signal yet that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies like Russia will agree to continue curbing production at their next meeting on Nov. 30. Saudi Arabia is OPEC’s largest producer and most influential member. The OPEC cartel and a Russia-led group of non-OPEC producers are in the middle of an accord that cuts global oil output by almost 2% through March 2018.

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Platts

October 30, 2017

Watson, Weiser: Fines likely if ERCOT retirements result in blackouts

The North American Electric Reliability Corp levied $278,000 in penalties on Texas entities following the rolling blackouts imposed during the extreme cold snap of February 2011, but the consequences would likely be much heavier if another rolling blackout results from planned retirements. In early February 2011, extreme cold caused 210 generators in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to either derate, trip offline or fail to start, which prompted ERCOT to impose a controlled load shed of 4,000 MW, affecting about 3.2 million customers, according to the incident’s final report by the staff of NERC and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “NERC can and does impose monetary and non-monetary penalties in connection with violations of mandatory, enforceable Reliability Standards,” NERC spokesman Marty Coyne said in an email Friday. “Load shedding may or may not be the result of a violation of a Reliability Standard. Where it isn’t, no penalty would apply.”

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Bloomberg

October 30, 2017

Vistra’s Public LBO for Dynegy Says Everything About the Power Business

The central pillar of Vistra’s case, though, is synergies. At $350 million per year at the Ebitda level, or about 30 percent of Dynegy’s combined operations and maintenance costs and overhead, the target is about $50 to $100 million higher than what many expected. This alone, put on a multiple of 8 times, would be worth $2.8 billion, more than the entire equity check for Dynegy. And there are further claimed synergies in terms of more optimal financing and capital expenditure, worth an extra $65 million a year, after tax, and the tax shield provided by Dynegy’s carried losses.All in, Vistra values the synergies at about $3.9 billion in today’s money.

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KUT

October 30, 2017

Perry’s Plan Would Subsidize Coal And Nuclear Power – But It Wouldn’t Apply To Texas

This month, the typically free-market-minded Perry has pushed a policy that UC-Berkeley’s Severin Borenstein says may be the only viable way to save coal – and it looks like the administration agreed. The proposal would federally subsidize coal and nuclear power, and it’s a dramatic reversal from a man who had spent his political career extolling the virtues of market competition. … In Texas, there’s [a] catch: The subsidies wouldn’t apply here, because the group that regulates the Texas grid – the Electric Reliability Council of Texas – operates independently of FERC. “The thing with ERCOT is because its self-contained within Texas, it’s not under federal jurisdiction,” said Joshua Rhoades, a fellow at UT’s Energy Institute. “So any rule that FERC made that may prop up coal or nuclear plants would not apply here in Texas.”

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 31, 2017

Oil prices stable as OPEC-led supply cuts tighten market, but some caution remains

Oil prices were stable early on Tuesday, supported by a tightening market due to ongoing OPEC-led efforts to cut supplies, although the prospect of rising U.S. shale output dragged. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $60.78 per barrel at 0343 GMT. That was 12 cents below their last settlement, but still not far off the highest level since July 2015 reached earlier this week and up some 37 percent since their 2017-lows last June. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $54.05 a barrel, 10 cents below their last close. But that was still near their highest level since February and up around 28 percent since 2017-lows marked in June.

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Associated Press

October 30, 2017

AP Source: US Close to Settling Pollution Charges With Exxon

Federal officials are close to a settlement with Exxon Mobil Corp. over air pollution charges against the oil giant. That’s according to a person familiar with the matter. … The company based in Irving, Texas, has been sued by the government and environmental groups over fires at its refineries in recent years. It was not clear, however, if the settlement is related to refinery fires.

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Houston Chronicle

October 26, 2017

Struggling offshore sector shows glimmers of life

The long-struggling offshore energy sector is showing early signs of recovering, but corporate executives’ opinions of how far and how fast the recovery might proceed ranged from dour to optimistic during earnings calls Thursday. The world’s largest offshore services company, TechnipFMC, which reported a modest profit in the third quarter, expects the market to pick up next year with oil prices hovering above $50 a barrel. Houston-based Oceaneering International, however, eliminated its dividend payments to investors and warned of another tough year in 2018 as oil companies focus on their onshore holdings, which are far less costly and time-consuming than deep-water projects.

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Finance & Commerce

October 26, 2017

Property investors turn eyes from Houston to Salt Lake

Houston, battered by the oil slump and Hurricane Harvey, is taking yet another hit. The city is now 60th on a list of desirable U.S. markets for real estate investment, tumbling from the No. 1 spot it held just three years ago. Salt Lake City and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, cracked the top 10 for the first time in the annual ranking by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and the Urban Land Institute. Seattle topped the list, thanks to its job opportunities, diverse economy and young, educated workforce, the researchers said in a report today. … Houston, the No. 40 market last year, is seen as more energy-dependent than other Texas population centers, Mitch Roschelle, a PwC partner, said in an interview. “The sentiment from the real estate community was there didn’t seem like there was enough catalyst from the oil industry to really bring back Houston to its glory days.”

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Axios

October 27, 2017

Global oil companies invest in low-emission technologies

A group of global oil and gas companies is announcing a trio of investments in low-carbon technologies at a meeting today in London. Why it matters: Friday’s announcement marks some of the more concrete ways oil and natural gas companies are investing in technologies that could accelerate the transition away from traditional oil, natural gas and coal production. Behind the push: The group making the announcement is the Oil & Gas Climate Initiative, a group launched in 2014 of about 10 global oil and gas companies, including Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned company, BP and Royal Dutch Shell. No U.S.-based companies are in the group.

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Houston Chronicle

October 30, 2017

Higher oil prices could end post-Harvey slide in gasoline price

Houston area gasoline prices fell an average of 3 cents a gallon over the past, bucking at national trend that saw a slight increase, according to a survey by the website GasBuddy.com The average price of gallon of gasoline in Houston fell to $2.20 gallon, down nearly 20 cents from a month ago and 30 cents from the recent peak during Hurricane Harvey, which temporarily shut down about a quarter on the nation’s refining capacity. Gas prices, however, are about 19 cents higher than a year ago in the Houston area. Nationally, the average price rose just under a cent to $2.45 a gallon. The national average is running about 9 cents lower than a month ago, but 25 cents more than a year ago.

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New York Times

October 30, 2017

Russia Uses Its Oil Giant, Rosneft, as a Foreign Policy Tool

Russia is increasingly wielding oil as a geopolitical tool, spreading its influence around the world and challenging the interests of the United States. But Moscow risks running into trouble, as it lends money and makes deals in turbulent economies and shaky political climates. The strategy faces a crucial test this week in Venezuela, a Russian ally that must come up with a billion dollars to avert defaults on its debts. Russia has been making a flurry of loans and deals all centered on the Venezuelan oil business, money that could make the difference between the government’s collapse and its survival. In return, Moscow is getting a strategic advantage in Washington’s backyard.

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Bloomberg

October 27, 2017

Denning: Big Oil Goes From Walking Dead To Walking Wounded

The three big U.S. oil and gas companies have made a lot of progress in covering investment and dividends, restoring positive free cash flow. All three companies benefited from a stronger market; Brent crude, for example, averaged about an extra $5 a barrel in the third quarter compared with a year before. Virtually all the profit gains Exxon reported in its upstream and downstream divisions came down to better pricing.Of the three, though, it was actually the smallest, Conoco, that delivered a more convincing message overall.Production was one element. It seems almost churlish to complain about a company producing only 3.97 million or 2.72 million barrels of oil-equivalent a day.

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Nikkei

October 27, 2017

Rising US energy exports could prompt seismic shift in Asian market

Energy markets across Asia could be about to undergo a huge overhaul. Driven by the shale drilling revolution, U.S. exports of crude oil and liquefied natural gas are growing rapidly and likely to make significant inroads into the market share held by Middle Eastern producers. U.S. crude oil prices have been so low that new customers have even been found in India, while American LNG comes relatively free of restrictions — a big draw for major buyers like Japan. In early October, a supertanker docked at Paradip Port in eastern India carrying the first shipment of American crude oil purchased by the state-owned Indian Oil Corp.

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Alt Energy Stocks

October 27, 2017

How Energy Deregulation Affects States and Stocks

Regulation and deregulation are only two of many factors affecting renewable energy companies and stocks. But the two are worthwhile considerations because they impact the ease with which an energy provider can innovate and iterate. By understanding that reality, investors can make more informed decisions when selecting which company to back on the stock market. How is this information going to affect the future prospects of your renewable energy company? If a state is deregulating or changing renewable energy policies, how can you know which companies will be helped or hurt? If a company was a main utility provider in a state shifting to deregulation, it might expect to see a loss in its consumer base as it begins competing with other providers. However, in the same scenario, a company that has a good product, is run well, and is connected to its customer base will likely succeed and find that more competitive economic environment to be profitable.

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Utilities Stories

Reuters

October 30, 2017

Vistra to buy Dynegy in $1.7 billion Texas power producer deal

Vistra Energy Corp (VST.N) said on Monday it would buy Dynegy Inc (DYN.N) in an all-stock deal worth $1.74 billion, combining two Texas-based power producers in the latest merger in an industry dealing with shrinking profit margins. The combined company will be worth more than $20 billion, inclusive of debt, and have integrated power generating assets and retail businesses across six of the largest electricity markets in the United States. Debt-laden power producers such as Dynegy have seen their margins fall, as cheap natural gas from shale fields drives electricity prices lower, leading a handful of power companies to merge to cut costs and streamline operations.

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Dallas Morning News

October 30, 2017

Does Vistra-Dynegy merger give the Irving energy company too much power?

A year after emerging from bankruptcy, Texas’ largest power company is getting even bigger. Irving-based Vistra Energy, the new parent company for TXU Energy and Luminant, announced on Monday its merger with Houston-based Dynegy. The combined company, with a market capitalization of more than $10 billion, would serve about 2.9 million retail customers — about 2.7 million homes and 240,000 businesses. The deal has Texas consumer advocates looking cautiously at this massive new power company.

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Dallas Morning News

October 27, 2017

Texas could soon get more electricity from wind than coal

Vistra Energy recently announced that its Dallas-based subsidiary, Luminant, will close two large coal-fired power plants in Texas — Big Brown in Fairfield and Sandow in Rockdale. This announcement came exactly one week after Vistra announced it would close another coal plant, the Monticello near Mount Pleasant. The announcements are part of an accelerating trend in electricity generation capacity. Coal is dying off, at least in Texas, and there is not much that can, or should, be done about it. The retirement of coal-fired power plants is directly related to the low price of natural gas, a trend that began about 10 years ago and shows no signs of turning around. During that time, the amount of electricity generation in Texas from coal has been steadily falling, from about 40 percent in 2007 to less than 30 percent today.

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Dallas Morning News

October 27, 2017

Coal is fading as an energy source — but how fast will it go?

The slow decline of coal has started speeding up with the recent announcements by Luminant — Texas’ largest electricity generator — that it was closing three coal-?red plants. Coal has lost more than a quarter of its share of Texas’ electricity market since 2010, the last year it topped natural gas. The slide could continue based on current trends. Joshua Rhodes, a research fellow of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas, said that wind could pass coal by a large margin at the end of 2018.

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The Eagle

October 25, 2017

With power plant closing, Rockdale leaders say they’ll try to lure Amazon, other economic boosts

With the recent announcement that Luminant will close the Sandow Power Plant, officials in Rockdale hope to diversify their small town’s economy while also putting forth a proposal for Amazon’s second headquarters, the director of the Rockdale Municipal Development District said Tuesday. “When Alcoa closed, that obviously hit us pretty hard,” said director Kara Clore, referring to the 2008 plant shutdown, in which 900 workers were laid off. “We need to spread it out.”

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Courthouse News

October 27, 2017

Residents Go to Court Over Months-Long Texas Plant Fire

Thirty-one people say they suffered breathing problems and insomnia for more than two months as a smoldering fire at a wood-pellet shipping plant enveloped their southeast Texas neighborhood in smoke. Lead plaintiff Hilton Kelley filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Jefferson County District Court seeking more than $1 million in damages from German Pellets Texas LLC, Texas Pellets Inc. and Cotton Commercial USA. He is represented by Charles Irvine with Irvine & Conner in Houston. Sister companies Texas Pellets and German Pellets Texas own a solid-waste disposal and wood-pellet manufacturing plant in Woodville, Texas, and a five-silo pellet storage and shipping plant in Port Arthur, Texas. … Wood pellets are produced from bark, wood chips and sawdust left over from logging and plywood plant operations. Power-plant owners burn them to generate electricity, and they are used as a heating and cooking fuel by homeowners and businesses.

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Associated Press

October 30, 2017

Utilities warn that power could be out for days in Northeast

A storm packing hurricane-force wind gusts and soaking rain brought trees and power lines crashing down early Monday, knocking out power for nearly 1.5 million homes and businesses and forcing hundreds of schools to close in New England. Thousands of trees were toppled, some falling onto houses and cars. In New Hampshire, floodwaters swept away a house. In Maine, the state’s largest utility warned residents to be prepared to be without electricity for up to a week.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Austin American-Statesman

October 30, 2017

Bates: Renewable energy boom has brought Texas virtual gold rush

Texans prefer renewables. Renewables aren’t being forced on anyone today: They’re in growing use because consumers like their low cost, abundant availability, environmental friendliness and growing reliability. It’s not liberal or conservative. Note: 75 percent of Trump voters support taking action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy in the United States, a recent survey found. An overwhelming majority in the same survey say that it’s very important that their candidate share their opinions on energy issues. Eighty-five percent of Texans (including 81 percent of Republicans) believe Texas should develop its own comprehensive clean energy plan, regardless of the result of litigation over federal clean power rules.

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Wall St. Journal

October 29, 2017

LME Revs Up for Electric Cars With New Contracts for Battery Metals

Traders, start your engines. The London Metal Exchange said Monday that it is planning to launch futures contracts for battery metals as early as the start of 2019, the latest example of how the commodities market is hoping to capitalize on the push toward electric vehicles. The LME will “be working with the battery and electric-vehicle industries over the coming months to deliver new contracts such as lithium and cobalt sulfate to bring price risk management to this rapidly growing market,” the exchange’s CEO Matthew Chamberlain said in a statement. Cobalt and lithium are used in the batteries that power electric vehicles and their miners have long predicted a surge of interest on the back of the growth of this market.

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NBC News

October 27, 2017

St. Louis, Long a Coal Capital, Votes to Get All of Its Power From Clean Sources

St. Louis became the 47th American city to set a goal of getting all of its electricity from clean, noncarbon sources with a vote by local lawmakers Friday — a significant watershed given its long-standing ties to the fossil fuel industry. The unanimous vote by the Board of Aldermen commits the city to transition to solar, wind and other renewable energy sources by 2035. The city will assemble a group — made up of workers, environmentalists, business people, utility representatives and others — to draw up a plan by December 2018 for reaching the benchmark.

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Nonprofit Quarterly

October 27, 2017

Puerto Rico Experiments with Renewable Energy as It Rebuilds

The tried and true response for energy disruption caused by natural disasters has been the temporary use of diesel generators until the electrical power grid is restored. But new challenges more akin to collapse than disruption—like the now month-long virtual power shut down in Puerto Rico, which has only just begun—are creating the context for alternative solutions. One of these, coming from Elon Musk’s Tesla, places new focus on solar-plus-battery systems for small islands. … Nonprofits, like Resilient Power Puerto Rico, about which NPQ wrote earlier this week, are also providing alternative, clean energy in Puerto Rico. Another nonprofit, Empowered by Light, deploys solar-plus-battery microgrid systems in Puerto Rico. These are currently helping to power emergency centers and water purification.

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Yahoo! News

October 27, 2017

Wall Street loves electric cars, America loves trucks

Wall Street may love the shares of Silicon Valley electric carmaker Tesla Inc , but Americans love big, fuel-thirsty trucks like Ford Motor Co’s bestselling F-Series pickups and are paying ever higher prices to buy them. The auto industry is at a crossroads, with the future of legacy automakers like Ford, General Motors Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV uncertain as governments float proposals to ban internal combustion engines over the next two decades. But in the present, consumer enthusiasm for trucks and sport utility vehicles is strong, especially in the United States. And that is providing Ford, GM and other established automakers with billions in cash to mount a challenge to Tesla.

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Regulatory Stories

Texas Observer

October 30, 2017

How To Disappear a River

A former TCEQ official, who worked as a manager in the water quality division, told the Observer that the agency is very sensitive to political pressures and that the public interest “is very poorly represented” in the agency’s policymaking. “TCEQ works hard to make sure they do nothing,” said the former official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized by his current employer to speak to the media. “There’s good people who work hard to make sure nothing happens. It’s not uncommon for fairly detailed investigations to be completed and result in no change.”

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Wall St. Journal

October 30, 2017

FBI Is Probing Puerto Rico Power Contract

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating a decision by Puerto Rico’s power authority to award a $300 million contract to a tiny Montana energy firm to rebuild electrical infrastructure damaged in Hurricane Maria, according to people familiar with the matter. Agents from the FBI’s San Juan field office are looking into circumstances surrounding the deal that the public power monopoly known as Prepa signed with Whitefish Energy Holdings LLC, according to the people familiar with the matter. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló canceled the contract Sunday, saying it had become a distraction from the U.S. territory’s efforts to restore the devastated grid. Only 30% of the island’s power customers have had electricity restored.

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Associated Press

October 30, 2017

State Demands Gas Stations Pay up for Harvey Price Gouging

The state has formally notified 127 gas stations that they were guilty of price gouging during the Hurricane Harvey emergency. Ironically, a statement Monday from the Texas Attorney General’s Office says numerous violations involved gas stations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of North Texas, an area where the weather was virtually unaffected by the storm.

This article appeared in US News

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Washington Post

October 27, 2017

The Energy 202: Trump administration stuck between two GOP sides on ethanol

The Environmental Protection Agency, in its ambitious effort to roll back the previous administration’s energy and environmental policies, has had a significant stumble with Republicans lawmakers. On both sides of the ethanol debate. In a September filing, EPA chief Scott Pruitt signaled the agency was interested in altering the amount of a certain biofuel that needed to be blended into the nation’s transportation fuel supply. That angered lawmakers representing ethanol interests, including the powerful Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, who worried they might be next. So biofuel makers, who were preparing to meet the standards set by the Obama administration, came up with a plan.

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Associated Press

October 29, 2017

Report: Los Alamos Lab Comes up Short on Emergency Drills

A federal nuclear safety panel says Los Alamos National Laboratory has come up short during drills intended to show how the New Mexico lab would respond to potential emergencies such as radioactive leaks or earthquakes. A letter and lengthy report sent this month by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the board found numerous weaknesses dating back to 2014. While the board did not issue any final recommendations regarding the weaknesses, it detailed its findings in the report in hopes of helping the Energy Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration as the federal agencies address the lab’s issues.

This article appeared in US News

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Utility Dive

October 18, 2017

Brattle Group: Despite NOPR, Trump energy policies unlikely to boost coal

A new take on power markets, policy and the future of coal by The Brattle Group finds that President Trump’s actions to support fossil fuels are likely to disadvantage coal in the aggregate, as they will not curtail the competitiveness of natural gas. A set of policies that specifically benefited the coal sector could lead to an increase in coal production, but if the actions also benefit natural gas then coal production would likely decline by about 220 million tons in 2020.

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The Hill

October 30, 2017

Watchdog asks FEC to probe Zinke campaign accounts

A watchdog group is alleging an RV transaction conducted by Ryan Zinke’s congressional campaign could be illegal and has asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate the Interior secretary’s old campaign accounts. In a 20-page complaint filed Monday, the Campaign Legal Center said the FEC should consider whether Zinke violated campaign finance laws during his campaigns for Congress. The group pointed to the campaign’s April 2016 purchase of an RV from Zinke’s wife, totaling $59,100, and additional spending for repairs and upkeep. The campaign reported in June that it had sold a 2004 RV to a family friend for $25,000.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 30, 2017
Lead Stories

Reuters

October 30, 2017

U.S. oil exports boom, putting infrastructure to the test

Tankers carrying record levels of crude are leaving in droves from Texas and Louisiana ports, and more growth in the fledgling U.S. oil export market may before long test the limits of infrastructure like pipelines, dock space and ship traffic. U.S. crude exports have boomed since the decades-old ban was lifted less than two years ago, with shipments recently hitting a record of 2 million barrels a day. But shippers and traders fear the rising trend is not sustainable, and if limits are hit, it could pressure the price of U.S. oil. How much crude the United States can export is a mystery. Most terminal operators and companies will not disclose capacity, and federal agencies like the U.S. Energy Department do not track it. Still, oil export infrastructure will probably need further investment in coming years. Bottlenecks would hit not only storage and loading capacity, but also factors such as pipeline connectivity and shipping traffic.

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The Hill

October 29, 2017

Puerto Rican electric utility says it’s canceling deal with Whitefish

Puerto Rico’s state-run electric utility said Sunday that it has accepted the governor’s request to immediately cancel a $300 million contract with a small Montana-based energy firm amid mounting controversy over the deal, according to media reports. Ricardo Ramos, the island’s energy authority executive director, announced the decision during a press conference, according to ABC News. The decision followed another press conference on Sunday in which Gov. Ricardo Rosselló called for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to “immediately” cancel the deal.

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Bloomberg

October 27, 2017

Trump’s China Trip to Broker Billions of Dollars in Energy Deals

Representatives from about 40 companies are expected to accompany President Donald Trump on the first presidential trade mission to China Nov. 8-10 and sign deals for billions of dollars in U.S. investments. One of the biggest deals the Trump administration is currently negotiating is a multibillion-dollar energy investment from Chinese oil and gas giant China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. that would bring thousands of new jobs to hurricane-ravaged areas in Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Many of the deals, including the China Petroleum investment, are expected be in the form of nonbinding memorandums of understanding, not contracts.

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The Guardian (UK)

October 27, 2017

Subsidy plan for coal and nuclear plants ‘will cost US taxpayers $10.6bn a year’

A Trump administration plan to subsidize coal and nuclear energy would cost US taxpayers about $10.6bn a year and prop up some of the oldest and dirtiest power plants in the country, a new analysis has found. The Department of Energy has proposed that coal and nuclear plants be compensated not only for the electricity they produce but also for the reliability they provide to the grid. The new rule would provide payments to facilities that store fuel on-site for 90 days or more because they are “indispensable for our economic and national security”. Trump’s plan to bail out failing fossil fuels with taxpayer subsidies is perverse Read more Rick Perry, the energy secretary, said the subsidies were needed to avoid power outages “in times of supply stress such as recent natural disasters”.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 30, 2017

Oil markets firm on expected extension of production cuts

Oil markets were firm on Monday, with Brent crude opening above $60 per barrel on expectations an OPEC-led production cut due to expire next March would be extended. Brent crude oil futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $60.63 per barrel at 0018 GMT, up 19 cents or 0.3 percent from their last settlement. That’s close to their highest level since July 2015 and up more than 36 percent since their 2017 lows last June. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up by 16 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $54.06 a barrel.

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Minneapolis Star Tribune

October 27, 2017

US rig count declines by 4 this week to 909; Texas gains 5

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by four this week to 909. That’s up from the 557 rigs that were active a year ago. Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes said Friday that 737 rigs sought oil and 172 explored for natural gas this week. Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas gained five rigs and Oklahoma and Wyoming each increased by one.

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Financial Times

October 29, 2017

US oil floated on cheap money

How much has the US oil industry been inflated, crushed and generally distorted by the Federal Reserve’s monetary force-feeding over the past nine years? According to my probing along the stages of production and trading, the answer is “a lot”. Yes, there have been dramatic developments in hydrocarbon production technology, but those looked even better through the distorted lens of quantitative easing. Oil and gas pricing have now stabilised, in the sense of finding a finance-friendly range somewhere north of $50 per barrel. There have been lay-offs and bankruptcies, but fewer than in the oil bust of the 1980s. Manhattan and Oklahoma City were treated relatively well by quantitative easing. In many ways it is easier for cheap money to find its way into the energy business than into the rest of the US economy, thanks to the breadth, depth and long-dated terms offered by the futures markets.

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Dallas Morning News

October 29, 2017

How Exxon shut down refineries during Hurricane Harvey and still made a profit

Rising crude oil prices helped energy giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron beat Hurricane Harvey blues and report a 50 percent jump in profits during the July-September quarter. Irving-based Exxon, which temporarily shut down refineries and chemical plants along the Gulf Coast during the hurricane, beat Wall Street analyst expectations to report $3.97 billion in third-quarter profits, up from $2.65 billion during the same period last year. That more than covered the $160 million in damage and losses caused by Harvey. Darren Woods, Exxon’s chairman and CEO, said the quarter’s results represented “a step forward in our plan to grow profitably.”

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Wall St. Journal

October 27, 2017

Oil Giants’ Profits Soar, but Investors Aren’t Sold

Big oil is back in the black, but investors aren’t biting. Profits at many of the world’s largest energy companies soared in the third quarter, with Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM 0.29% and Chevron Corp. CVX -4.14% reporting increases Friday of 50%, and Total SA TOT 0.92% reporting a 40% improvement over the prior year. Their improved earnings rose at more than twice the rate of oil prices in the period. The top five Western oil companies, including Royal Dutch Shell RDS.B 0.51% PLC and BP BP 1.16% PLC, which report next week, are now on track to post the highest annual profits since crude plummeted three years ago and forced them to restructure for a prolonged era of lower prices. They have cut spending by more than $80 billion compared with 2013.

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Bloomberg

October 29, 2017

Tropical Storm Selma Hits El Salvador; Philippe Eyes Florida

Tropical Storm Selma made landfall on El Salvador’s coast Saturday with heavy rains and dangerous ocean swells, while Tropical Storm Philippe formed in the Caribbean and was expected to dump heavy rains across South Florida and the Keys after soaking Cuba. … Philippe, meanwhile, was moving toward the north at 29 mph (47 kph) and that motion was expected to continue followed by a turn toward the northeast early Sunday. The center of Philippe will move off the northern coast of Cuba and into the Straits of Florida Saturday, and move across the Florida Keys or the southern tip of the Florida peninsula overnight, according to the hurricane center. Philippe’s maximum sustained winds were near 40 mph (64 kph) with higher gusts. The storm was located 120 miles (195 kms) south southwest of the Florida Keys.

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All Africa

October 27, 2017

Fabricius: Mozambique’s First Islamist Attacks Shock the Region

Just when the ancient Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo)-Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) quarrel was showing some signs of being resolved, a new armed group has popped up from nowhere this month to launch several armed and deadly attacks in the north. These are believed to be the first Islamist attacks in Mozambique and have caused shock and bewilderment in the country and the region. … Further clashes were reported by independent sources during the night of 22 October at a village called Columbe, about 16 km south of an installation of Texas-based Anadarko Petroleum Corporation which is exploring for oil and natural gas there. The company is evacuating its personnel, the sources say.

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KUHF (Houston NPR)

October 23, 2017

West Texas Refinery Set to Break Ground in November

The nation’s first new oil refinery in decades could be coming to West Texas. It’s a plan to cash in on growing oil production, but some doubt it will actually happen. Jack Hanks is the man behind the plan. He’s CEO of MMEX Resources, at an empty patch of desert near Fort Stockton, Texas, where Hanks plans to build a 10,000 barrels-a-day refinery. He noted an old railroad is nearby. “Primarily, we’re interested in exporting refined products to western Mexico, or around on the railroad back to the Texas Gulf areas,” Hanks said. He has the land and a permit from state regulators, but this, he said would just be a first phase of the project.

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Houston Chronicle

October 27, 2017

Huntsman to go at it alone after $15B merger collapses

After a dramatic fight with activist investors that led to the scuttling Friday of a $15 billion chemicals mega merger, The Woodlands’ Huntsman Corp. is now preparing for a much more methodical drive to reduce debt and increase its value. It’s just not as sexy when your primary stated goal as a company is to earn an investment grade bond rating from ratings agencies after slicing off enough debt. The combined HuntsmanClariant may never come to fruition, but CEO Peter Huntsman said he still feels great about the company his father founded continuing to thrive as a standalone specialty chemicals giant.

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Houston Chronicle

October 27, 2017

After 10 years and bankruptcy filing, LyondellBasell leading Gulf petrochemical boom

Ten years ago, Lyondell Chemical was targeted by a Soviet-born billionaire willing to vastly overpay for it as he sought to create a global petrochemical giant by merging the Houston chemical maker with his own company in Europe. The $13 billion deal left the combined company, LyondellBasell Industries, burdened with debt just as a worsening U.S. financial crisis plunged the global economy into a deep recession. Bankruptcy followed in 2009. Plants closed, thousands of workers lost jobs and shareholders were all but wiped out, prompting plenty of outrage and lawsuits. To put it mildly, said Hassan Ahmed, a chemical industry analyst, “It didn’t seem like the best deal.” Fast-forward to today, and LyondellBasell, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2010, is growing rapidly, spending billions to expand its production along the Gulf Coast and its markets around the world.

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New York Times

October 29, 2017

How a 672,000-Gallon Oil Spill Was Nearly Invisible

Mention oil spills, and images of birds coated in black slime and a shiny slick on the ocean’s surface come to mind. But not all oil spills are the same. About 672,000 gallons of oil spilled when a pipeline fractured about a mile below the ocean’s surface this month in the Gulf of Mexico southeast of Venice, La., which is about 65 miles south of New Orleans. Hardly any of it was visible. “The thing that sort of confused people about this one is that we weren’t seeing any oil,” Lt. Cmdr. Steven Youde of the Coast Guard said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

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Utilities Stories

KXAS

October 24, 2017

Denton May Move Up Goal for Renewable Energy

If it follows the advice of consultants, Denton City Council could move up its goal of 100 percent renewable energy in the city to the year 2020. The board meets Tuesday morning. Two years ago, Denton said it would reach a goal of receiving 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, such as solar and wind power, by 2035. That won’t mean an influx of solar panels and wind turbines dotting Denton’s landscape — the city’s municipal electric company purchases the power, which is generated outside Denton County.

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Denton Record-Chronicle

October 27, 2017

New general manager named for Denton Municipal Electric

Denton City Manager Todd Hileman chose George Morrow as the new general manager for Denton Municipal Electric. Morrow is expected to begin his position late next month. His annual salary is $210,000 with an additional $6,000 per year for a car allowance. Morrow previously served as the director of utilities for the city of Azusa, California. Azusa, population 50,000, is an eastern suburb of Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Mountains. Most of Morrow’s 39 years in electric utilities have been in the not-for-profit sector. He earned both his Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas at El Paso.

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Bloomberg

October 26, 2017

A Mexican Standoff for Texas’ Power Producers

Texas takes pride in its spirit of self-reliance. That could make all the difference in the state’s power market.Texas is one of the few big electricity markets in the U.S. where demand is growing. It also happens to host the prolific Permian shale basin and a border with Mexico. For power producers, the interplay between these factors matters a great deal.Despite decent demand, power prices in Texas have been weighed down by a confluence of things. Excess generating capacity — including higher levels of wind power, which has no fuel cost and so runs cheap — has been a big factor.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

KTSM El Paso

October 26, 2017

El Paso receives national recognition for solar energy

Wednesday morning the City of El Paso received a national “Solsmart” designation for being a community that makes it easier for residents and businesses to switch to alternate energy. The Solsmart program is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and given to few cities across the country. El Paso is just one of five Texas cities to receive the award. Also El Paso is just one of two in Texas to be awarded the highest level, a “Gold” designation. El Paso City Manager Tommy Gonzalez says the city has issued more than 1,100 solar permits leading to 2,200 solar panels across the city. Gonzalez says the City has more than 200 watts worth of solar panels at city buildings and plans to add more soon.

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CBS News

October 27, 2017

Where clean energy jobs are growing the fastest

As the federal government changes policies to prop up the coal industry at the expense of renewable energy, it’s facing increasing headwinds from market forces. Recently released data from the Bureau of Labor statistics shows that jobs in solar and wind are projected to grow fastest over the coming decade. Employment for solar installers and wind turbine technicians is expected to roughly double, figures show. More surprising is where those jobs — and markets — are focused. Disproportionately, they are in red states, including those that voted for Donald Trump in last year’s presidential election. Even as the Trump administration moves to dismantle incentives that were previously given to clean-energy projects, states in the Midwest and the South are moving ahead with large-scale clean-energy projects.

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Green Tech Media

October 25, 2017

Get Ready for Energy Storage Combinations We’ve Never Seen Before

Battery storage is breaking into an ever longer list of grid-scale configurations, as new business cases arise. Every major solar developer has begun at least contemplating storage paired with solar, even if few large projects have yet been built. GE has already paired batteries with its gas generators for fast-ramping grid services; it expects the setup to prolong the life of the gas asset. Last week the roster of possibilities expanded when two companies announced new storage plant combinations: batteries with solar and wind power to provide consistent electricity in Australia, and a hydropower plant-plus-storage to tap the challenging PJM frequency regulation market.

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Seeking Alpha

October 27, 2017

Total’s renewables business posts 49% earnings decline in Q3

Total (TOT +1.1%), which has moved more aggressively than many of its peers into renewables and is majority owner of solar panel maker SunPower, posted a steep Q3 decline in its renewables and power business amid a depressed market for solar panels. TOT says its new gas, renewables and power segment posted a 49% Y/Y decline in Q3 earnings, making the division the company’s worst performing business unit in the period, and made even more stark because results last year were aided by the sale of a solar farm stake.

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Regulatory Stories

Forbes

October 27, 2017

Taylor: DOE Should Include Natural Gas in ‘Baseload’ Power Designation

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has wisely proposed a rule that would factor in on-demand reliability in wholesale electricity prices. The rule will enhance grid reliability and mitigate some of the costs unfairly imposed by intermittent wind and solar power on baseload power sources. The DOE, however, erred in failing to include natural gas as a designated baseload power source. Natural gas is an on-demand power source with similar reliability as coal and nuclear power. In a letter announcing the proposed rule, Energy Secretary Rick Perry emphasized that a diverse mix of reliable, resilient power sources is necessary to “withstand major fuel supply disruptions caused by natural and man-made disasters.” Perry observed it is important to have a grid resilient enough to “keep the lights on for all Americans in times of crisis.” He added that this goal is being “threatened by the premature retirements of these fuel-secure traditional baseload resources.”

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Texas Tribune

October 27, 2017

Hey, Texplainer: Did the Railroad Commission chairwoman fire its executive director?

Hey, Texplainer: Did the chairwoman of the Texas Railroad Commission terminate the agency’s executive director? In a meeting last month, Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton and the board’s chairwoman, Christi Craddick, sparred over the fate of the agency’s executive director, Kimberly Corley, a spat that spurred questions about decision-making and transparency within the state agency. Tensions came to a head after Craddick revealed she had met with Corley, the agency’s general counsel and a human resources manager to discuss Corley’s job performance and then said Corley could either resign privately or be fired publicly; Corley opted to resign. … The bottom line: While Craddick may not have formally fired Corley, her conversation with the former executive director effectively constituted an ultimatum. Experts say she should’ve held a formal meeting with all three commissioners rather than meeting one-on-one.

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Wall St. Journal

October 29, 2017

WSJ: How to Kill American Solar

The solar power industry doesn’t like our opposition to solar power subsidies, but these days we’re on its side. We’re among the few opposing tariffs on foreign solar panels that could severely damage American solar power. The International Trade Commission in September ruled in favor of two financially troubled U.S. solar-panel makers—Suniva and Solar World—that claim they’ve been injured by imports. This week the ITC will issue its “remedy recommendations” for President Trump, but nothing in the law says it must recommend tariffs on the most basic components of solar power. Suniva and Solar World want a 25-cent per-watt tariff on imported photovoltaic cells and a 32-cent per watt tariff on modules.

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San Antonio Express-News

October 26, 2017

Backed by private capital, company plans heavy pumping in Trinity Aquifer

A local company’s plan to pump more water from the sensitive Trinity Aquifer to supply fast-growing northern Bexar and southern Comal counties is raising concerns after a New York private equity firm announced its financial support. Brightstar Capital Partners said earlier this month it had chosen Texas Water Supply Co. LLC, or TWS, as its second “platform investment” in Texas. A website for Texas Water Supply Co. states it controls nearly 40 Trinity wells in two clusters — one just south of Camp Bullis and another scattered across northern Bexar County. State records show Texas Water Supply Co. was formed Sept. 11 this year and is controlled by Harold “Trip” duPerier III, a real estate broker known as “the Texas Landman,” and Dean Davenport with Water Exploration Co., Ltd., or WECo, now selling water to the San Antonio Water System.

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Associated Press

October 29, 2017

Trump administration disavows Puerto Rico power contract

The Trump administration scrambled Friday to distance itself from the decision to award a $300 million contract to help restore Puerto Rico’s power grid to a tiny Montana company from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown. The White House said federal officials played no role in the selection of Whitefish Energy Holdings by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. The administration disavowed the contract amid a growing number of investigations and a bipartisan chorus of criticism from Capitol Hill.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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Platts

October 26, 2017

Refining-state senators push back on US biofuel mandate after farm states claim victory

A group of nine Republican US senators from oil-refining states Thursday urged the Trump administration to reconsider broad promises it made last week to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard at the urging of farm-state senators and the biofuel industry. Thursday’s letter asks President Donald Trump to consider the economic harm being done to independent refiners that say the costs to comply with the US biofuel mandate threaten jobs. “Philadelphia Energy Solutions faces ever-increasing RIN prices and last year was forced to lay off 70 workers,” the senators said, referring to Renewable Identification Numbers, or RINs, the credits refiners use to demonstrate compliance with the RFS.

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The Hill

October 26, 2017

Trump nominates mining engineer to be top federal coal mine regulator

President Trump has nominated a coal industry advocate and engineer to be the nation’s top mining regulator. The White House on Thursday announced the nomination of J. Steven Gardner, the president of engineering firm ECSI, LLC, to be the director of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM). The office is the Interior Department’s top regulator of the coal mining industry. Gardner has been at ESCI, a Lexington, Ky.-based firm, since 1983 and was a frequent critic of environmental rules during the Obama administration, including those from the OSM.

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The Hill

October 26, 2017

GOP senators ask Trump for meeting on biofuels mandate

A group of Republican senators has asked to meet with President Trump to discuss the federal biofuels mandate. Nine senators sent Trump a letter on Wednesday warning him that if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “does not make adjustments or reforms on matters related to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), it will result in a loss of jobs around the country, particularly in our states.” The letter, obtained by The Hill on Thursday, is from GOP senators from oil- and refining-heavy states: Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), James Inhofe (Okla.), John Cornyn (Texas), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Mike Lee (Utah), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), John Barrasso (Wyo.) and James Lankford (Okla.).

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The Hill

October 27, 2017

Trump environmental pick once said Texas would be ‘better off’ as an independent republic

President Trump’s nominee to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality once said that Texas would be “better off” as an independent republic, CNN reported Thursday. Kathleen Hartnett White, whom Trump nominated to the post earlier this month, penned a 1995 essay for the 150th anniversary of Texas statehood. In it, Hartnett White wrote that the state would be “better off” if it were free from federal regulations, including environmental ones.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 27, 2017
Lead Stories

CNBC

October 26, 2017

Oil and gas megadeals taper off as US shale drillers target smaller land deals

 

American oil and gas producers and investors are still striking a lot of deals, but they’re now focusing on smaller mergers and acquisitions, extending a trend that began in the first half of 2017, a new report says. The pattern in dealmaking shows that oil and gas drillers are now focused on getting better results from their wells, following a period of giant deals to acquire land and rival companies. That earlier wave of megadeals came as producers bought up acreage in prime locations in order to drive down costs during a prolonged oil price slump.

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Wall St. Journal

October 26, 2017

Texas Regulators Are Wary of Sempra’s Deal to Buy Oncor

 

Sempra Energy Inc.’s proposed $9.45 billion takeover of Oncor, a Texas electricity transmission business, is drawing skepticism from a regulator who was a key critic of two earlier suitors whose offers were killed by the state. Commissioner Ken Anderson of the Public Utility Commission of Texas is worried about the debt Sempra plans to take on to finance the buyout, and the risks posed by the California suitor’s other projects. Sempra needs a “yes” from the commission to go through with the deal, which grows out of the long-running bankruptcy of Oncor’s parent company, Energy Future Holdings Corp., formerly known as TXU Corp.

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Buzzfeed

October 24, 2017

How A Two-Person Montana Company Ended Up With The Biggest Energy Contract In Puerto Rico

 

Ten miles south of Whitefish, Montana, a paved road turns into gravel, before turning into forest. On one side, there’s a small horse farm. On the other, signs read “Private Property” and suggest the area is being patrolled in order to prevent poaching. At the end of a long private drive lined with towering pines, an RV is parked on the grass in front of a log and stone cabin. This is the home of Whitefish Energy, a tiny company that has been awarded a contract valued at $300 million — the biggest to date — to restore power in Puerto Rico, where an estimated 76% of the island is still without electricity four weeks after Hurricane Maria. This choice puzzled many, including members of the House Committee on Natural Resources, which, according to the Washington Post, is now looking into the deal, and the governor of Puerto Rico, who just called for an audit of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s energy contracts. … What’s more, Joe Colonnetta, the head of one of Whitefish Energy’s major funding sources, Dallas-based HBC Investments, has made significant donations to Trump’s election campaign and PACs supporting Trump’s election. Colonnetta also contributed to the campaigns of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, as well as then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who later appointed Colonnetta to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, which has been embroiled in controversy surrounding allegations of cronyism on the part of Perry donors turned trustees.

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Phys Org

October 23, 2017

Transparent solar technology represents ‘wave of the future’

 

See-through solar materials that can be applied to windows represent a massive source of untapped energy and could harvest as much power as bigger, bulkier rooftop solar units, scientists report today in Nature Energy. Led by engineering researchers at Michigan State University, the authors argue that widespread use of such highly transparent solar applications, together with the rooftop units, could nearly meet U.S. electricity demand and drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels. “Highly transparent solar cells represent the wave of the future for new solar applications,” said Richard Lunt, the Johansen Crosby Endowed Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at MSU. “We analyzed their potential and show that by harvesting only invisible light, these devices can provide a similar electricity-generation potential as rooftop solar while providing additional functionality to enhance the efficiency of buildings, automobiles and mobile electronics.”

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 27, 2017

Oil prices edge up amid Saudi support for extended supply cut

Oil prices inched up in early Asian trading on Friday, with Brent continuing to hover near its highest in 27 months, buoyed by comments from Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince backing the extension of OPEC-led output cuts. International benchmark Brent crude futures were up 9 cents at $59.39 a barrel at 0046 GMT, or 0.15 percent, from their last close, the highest close since July 3, 2015. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 4 cents, or 0.08 percent, at $52.68 per barrel.

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Wall St. Journal

October 25, 2017

Saudi Arabia, Russia Want Oil Output Limits Through 2018

Top oil producers Saudi Arabia and Russia want to extend their agreement to limit petroleum production until the end of 2018 in their continuing effort to cut the global oil oversupply, people familiar with the matter said. The pact between Saudi Arabia and Russia—the world’s two largest crude producers and exporters—provides momentum for advocates of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries continuing to withhold oil supplies to boost crude prices. The OPEC cartel, led by Saudi Arabia, and a Russia-led group of non-OPEC producers are in the middle of an accord that cuts global oil output by almost 2% through March 2018.

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New York Times

October 25, 2017

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Plan to Move Beyond Oil: Big Goals, Bigger Hurdles

audi Arabia is throwing an economic coming-out party of sorts this week, hawking its efforts to liberalize its conservative society and diversify its economy in a sweeping overhaul of the way the wealthy Arab kingdom has long operated. In a glittering conference center in Riyadh, slick videos promised a gleaming, $500 billion city of the future, powered by solar energy and run by robots. The crown prince lauded a “moderate Islam” that embraces the world. And members of the global business elite attended standing-room-only sessions on sustainable energy and the future of urbanization. The message to bankers, businesspeople and high-rolling investors was clear: The once-insular kingdom is now open for business.

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Dallas Morning News

October 26, 2017

DMN: Abbott, lawmakers’ support for real-time earthquake map pays off

Texas officials have been painfully slow in acknowledging what scientists keep confirming: North Texas, like the rest of the state, is experiencing far more earthquakes because of the state’s heavy fracking activity and the way wastewater is disposed of in the process. But a bright spot? Texas’ decision in the past two legislative sessions to fund a new project to keep track of all that shaking. A new website operated by the University of Texas at Austin’s Bureau of Economic Geology provides the most precise near-real time info about quakes in Texas. That’s smart. We won’t ever figure out how to avoid quakes until we have a better handle on what’s happening and where.

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Houston Chronicle

October 26, 2017

BP Midstream goes public below expectations

BP’s new Houston-based pipeline spinoff, BP Midstream Partners, commenced public trading on Thursday below its pricing expectations. BP started trading at $18 per unit on the New York Stock Exchange, which is below the $19 to $21 range BP provided less than two weeks ago. The initial public offering is putting 42.5 million common units up for sale, meaning the IPO could generate $765 million. British Big Oil giant BP will maintain more than a 53 percent ownership stake in the new spinoff. The goals are to raise more money, attract new investors, and boost the value to its pipeline assets.

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Houston Chronicle

October 26, 2017

C&J Energy buys Midland’s O-Tex Pumping

Houston’s C&J Energy Services said it’s buying West Texas’ O-Tex Pumping cementing business for almost $245 million from the Houston-based private equity firm White Deer Energy. C&J, which emerged from bankruptcy early this year, is aiming to grow and boost its presence in the active Permian Basin. The company said O-Tex is the second-largest cementing business in West Texas. “This transaction meets our criteria for strategic growth in that it expands the scale, geographic reach, and customer base of a core service line, notably at a time when our existing cementing assets are operating at full capacity,” said C&J CEO John Gawick.

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San Antonio Express-News

October 26, 2017

Valero Corp.’s profits surge 37 percent on higher post-Harvey gas prices

Valero Energy Corp.’s profits surged 37 percent during the third quarter to $841 million as refinery disruptions during Hurricane Harvey pushed the profit margins higher. The San Antonio-based company earned $1.91 a share during the three months ended Sept. 30, beating Wall Street expectations of $1.83 a share. The company made $571 million, or $1.33 a share, in the third quarter 2016. The storm, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi on Aug. 25, shuttered five of Valero’s refineries. In all, about a fifth of U.S. refining capacity was knocked offline as Harvey swept across the Gulf Coast region.

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Forbes

October 26, 2017

Lynch: Financial Indicators Suggest Oil Market Is Close To Being In Balance

There are so many opinions on the date of oil market “rebalancing”쳌 that it is hard to remember that “balanced”쳌 is a very fuzzy concept. Does it mean production matches consumption, i.e., no change in inventories? Inventories that have reached the same level as the five-year average? In barrels or days of consumption? Days of recent consumption or expected future consumption? Which ignores the fact that the majority of inventories are not even measured or reported in a reliable way, since OECD consumption dropped below half of global consumption in 2013, and most non-OECD countries do not report inventory levels.

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Houston Chronicle

October 25, 2017

U.S. gasoline inventories drop sharply

Gasoline stocks in the United States fell by 5.5 million barrels last week as inventories of other petroleum products fell, lifting oil prices. All told, total petroleum inventories dropped by 12.2 million barrels, the Energy Department said Wednesday. The amount of crude in U.S. storage tanks increased by almost 900,000 barrels last week, a small build.

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IEEE Spectrum

October 26, 2017

Gulf Coast Refinery Runs Are Approaching Levels Seen Prior to Hurricane Harvey

For the week ending October 20, 2017, gross inputs to petroleum refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast averaged 8.8 million barrels per day (b/d), or about 324,000 b/d higher than the previous five-year range for mid-October, based on data in EIA’s Weekly Petroleum Status Report (WPSR). Gross inputs, also referred to as refinery runs, in the Gulf Coast had been higher than the five-year range for much of 2017 until Hurricane Harvey made landfall in the Houston, Texas, area on August 25. A little more than half of all U.S. refinery capacity is located in the U.S. Gulf Coast region (defined as Petroleum Administration for Defense District 3). Texas, where Harvey made landfall, represents 31% of all U.S. refinery capacity according to data from January 2017. Gulf Coast refineries supply petroleum products to domestic markets in the Gulf Coast, East Coast, and Midwest, as well as to international markets.

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Natural Gas Intelligence

October 26, 2017

Doing “More for Less,” ConocoPhillips Slashes 2017 Capex 10%

ConocoPhillips 3Q2017 earnings were up for a second consecutive quarter, even as production declined, according to the Houston-based independent, which said Thursday it has cut its 2017 capital expenditures (capex) budget by 10%. “We continue to do more for less,” said Executive Vice President (EVP) Alan Hirshberg, who handles production, drilling and projects. He spoke during a conference call with analysts. “Despite this capex reduction, we expect to exceed our original production guidance. This year, we now expect to deliver 3% underlying production growth, and that’s 17% on a debt-adjusted share basis.”

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Bloomberg

October 22, 2017

How Saudi Arabia Is Building Its $2 Trillion Fund

audi Arabia is stepping up plans to turn its sovereign wealth fund into a global giant. The Public Investment Fund is central to the government’s effort to diversify the economy away from oil, under a plan known as Vision 2030. The fund, which plans to control more than $2 trillion by 2030, hosted the titans of investing and finance this week at a summit where the likes of BlackRock Inc. chief Larry Fink and SoftBank Group Corp. Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son mingled with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the head of the sovereign fund.

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Reuters

October 26, 2017

LNG sellers lay out new strategies for wooing buyers in crowded market

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) sellers have new strategies to woo Asian buyers in a market that is set to be flooded with more supply, according to statements from industry executives this week at a conference. Producers of LNG, which is natural gas chilled to liquid for easier transportation, are drawing customers with shorter term contracts, by removing restrictions that limit where cargoes can be re-sold and by providing equity in terminals. “It’s time for us to see more collaboration between buyers and sellers so they are not fighting with each other but can be friends,” Masakazu Toyoda, chairman and chief executive of the government-associated Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ), said on Monday.

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Bloomberg

October 24, 2017

Hess Is Building a War Chest to Fund Its $4.4 Billion Guyana Find

With $2.7 billion in oilfield sales this week, Hess Corp. is making a calculated bet, giving up steady production today to help fund what could be one of the world’s biggest discoveries into the next decade. The oil explorer with operations on five continents said Tuesday that it’s selling North Sea assets off of Norway for $2 billion and seeking a buyer for wells off of Denmark. The news came a day after Hess sold drilling rights in offshore Equatorial Guinea for $650 million. Counting a June deal to sell properties in Texas, the New York-based company has sold off almost $3.3 billion in assets this year. With the makeover, Hess is building a war chest to help develop a discovery off the coast of Guyana in South America that may hold the equivalent of 2.5 billion barrels of oil, according to company estimates.

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Vanity Fair

October 26, 2017

Cohan: The investigation that Rex Tillerson doesn’t want you to know about

In his short tenure as the state’s attorney general, Schneiderman has pursued a series of ambitious cases, including his prosecution of FanDuel and DraftKings for running an illegal gambling operation in New York state and, of course, his $40 million suit against Trump University. (Both cases were settled. In the Trump University case, soon after his election, Trump paid $25 million.) Schneiderman also played a central role in what became the financial settlements with Wall Street’s biggest banks after they helped to exacerbate the 2008 financial crisis. His investigation into ExxonMobil, however, is by far his most ambitious crusade. If he decides to start the litigation, it would be on par with previous investigations into the tobacco industry, which resulted in a settlement of around $250 billion, and former New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s inquest into how Wall Street investment bankers and research analysts misled investors during the first Internet bubble.

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Utilities Stories

Austin American-Statesman

October 26, 2017

Pedernales Electric hires first-ever female CEO

Pedernales Electric Cooperative has hired Julie Parsley, an Austin attorney and former member of the Texas Public Utility Commission, as its new chief executive. She is the first female CEO in the cooperative’s history. “I am honored to be named as CEO of Pedernales, which is not only the largest distribution electric cooperative in the country, but in my opinion, also the best,” said Parsley, who had been working as a partner at the law firm Parsley Coffin Renner, which specializes in utility regulations.

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Bloomberg

October 26, 2017

NRG CEO Likes Perry’s Push for Power Reform—Just Not His Plan

The chief of America’s largest independent power producer really likes Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s push to overhaul the nation’s power markets. He’s just not a fan of his plan to fix them. Specifically rewarding nuclear and coal-fired power plants, as Perry’s plan would do, isn’t the answer to ensuring a reliable U.S. power mix, NRG Energy Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mauricio Gutierrez said in an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. What regulators need to do is define what makes a power plant “resilient,” he said, and then perhaps create a fuel-neutral, “resiliency market” in which all resources can compete to keep the lights on.

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Dallas Morning News

October 26, 2017

Rick Perry’s power grid plan gets pushback from Texas energy companies like Exxon

Irving-based Exxon Mobil Corp. predicts it will “unravel the competitive market structure.” Houston-based NRG Energy says it could “needlessly cost consumers billions.” Kinder Morgan in Houston calls it “unsubstantiated,” “wholly inadequate” and “legally infirm.” Not exactly a warm Texas welcome this week for Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s contentious plan to overhaul America’s power grid. Perry, the former Texas governor, has rattled the energy industry by asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to consider new rules that would boost the struggling coal and nuclear power industries by giving them extra compensation for the fuel they store on site.

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IEEE Spectrum

October 26, 2017

Mexico Border Wall Won’t Stop Cross-border Power Push

Relations between the United States and Mexico are strained at the national level, with President Donald Trump pushing his promised border control wall and demanding a U.S.-favored rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). But Mexico and the southwestern states have continued working towards an international agenda for electricity, and regional players are talking up a first set of projects due to be completed before Trump’s term is up — projects that put the region on a path to a far more electrically-porous border. These projects include a trio of new crossborder links between California, Arizona and Mexico to be completed in the next three years. They also include grid studies, revised market rules, and new power lines within Mexico that could rapidly expand flows over all of the U.S.-Mexico interties.

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Associated Press

October 25, 2017

Ex-colonel to oversee Puerto Rico’s troubled electric power authority

A former military officer was appointed Wednesday to oversee reconstruction of Puerto Rico’s flattened electrical grid and operations of the island’s troubled power company amid growing concerns over a $300 million contract awarded to a small Montana company to help repair the damage from Hurricane Maria. A federal control board that oversees Puerto Rico’s finances said retired Air Force Col. Noel Zamot will be responsible for speeding up reconstruction efforts and overseeing coordination with the board, Puerto Rico’s government and the federal government. The announcement comes as 75 percent of the U.S. territory remains without power more than a month after it was hit by the Category 4 storm.

This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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EcoWatch

October 26, 2017

World’s Biggest Coal Company’s Bankruptcy Protects It From Climate Lawsuit, Judge Rules

Peabody Energy is not responsible for climate impacts incurred before its 2016 bankruptcy filing, a judge ruled this week. The world’s largest private coal company is one of 37 fossil fuel companies being sued by three municipalities in California for damages due to climate change caused by burning fossil fuels and for conducting a “coordinated, multi-front effort” to discredit climate science. St. Louis Judge Barry Schermer, who presided over the bankruptcy, ruled that the counties missed the deadline to file claims during Peabody’s Chapter 11 filing last year and that language around environmental exceptions in Peabody’s bankruptcy plan do not apply to the California suit. The coal giant, which lost $2 billion in 2015, posted a quarterly profit of $200 million this week, six months after emerging from bankruptcy.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Futurism

October 23, 2017

Stanford’s Ultra-Cheap Batteries Are Ushering in a New Age in Energy

Researchers from Stanford University have developed cheap batteries as an alternative to expensive lithium-ion batteries that could better help us prepare for our renewable energy future. The group was able to create a sodium-based battery that can store the same amount of energy as a lithium-based battery at less than 80% of the cost. Other researchers have created sodium-based batteries in the past, but this new approach may be more cost-effective. “Nothing may ever surpass lithium in performance,” said chemical engineer Zhenan Bao “But lithium is so rare and costly that we need to develop high-performance but low-cost batteries based on abundant elements like sodium.”

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Electrek

October 23, 2017

First look at working prototypes of Sono Motors’ solar and battery-powered electric car

Considering the reputation of crowdfunding and also the state of the EV startup scene, which hasn’t delivered in a while, it’s pleasantly surprising to see some actual progress with a new electric car concept. After a successful crowdfunding effort, German startup Sono Motors has unveiled the Sion, a battery-electric car partly powered by solar power with onboard solar cells, earlier this year. Now we get a first look at their working prototypes for the ambitious project. The idea behind Sono’s Sion is a small all-electric city car that is primarily powered by a rechargeable battery pack, but it can also add some range with solar power. Sono says that the vehicle is equipped with a 35 kWh battery pack which enables ~155 miles (250 km) range on a single charge.

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Toronto Star

October 25, 2017

TransCanada selling Ontario solar power holdings in move against renewable energy trend

TransCanada Corp. is offloading its only solar power holdings in a $540-million deal as it moves against the industry trend of investing more in renewables. The company said Wednesday it was selling the eight facilities in Ontario with 76 megawatts of capacity to a subsidiary of Axium Infrastructure Canada II L.P., with plans to spend the proceeds on its $24-billion in near-term capital projects. The sale leaves TransCanada’s renewable portfolio with 365 megawatts of wind power through its partial ownership of Cartier Wind, after the company sold its hydropower and wind generation assets in the U.S. earlier this year to help fund its $13-billion (U.S.) takeover of Columbia Pipeline Group.

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The Verge

October 25, 2017

Tesla lays off hundreds of SolarCity employees as part of broader housecleaning

Tesla has begun firing employees from its SolarCity business for performance reasons, just over a week after firing hundreds more from its motor vehicle division and in addition to an already announced round of layoffs at the solar power division. Tesla says the terminations are part of a normal performance review process, but half a dozen former employees told CNBC they were blindsided by the dismissals. Six anonymous employees told the news channel that Tesla’s claim that the firings were based on performance reviews was impossible because no reviews had been conducted since the SolarCity was acquired by Tesla in late 2016.

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Regulatory Stories

Forbes

October 26, 2017

Cornyn, Cassidy: Tax Reform To Fuel Economic Growth

The arrival of autumn brings a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform our nation’s tax code. American families and businesses are tired of struggling against a broken, out-of-date, tax system. Estimates show that in 2016, U.S. taxpayers spent nearly 9 billion hours and nearly $300 billion preparing their taxes and dealing with the IRS. Tax reform will relieve some of this inefficiency and make our system simpler and fairer. Tax reform will also help us rise above the weak growth that followed the Great Recession. From 2010-2016, the U.S. economy grew at a meager 2.1% – a stark contrast to prior recoveries, when GDP growth surged. Hourly wage growth has also been muted, which leaves many working Americans still wondering when their recovery is going to arrive. Smart, pro-growth tax reform will expand U.S. investment, increase jobs and wages, and leave more money in taxpayers’ pockets. The U.S. energy industry became one bright spot in the lackluster Obama recovery. U.S. energy producers defied the low-growth trend and onslaught of Obama-led regulations by leveraging sophisticated technology, American entrepreneurship, and our vast endowment of natural resources.

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KUHF (Houston NPR)

October 24, 2017

Government Watchdog Report Says Trump Admin Should Respond To Climate Risks

An internal government report said the Trump Administration should respond to the economic risks of a changing climate. The report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office said the government is facing “significant” climate risks. Over the last decade, extreme weather and fires have cost the federal government more than $350 billion. That’s according to the president’s own budget proposal. The GAO said climate-related costs are likely to rise. The studies reviewed for the report identified risks that could be of particular concern in Texas. “One of the studies estimated that from 2020 through 2039, between $4 billion and $6 billion in annual coastal property damages from sea level rise and more frequent and intense storms,” said Alfredo Gomez, Director of Natural Resources and Environment at the GAO.

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US News

October 25, 2017

Revesz, Zevin: The Costs of Coddling Coal

This week, the public comment period closed on Secretary of Energy Rick Perry’s plan to keep uncompetitive, inefficient and highly polluting coal plants from retiring. If successful, his plan will enrich coal executives and investors at the expense of working Americans, while having pernicious public health consequences. Under Perry’s plan, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, the agency responsible for overseeing wholesale electricity markets, would guarantee coal (and nuclear) plants their full costs plus a profit, so long as they keep 90 days of fuel on site. This latest effort by the Trump administration to boost its favored industry won’t bring back coal jobs, and the justifications for this plan ring hollow.

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Politico

October 26, 2017

Tucker: Why NAFTA needs an expiration date

The Trump administration’s recent proposal to insert a sunset clause into the North American Free Trade Agreement shocked just about everyone in the trade world. Under the plan, the three countries would have to renew the agreement every five years—or else it would be terminated. Canadian and Mexican negotiators immediately rejected the idea, arguing that it would create uncertainty for businesses and potentially spell the end for NAFTA. “If every marriage had a five-year sunset clause,” Canada’s ambassador to the U.S said. “I think our divorce rate would be a heck of a lot higher.” These experts are right: Allowing NAFTA to expire every five years without affirmation by all three countries is a bad idea. But a sunset clause isn’t.

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Reuters

October 25, 2017

EPA to review how clean air, water laws affect energy sector jobs

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Wednesday it will review how bedrock laws like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act affect energy industry job losses, one of several measures U.S. agencies will take to “reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens” on business. The measure was one of four initiatives proposed by the EPA to help carry out an executive order issued by President Donald Trump in March. He directed cabinet chiefs to identify ways to ease regulatory burdens on energy development. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke each announced separate lists of measures they sent to the president to carry out his order.

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 26, 2017
Lead Stories

Bloomberg

October 25, 2017

Gary Cohn Floats Idea of Gas Tax Hike for Infrastructure

President Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser raised the possibility of increasing the federal gasoline tax next year to help pay for the administration’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan, U.S. Representative Tom Reed said. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn brought up the fuel tax as a way to help fund promised upgrades to U.S. roads, bridges and other public works during a meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers dubbed the Problem Solvers Caucus on Wednesday, said Reed, a New York Republican who is co-chairman of the caucus. There have been proposals over the years to raise the gas tax, which hasn’t been increased since 1993, but they have faced stiff opposition from congressional Republicans and others loath to raise taxes.

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Houston Chronicle

October 25, 2017

Vistra, Dynegy close to merger deal: report

Two Texas power companies, Vistra Energy of Dallas and Dynegy of Houston, are close to making a deal to merge, according to news reports. The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, said the two companies could announce a deal as soon as next week. The combination would create the nation’s biggest independent power company. The two companies are said to have launched talks about a potential merger in the spring. Dynegy’s stock jumped 17 percent on the report to close at $10.78 a share Wedndesday. Vistra’s stock rose just under 1 percent to $20.32 a share.

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MarketWatch

October 26, 2017

How oil is escaping from ‘purgatory’ as supply glut turns to supply concern

For more than three years the oil market has been strangled by a persistent supply glut, but next year there’s the opposite issue to be concerned about: an outright supply shortage. In a range of notes out on Wednesday, analysts at Allianz Global Investors, Jefferies and RBC Capital Markets all expressed optimism that recent efforts to balance the market are working, which could mean the world will be short of oil in 2018. “An abundance of oil, thanks largely to U.S. shale, has pushed down oil prices and sector sentiment. But since that means less investment in new production sources, the bearish market may soon rebalance from fears of oversupply to concerns over shortages — which would push prices higher,” Neil Dwane, global strategist at Allianz, said in a note.

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KRGV

October 26, 2017

Texas Earthquake-Monitoring System Installation Complete

You will now be able to track the frequency and intensity of earthquake activity across the state in real time. Even though earthquakes don’t happen often in Texas on a big scale, researchers said they’re noticing tremors and minor quakes taking place more frequently. The University of Texas at Austin wants to get ahead of the changing pattern to figure what’s causing it. Staff finished installing an earthquake monitoring system last week. The system is made up of 80 stations throughout the state; half permanent, half portable.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 26, 2017

US oil prices extend decline on crude inventory build

U.S. oil prices extended declines on Thursday after government data showed a surprise climb in U.S. crude inventories. NYMEX crude for December delivery was down 2 cents at $52.16 a barrel by 0107 GMT, after ending the last session down 29 cents, or 0.6 percent. London Brent crude for December delivery was down 1 cent at $58.43. It settled Wednesday up 11 cents, supported by comments from Saudi Arabia’s energy minister on Tuesday reiterating the country’s determination to end a three-year supply glut. Brent hit an intraday high of $58.74 on Wednesday, moving back towards a 26-month peak marked in late September.

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Bloomberg

October 25, 2017

Oil Refiners Shrug Off Harvey to Rake in Fat Post-Storm Profits

When Hurricane Harvey cleared and the floodwaters receded, oil refiners found themselves floating on a sea of cash. That’s the consensus of industry analysts who expect the five largest pure-play refiners to post double-digit profit increases starting on Thursday. Despite the temporary devastation Harvey wrought in the heart of the Western Hemisphere’s refining heartland, most plants escaped long-term damage and were back in action quickly enough to capture swelling margins created by fuel shortages. Refiners in Midwest locations such as Kansas and Illinois — far from the south Texas coast where Harvey roared ashore on Aug. 25 — probably scored even bigger boosts to their bottom lines as facilities closer to the storm shut, triggering price-lifting fuel shortages for hundreds of miles inland, said Ashley Petersen, senior oil market analyst at Stratas Advisors.

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Houston Chronicle

October 25, 2017

LyondellBasell plans new $2B chemicals and plastics project along Gulf Coast

LyondellBasell said it’s planning to build a multibillion-dollar chemicals and plastics plant along the Gulf Coast, and very possibly in the Houston area, although a final decision may still be a year away. LyondellBasell CEO Bob Patel said the project would cost more than $2 billion and use propane to make chemicals and the plastic polypropylene to serve North and South American markets. “It’ll take us a good part of about 12 months before we get to the point where we make a final decision,” Patel said. “But, yes, PDH (propane dehydrogenation) and polypropylene is the next project. It’ll likely be somewhere along the Gulf Coast.”

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Houston Chronicle

October 25, 2017

Nabors’ losses grow as spending picks up

Land drilling rig giant Nabors Industries reported that its losses grew in the third quarter as spending picked up to help match growing activity levels in onshore shale. Houston’s Nabors, which is domiciled in Bermuda for tax purposes, posted a $149 million loss, worse than the $111 million loss from a year ago. However, its quarterly revenues of $662.5 million jumped 27 percent from last year and 5 percent from the second quarter of 2017. Nabors Chairman and CEO Anthony Petrello said the company is in the process of becoming profitable and that things will change once new technologies are launched, acquisitions are finalized and its new joint venture in Saudi Arabia gets underway.

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Kallanish Energy

October 25, 2017

BP Energy selling Pinnacle Midstream to I Squared Capital

Private equity firm BP Energy Partners is selling Pinnacle Midstream to international infrastructure investment manager I Squared Capital for an undisclosed amount, Kallanish Energy reports. Pinnacle provides crude and natural gas gathering, natural gas processing and related midstream services in the Delaware Basin portion of the Permian Basin in West Texas. “This transaction is a very important milestone for our team,” said Greg Sargent, founder and CEO of Pinnacle. “Over the past three years, we have worked hard to create significant value by developing, constructing and bringing into operation a full-service midstream solution in Culberson and Reeves counties. This asset will serve some of the best producers in the basin and we look forward to working with I Squared Capital to expand the system.”

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Seeking Alpha

October 25, 2017

Exxon gets government OK for 35-year Argentina shale concession

Exxon Mobil (XOM -0.4%) says Argentina’s Neuquén provincial government has approved its plan for a 35-year shale gas exploration program in the Los Toldos I South block. XOM says its $200M initial investment calls for a pilot project that brings up to seven wells to production, the construction of production facilities and development of export infrastructure. That first project could pave the way for an investment in 300 horizontal wells in a block – the Los Toldos I South block about 108 miles northwest of Neuquén City – that could pump 385 million cubic feet of gas per day at its peak.

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Fortune

October 24, 2017

Inside Saudi Aramco’s Kingdom of Oil

From the window of our small plane flying low over the desert, Saudi Arabia’s Empty Quarter looks as remote as the name suggests, with burnt-orange dunes stretching into infinity under the blinding sun. Not even the Bedouin nomads with their camels are visible, because there are too few of them amid the vast landscape. It’s only when the plane bumps down on an empty runway at an outpost called Shaybah that it is clear that the world’s biggest sand desert is not, in fact, empty. We are hundreds of miles from the nearest Saudi town. Yet rising out of the sand between the dunes is a state-of-the-art labyrinth of metal pipes and cylindrical tanks, which day and night pump the crucial commodity that keeps our modern world ticking: oil. “We generate our own electricity, we have our own water supply,” says Khalid Al-Jamea, manager of the Shaybah oilfield, after he meets our plane on the desert strip and hands us chilled face towels to dull the shock of the 110-degree heat. “We are cut off from the world.”

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Tulsa World

October 23, 2017

ONEOK to extend pipeline into the Delaware Basin

ONEOK Inc. announced Monday that the West Texas LPG Pipeline LP, a joint venture between ONEOK and Martin Midstream Partners LP, plans to invest approximately $200 million to expand its natural gas liquids system into the Delaware Basin, part of the larger Permian Basin. The project, which is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2018, is supported by long-term dedicated NGL production from two planned third-party natural gas processing plants. The Delaware Basin extension includes the construction of an approximately 120-mile, 16-inch pipeline that will have an initial capacity of 110,000 barrels per day as well as two new pump stations and pipeline looping along the existing West Texas LPG system.

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Forbes

October 25, 2017

Tight Oil’s Impact On Global Gas Markets

The intensifying drilling up of the Permian Basin in Texas isn’t just delivering rapid growth in tight oil. There are huge volumes of gas too, the effects of which are rippling out into the US market and may have big implications for global gas prices too. On a visit to Houston last week I caught up with Kristy Kramer, Head of North America Gas research. So Kristy, how important is Permian gas? Well Simon, there’s been a steady supply for decades, but the basin’s emergence as the pre-eminent tight oil play since 2010 has thrust gas into the limelight. Gas production was less than 4 Bcfd early this decade, about 6% of total US L48 output. Oil drilling then took off. It’s about 7 Bcfd now, and will climb to 13 Bcfd by the mid-2020s with upside risk to 16-17 Bcfd. That would make the Permian 2nd in the shale rankings behind the Marcellus in the Northeast, a clear leader at 33 Bcfd, and these two will make up over 40% of US supply.

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Odessa American

October 25, 2017

Living through the booms and busts in a West Texas oil town

Back when just about every oil pumpjack in town was running, Tara Smith had more work than she could handle. The West Texas native ran her own company, Dirty Ride Mobile Wash, going out into the oilfields to clean muddy tank trucks. With oil booming, she was booked day and night. Demand for her services was so high that Smith invested in two additional pickups and a pair of industrial steamers just to keep up. Her team stretched to eight workers, several of them single mothers. They could each pull down $1,400 a week if they hustled.

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News.com.au (Australia)

October 25, 2017

Saudi prince’s bold plan for a $640b futuristic megacity

IT IS said to be unlike anything the world has seen before — and that may well be right. Saudi Arabia’s visionary Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, has offered a glimpse the $640 billion futuristic megacity that will be Saudi Arabia’s next economic powerhouse and it looks very much at odds with the image of the ultraconservative kingdom we’ve seen before. The project, dubbed NEOM, is part of the young prince’s vision of social and economic changes geared towards a more progressive future for Saudi Arabia. And in a promotional video for the NEOM project, women can be seen jogging in crop tops and working side-by-side with male colleagues: a far cry from the Saudi Arabia where, up until last month, women weren’t even allowed to drive a car.

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University of Colorado Boulder

October 25, 2017

Raton Basin earthquakes linked to oil and gas fluid injections

A rash of earthquakes in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico recorded between 2008 and 2010 was likely due to fluids pumped deep underground during oil and gas wastewater disposal, says a new CU Boulder study. The study, which took place in the 2,200-square-mile Raton Basin along the central-Colorado northern New Mexico border, found more than 1,800 earthquakes up to magnitude 4.3 during that period, linking most to wastewater injection well activity. Such wells are used to pump water back in the ground after it has been extracted during the collection of methane gas from subterranean coal beds.

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Houston Chronicle

October 24, 2017

Oil pipeline opponent uses ‘necessity defense’ — What is it?

Chase Iron Eyes has pleaded not guilty to inciting a riot and criminal trespassing. He could face more than five years in prison if convicted at trial in February. The pipeline has since begun carrying oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois. Pipeline protesters who try the necessity defense typically argue that the greater harm is climate change. Iron Eyes, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, says he hopes to show that civil disobedience was his only option to resist a pipeline’s incursion on his ancestral lands. The prosecutor in the case didn’t respond to a request for comment. A judge will hear arguments Nov. 3.

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Utilities Stories

Wichita Falls Times Record

October 24, 2017

City saves thousands through electricity coalition

Wichita Falls’ membership in a nonprofit electricity coalition is paying off. According to a press release from the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, the city has saved more than $215,000 during its membership with the group. TCAP is the state’s leading municipal electricity-purchasing group. “This money really adds up,” Wichita Falls City Manager Darron Leiker said, “This extra money is useful when we’re setting our city budget – every little bit helps.” TCAP gathers the buying power of 179 cities and other political subdivisions, so they can buy power in bulk. The coalition can negotiate for competitively-priced energy contracts and provide necessary member protections.

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Washington Post

October 25, 2017

Puerto Rico’s electric utility likely to get emergency manager amid criticism over contract to small Montana firm

Puerto Rico’s financial oversight board is moving to install an emergency manager at the island’s state-owned utility amid criticism of a $300 million contract it awarded to a small Montana energy firm for work on the territory’s crippled electrical grid. The board said Wednesday that it intends to appoint Noel Zamot, a retired Air Force colonel and member of the oversight panel, to oversee daily operations of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. The decision comes as House and Senate Democrats called for an investigation into the utility’s agreement with Whitefish Energy. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) pledged to examine the grid-rebuilding efforts at an upcoming hearing of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which she chairs.

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Bloomberg

October 25, 2017

Forget the Grid of the Future, Puerto Ricans Just Want Power Back

A month after Hurricane Maria devastated the island, power lines still lie slack along roads, utility poles are snapped clean in half, and most Puerto Ricans remain in the dark. So you could understand why Cruz Maria Ramos Resto, a 50-year-old school cafeteria worker, rolled her eyes when asked if she supports the solar-driven “grid of the future”—the one that environmentalists, renewable energy developers and Puerto Rico’s government have been touting since Maria laid waste to the island’s power system. “But of course!” said Resto, who lives next to an oil-burning power plant in Palo Seco. “When are you bringing it over? Let’s have it, already! Let’s see it!”

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Washington Examiner

October 21, 2017

Jarrett: Why coal and nuclear aren’t going anywhere

Americans have a strong pragmatic streak. And they undoubtedly took notice recently when two devastating hurricanes knocked out power in much of the Southern United States. News channels focused on the harsh conditions that followed after families were left without power for days on end. It’s understandable, then, that a subsequent poll found 85 percent of voters saying the U.S. should act to protect the diversity of its electric grid against such disruptive events. Storms aren’t the only cause of power grid disruptions. But they help to illustrate why the time is right for Washington to rethink the overall viability of the nation’s power sector. Thankfully, the Trump administration seems to be taking the challenge seriously as it looks to ensure sufficient, reliable electricity for the next generation of Americans.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Bloomberg

October 19, 2017

World’s First Floating Wind Farm Begins Operating in Scotland

The world’s first floating offshore wind farm started delivering electricity to the grid in the north of Scotland. The Hywind project, built by Norwegian oil company Statoil ASA and Masdar Abu Dhabi Future Energy Co., has five turbines floating 25 kilometers (16 miles) off the coast of Peterhead, near Aberdeen. The project has a capacity of 30 megawatts and cost about 200 million pounds ($263 million) to construct. “This marks an exciting development for renewable energy in Scotland,” said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. “Hywind will provide clean energy to over twenty thousand homes and will help us meet our ambitious climate change targets.”

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NBC News

October 20, 2017

Eisenstein: Where Will We Charge All Those Electric Cars We’ll Soon Be Buying?

While proponents see the shift to battery power as a way to clean up air pollution and reduce our dependence on foreign oil, skeptics fear it could put a massive strain on the nation’s electrical grid requiring billions of dollars in new infrastructure including the addition of many new generating plants. Potentially worse, that could actually increase pollution problems, they warn, especially if those plants were to rely on coal. When you add them all up, hybrids, plug-ins, and pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, accounted for less than 3 percent of all the vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2016. The numbers have been rising this year, and is expect to surge with the arrival of more long-range models such as those coming from Audi, Ford, Nissan, and Volkswagen. Tesla alone is forecasting 2018 will see sales of 500,000 BEVs, primarily its new Model 3, or about six times its previous annual record.

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Futurism

October 19, 2017

New Study Supports the Creation of Wind Farms High Above the Earth’s Surface

Researchers from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia have devised the best altitudes for flying high-altitude wind power generating tech in the Middle East. The research could be a step towards high-altitude wind power generation, and eventually overcome some of the limitations of traditional wind turbines. High-altitude wind turbines are similar to kites, flying while tethered to the ground. The tether allows electricity generated in the air to travel back to Earth to be consumed or stored. The KAUST study showed that farming from high altitudes could provide an abundant and reliable source of wind-generated energy. The researchers used data gathered by NASA to discern the altitudes that will best support the technology while factoring in daily and seasonal variations.

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Wall St. Journal

October 25, 2017

U.S., China Funds Land Asian Renewable-Energy Giant Equis

A group including a U.S.-based private-equity firm and China’s sovereign-wealth fund has agreed to acquire Equis Energy, which oversees one of Asia’s largest collections of independent renewable-energy assets, for $3.7 billion. Global Infrastructure Partners, or GIP, leads the consortium, whose members include China Investment Corp. unit CIC Capital Corp. and Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board, GIP said Wednesday. The planned acquisition will provide the group with access to many of the largest and fastest-growing renewable markets in the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, India and Thailand.

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Washington Post

October 25, 2017

The Energy 202: Tax debate opens door for renewables to get same break as fossil fuels

As solar and wind power make up a small but increasing share of U.S. electricity generation, at least one member of the Trump administration has pointed out that the renewable energy sources are propped up by federal tax subsidies. “I’d let them stand on their own and compete against coal and natural gas and other sources,” Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt said of solar and wind energy this month. Left unmentioned are the several ways in which the U.S. government subsidizes fossil-fuel energy. One of the biggest boons for the oil-and-gas sector is the use of a legal entity called a master limited partnership, or MLP, which allows firms to lighten their tax loads and get easier access to investment in pipelines and other projects.

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Regulatory Stories

Natural Gas Intelligence

October 25, 2017

FERC Authorizes Valley Crossing Pipeline to Mexico Via Presidential Permit

FERC has issued a presidential permit and granted authorization for Valley Crossing Pipeline LLC to construct and operate a 2.6 Bcf/d cross-border natural gas pipeline between Texas and Mexico, where it would be used for power generation and industrial customers. In an order Monday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorized Valley Crossing, a subsidiary of Enbridge Inc., to build about 1,000 feet of 42-inch diameter pipeline extending from a point in Texas state waters, about 30 miles east of Brownsville on the Texas border, to the international border with the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, in the Gulf of Mexico [CP17-19].

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Texas Tribune

October 25, 2017

Environmentalists worry industry could thwart cleanup of toxic Houston-area dump site

Earlier this month, environmentalists celebrated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement of a final plan to clean up a long-festering pit of toxic sludge along the San Jacinto River east of Houston. The strategy is one they’ve long demanded: a near-total excavation of the San Jacinto River Waste Pits, where dioxins and other carcinogenic pollutants have festered since a paper mill company began disposing of its waste near the river in 1965. The plan also requires the companies deemed responsible for the dump to foot the $115 million cleanup bill.

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Platts

October 25, 2017

Perry brings US diplomacy to Africa, promises to export ‘energy arsenal’

The Africa Oil Week conference in Cape Town got a taste of Texas or even a little slice of Hollywood this month, as the presence of US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry as guest of honor, perplexed yet impressed the conference delegates. “Why is he here? It can’t be that straightforward?” “Why will he come to an African oil event? There must be some other reason he is here.” “He is such a busy man, why would he come here?” These were some of the reactions I got when I asked some delegates what they thought of Perry’s presence at an event that was focused primarily on the African upstream industry.

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Houston Chronicle

October 25, 2017

EPA chemical review would exclude millions of tons of toxins

Spurred by the chemical industry, President Donald Trump’s administration is retreating from a congressionally mandated review of some of the most dangerous chemicals in public use: millions of tons of asbestos, flame retardants and other toxins in homes, offices and industrial plants across the United States. Instead of following President Barack Obama’s proposal to look at chemicals already in widespread use that result in some of the most common exposures, the new administration wants to limit the review to products still being manufactured and entering the marketplace. For asbestos, that means gauging the risks from just a few hundred tons of the material imported annually while excluding almost all of the estimated 8.9 million tons (8.1 million metric tons) of asbestos-containing products that the U.S. Geological Survey said entered the marketplace between 1970 and 2016.

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Washington Post

October 23, 2017

Fact Checker: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s claim that the U.S. is ‘leading the world’ in ‘C02 footprint’ reductions

Pruitt claims the United States is leading the way in reducing its carbon footprint, decreasing emissions by 18 percent from 2000-2014. But he is misrepresenting the data. The United States may have had the largest decrease in carbon emissions, but it is still the largest per capita emitter. And when it comes to overall carbon emissions reductions, Pruitt uses the average per capita decrease instead of the overall decrease, without actually making clear he’s talking about per capita numbers. Pruitt uses this data to bill the United States as a global leader in combating climate change — even as he’s vocal about revitalizing the coal industry, a major contributor to carbon dioxide emissions, and cutting emissions regulations. We wavered between Two and Three Pinocchios, but settled on Three. Since Pruitt’s staff refused to say he misspoke, using the per capita figure to tout an overall decrease appears to be a deliberate effort to mislead the public. Three Pinocchios.

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Bloomberg

October 25, 2017

How the Farm Belt Pressured Trump and Beat the Oil Industry

Farm-state interests just conquered Big Oil in a fight over biofuels, proving that in Donald Trump’s Washington, King Corn still reigns. The clash erupted over the future of the Renewable Fuel Standard, a 12-year-old law that compels the use of fuels such as corn-based ethanol and soy-based biodiesel. Although the president had repeatedly promised Midwest voters he would “protect” ethanol and support the program, his Environmental Protection Agency was considering steps to dilute the mandate. Farm-state governors and senators revolted — setting off a behind-the-scenes struggle between two special-interest heavyweights. Lobbyists for oil refiners warned of higher gasoline prices if the administration backed down. Iowa leaders countered that Trump could face political retribution in 2020 during the state’s first-in-the-nation caucuses. Republican senators threatened to delay confirmation of the president’s nominees.

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 25, 2017
Lead Stories

Bloomberg

October 24, 2017

Oil Just Isn’t That Important to Petrocurrencies Right Now

The currencies of some of the world’s biggest crude exporters are breaking their historic relationship with the oil price. The Canadian dollar has weakened, the Norwegian krone is little changed and the Russian ruble has strengthened just 4 percent in the past three months even as the price of Brent crude has surged 17 percent and West Texas oil 11 percent. In commodity-rich Latin America, the 90-day correlation between currencies and oil turned negative last month for the first time since 2014. Commodity currencies are typically more correlated with oil when it is falling because a decline in prices often indicates a drop in demand, which is disproportionately damaging to energy-dependent economies. The link rose during the 2015-16 oil price slump, but now that foreign exchange traders have adapted to the new normal of oil below $60 a barrel, monetary policy and idiosyncratic factors have taken precedence for exchange-rate moves.

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Houston Chronicle

October 24, 2017

Big Oil is investing billions to gain foothold in clean energy

The world’s biggest oil companies are closing more clean energy deals as pressure to diversify their businesses mounts and growth accelerates among green technologies. Oil majors more than doubled the number of acquisitions, project investments and venture capital stakes, to 44 in 2016 from 21 the year before, according to research published Tuesday by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In the last 15 years, they’ve completed 428 transactions and spent $6.2 billion building stakes in clean energy companies. “This reflects their underpinning strategy to test out new ideas and businesses,” said Richard Chatterton, one of the London-based analysts that authored the report. “The international oil companies are identifying opportunities and building expertise, and when a commercial opportunity becomes clear, they will invest at scale.”

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Reuters

October 24, 2017

U.S. lawmakers ask DOJ if terrorism law covers pipeline activists

U.S. representatives from both parties asked the Department of Justice on Monday whether the domestic terrorism law would cover actions by protesters that shut oil pipelines last year, a move that could potentially increase political rhetoric against climate change activists. Ken Buck, a Republican representative from Colorado, said in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that damaging pipeline infrastructure poses risks to humans and the environment. The letter, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, said “operation of pipeline facilities by unqualified personnel could result in a rupture – the consequences of which would be devastating.” It was signed by 84 representatives, including at least two Democrats, Gene Green and Henry Cuellar, both of Texas.

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WCSH (Southern Maine)

October 20, 2017

Solar energy presenting new challenges for firefighters

To be clear, we aren’t saying solar energy is bad; but it can cause problems, even the the risk of shock if first responders aren’t prepared. See, firefighters can’t just shut off the power to the sun, so they’re learning how to work around it. For years businesses have been adding panels to their roofs; and while going green is a good thing, anything new always brings challenges. “Commercial systems can produce up to 1000 V, residential up to 300,” said Ryan Ouellette, the Scarborough firefighter behind a recent training. “If you happen to get to the wrong part of the system, the potential is there for shock even electrocution.”

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 25, 2017

Oil hovers near 4-week high on Saudi pledge to end glut

Oil prices were largely steady in early Asian trade on Wednesday, hovering near a four-week high hit a day earlier after top exporter Saudi Arabia said it was determined to end a supply glut. Brent crude, the global benchmark, was up 10 cents at $58.43 a barrel by 0103 GMT, after settling on Tuesday up 96 cents, or 1.7 percent. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was trading down 4 cents at $52.43 a barrel, having risen 57 cents on Tuesday. Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said the focus remained on reducing oil stocks in industrialised countries to their five-year average and raised the prospect of prolonged output restraint once an OPEC-led supply-cutting pact ends.

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Houston Chronicle

October 24, 2017

Weather experts eye chance for Tropical Storm Philippe in Caribbean

Hurricane season might have one last surprise before coming to an end. A disturbance in the Caribbean Sea now has a 50 percent chance of developing into Tropical Storm Philippe within the next five days, according to the National Weather Service. The broad area of low pressure, disorganized showers and thunderstorms are forecast to slowly move northward later this week.

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US News

October 23, 2017

Interior to Offer Largest Oil and Gas Lease Sale in US

The Interior Department said Tuesday it will propose the largest oil and gas lease sale ever held in the United States — nearly 77 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The sale, scheduled for next March, includes all available unleased areas on the Gulf’s Outer Continental Shelf, a reflection of the Trump administration’s strategy to maximize oil and gas drilling on federal lands and waters. Even so, only a small fraction of the tracts available are expected to receive bids. A similar lease sale in August drew bids on just 90 offshore tracts totaling about a half-million acres — less than 1 percent of the 76 million acres available.

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San Antonio Express-News

October 24, 2017

Texas economic indicators remain positive

Despite some mixed economic signals, an index that tracks the Texas economy inched up in September and the state appears to be in growth mode, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported this week. The stock prices of Texas companies, oil prices and average weekly hours worked were up, while unemployment claims were down — all among the positive gains in the Dallas Fed’s Texas Leading Index for September. Texas’ unemployment rate fell to 4 percent in September, the lowest level since December 2000. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.2 percent. San Antonio’s jobless rate was 3.9 percent

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Houston Chronicle

October 20, 2017

World’s biggest oil traders see widely divergent oil prices

The world’s biggest oil traders say crude could rise above $60 a barrel in a year as demand grows and OPEC keeps cutting. Or it might fall to $45 as another wave of U.S. shale hits the market. The disagreement between Glencore Plc, Gunvor Group Ltd. and Trafigura Group Pte on the bullish side, and Vitol Group on the other, underscores the huge uncertainty over the key drivers of oil supply and demand. Growth in consumption has been stronger than expected this year, helping the recent price gain, but the speed of the expansion in U.S. output has also proved hard to predict. A big surprise from one of those competing forces in 2018 could tip markets in either direction.

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Bloomberg

October 23, 2017

Halliburton CEO Defends Fracking Business as Margins Disappoint

Fracking isn’t looking so great for the world’s biggest fracker, but the CEO of Halliburton Co. says he can pull some levers to improve profits. After lackluster margins for the company’s main business sent shares tumbling, casting a cloud over third-quarter earnings that otherwise beat estimates, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Miller said there are three things he plans to do to improve fracking profits: raise prices, maximize the use of machinery and cut costs. “Increasing pricing is important, but it’s just one component we can leverage to reach our goal,” Miller told analysts and investors Monday on a conference call. “Ultimately we will utilize a combination of all three levers to return to normalized margins.”

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Texas Monthly

October 23, 2017

UT Geologists Extract Potential Natural Gas Source From the Ocean Floor

In a University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences lab lie 1.2-meter-long cylinders—21 of them, each one pressurized, chilled, and containing methane hydrate, a compound extracted from the depths of the ocean floor. Each liter could potentially serve as a century’s worth of energy for the United States. In May, a group of scientists from the UTJSG, Ohio State, Columbia University, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) embarked on a mission sponsored by the Department of Energy to extract the compound, an icy, flammable substance, from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. “Methane hydrate is solid, and if you were able to see it in real life, it’s white and looks like ice,” UT postdoctoral fellow Stephen Phillips said. “But it contains a gas molecule inside. In this case, methane is the most commonly housed molecule inside, surrounded by a number of water molecules in a shell.” Methane is the chief constituent of natural gas.

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Clean Technica

October 22, 2017

New Way To Capture Methane At The Well Head Proposed

Methane is the primary component of natural gas, yet one fifth of the methane produced in the United States each year goes straight into the atmosphere. Why? Because it is too expensive to capture it and turn it into fuel. Instead, fossil fuel companies burn it as it comes out of the ground in a process known as “flaring.” The industry is currently pushing back vigorously against rules imposed by the Obama administration designed to limit the amount of methane allowed to escape into the atmosphere. Too expensive, the companies cry. Unfortunately, methane is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but when it comes to choosing between profits and destroying the earth’s atmosphere, the fossil fuel industry chooses profits every time.

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Bloomberg

October 23, 2017

Denning: Halliburton and Schlumberger Live in Different Worlds

On Friday, Schlumberger emphasized a slowdown in activity in North America and an expectation of investment recovering overseas. The two are linked, as moderation in U.S. shale should mean less barrels from there, helping to raise oil prices enough to get rigs back to work elsewhere. This focus is, perhaps, not terribly surprising, given the company’s higher weighting to foreign markets.The same goes for Halliburton, but in the opposite direction. It sees continued strength in well-completions in North America, even as the number of rigs operating there has leveled off, with the market for pressure-pumping equipment and services running tight. A central element of Halliburton’s thesis for North America is continuing efficiency gains by E&P companies as they optimize wells, especially via more advanced technology.

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Houston Chronicle

October 24, 2017

Crew member found dead after oil barge fire off Port Aransas

One crew member was found dead and another remained missing Tuesday after an oil barge caught fire off the coast of Port Aransas. Flames broke out on the boat, which was carrying nearly 140,000 barrels of crude oil, at 4:35 a.m. Friday, according to Lt. Jennae Steinmiller. Six of eight crew members were immediately accounted for at the time of the fire.

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Houston Chronicle

October 24, 2017

McHaffie: Azerbaijan is key to Europe’s energy security

When I first arrived in Azerbaijan in November 1994, assigned by the U.S. oil company Amoco Corporation to a joint venture consortium, signs of economic crisis were everywhere. Grocery store shelves were bare. Infrastructure was in decay after years of neglect under Soviet rule. Now, more than 20 years later, Azerbaijan and its capital Baku are hubs of economic activity, providing the West with a reliable trade and energy ally in an uncertain region. The country’s oil and gas industry has largely driven its transformation and growth. In the mid-1990s, after restoring domestic order and forging a ceasefire with Armenia, then-Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev made oil a national priority. Amoco and nine other companies joined with Azerbaijan’s state energy company, SOCAR, in a billion-dollar bet to develop oil in the Caspian Sea. At the time, this deal was referred to as the “contract of the century,” bringing economic potential to Azerbaijan and the region.

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Houston Chronicle

October 24, 2017

Staples: Heroes and lessons emerge in Harvey’s wake

Marathon Oil’s Kimberly Reese could relate to her neighbors’ plight as her own Houston-area home has flooded twice in previous storms. This time, Reese transformed her home into a community command center, recruiting more than 50 volunteers and offering shelter, supplies and meals to area residents impacted by Harvey’s floodwaters. Joel Garcia, a lease operator for Devon Energy, is a pastor at Joy Ministries near Refugio. Garcia ignored the damage at his own home to help hundreds of suddenly homeless neighbors after Hurricane Harvey. At one point, Garcia’s church was feeding 500 people a day. These heroes dug deep to do right by their neighbors. Likewise, the oil and natural gas industry is committed to doing right by critically analyzing all that happened during this storm and making even better its plans, procedures and working relationships with state and federal agencies.

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Bloomberg

October 22, 2017

Seen From Space, China’s Oil Demand Looks Stronger Than Expected

The crude market may be underestimating China’s oil demand. Storage data gathered by satellite implies the amount of crude China is putting into storage is below what can be extrapolated from the nation’s customs and production data, Barclays Plc analysts wrote in an Oct. 23 note. That means it may be consuming more oil than official data indicate and that the global supply-demand balance is tighter than estimated. “If satellite data are accurate and reflective of broader activity in the Chinese oil sector, this is bullish for oil fundamentals,” New York-based analysts Michael Cohen and Warren Russell wrote in the report. “It implies that China’s refinery runs and end-use consumption may be understated, and that global balances are tighter than consensus and our own forecasts.”

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Utilities Stories

Utility Dive

October 24, 2017

Storage or generation? AEP case could help answer the question in Texas

Texas is a place where things are big. That includes energy storage. But just how big that market could be, at least for transmission and distribution deferral projects, could depend on a pending case before the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT). In an Oct. 13 Proposal for Decision, Administrative Law Judge Stephanie Frazee backed a proposal for two T&D deferral storage projects, but with reservations. She noted that both sides presented “defensible arguments,” but also that the proposal breaks new ground on several issues that could benefit from clarification. The commission is scheduled to take up the case at a Dec. 6 open meeting. Energy storage has already made some inroads in Texas. In March, E.ON North America said it planned to install a 20 MW battery system at two of its West Texas wind farms.

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Co-op News

October 24, 2017

Powered by principle six: How electric co-ops join forces to maintain growth

A series of alliances developed by a US electric co-op shows how principle six – co-operation among co-operatives – can help organisations stay ahead in competitive markets, and offer improved prices and services for their members. The latest partnership for Texas Electric Cooperatives (TEC) comes in the form of a sourcing alliance with Greenbelt Electric Cooperative, a Texas Panhandle-based co-op, which represents an additional 5,000 meters in all or part of nine counties. Greenbelt is the fourth co-operative to enter into a TEC alliance since the start of 2017, and brings the number of alliance partners for TEC to 21 – demonstrating the benefits that working together can bring in terms of negotiating strength and economies of scale.

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Salt Lake Tribune

October 22, 2017

Sandquist: America’s electrical power system is under stress

Serious stresses are building within the U.S. electrical power industry. The further loss of nuclear and coal generating capacity that may occur in the near future depends on whether the federal government and regional electric grids recognize and correct chronic defects in the electricity market. These issues have now resulted in over-reliance on natural gas and renewables. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry recognizes the problem and has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to keep the nation’s struggling nuclear and threatened coal plants open. Perry proposed supporting these plants for contributing to the resilience and reliability of the electric grid as is done through solar and wind subsidies. All fuels carry some level of risk, but a diverse mix of energy options – coal, nuclear, natural gas, renewables, availability, demand management and energy efficiency improvements – is the core strength the U.S. electric supply.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

October 23, 2017

Westinghouse sold an unfinished product, then the problems snowballed

About a decade ago, after years of thinking up the next best thing in nuclear power, Westinghouse Electric Co. sold eight AP1000 plants to kick off the nuclear renaissance. The deals — two in China, one in Georgia, and one in South Carolina — were worth more than a mere $30 billion. In the U.S., they would represent the new way of building nuclear plants. They would overcome the history of outrageous delays and cost overruns on every other nuclear power plant built in the country to date — a history that led to the 30-year hiatus in nuclear construction. The AP1000 projects ended the lull. But when Westinghouse signed the deals in 2008, the Cranberry-based nuclear firm’s design of the power plants wasn’t yet complete. There are two ways to view that. One is to note that, historically, all other U.S. nuclear plants had been sold and even moved into construction with the design still being finalized. Another is to ask: shouldn’t the industry have learned from the mistakes of the past?

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Crain’s Cleveland Business

October 24, 2017

Largest U.S. grid operator opposes energy secretary’s plan to save coal

The biggest U.S. grid operator is asking regulators to reject Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s plan to prop up ailing coal and nuclear plants. “I don’t know how this proposal could be implemented without a detrimental impact on the market,” Andrew Ott, who heads up Norristown, Pa.-based PJM Interconnection LLC, told reporters by phone on Monday, Oct. 23. Perry’s proposal is “discriminatory” and inconsistent with federal law, Ott said. In response to rising retirements in PJM and elsewhere, Perry had asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to change the way that wholesale power markets price electricity so that certain coal and nuclear generators can recover their costs.

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US News

October 22, 2017

Utilities Delay Effort to Map Wildfire Risk From Power Lines

A report says California utilities have helped delay efforts for nearly a decade to map where power lines pose the greatest wildfire risk. The report Sunday in The Mercury News comes as the state investigates whether downed power lines owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. sparked the deadliest collection of wildfires in California history earlier this month. State regulators have been trying to tighten regulations on utilities and create detailed maps after disastrous fires in San Diego in 2007 were sparked when wind knocked down power lines.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Denton Record-Chronicle

October 21, 2017

Denton could reach 100 percent renewable by 2020

Denton Municipal Electric can accelerate its purchase of energy from wind and solar farms to reach 100 percent renewables by 2020, a consulting group says. Enterprise Risk Consulting is scheduled to unveil its 80-page plan, called an “energy portfolio,” on Monday morning for the city of Denton Public Utilities Board. The City Council reviews the plan and any comments from the PUB on Tuesday. If city leaders heed the recommendations, Denton would reach 100 percent renewable energy years ahead of previous plans. The plan makes no projections for customer’s electric rates, but the new portfolio includes several major items that should bring the electricity for the lowest possible cost and least amount of risk, which can ultimately keep rates low for Denton.

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Bloomberg

October 25, 2017

Nissan Unveils an Electric Car More Powerful Than Its GT-R

Nissan Motor Co. unveiled a concept electric car that’s more powerful than its iconic GT-R sportscar, aiming to put it into production after 2020 and share the platform with partners Mitsubishi Motors Corp. and Renault SA. The IMx concept model is the most powerful in Nissan’s lineup with a torque of 700 Newton meters, compared with the GT-R’s 637 Nm, the automaker said while unveiling the car at the Tokyo Motor Show Wednesday.

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The Oklahoman

October 18, 2017

Oklahoma gains wind farms despite end of tax credits

Energy Editor Adam Wilmoth chatted Tuesday with online readers about Oklahoma’s energy business. The following is an excerpt from that conversation. Q: What is the future of wind energy in Oklahoma? Do you see more and more wind farms in western parts of the state? A: The state tax incentives on wind energy have gone away, but that doesn’t seem to have scared off the industry. Federal tax credits are still in place, and those are more generous than the state credits ever were. PSO’s Wind Catcher project was announced after the state credits expired. That project is scheduled to include 800 turbines in the Oklahoma Panhandle and a dedicated transmission line to take the electricity to 1.1 million customers of PSO and Southwestern Electric Power Co. The project is opposed by the Windfall Coalition, which is led by several oil and natural gas executives.

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Regulatory Stories

E&E News

October 24, 2017

Can solar save a huge coal plant? Zinke’s thinking about it

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke met with a South African billionaire in July to discuss the possibility of using high-powered solar technology at one of America’s largest coal plants as the Trump administration searches for a way to keep the facility from closing. The Navajo Generating Station, a 2,250-megawatt coal plant in northeast Arizona, is scheduled to retire in 2019 after four utilities with a stake in the facility voted to close it earlier this year. The Interior Department is a minority owner, and the Trump administration opposes shuttering it. As a fix, federal officials have explored regulatory rollbacks and tax credits, and attempted to help facilitate the sale of the massive facility. But Zinke’s meeting with Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a surgeon and scientist, illustrates how wide a net the administration is casting in its attempt to keep the laboring plant open.

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American Spectator

October 19, 2017

Cassidy: The Next Solyndra: DOE Proposing Massive Energy Subsidies

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has come up with a proposal for nuclear energy and coal that would make the Obamacrats “who cooked up the famously botched bailout of defunct solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra blush.” That’s according to Mark Perry, the American Enterprise Institute scholar and University of Michigan economics professor, writing in U.S. News last week: Washington, D.C. has a funny, if not sad, way of changing the way folks think and act. Many officials ride into town with clear eyes and deeply rooted market-based principles only to have their outlooks fundamentally — and often rapidly — changed.

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Washington Examiner

October 17, 2017

Hartman: Why is Rick Perry’s Energy Department proposing an anti-conservative reform?

Let’s be clear: The Energy Department’s proposed rulemaking before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to subsidize power plants with on-site fuel is the antithesis of economic conservatism. The anti-competitive DOE proposal is a recipe to stick consumers with billions in added costs without addressing priority electric reliability and resiliency concerns. The proposal calls for draconian, emergency subsidies to address a crisis that grid reliability experts say doesn’t exist. The alarmist proposal is neither technically nor procedurally sound. Knowledgeable, principled conservatives are speaking out. Travis Kavulla, the Republican vice chairman for the utility regulator of Montana, called the DOE’s proposal a “command and control” system that “will be predetermining through industrial policy who stays in the market and who goes out.”

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The Hill

October 23, 2017

Bossie: It’s time for a special counsel on Hillary Clinton’s Russia scandal

When the story broke in April 2015 that the Obama administration, with the help of Hillary Clinton’s State Department, paved the way for Russia to gain control of 20 percent of America’s uranium, it sent shock waves through the halls of power in Washington. It caused red flags to go up and raised scores of questions with enormous implications. Many people wondered why the United States would give Russia and Vladimir Putin a sweetheart deal like this. In the context of the 2016 presidential campaign, the central questions were about the money flowing to the Clinton Foundation, accusations of pay for play with financial benefits for the Clintons winning out over national security concerns, and why the Obama Justice Department seemed to do nothing about it. … It turns out that the Obama administration inexplicably approved the uranium deal with Russia even though the FBI was investigating a massive corruption scheme that included bribery, extortion and other felonies involving Russia’s nuclear energy industry in the United States.

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The Globe and Mail (Canada)

October 22, 2017

Lomborg: How to avoid the political pitfalls of carbon taxes

A carbon tax is much discussed as a solution to climate change. It is simple and straightforward: a climate price tag makes industry and consumers take into account the implicit negative effects of their actions, whether it is the aircraft fuel for a vacation, or fossil fuels for food fertilizers or to heat and cool a home. I have argued for a well-designed carbon tax for more than a decade. But five important caveats, almost universally breached by politicians, affect the likelihood of such a policy working. First, a carbon tax has to be uniform across the entire economy. Saving one tonne of CO2 by switching from coal to gas helps just as much as saving a tonne by using solar energy or not driving. Yet, politicians set different prices. Among the member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), there are likely more than 1,400 different levels of taxes.

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New York Times

October 20, 2017

E.P.A. Scrubs a Climate Website of ‘Climate Change’

The Environmental Protection Agency has removed dozens of online resources dedicated to helping local governments address climate change, part of an apparent effort by the agency to play down the threat of global warming. A new analysis made public on Friday found that an E.P.A. website has been scrubbed of scores of links to materials to help local officials prepare for a world of rising temperatures and more severe storms. The site, previously the E.P.A.’s “Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local and Tribal Governments” has been renamed “Energy Resources for State, Local and Tribal Governments.” About 15 mentions of the words “climate change” have been removed from the main page alone, the study found.

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Texas Energy Report Newsclips October 24, 2017

Lead Stories

The New Yorker

October 19, 2017

Kormann: There’s a Dangerous Bubble in the Fossil-Fuel Economy, and the Trump Administration Is Making It Worse

In the past several years, investors have increasingly recognized the long-term instability of high-carbon industries. Many of their concerns were first summed up in a 2011 report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative, a project started by the financier and environmentalist Mark Campanale. The report identified a significant problem with the way in which fossil-fuel stocks were priced. It began with the idea that humanity has a finite “carbon budget”—that if we are to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change, we must limit our emissions such that the world’s average temperature rises no more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. (This was the same target agreed upon in Paris.) Campanale looked at the planet’s known fossil-fuel reserves—its savings account, basically—and calculated how much carbon would be released if they were burned. The resulting figure, 2.8 trillion tons, was five times greater than Earth’s carbon budget for the next forty years. If civilization as we knew it were to survive, as much as eighty per cent of all remaining oil, gas, and coal needed to stay in the ground. Campanale called it “unburnable carbon.”

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Houston Chronicle

October 20, 2017

Submerging robots in oil may help make storage tanks safer

Hurricane Harvey battered the energy sector along the Texas Gulf Coast, exposing weaknesses with petroleum storage tanks that frame the Houston Ship Channel. The most common problems were roof failures, but there were also drainage issues, unmoored tanks and overflows. While an epic catastrophe like Harvey is bound to create such problems, these above-ground storage tanks still experience emissions releases and other failures during even the finest of weather. … Now, Phillips 66 wants to put the drones inside the tanks. The Houston refiner is partnering with the Boston startup Square Robot for robotics that can inspect tank floors and survey and map out any obstacles while they are filled with oil, gasoline or other petroleum products. The idea is to identify weaknesses and take measures to upgrade or replace tanks before the tanks fail and release vapors and spills.

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Weatherford Democrat

October 19, 2017

Texas’ power may not be covered next time

While hundreds of thousands lost power after Hurricane Harvey slammed Texas last summer, outages may well be worse next time, given the increasingly violent weather that experts foresee. “We’ve dodged the bullet,” said Karl R. R’bago, a former commissioner for the Texas Public Utility Commission who is now executive director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center. “We should honor our good fortune by not relying on it next time.” Daniel Cohan, a Rice University civil and environmental engineering associate professor, said that preparing for the inevitable means paying attention to what went wrong in Harvey. “We learned some new lessons from Harvey that are intriguing,” said Cohan, including the fact that one of the nation’s largest power plants — the W.A. Parish Electric Generating Station southwest of Houston — was unable to use coal to generate electrical energy. “Its coal pile got so water logged they couldn’t get the coal up the conveyor belt.”

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Texas Tribune

October 23, 2017

Ginn: Texas model supports miraculous prosperity

Some folks never miss an opportunity to discount Texas’ prosperity by ascribing the Lone Star State’s good fortune to its oil and gas deposits. A recent example from The New York Times, “Why Texas No Longer Feels Miraculous,” argues that the oil and gas sector boom led to the “Texas Miracle” even as conservative fiscal policies hurt Texans. But Texas’ prosperity isn’t a short-term miracle. It’s a sustained growth period supported by an institutional framework known as the “Texas model” — a model that continues to serve the state as it depends less and less on oil and gas. If the naysayers were correct, the steep decline in oil prices from the summer of 2014 to early 2016 should have led to an economic catastrophe in the state. It didn’t. Though certainly not immune to fluctuations in the oil and gas sector, Texas is much more resilient than it was in the 1980s.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 24, 2017

Oil prices inch up, drop in southern Iraq exports supports

Oil prices inched up on Tuesday, supported by declining exports from southern Iraq. Oil exports from southern Iraq have fallen by 110,000 barrels per day this month, according to shipping data and an industry source, adding to the drop in flows caused by a shortfall from the northern Kirkuk fields when Iraqi forces retook control from Kurdish fighters who had been there since 2014. The drop in northern Iraqi shipments has supported global oil prices in recent days. But southern exports, the outlet for most of the country’s crude, have been stable in recent months, making the decline unexpected. London Brent crude for December delivery was up 6 cents at $57.43 a barrel by 0055 GMT after settling down 38 cents on Monday. U.S. crude for December delivery was up 3 cents at $51.93, having settled up 6 cents.

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Houston Chronicle

October 23, 2017

Fuel prices falling quickly toward pre-Harvey levels

Gasoline prices fell for the sixth consecutive week, quickly approaching levels before Hurricane Harvey caused temporary shortages and widespread price spikes. Average gasoline prices dropped more that 5 cents per gallon in the Houston area. Nationally, they slid about 2 cents a gallon. The average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the Houston area is $2.21, about 11 cents higher than before Harvey, while the national average is $2.44, also 11 cents above its pre-storms average, according to data collected by GasBuddy, which tracks fuel pricing.

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Fox News

October 20, 2017

Texas’ shale oil boom yields rags-to-riches tales by the barrel

Not only has Texas’ role as a petroleum powerhouse created colorful Horatio Alger-esque rags-to-riches stories but it’s also netted billions of dollars and created hundreds of jobs for the state. … American oil legend Mark Papa helped start the U.S. shale boom in the 1990s. In the course of a decade, a $1 investment with him grew to $1,800. He tapped out when the market went bust but came out of retirement at the age of 70 when he saw opportunity in the Permian Basin. In two short years, Papa boosted the value of his new venture, Centennial Resource Development Inc., more than six-fold. “We’ve got a history of wildcatters who came out and risked everything to try and build the industry,” Stacie Hanna, director of marketing and education at the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, told Fox News. “We have people with that same kind of outlook and energy out here now.”

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Los Angeles Daily News

October 22, 2017

2 years after the gas leak above Porter Ranch, here’s what’s changed — and what hasn’t

Thousands fled their homes after a massive gas leak sprung at the Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, ultimately spewing more than 100,000 metric tons of climate-altering methane into the atmosphere. Two years later, a bruised northern San Fernando Valley community is still demanding answers, a comprehensive health study remains in limbo and a bevy of lawsuits has yet to be resolved. … Two years after the nation’s worst natural gas leak was detected in Los Angeles County, the precise cause of a catastrophic well failure at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility has yet to be determined. Three investigations or “root cause analyses” are in the works to determine what led to the massive, nearly four-month leak above Porter Ranch. The analyses, which must be conducted safely and thoroughly, are expected to be completed in the spring of 2018, according to state regulators. The Frisco, Texas-based Blade Energy Partners is focusing on the technical root cause analysis.

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Forbes

October 20, 2017

Shale Gas Fuels Manufacturing Renaissance

Four ethylene crackers are coming online this year on the U.S. Gulf Coast, and another five under construction will begin operations by the end of 2019. The total annual capacity of these projects is 10.9 million metric tons per year, which should fuel ethylene exports. Even with all the new ethylene capacity, the shale gas boom created so much excess ethane in the U.S. that ethane futures through December 2021 are under $0.35/gallon. The $768 billion U.S. chemical industry is the second largest in the world, with 15% of the global market. The industry provided 811,000 U.S. jobs and accounted for $174 billion of U.S. exports in 2016 — 14% of all U.S. exports. Thanks to the shale gas boom, those numbers are expected to grow.

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Houston Chronicle

October 20, 2017

Deal of the Week: TransCanada takes 3 more floors at 700 Louisiana

TransCanada has inked a lease expansion that solidifies its position as the biggest tenant in Bank of America Center, a building poised for updates as its namesake tenant prepares to depart in 2019. The Canadian pipeline company will boost its space by three floors, or nearly 50 percent, in the downtown building at 700 Louisiana. The company, which acquired Houston-based Columbia Pipeline Group in 2016, has leased an additional 82,916 square feet for a total of 260,000 square feet, according to PM Realty Group.

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Maritime Executive

October 23, 2017

Texas Beach Cleanup Underway After Barge Fire

The U.S. Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office and Bouchard Transportation representatives continue beach cleanup operations after an oil discharge from a barge three miles off the jetties of Port Aransas, Texas. Oil barge B255 caught fire early on Friday while under tow by the ATB tug Buster Bouchard. The barge is carrying approximately 130,000 barrels of crude oil. Six of the eight crew members were rescued and did not suffer any serious injuries. A sea and air search was suspended on Sunday for the others. The Coast Guard, local responders and port services including the firefighting tugboat Signet Constellation brought the fire under control.

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Bloomberg

October 20, 2017

Could Mexico Be the Next Panama Canal for Gas? Drillers Think So

Since the first shale gas export terminal opened in Louisiana last year, America’s drillers have seen at least 75 cargoes of their fuel sail through the Panama Canal bound for markets in Asia. Now they’re looking for a cheaper and quicker route. And they’ve turned to Mexico for help. Aldo Flores, Mexico’s deputy energy secretary, said Thursday that the government’s in talks with shale drillers in West Texas about a potential pipeline that would send their gas straight to Mexico’s west coast, where it could then be liquefied and shipped overseas. Such a pipeline could eliminate the need for gas tankers to navigate the Panama Canal and hand the U.S. another outlet for the bounty of gas that President Donald Trump has vowed to “unleash” upon the world. It comes as at least one would-be U.S. gas exporter, Sempra LNG & Midstream, voices concerns about delays at the canal that threaten to cost gas traders thousands of dollars a day.

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Politico

October 22, 2017

Trump-backed super PAC to hold fundraising meeting in Texas Tuesday

President Donald Trump’s political operation will accelerate its planning for the 2018 and 2020 elections this week, with a group of deep-pocketed donors gathering in Texas to plot the path forward, according to four people involved in planning the event. Oilman T. Boone Pickens will host Trump’s financial backers at his Mesa Vista ranch on Tuesday. The group of two dozen contributors, which will include Republican businessmen Roy Bailey and Tommy Hicks, will lay out plans to raise money for the Trump-aligned America First Action super PAC. The organization, which is the primary Trump-backed outside group, is expected to play a role in a number of 2018 midterm races.

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Utilities Stories

Platts

October 20, 2017

Consumers drive power market transformation: observers

The electricity sector faces consumer-driven disruptions akin to the paradigm shifts that disrupted transportation, entertainment and the newspaper industry during the 20th century, market observers said Thursday in separate presentations. Such changes, driven by consumer demand, had impact that was both positive and negative effects. In transportation, while the problems of disposing tons of horse manure and dead horses ended, air pollution and traffic deaths increased sharply, said Prajit Ghosh, Wood Mackenzie’s head of power and renewables research, in a webinar called “Energy Market Disruption and the Role of Power Markets: Are the Markets Prepared?” Houston Chronicle business columnist Chris Tomlinson during a Gulf Coast Power Association luncheon in Houston Thursday cited the fast growth of the internet and its services in the 1990s as a major driver of print and television news media shrinking to a fraction of its former size. “Our business plans were faulty,” Tomlinson said.

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Vox

October 19, 2017

Roberts: Coal is losing in Texas, in the US, in the world.

The Trump administration may be internally divided about many things, but it is absolutely united around one goal: supporting the US coal industry. It is a goal the administration has pursued with uncharacteristic focus and discipline. On this policy — maybe only on this policy — there is a consistent message and a consistent plan of action, across departments and agencies. At the Department of Energy, Rick Perry is trying to engineer a ham-handed intervention into energy markets to boost coal and nuclear. At the Department of Interior, Ryan Zinke is currently trying to allow coal mines closer to national monuments. At the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt is repealing the Clean Power Plan (Obama’s carbon regulations on power plants) and seeking the weakest possible replacement. The list goes on.

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Texas Public Radio

October 17, 2017

3 Takeaways From Unprecedented Texas Coal Plant Closures

As coal use continues to decline, analysts expect the older, dirtier and less efficient plants to shut down first. But one of the plants in this recent rash of closings doesn’t fit that mold. Sandow 5 has the capacity to generate about 600 megawatts of electricity and was built only in 2009, Rhodes said, “so that’s kind of the outlier in this group.” He said it’s not exactly clear why this unit in Milam County will be closed — it’s not even 10 years old. But there’s a lot of speculation. Sandow 5 “is part of a bigger complex. It may not make sense just to keep one part of it open,” Rhodes said, “it may make sense just to close the whole site down.”

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Weather Channel

October 20, 2017

Why Puerto Rico Is Still Suffering A Month After Hurricane Maria

Typically, immediately after a disaster, the American Public Power Association – a public utilities trade group – emcees a conference call with its membership – 1,100 public utilities across the country – to get all the needed line workers and bucket trucks to the stricken area as soon as possible under what are called mutual aid agreements. For instance, the public power association facilitated the rapid deployment of many thousands of workers and their equipment to Texas and Florida after hurricanes Harvey and Irma struck. But the Puerto Rico Electrical Power Authority (PREPA) took a different route after Maria’s 155 mph winds decimated the island’s already-failing electrical grid on Sept. 20, leaving 3.4 million residents, hospitals and businesses without electricity – possibly for months. When the power association convened its conference shortly after Maria struck, PREPA told participants it wouldn’t need the network’s help because it had already contracted with Whitefish Energy Holdings LLC, a two-year-old consultancy, to spearhead the restoration efforts.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Bloomberg

October 19, 2017

Renewable Energy Threatens the World’s Biggest Science Project

The world’s biggest scientific experiment is on course to become the most expensive source of surplus power. Components of the 20 billion-euro ($24 billion) project are already starting to pile up at a construction site in the south of France, where about 800 scientists plan to test whether they can harness the power that makes stars shine. Assembly of the machine will start in May. Unlike traditional nuclear plants that split atoms, the so-called ITER reactor will fuse them together at temperatures 10-times hotter than the Sun — 150 million degrees Celsius (270 million Fahrenheit).

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Austin American-Statesman

October 23, 2017

In Central Texas visit, Gore applauds Georgetown’s focus on renewables

Former Vice President Al Gore delivered more warnings about the threat of global climate change at a renewable energy conference in Georgetown on Monday, before holding up the Central Texas city as an example of the progress being made to alleviate the crisis. Georgetown is the first and only city in Texas to operate solely on renewable energy. It had been the biggest city in the U.S. to get its power entirely from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, until being displaced recently by Las Vegas. Gore, speaking at the GridNEXT renewable energy conference, used a litany of data points to paint a picture of climate change induced by the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities that he said is fueling global catastrophes, from storms and droughts to fires and famines.

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Quartz

October 19, 2017

The US government keeps spectacularly underestimating solar energy installation

Every two years, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), America’s official source for energy statistics, issues 10-year projections about how much solar, wind and conventional energy the future holds for the US. Every two years, since the mid-1990s, the EIA’s projections turn out to be wrong. Last year, they proved spectacularly wrong. The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, and Statista recently teamed up to analyze the EIA’s predictions for energy usage and production. They found that the EIA’s 10-year estimates between 2006 to 2016 systematically understated the share of wind, solar and gas. Solar capacity, in particular, was a whopping 4,813% more in 2016 than the EIA had predicted in 2006 it would be.

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Electronics 360

October 20, 2017

The Most Powerful Microbiological Solar Cell Yet

A microscale microfluidic biological solar cell (micro-BSC) developed at Binghamton University, State University of New York attains high electrical power and long-term operational capability. The device can provide a practical, sustainable power supply for lab-on-a-chip point-of-care diagnostics in resource-limited areas. The bio-solar cell generated the highest power density for longer than any existing cell of its kind. “Micro-BSCs can continuously generate electricity from microbial photosynthetic and respiratory activities over day-night cycles, offering a clean and renewable power source with self-sustaining potential,” said Electrical and Computer Science Assistant Professor Seokheun Choi. “However, the promise of this technology has not been translated into practical applications because of its relatively low power and current short lifetimes.”

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Regulatory Stories

NPR

October 23, 2017

Digging In The Mud To See What Toxic Substances Were Spread By Hurricane Harvey

The floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey had to go somewhere. The storm dumped 50 inches of rain on parts of the Houston area in late August. Much of the water made its way through streets and bayous and eventually drained into the Houston Ship Channel, the busy commercial waterway that allows ships to travel between the Gulf of Mexico and industrial facilities around Houston. In the weeks since, the water has drained away, but scientists believe many of the contaminants it carried have not. “The Port of Houston is saying they had up to 10 feet of storm layer deposited in the ship channel,” explains Tim Dellapenna of Texas A&M University, Galveston, who is studying the so-called storm layer of sediment that Harvey left in the bottom of the channel.

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Los Angeles Times

October 21, 2017

Arctic refuge drilling closer as Senate moves to open site

Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one step closer to oil and gas drilling. A budget measure approved by the Republican-controlled Senate late Thursday allows Congress to pursue legislation allowing oil and gas exploration in the remote refuge on a majority vote. Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska said Congress can create jobs and enhance energy security by opening a small section of the 19.6 million-acre site to drilling. “More energy production means more American jobs, more American economic growth, more American national security … and a more sustainable global environment, because no one in the world produces energy more responsibly than Americans, especially Alaskans,” Sullivan said.

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Associated Press

October 23, 2017

GAO: Climate change already costing US billions in losses

A non-partisan federal watchdog says climate change is already costing U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars each year, with those costs expected to rise as devastating storms, floods, wildfires and droughts become more frequent in the coming decades. A Government Accountability Office report released Monday said the federal government has spent more than $350 billion over the last decade on disaster assistance programs and losses from flood and crop insurance. That tally does not include the massive toll from this year’s three major hurricanes and wildfires, expected to be among the most costly in the nation’s history.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

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Amarillo Globe-News

October 20, 2017

State Sen. Kel Seliger opts not to back Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in re-election

State Sen. Kel Seliger is the only Republican senator who did not formally endorse the re-election of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a fellow Republican and the Texas Senate’s powerful presiding officer. The move hints at a deepening divide between Seliger and Patrick, who are both up for re-election in 2018 and have been at odds on key legislative issues involving local control and private school choice programs. Patrick on Thursday unveiled a list of endorsements for his re-election campaign that included 19 of 20 GOP senators, Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.

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Washington Post

October 23, 2017

‘Let us do our job’: Anger erupts over EPA’s apparent muzzling of scientists

The Trump administration’s decision to prevent government scientists from presenting climate change-related research at a conference in Rhode Island on Monday gave the event a suddenly high profile, with protesters outside, media inside and angry lawmakers and academics criticizing the move. “This type of political interference, or scientific censorship — whatever you want to call it — is ill-advised and does a real disservice to the American public and public health,” Sen. Jack Reed (D), Rhode Island’s senior senator, said at an opening news conference for the State of Narragansett Bay and Its Watershed event in Providence. “We can debate the issues. We can have different viewpoints. But we should all be able to objectively examine the data and look at the evidence.”

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Washington Post

October 23, 2017

EPA plans to repeal emission standards for truck components

The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to repeal tighter emissions standards for truck components, a rule adopted in the final months of the Obama administration aimed at controlling traditional air pollutants as well as greenhouse-gas emissions linked to climate change. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who privately met in May with the manufacturer that stands to benefit most from the rule’s repeal, suggested in August that he would reexamine the rule “in light of the significant issues raised” and see whether it is consistent with the agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act.

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Washington Post

October 23, 2017

The Energy 202: Perry’s power grid proposal nabs some union backing

When Energy Secretary Rick Perry proposed a plan to subsidize coal and nuclear plants for reliably supplying electricity to the power grid, he scrambled the usual alliances that exist on energy issues. Oil and gas representatives teamed with solar and wind lobbyists to urge caution on what they regarded as a rushed proposal. Ex-Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner commissioners from both parties formally denounced Perry’s plan as a “significant step backward” that would distort electricity markets. But support for Perry’s proposal is coming from corners usually aligned with Democrats. A few labor unions that traditionally support Democratic politicians are backing the bid to change regulations to help coal and nuclear power.

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New York Times

October 21, 2017

Why Has the E.P.A. Shifted on Toxic Chemicals? An Industry Insider Helps Call the Shots

For years, the Environmental Protection Agency has struggled to prevent an ingredient once used in stain-resistant carpets and nonstick pans from contaminating drinking water. The chemical, perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, has been linked to kidney cancer, birth defects, immune system disorders and other serious health problems. So scientists and administrators in the E.P.A.’s Office of Water were alarmed in late May when a top Trump administration appointee insisted upon the rewriting of a rule to make it harder to track the health consequences of the chemical, and therefore regulate it.

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The Hill

October 21, 2017

Powell: Judging by Mueller’s staffing choices, he may not be very interested in justice

Much has been written about the prosecutorial prowess of Robert Mueller’s team assembled to investigate allegations of Russia’s involvement in the Trump campaign. Little has been said of the danger of prosecutorial overreach and the true history of Mueller’s lead prosecutor. … Think back to April 1, 1940, and a world awash in turmoil, hate and fear. Revered Attorney General Robert H. Jackson assembled the United States attorneys. In remarks enshrined in the hearts of all good prosecutors, he said, “The citizen’s safety lies in the prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, who seeks truth and not victims, who serves the law and not factional purposes, and who approaches his task with humility.” Weissmann quietly resigned from the Enron Task Force just as the judge in the Enron Broadband prosecution began excoriating Weissmann’s team and the press began catching on to Weissmann’s modus operandi.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 23, 2017
Lead Stories

Houston Chronicle

October 20, 2017

Labor shortage weighs on oil industry recovery

MIDLAND – Three years ago, when crude prices still floated above $100 a barrel and the nation’s oil fields were booming, Clint Concord could hire 20 new workers a day here in the West Texas oil patch to meet the constant demand from his production company clients. But today, with the Permian Basin booming again, Concord said he’s lucky to find one qualified candidate every two days to keep up with the work. Concord, a senior operations at Byrd Oilfield Service, estimates his company is losing $7,000 a day because it still doesn’t have enough truck drivers to deliver equipment to its crews. “Some people got smart and got out of the oil field,” Concord said. “They’re finding other career paths because they can’t handle the inconsistency of it.”

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Bloomberg

October 20, 2017

Noble Group Warns of Loss Topping $1 Billion

Embattled commodity trader Noble Group Ltd. agreed to sell most of its oil-liquids business to Vitol Group to help pare down debt, while warning that it’s set to post a net loss of more than $1 billion for the third quarter as its access to financing remains constrained. Proceeds from the sale would have been $582 million, an illustrative figure that’s based on first-half accounts, according to statements from the company on Monday. Noble Group also said that amount was derived from a starting sum that included proceeds from the earlier sale of its gas-and-power unit. Shares of the trader slumped the most in nearly three months. Among highlights from the company’s two statements on Monday are: A total net loss of $1.1 billion to $1.25 billion expected in the third quarter

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Calgary Herald

October 22, 2017

U.S. shale drillers step back as investors urge profits over boom

U.S. shale drillers are tapping on the brakes in the wake of a growing investor revolt that’s held down company values, even as they’ve scored historic production numbers. The evidence is stacking up: The latest rig count showed the biggest one-week drop in the Permian Basin in 19 months, while Schlumberger Ltd. and Baker Hughes, the two largest oil service companies, blamed lacklustre earnings on the reluctance of North American explorers to boost their spending. At the same time, a Bloomberg Intelligence index of shale explorers showed shares have plunged 22 percent so far this year.

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Utility Dive

October 19, 2017

Texas’ planned coal retirements could depress ERCOT reserve margin

A spate of announced coal retirements are primarily to blame for possibly pushing down reserve margins in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, according to a Platts report based on the grid operator’s board meeting this week. Luminant announced three large Texas coal plant retirements this month, which totals about 4,200 MW of capacity. In addition, Talen Energy plans to retire a 300 MW gas-fired unit. ERCOT has a reserve margin target of 13.75% but according to Platts, the retirements could lower margins to about 12.5% for next summer and 10.5% in 2022.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 23, 2017

Oil prices rise on tightening supply, strong demand

Oil prices rose on Monday over supply concerns in the Middle East and as the U.S. market showed further signs of tightening while demand in Asia keeps rising. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $57.84 at 0056 GMT, up 9 cents, or 0.16 percent, from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $52.03 per barrel, up 19 cents, or 0.37 percent. “Oil prices are holding comfortably above $50 as possible supply disruptions in the Kurdish region of Iraq support prices,” said William O’Loughlin, investment analyst at Rivkin Securities.

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Oil City News

October 20, 2017

US rig count declines by 15 this week to 913; Texas loses 8

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by 15 this week to 913. That’s up from the 553 rigs that were active a year ago. Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes said Friday that 736 rigs sought oil and 177 explored for natural gas this week. Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas lost eight rigs, Alaska and Wyoming each declined by two and New Mexico and Utah each lost one.

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US News

October 22, 2017

Search for Missing Texas Oil-Barge Crew Members Suspended

A sea and air search was suspended on Sunday for two crew members who went missing after an oil barge caught fire early on Friday and leaked an undetermined amount of the fuel into the Gulf of Mexico off Port Aransas, Texas, authorities said. There was no immediate determination of what caused the fire, which was extinguished on Friday. The search for the missing crew members was halted after it turned up no signs of the two, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Edward Wargo. Authorities are bringing in additional floating booms to contain oil around the barge, which is anchored about 3 miles off Port Aransas, a Coast Guard spokesman said. Earlier they put about 2,000 feet (609.6 meters) of containment boom around the vessel.

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Bloomberg

October 23, 2017

Oil Investors Jump Back Into the Fray

Oil investors are back in the ring. Hedge funds are finding betting on West Texas Intermediate crude more attractive again, with total positioning on the U.S. benchmark increasing to the highest in almost a year. The surge comes as oil prices have held steady above $50 a barrel — a key psychological level — for about two weeks. “In general, people are more willing to get into oil right now,” said Ashley Petersen, lead oil analyst at Stratas Advisors in New York, in a telephone interview. “Overall there’s been a real belief that the industry has sort of stabilized the boat and is on the upswing.”

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Wall St. Journal

October 21, 2017

Big Oil Set for Bumper Profits Despite Cheap Crude

When some of the world’s largest energy companies report earnings next week, it will provide a glimpse into whether they are improving profitability as oil prices continue to hover around $50 a barrel. Wall Street will be reading the tea leaves in earnings reports from Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM 0.45% , Chevron Corp. CVX 0.37% Halliburton Co. HAL -0.21% and others, looking not just for the companies’ bottom lines but also for whether oil and gas production may be easing, particularly in the U.S. The world’s biggest oil companies are expected to see big gains in profits as they continue to reorient their businesses around lower-cost projects that yield returns faster. The five largest Western companies are expected to post total profits of almost $13 billion for the three months ended in September, an increase of more than 30% compared with the same period in 2016, according to analyst estimates on FactSet.

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San Antonio Express-News

October 20, 2017

Pipeline company and coal mine brawl over South Texas ranch

TILDEN — Where high-game fences encircle semi-arid South Texas ranches with views extending forever over a low mesquite treeline, there’s a strange battle brewing about what lies beneath the loamy soil. Old lignite mining rights that date back to the 1950s and 1970s are resurfacing and reasserting themselves in the Eagle Ford Shale, a field that makes 1.2 million barrels of oil per day. The San Miguel Electric Cooperative’s longtime lignite mine, which supplies the fuel for its nearby power plant, wants to expand its footprint in McMullen County. In its path: ranchers who don’t want a strip mine to take over their property, and part of a 1,110-mile pipeline network that transports natural gas liquids from the Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford Shale oil fields. The lawsuits are starting.

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Houston Chronicle

October 20, 2017

Kinder Morgan swings to profit, says it’s on track to boost dividend next year

The Houston pipeline company Kinder Morgan swung to a profit in the third quarter, after posting losses in the same period in 2016. The company said it earned $334 million in the three months ending in September, after losing $227 million in the third quarter of 2016. Revenues were essentially flat over the year at about $3.3 billion. In the first nine months 2017, revenues grew to $10.1 billion, an increase of about 4 percent compared to the same period last year.

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Associated Press

October 22, 2017

US-allied force takes Syria’s largest oil field from IS

U.S-allied forces said Sunday they have captured Syria’s largest oil field from the Islamic State group. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who are in a race with Russian-backed Syrian troops to seize parts of the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province, said they are in full control of the Al-Omar field. The SDF has already driven IS from Deir el-Zour’s main natural gas field and smaller oil fields. It says government forces are three kilometers (two miles) away from the fields.

This article appeared in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

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Washington Post

October 21, 2017

In the shadows of Refinery Row, a parable of redevelopment and race

Corpus Christi — The cranes are in place to build a mammoth new bridge over the shipping channel here. The span will be anchored by two Washington Monument-size spires that will be taller than the nearby flame-tipped refinery towers. The $500 million bridge, with a higher clearance and a deeper channel, will let supersize oil tankers push into the inner harbor, spurring industrial growth and uncorking the port’s potential as a petrochemical trading hub. Add in new pipelines nearby, and crude-oil exports are projected to triple by 2024, an increase worth at least $36 billion a year for a port that already provides more than 13,000?jobs. In the shadow of all that economic progress, however, is the poor and polluted neighborhood of Hillcrest. It is squeezed between the port and the interstate, hemmed in by oil tanks on one side and miles of refineries on another.

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WGNO (New Orleans)

October 20, 2017

Sheriff: Body of missing oil rig worker found on Pontchartrain shoreline

KENNER, La. — The body of the man who had been missing since an oil rig exploded in Lake Pontchartrain Sunday night has been found. Interim Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto said the body of 44-year-old Timothy Morrison of Katy, Texas, was recovered today on the lake’s shoreline about three miles from the Jefferson-St. Charles parish line. “My prayers are with Tim’s wife, Erica, and their three children,” Lopinto said. “It brings their tragedy to an end.”

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MarketWatch

October 19, 2017

OPEC beware: The rebound in U.S. shale oil production hasn’t peaked yet

A sharp rebound in U.S. shale oil production is showing no signs of tapering off and will likely keep a lid on oil prices in coming years even as OPEC and its allies continue to cut production, according to a number of industry experts. During the Oil & Money conference in London this week, the positive outlook on U.S. shale output was a recurring theme throughout the sessions with a range of oil experts and industry players forecasting a continued increase in production. ”U.S. shale is in a turnaround and I think that you have a second peak coming,” said David Knapp, chief energy economist at Energy Intelligence. “It won’t be quite as high [as the first one]. But you’ll have a local peak for Eagle Ford and I think the Permian has a decade or more left before we are really draining it,” he said.

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UPI

October 19, 2017

Oil States International expects revenue hit from Harvey

Oil States International, an oilfield services company catering to deepwater production, said Thursday its revenues would be impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The company set its revenue guidance for the third quarter at between $165 million and $185 million, but said Thursday that the impact from Harvey could push that lower to $164 million. Oil States International has headquarters in Houston and operates five manufacturing facilities there with around 500 employees. The company said that, as of Thursday, one of those facilities was still out of service after heavy flooding. Work scheduled at that plant was transferred to another facility.

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Wall St. Journal

October 17, 2017

Oil Companies Defend Big Bets on Gas

The world’s biggest oil companies have defended their giant bets on natural gas at a major energy conference, saying demand will soon emerge for the huge supplies of fuel they are bringing to the market. Robert Franklin, Exxon Mobil Corp.’s XOM 0.45% vice president in charge of gas and power, said natural gas demand was rising in China, where imports of liquefied natural gas are up 40% in the past year. He said he believed India would follow China’s lead soon, recalling talks this month among energy executives and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who sought ideas for switching India to a gas-based economy.

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Wall St. Journal

October 19, 2017

Chevron Temporarily Suspending Operations in Iraqi Kurdistan

Iraq’s backlash against Kurdish independence is reordering the region’s booming energy business, forcing Chevron Corp. CVX 0.37% to suspend operations in Iraqi Kurdistan, opening potential opportunities for BP PLC and unsettling Russian companies’ bet on the Kurds. Chevron said Thursday that it was temporarily halting drilling in the region. The decision was taken because of fighting in nearby Kirkuk and the difficulty the company has had refreshing work crews because of a flight ban to Iraqi Kurdistan imposed by Iran, Turkey and the Iraqi central government in Baghdad., a person familiar with the matter said. “We continue to monitor the situation in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq,” the Chevron spokeswoman said. “We look forward to resuming our operations as soon as conditions permit.”

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Times of India

October 17, 2017

Newest outpost for US crude exports: India

India is set to emerge as a key market for American crude exports in coming months, as refineries in that country are ramping up “test” purchases of U.S. grades to diversify their imports. U.S. exports recently set a weekly record with nearly 2 million barrels of crude a day sent overseas. But shipments to India have been rare, with just a few deliveries since the U.S. lifted its ban on crude exports in late 2015.

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Houston Chronicle

October 22, 2017

Assets of ex-Brazilian president frozen over Pasadena refinery deal

A Brazilian court has ordered ex-President Dilma Rousseff’s assets frozen in connection with an estimated $580 million loss at state oil company Petrobras resulting from the $1.2 billion purchase of a Pasadena oil refinery. The Oct. 11 ruling also orders a freezing of assets for a former head of Petrobras and three members of its board of directors. Court justice Vital do Rego said there were signs of “intentional mismanagement to cover up irregularities.” The one-year freeze covers assets that could be used to recoup the loss. Rousseff was board chair when the purchase was initiated in 2006. Rousseff said in a statement that there was “no evidence of illicit acts” and that she would appeal the ruling.

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Utilities Stories

KENS (San Antonio)

October 20, 2017

CPS Energy rolls out new, cost effective air quality monitor

On Friday, CPS Energy revealed plans to put new air quality sensors all over San Antonio. Todd Horsman, the senior director of strategy and innovation for CPS Energy, says that the units are low-cost. With the San Antonio metro growth rate climbing nonstop for the last five years, CPS is taking action by unveiling the first prototype for a grid-connected air quality monitor. “These units will help the city plan for that growth,” Horsman said. “The intention of these is to get ahead of pollution and understand what’s going on in our service territory, the folks moving to town and how we can make life quality better.”

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Austin American-Statesman

October 21, 2017

How Georgetown’s GOP mayor became a hero to climate change evangelists

In the 14 months since Al Gore came to Georgetown to see for himself the story of this red Texas city’s conversion to solar and wind power, Mayor Dale Ross has become something of an international sensation. On Tuesday, journalists from “Weltspiegel,” a popular German foreign affairs TV program, were interviewing Ross, the latest reporters to have trekked to this charming city of 65,000, the first and still only Texas city to operate entirely on renewable energy. On Monday, Ross, a conservative Republican, will be introducing Gore, the former Democratic vice president and climate change guru, who will be the keynote speaker at the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Alliance’s third annual GridNEXT conference being held in Georgetown, 30 miles north of Austin, for the second consecutive year.

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Futurism

October 20, 2017

Amazon’s Largest Wind Farm Will Be Able to Power 90,000 Homes in Texas

On Thursday, October 19, Amazon launched their largest wind farm yet. Located in Scurry County, the Amazon Wind Farm Texas houses more than 100 turbines that will add 1 million megawatt hours (MWh) of clean energy to the local grid, enough to power over 90,000 American homes for a year, according to the official press release. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos officially christened the wind farm, breaking a bottle of what’s presumably champagne on top of one of the wind turbines, which is about 91 meters (300 feet) high with a rotor that’s twice the wingspan of a Boeing 787 in diameter.

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Houston Chronicle

October 22, 2017

Tomlinson: Bolting from petrol-fueled vehicles

The Bolt more than fulfills our daily needs for commuting, running errands and driving around town. Neither my wife nor I haul heavy loads or equipment, and like typical Americans, we rarely drive it more than 40 miles a day. In place of a fuel gauge, there is range indicator, and the computer says if I drive perfectly I can squeeze out 270 miles on a charge. If I crank up the air conditioning and enjoy the Bolt’s 200 horsepower and tire-squealing 266 pound-feet of torque, then the gauge tells me I’ll be lucky to go 160. The normal driving range is 238 miles, and because it takes three hours to charge using a commercial DC station, and nine hours at home, I have no intention of taking the Bolt on a road trip. For the one time a year that we go to West Texas, we’ll rent a gasoline-powered car.

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Regulatory Stories

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

October 20, 2017

Local effects of Trump’s environmental agenda

Regular media reports on what is often described as a rollback in the mission of environmental protection may have left some wondering what it all means for us locally. Spoiler alert: not much. Let’s take a look at two of the high-profile issues making news and see what there is for us to be concerned about. This is the month when the new, healthier standard for harmful ozone concentrations was to be implemented. The last time such action was taken was in 2007 during the Bush administration. I was a part of that process then, and it was the first time in 10 years that a reduction in allowable levels of ozone was mandated. Since then, the Dallas-Fort Worth area has come very close to meeting that standard after being in full compliance with the previous requirements going back to 1990.

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Wall St. Journal

October 22, 2017

Trump Plan for Coal, Nuclear Power Draws Fire From Environmental, Oil Groups

A Trump administration proposal aimed at shoring up coal-fired and nuclear power plants across the nation has generated opposition from an array of energy and consumer interests, including some who are often at odds on energy policy. Oil and gas companies, wind and solar power producers, some public utilities, electricity consumers and environmentalists—rarely natural allies—are all publicly opposing the Energy Department’s proposal. The plan would effectively guarantee profits for some nuclear and coal-fired power plants, prompting critics that also include former federal regulators to call it a bailout for struggling plants that undermines competitive markets.

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Texas Tribune

October 22, 2017

Patrick skeptical of need for new House committee on Texas economy

Count Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick among those skeptical of House Speaker Joe Straus’ new push to look into Texas’ business climate after the “bathroom bill” fight. “First of all, we already have the most pro-business climate in the country, and it bothers me a little bit that someone feels they have to have a committee to focus on that,” Patrick told The Texas Tribune in an interview Saturday. “Rick Perry did a heck of a job on it. Greg Abbott’s done a heck of a job on it. The Texas Senate’s done a heck of a job on it. And the House has done good work.” “I don’t know what the point is,” Patrick later said of the new House Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness.

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Texas Tribune

October 20, 2017

Perry pursuing policy on coal, nuclear power at odds with Texas record

An unusual coalition of fossil fuel interests, environmentalists and free-market adherents has criticized a proposal from U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry that would prop up coal and nuclear plants across the country. And some of those familiar with Texas politics are wondering if the Perry that served as state governor for 14 years would have opposed the plan, too. In a 2011 interview, then-Gov. Perry told blogger and radio host Erick Erickson, “Get rid of the tax loopholes, get rid of all of the subsidies. Let the energy industry get out there and find — the market will find the right energy for us to be using in this country.”

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Washington Post

October 13, 2017

Federman: Trump says he ended the ‘war’ on coal companies. But it’s too late to save them.

It was depicted by energy executives and conservatives as a “witch hunt,” “a politically motivated sham” and a move that would “destroy mining in the West .” In January 2016, President Barack Obama imposed a three-year moratorium on federal coal leasing, which halted new projects and delayed pending applications for companies to extract coal from federal land. During that time, the Interior Department was to carry out an overdue review of the program’s social and environmental costs. A year later, all this was an easy target for President Trump, who had promised to save the coal industry from oppressive regulations and slumping sales . On March 29, his administration lifted the moratorium and deep-sixed the study. In his speech at Environmental Protection Agency headquarters announcing the reversal of other measures designed to make life easier for the industry, the president said he was “putting an end to the war on coal.”

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New York Times

October 22, 2017

E.P.A. Cancels Talk on Climate Change by Agency Scientists

The Environmental Protection Agency has canceled the speaking appearance of three agency scientists who were scheduled to discuss climate change at a conference on Monday in Rhode Island, according to the agency and several people involved. John Konkus, an E.P.A. spokesman and a former Trump campaign operative in Florida, confirmed that agency scientists would not speak at the State of the Narragansett Bay and Watershed program in Providence. He provided no further explanation. Scientists involved in the program said that much of the discussion at the event centers on climate change.

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Houston Chronicle

October 22, 2017

Grieder: NAFTA is good for Texas. Withdrawing from it wouldn’t be.

As a general matter, I believe that politicians should live by the principle doctors are sworn to: first, do no harm. And after this year’s long debate about the state’s role in regulating school bathrooms, I suspect most Texans can see some advantages to that approach. With that said, there are a few things the state is required to do, and it’s occasionally appropriate for our leaders to exert themselves beyond that. From time to time, we might even expect them to. Let’s imagine, for example, that representatives from the United States, Mexico and Canada, while attempting to renegotiate NAFTA, reach an impasse after the Americans present a series of proposals so obnoxious that even the Canadians get worked up enough to say so in public. In that situation, Texas leaders should speak up, obviously. Trade deals fall under the federal purview, but we kind of have a horse in that race.

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Slate

October 6, 2017

Cummins: There’s Reason to Be Skeptical of a Tesla-Powered Puerto Rico

Last week, I wrote a story for Slate about Hurricane Maria’s sole silver lining: In the wake of unprecedented destruction, Puerto Rico actually has a unique opportunity to build a better, greener grid. On Thursday, Elon “Batteries Suck” Musk stepped in to suggest, over Twitter, that he (and his companies Tesla and SolarCity) could be the one to do the heavy lifting for the ravaged island territory. The governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló, soon tweeted back to say, “Let’s talk.” This is not what I had in mind. Musk’s day-old plan for Puerto Rico is underdeveloped, to say the least, but the billionaire’s past projects in energy infrastructure could point the way. Back in 2016, Musk installed a microgrid on the island of Ta’u in American Samoa. Up until November of that year, the island had run primarily on diesel shipped in from the mainland. So Musk stepped in to install more than 5,000 solar panels and 60 Tesla Powerpacks for storage, as the Verge reported at the time. It was primarily funded by American Samoa and federal agencies like the Department of the Interior.

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The Hill

October 22, 2017

Everything you need to know about the coming Trump Arctic drilling debate

The Senate’s budget vote on Thursday was the opening salvo in what’s likely to be a bitter fight over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). President Trump, key officials in his administration and leading Republicans support drilling in the ANWR, an expanse of 19 million acres of land — about the size of South Carolina — above the Arctic Circle in Alaska, 1.5 million of which was set aside for potential oil exploration and development. But greens uniformly oppose any effort to produce oil in the refuge, which they consider a pristine frontier of American landscape.

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 20, 2017
Lead Stories

Houston Chronicle

October 19, 2017

Study: World pollution deadlier than wars, disasters, hunger

Environmental pollution — from filthy air to contaminated water — is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined. One out of every six premature deaths in the world in 2015 — about 9 million — could be attributed to disease from toxic exposure, according to a major study released Thursday in The Lancet medical journal. The financial cost from pollution-related death, sickness and welfare is equally massive, the report says, costing some $4.6 trillion in annual losses — or about 6.2 percent of the global economy.

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Austin American-Statesman

October 18, 2017

Marston: Why Hartnett White is dangerous for environmental council

With each new appointee to the Trump administration, it’s like the president is trolling us. Put someone who sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 14 times in charge of the agency? Check. Appoint a man who wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy as its head? Check. But you ain’t seen nothing yet. Trump’s newest choice for the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality – Kathleen Hartnett White of the Texas Public Policy Foundation – is beyond insulting to the American people. As a Texan, I’ve had a front row seat to Hartnett White’s dangerous propaganda on climate and other environmental issues for years. If there were an adult version of “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” she’d be the show’s star. And it would be funny — if what she said didn’t mean death and illness for so many.

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Platts

October 18, 2017

Next wave of US LNG export facilities could face credit risk: S&P

Cheap, abundant US supplies of natural gas combined with forecasts of growing global LNG demand early next decade are not enough to ease the uncertainty facing the next wave of LNG export projects, S&P Global Ratings said Tuesday, citing high construction costs and the challenges in securing long-term supply contracts. The ratings agency is part of the same company that owns S&P Global Platts. The main fear is that as developers along the US Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic and Pacific coasts seek creative ways to finance liquefaction units, they will be open to shorter agreements with smaller quantities and more flexible terms, raising concerns about their ability to repay debt as contracts come up for renewal more often, S&P Global Ratings noted in a report.

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Bloomberg

October 19, 2017

Denning: Rick Perry’s Plan Looks DOA But Could Spark a Dynegy Deal

The intellectual rigor underpinning Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposed subsidy for coal-fired and nuclear power plants was captured best in the response given last week by the ‘Dancing With The Stars’ alumnus to a congressman’s question about the plan’s projected cost: What’s the cost of freedom? What does it cost to build a system to keep America free?When it comes to M&A, though, intellectual rigor is only part of the equation; tactics and plain old second-guessing are equally important. So even if Perry’s black-lungs-matter plan ultimately doesn’t fly, it may yet help tip the balance in the most talked-about potential deal in the power sector: Vistra Energy Corp. buying Dynegy Inc.This tie-up has been rumored since the spring (I wrote about in April). And the takeout of fellow generator Calpine Corp., announced in August added fuel to the fire. Curt Morgan, Vistra’s CEO, has also dropped hints, such as this one from the company’s latest earnings call:

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 20, 2017

Oil rises on tighter fundamentals, but China warning holds back market

Oil prices edged up on Friday, supported by signs of tightening supply and demand fundamentals, although a warning about excessive China economic optimism still weighed somewhat on markets. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $57.39 at 0420 GMT, up 16 cents, or 0.28 percent from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $51.47 per barrel, up 18 cents, or 0.35 percent. The stable prices came after a more than 1 percent fall in prices the previous day. This was put down to profit-taking following four days of straight gains, but also to a sudden market slump which spooked traders after the veteran but outgoing governor of China’s central bank warned of a “Minsky moment”, a reference to excessive optimism about economic growth fueled by vast debt and speculative investment.

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Center for Public Integrity

October 18, 2017

CPI: Republican lawmakers’ posh hideaway bankrolled by secret corporate cash

Donald Trump declared last year in his populist presidential nomination acceptance speech that he’s “not able to look the other way” when the nation’s political system “has sold out to some corporate lobbyist for cash.” But behind the scenes, several major corporations and trade groups secretly bankrolled a plush hideaway for lawmakers at the same Republican National Convention in Cleveland where Trump gave the speech, records obtained by the Center for Public Integrity show. Comcast Corp., Microsoft, Koch Companies Public Sector, the National Retail Federation, Health Care Service Corp., the American Petroleum Institute, Chevron and AT&T are among the companies, associations and lobbying powerhouses that funded a limited liability company called “Friends of the House 2016 LLC,” according to bank records. Friends of the House 2016 LLC, in turn, paid for the design and outfitting of an exclusive office, lounge and gathering space for Republican lawmakers — including House Speaker Paul Ryan — and controlled access to the so-called “cloakroom.”

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UT News

October 17, 2017

Track Tremors Across Texas With New Website

The University of Texas at Austin Bureau of Economic Geology has finished installing the state’s earthquake monitoring network, TexNet, and thanks to a new interactive website, the public can follow and sort seismic activity in Texas in real time. TexNet, the most advanced state-run seismic monitoring system in the country, was authorized by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Legislature in June 2015 with $4.47 million in state funding. Like many areas in the south-central United States, Texas has experienced an increase in the number of earthquakes during the past decade, especially in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the Permian Basin region and south-central Texas.

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Associated Press

October 19, 2017

Houston’s Hilcorp proposes Arctic drilling from artificial island

America within a few years could be extracting oil from federal waters in the Arctic Ocean, but it won’t be from a remote drilling platform. Federal regulators are taking comments on a draft environmental statement for the Liberty Project, a proposal by a subsidiary of Houston-based Hilcorp to create an artificial gravel island that would hold production wells, a processing facility and the start of an undersea pipeline carrying oil to shore and connections to the trans-Alaska pipeline. The drilling would be the first in federal Arctic waters since Royal Dutch Shell, amid protest both in the United States and abroad, in 2015 sent down an exploratory well in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s northwest coast.

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle

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Houston Chronicle

October 19, 2017

Rowan launches ARO Drilling joint venture with Saudi Aramco

Houston offshore driller Rowan Cos. said Thursday it finally launched its delayed joint venture with Saudi Arabia, called ARO Drilling. The new JV, which was delayed from the spring until October, will lead much of Saudi Arabia’s shallow water drilling efforts at least through 2030 as part of the 50-50 partnership. “This is a groundbreaking joint venture that supports Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, and provides Rowan with an unparalleled long-term growth opportunity throughout the next decade and beyond,” said Rowan President and CEO Tom Burke.

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World Oil

October 18, 2017

ExxonMobil acquires crude oil terminal to serve growing Permian production

ExxonMobil Corporation announced today that it has acquired a crude oil terminal in Wink, Texas from Genesis Energy LP. The terminal is located in the rapidly growing Delaware basin, part of Permian basin, one of the most prolific plays in the U.S. The terminal is strategically positioned to handle Permian basin crude oil and condensate for transport to Gulf Coast refineries and marine export terminals. The facility is interconnected to the Plains Alpha Crude Connector pipeline system, and is permitted for 100,000 bopd of throughput with the ability to expand.

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New York Times

October 19, 2017

Pioneer to Quadruple Oil Exports as Shale Surges-CEO

Pioneer Natural Resources will quadruple oil exports within a year, reflecting an expected surge in U.S. exports as shale output rises, Chief Executive Tim Dove said on Thursday. Pioneer, one of the largest oil producers in the Permian Basin of West Texas and New Mexico, exported three cargoes of 500,000 barrels of oil in the third quarter and is expected to ship four in the fourth quarter.

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San Antonio Express-News

October 18, 2017

San Antonio’s Andeavor delivers its first fuel import to Mexico

San Antonio-based refiner Andeavor says it delivered its first export of fuel by ship into Mexico as the company ramps up its retail expansion inside the country. Andeavor said the fuel was exported to Mexico by ship through the Rosarito terminal run by Mexico’s state-run oil company Pemex, according to a statement. The terminal is located in the Baja California city of Rosarito, around 12 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border. While the company, formerly named Tesoro Corp., has exported fuel via truck before, this was its first maritime export.

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Bloomberg

October 18, 2017

Encana Sees Permian Land Race Coming to an End

Encana Corp. Chief Executive Officer Doug Suttles says drillers in Texas’s prolific Permian Basin can no longer impress investors with how much acreage they’re snapping up or how quickly they’re boosting production. Instead, investors will focus on how profitably companies are able to produce from their current holdings, Suttles said in an interview in New York. Encana, which has spent about four years reworking its portfolio of holdings to four top North American plays, expects to be a leader among its peers on that front, he said. “The race for the land is kind of over,” Suttles said. “Now it’s what are you going to do with the land.”

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Houston Chronicle

October 19, 2017

BP chairman who presided over Gulf spill crisis to retire

Energy firm BP says its chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, who presided over the company during the Deepwater Horizon spill, has decided to retire. Svanberg became chairman only months before the disaster, which killed 11 people and led to an environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Bloomberg

October 18, 2017

Oil’s Biggest Rigs Head to the Junkyard

Transocean Ltd. is finally sending Pathfinder to its grave, after two years in a Caribbean purgatory that cost about $15,000 a day. The move by the world’s biggest offshore-rig operator signals just how bleak the future looks for deepwater drilling. Pathfinder is the most famous of six floating rigs the company is scrapping in burials that will add up to a bruising $1.4 billion write-off. Competitors are going the same route, jettisoning more rigs in the third quarter than have ever been trashed in a 90-day stretch, according to Heikkinen Energy Advisors analyst David Smith. That’s how bad it is, with predictions crude prices won’t go much higher than $60 a barrel in the next year compared with around $50 recently. “Deepwater is going to be playing a much-reduced role on the global oil-supply stage relative to what the industry expected as recently as three years ago,” said Thomas Curran, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets in New York. For all that, it could have been worse, in one way, for Transocean. It has been the most aggressive in an unprecedented experiment with what’s called cold-stacking for big drillships.

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Houston Chronicle

October 19, 2017

In Port Arthur, Hurricane Harvey’s fury is still lingering

It took five weeks for the largest U.S. oil refinery to get back to normal after Hurricane Harvey. It’s taking Port Arthur, a lot longer. Nearly two months after Harvey inundated Port Arthur, a crucial hub of the global energy industry, the city of 55,000 is struggling to recover. As attention shifted to Puerto Rico, where the devastation from Hurricane Maria is far worse, water-logged debris still lines the city’s streets. The mess of furniture, carpets and appliances will take months to clear, Mayor Derrick Freeman said. Zika, mold, hepatitis and other health threats are a big concern.

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Midland Reporter-Telegram

October 20, 2017

Diamondback CEO joins list of industry leaders supporting road bond

Another oil company leader is throwing his support behind the road bond campaign. Diamondback Energy CEO Travis Stice has joined Pioneer Natural Resources CEO Tim Dove and Concho Resources CEO Tim leach with a public statement in support of the $100 million bond referendum that is expected to fund 26 projects across the city. In an email to the Reporter-Telegram, Stice wrote he’s in “strong support” of the road bond and is “encouraging Diamondback employees to go out and vote.” The two-week early voting period for the road bond referendum begins Monday. Election Day is Nov. 7.

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Associated Press

October 19, 2017

More oil than initially believed spilled off Louisiana coast

The Coast Guard says the amount of oil discharged into the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana’s coast last weekend is substantially higher than initial estimates. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement says oil spewed out of an underwater fractured pipe Saturday in the Gulf of Mexico about 40 miles (65 kilometers) southeast of Venice, Louisiana. The Coast Guard said in a news release Thursday that offshore oil and gas operator LLOG Exploration Offshore reports about 16,000 barrels of oil were discharged. The operator initially estimated that 7,950 to 9,350 barrels had spilled.

This article appeared in the Brownsville Herald

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UPI

October 18, 2017

Continental Resources oil sale to China complex

The head Continental Resources, Harold Hamm, said the sale of North Dakota oil to China was the “new normal,” through the move is complex, an analyst said. Continental said late Tuesday it sold 1 million barrels of oil from the Bakken shale basin to a Houston-based trading company, which intends to send the oil to China. Continental said daily sales of 33,500 barrels of oil per day would take place next month at the U.S. oil storage hub in Cushing, Okla., and the trader would then plan to put that on tankers at a Texas port for exports to China. “This is a historic day for Continental and begins a new chapter in our long-term strategy to establish multiple international markets for American light sweet oil,” Hamm said in a statement.

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Reuters

October 18, 2017

Canada’s oil sands survive, but can’t thrive in a $50 oil world

Canada’s oil sands producers are stuck in a rut. The nation’s oil firms are retrenching, with large producers planning little or no further expansion and some smaller projects struggling even to cover their operating costs. As the era of large new projects comes to a close, many mid-sized producers – those with fewer assets and producing less than 100,000 barrels of oil a day in the oil sands – have shelved expansion plans, unable to earn back the high start-up costs with crude at around $50 per barrel. Larger Canadian producers, meanwhile, focus on projects that in the past were associated with smaller names. The last three years have seen dozens of new projects mothballed and expansions put on hold, meaning millions of barrels of crude from the world’s third-largest reserves may never be extracted.

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KWES (Midland)

October 19, 2017

Company aims to get a permit for waste facility in Martin Co.

One company is working to get a permit and it’s all to build an oil and gas disposal pit outside of Midland County. The Texas Railroad Commission said the company, High Roller Martin County Landfill LLC., applied for their permit application in September. If approved, they’ll use 160 acres of land where they can dispose of non-hazardous solid waste. The site will be in Martin County and about 15 miles north of the Tall City. Neighbors in one residential area said they didn’t mind having a waste facility since it’s 10 miles away.

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Utilities Stories

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

October 17, 2017

Report: Wind Could Overtake Coal In a Few Years in Texas

As coal plants shutter across the state, wind capacity could exceed coal in Texas in a few years, according to a new report from the Energy Institute at the University of Texas – Austin. Joshua Rhodes, research fellow at the Energy Institute, says he believes that will be the case with Luminant announcing a total of three coal plants that will stop operating next year and more wind capacity that’s expected to come online. The Monticello Power Plant in Titus County will be taken offline in early 2018, along with the Sandow Power Plant in Milam County and Big Brown Power Plant in Freestone County.

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Bloomberg

October 18, 2017

America’s Miners Are Digging for Hotter Coals as Old Plants Shut

Early next year, three massive coal-fired power plants in Texas will close for good. And their absence will be felt 1,000 miles away in the coal pits of Wyoming and Montana. There, in the energy-rich Powder River Basin, miners have for decades carved out coal that’s cheap but packs less heat than the tons extracted from other sites in the region — because it’s the kind that plants like the three Vistra Energy Corp. is retiring in Texas prefer. In fact, two of those generators are customers of these lower-quality mines. And as they and other aging units die off, so does demand for this coal, forcing miners to shift their focus to hotter supplies that leaner plants will buy. The type of coal in the Powder River Basin that “has a better future” is the kind that packs at least 8,800 British thermal units of heat a pound, more than the 8,400-Btu coal that’s also mined there, Jeremy Sussman, an analyst with Clarksons Platou Securities Inc., said by email. Other types of coal holding less energy are going to increasingly face pressure because of shutdowns like Vistra’s, he said.

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Longview News Journal

October 17, 2017

Tyler Morning Telegraph: Coal’s replacement by natural gas is a win for all Texans

“A common thread runs through the reforms needed to create more opportunity and remove favoritism in the energy sector: get government out of the way,” Loris writes. “A free energy market would drive innovation and provide the affordable, reliable energy that American families and businesses need. Further, policies rooted in the free market would not only protect the environment, but also deliver the means to promote a cleaner environment.” So yes, the closing of the Monticello plant is a win — for all Texans.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Houston Chronicle

October 19, 2017

Jeff Bezos christens Amazon’s big Texas wind farm

Standing on top of a massive wind turbine, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos christened the online juggernaut’s new Texas wind farm. Bezos broke a bottle of sparkling wine over a turbine at the 253-megawatt Amazon Wind Farm Texas west of Abilene in Scurry County and Seattle-based Amazon posted videos on Twitter and Instagram. The Texas wind farm is Amazon’s largest renewable energy project to date, and it’s built and operated by Chicago’s Lincoln Clean Energy. One megawatt typically powers 200 homes on a hot Texas day.

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New York Times

October 13, 2017

NYT: Would You Buy a Self-Driving Future From These Guys?

Most Americans look at that future, though, and say — not so fast. While companies like Alphabet, General Motors and Tesla are investing billions of dollars to turn lofty goals for driverless cars into reality, the Pew Research Center found that most people surveyed did not want to ride in them and were not sure whether the vehicles would make roads safer or more dangerous (39 percent vs. 30 percent). And 87 percent favored requiring that a person always be behind the wheel, ready to take control if something goes wrong. It might be tempting for corporate executives and proponents to dismiss these concerns as part of humanity’s aversion to change and argue that this resistance will soften once people see the benefits of self-driving technologies. That would be a mistake.

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Digital Trends

October 15, 2017

Your home could be powered by solar-powered batteries in the near future

Solar power is taking off in a big way as more and more Americans turn to renewable energy sources. However, the tech isn’t without its flaws. One of the main problems is that solar panels only generate power at certain times, and those times aren’t always in line with the needs of homeowners. Some states, such as California and Arizona, see an abundance of solar energy produced during the day, but that production falls off in the evening when power usage is at its highest. This can be a problem for both consumers and utility companies alike. That doesn’t mean there aren’t solutions to this problem. There are consumers who rely on such solutions every day to power their smartphones. We’re talking about batteries, of course.

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Quartz

October 16, 2017

A new sulfur-based battery takes on the problem of energy storage “at the terawatt scale”

Renewable energy sources are only as reliable as the natural world that fuels them. A cloud passing overhead cuts off solar power; the wind stops blowing and windmills stop working. In order for us to depend on undependable power sources, we need a grid-sized backup to acts of God. In 2012, president Barack Obama’s energy secretary Stephen Chu issued a “5-5-5” challenge to those in the energy storage field, bring us a 5% reduction of cost, a five times increase in capacity, and do it in five years or less. Yet-Ming Chiang, MIT’s department of material science and engineering and founder of multiple battery-research startups, was the lead author on a study published earlier this week in the journal, Joule, that described a battery conceived and designed with a wary eye on that first five in Chu’s challenge. “We said, ‘If we want energy storage at the terawatt scale, we have to use truly abundant materials,’” Chiang told MIT News.

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Regulatory Stories

New Orleans Times-Picayune

October 18, 2017

OSHA joins investigation into Lake Pontchartrain oil platform explosion

Add the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration to the list of agencies analyzing the Lake Pontchartrain oil platform fire. “OSHA has an open and ongoing investigation into this incident,” spokesman Juan Rodriguez said Wednesday (Oct. 18), while not providing details about the agency’s inquiry. He confirmed the investigation three days after the Clovelly Oil Co. platform exploded about 1 1/2 miles northwest of Kenner’s Williams Boulevard boat launch. Seven employees of Clovelly and a contractor, Hydra Steam Generator Inc. of Houston, were injured, and an eighth remains missing. … The missing worker, Timothy Morrison, 44, of Katy, Texas, remained the focus of searchers, but his body has not been found.

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Texas Tribune

October 18, 2017

Hurricane Harvey sparks renewed push for underground water storage projects

For state Rep. Lyle Larson, Hurricane Harvey was not only a tragedy but also a wasted opportunity. The San Antonio Republican, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, estimates that the amount of rain the storm dropped on the state could meet all its water needs — household, agricultural and otherwise — for at least eight years. Instead, he said, those 34 trillion gallons ended up in a place where they didn’t do a bit of good: the Gulf of Mexico. “You could capture a good percentage of that water and start storing it,” he said in a recent interview.

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Texas Observer

October 19, 2017

Sadasivam: After Failing to Prop Up Coal in Texas, Rick Perry is Trying Again Nationwide

In late 2005, then-Governor Rick Perry was in the middle of a protracted battle with a coalition of environmentalists, renewable energy advocates, mayors and local leaders. TXU, the state’s largest utility, had announced that it wanted to build 11 new coal plants. At the time, natural gas and coal made up about 46 and 39 percent, respectively, of the energy mix of Texas’ main grid. The fracking boom had not yet hit Texas, and wind power provided a tiny percentage of the state’s energy needs. TXU was betting big on coal having a bright future. John Wilder, the utility’s controversial CEO, claimed the new investments would shield Texans from spikes in natural gas prices, in particular because the volatile commodity’s price had quadrupled and experts projected the low prices of the 1990s would not return. The U.S. also had an abundant coal supply, he noted.

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Houston Chronicle

October 19, 2017

EPA chief: Under Trump, agency is like never before

Environmental Protection Agency Chief Scott Pruitt gave a succinct message to oil and gas industry leaders Thursday night: The Trump administration’s agency will be nothing like the last. President Donald Trump and his cabinet members are “focused on results and that’s been the primary focus of my first months at the EPA,” Pruitt said. “We’re establishing metrics and benchmarks and performance standards in key areas of what we do.” Pruitt spoke Thursday night during the Texas Oil and Gas Association’s annual Lone Star Energy Forum in The Woodlands, answering questions for about 30 minutes from the association’s president, Todd Staples.

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Associated Press

October 17, 2017

Dems slam Arctic drilling plan as ‘polar payout’ to Big Oil

Democrats and environmental groups on Tuesday denounced a Republican plan to allow oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, saying it would defile a crown jewel of U.S. wilderness to promote oil exports to China and other nations. Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., called the plan a “massive corporate handout to Big Oil” that amounted to a “polar payout” to finance tax cuts for the “super rich.” The Trump administration and congressional Republicans are pushing the drilling plan, a longtime GOP goal, as a way to help pay for proposed tax cuts promised by President Donald Trump. The drilling plan is included in a GOP budget proposal for the current fiscal year and is expected to generate an estimated $1 billion over 10 years. Democrats scoffed at that claim, saying the plan would raise far less revenue at a time oil production in the lower 48 states, especially Texas and North Dakota, is booming.

This article appeared in the Longview News-Journal

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San Antonio Express-News

October 16, 2017

Trump voters confront climate change in wake of hurricane

Jefferson County, Texas, is among the low-lying coastal areas that could lose the most as the ice caps melt and the seas warm and rise. At the same time, it is economically dependent on oil refineries that stand like cityscapes across the community. Residents seemed to choose between the two last November, abandoning a pattern of voting Democratic in presidential elections to support Donald Trump. Then came Hurricane Harvey. Now some conservatives here are newly confronting some of the most polarizing questions in American political discourse: What role do humans play in global warming and the worsening of storms like Harvey? And what should they expect their leaders to do about the problem now?

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Fortune

October 12, 2017

Trump Is About to Stifle U.S. Solar Power. Why?

In a small Oval Office meeting this summer, President Donald Trump lashed out at his senior economic advisers for their tepidness on trade policy. After grumbling disapprovingly about the “globalists in the room,” Trump reportedly looked to his newly appointed Chief of Staff John Kelly and made a demand: “I want tariffs. And I want someone to bring me some tariffs.” He now seems to be getting what he wanted. Last week, the administration announced it will hit the Canadian manufacturer Bombardier with a 220% tariff on its aircraft. Just days earlier, the International Trade Commission opened the door for Trump to levy tariffs on imported solar panels—a more sweeping trade policy shift. White House aides say Trump is 90% likely to enact solar tariffs through his authority under a 1974 law.

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New York Times

October 18, 2017

NYT: The White House Sees Only Dollar Signs in the Arctic

Alaska is “open for business!” With these words, delivered before an appreciative audience of oil producers in Anchorage in May, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reaffirmed the Trump administration’s determination to open Alaska’s fragile environment to commercial exploitation. Here are the particulars of that assault, at least so far: In April, President Trump signed an order that to allow oil drilling in United States waters in the Arctic Ocean that President Barack Obama had declared off limits. In May, Mr. Zinke made clear his plan to reverse the Obama administration’s decision to protect environmentally delicate areas of the National Petroleum Reserve. Also in May, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, always eager to join in the environmental mayhem, reversed an Obama policy that had blocked a proposed gold mine in the headwaters of Bristol Bay, one of the most productive wild salmon fisheries. Mr. Pruitt made the decision after meeting with the chief executive of the mining company.

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Clean Technica

October 6, 2017

Harvey: The Political Storm About To Hit US

If we step back for a minute, we can see that the conservative movement in the United States, and particularly the Republican Party, can be divided into three groups of people. The first of these is the traditional Republicans who espouse patriotism, family values, and apple pie. They include people like James Baker, Hank Paulson, and George Schultz. They are moved by the views of the Armed Forces, and they believe in climate change. A second group is made up of people who believe in the “Free Market.” They are people who are famous for their position that the government should not be “picking winners and losers.” And this is where the intersection of energy, climate change, and conservative politics becomes interesting. Historically, the Free Market thinkers have been very suspicious of the whole notion of climate change, just has they have been suspicious of anyone who would do such socialist things as push for public education or public utilities. They have believed that the notion of climate change is much more improbable than the goal of a socialist takeover of the world. In fact, they think it is so much more improbable that they could resonate to the idea that climate change was a Chinese hoax. Without giving much thought to probabilities, they take the idea that nearly all climate and weather scientists are climate change believers as an indication that just about all scientists are either intimidated or paid off.

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Agweek

October 13, 2017

The EPA is targeting ethanol subsidies, rankling Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley

As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, one of the congressional committees investigating Russian interference in last year’s election, Charles Grassley is in a better position than most other Republicans in Congress to tighten the screws on the Trump administration. So President Donald Trump raised eyebrows when he telephoned the senior senator from Iowa at the end of August. The topic of their conservation was not Russia, Grassley’s office insisted – it was ethanol. Flames burn along Grand Forks Country Road 3 east of Gliby, N.D. Tuesday afternoon as firefighters set up a perimeter around the blaze. No one was hurt and no property was damaged.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 19, 2017
Lead Stories

San Antonio Express-News

October 18, 2017

Judge postpones Uresti trial until January

A federal judge postponed State Sen. Carlos Uresti’s criminal fraud trial — scheduled to start Monday — after concluding a lawyer for one of his co-defendants wasn’t adequately prepared for trial. The trial will now start on Jan. 4, Senior U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra ruled Wednesday. “I am disappointed,” Uresti said after a court hearing. The San Antonio Democrat opposed a delay on the grounds that it would interfere with his right to a speedy trial. On Wednesday morning, the court-appointed lawyer for Stan Bates, a co-defendant and the former CEO of now-defunct San Antonio oil field services company FourWinds Logistics, filed a court motion seeking to withdraw from the case over a “conflict of interest.”

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Houston Chronicle

October 18, 2017

U.S. crude, petroleum exports hit new records as China buys more

The Texas Gulf Coast is leading the way as the nation ships out record levels of crude oil and petroleum products to foreign markets, including China, which is buying more American oil. The United States is routinely exporting more than 1 million barrels of oil a day and shipping out more than 6 million barrels of total petroleum a day, according to the U.S. Energy Department. More than two-thirds of those petroleum exports are shipped through Gulf Coast ports. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which wreaked havoc along the Texas Gulf Coast, the International Energy Agency deemed the region “too important to fail” as a global energy trading hub.

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Los Angeles Times

October 15, 2017

Coal country is finding little relief in Trump’s climate actions

Every morning is filled with anxiety in this hardscrabble town so intertwined with the fortunes of its hulking coal power plant that a drawing of the facility is emblazoned on the community’s police force emblem. Locals look out their windows to see if there are clouds drifting from its massive smokestacks, indicating the plant is still running. If they don’t see any, they wonder if plant owners have thrown in the towel for good. “Everyone gets concerned when they wake up and don’t see smoke coming out,” said Rob Nymick, manager of the 1,700-resident borough that he says will be economically “crushed” if the plant goes dark. As the Trump administration dismantles one of the world’s most aggressive programs to confront climate change, it is invoking the suffering of communities like this one, where the brawny coal power plant that anchors the local economy teeters on insolvency. Yet as the Trump administration declares an end to what it calls the “war on coal,” Homer City isn’t any less under siege.

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Texas Monthly

October 18, 2017

How Hurricane Harvey Changed Social Media Disaster Relief

For millions of Texans—and people around the world—Hurricane Harvey was the first natural disaster that they watched unfold almost in real time on social media. Those directly affected by the storm reached out for rescue and updates on Twitter and Facebook. Those far away turned to the platforms to coordinate aid and spread information (and disinformation). The social media use was so prevalent that it even launched a research project at the University of Texas at Austin. “Hurricane Harvey is the first disaster where social media calls for help appear to have supplanted the overloaded 911 call systems,” Keri Stephens, an associate professor in UT’s Department of Communication Studies and the project’s principal investigator, said in a release. “But this form of help-seeking behavior on public social media is relatively new. This project will capture the voices of hurricane victims and emergency response workers to help save lives in the future.”

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 19, 2017

Oil markets stable on tighter US market, expected extension of OPEC supply cuts

Oil prices were stable on Thursday, supported by ongoing OPEC-led supply cuts, tensions in the Middle East and lower U.S. production due to hurricane-enforced closures. Brent crude futures were at $58.10 at 0411 GMT, slightly lower than their last close, but around 30 percent above mid-year levels. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $51.97 per barrel, also down a touch from its last settlement, but almost a quarter higher than in June. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday that U.S. crude inventories fell by 5.7 million barrels in the week to Oct. 13, to 456.49 million barrels. U.S. output slumped by 11 percent from the previous week to 8.4 million barrels per day (bpd), its lowest since June 2014 as production had to be shut because of tropical storm Nate, which hit the U.S. Gulf coast earlier in October.

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Wall St. Journal

October 18, 2017

Big Oil Touts Its Core Business: Fossil Fuels

Big oil company executives asserted that fossil fuels would remain the central part of their business for decades, despite recent investments in renewables and other energy sources made in response to efforts to curb carbon emissions. “Despite the attraction of renewables, the world can’t run on them alone and won’t be able to for some time,” BP PLC Chief Executive Bob Dudley told the Oil & Money conference in London Wednesday. The remarks by Mr. Dudley and other executives at Europe’s largest oil companies represented a defense of the industry’s traditional work at a time of growing pressure from investors and activists to manage their risks related to climate change. The optimism comes as oil prices are on the rise in the recent months, closing in on $60 a barrel for Brent crude, the international benchmark, in recent days after a prolonged downturn caused by a global oversupply.

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New York Times

October 18, 2017

U.S. Diesel Margins to Drive Refiner Profits for Third Quarter and Beyond

U.S. refiners are set to blow past quarterly earnings expectations after margins surged to a two-year peak on the back of a crippling hurricane season that squeezed already tight gasoline and diesel supplies. A series of hurricanes, most notably Harvey, which struck Texas in late August sapped demand for crude oil and led to crushing gasoline lines in various parts of the U.S. Southeast and Midwest. However, those supply interruptions boosted margins for refiners, suddenly presented with lower crude oil costs and a big jump in gasoline and diesel prices. It came after a summer when refiners surprisingly reduced their volumes of distillates – heating oil, diesel, jet fuel and kerosene – just before demand for those products ramps up in the fall and winter.

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Houston Chronicle

October 14, 2017

Greene: Port Arthur merits more than promises — Alleged benefits of XL Pipeline are pure fantasy

The notion that the Keystone XL pipeline project will create and protect jobs, as President Donald Trump likes to proclaim, is a myth that will likely come to an end in Port Arthur. If completed, the southern line of the 1,179-mile pipe will end in this city an hour and a half east of Houston, which has been forced to endure the broken economic promises and health impacts of living next door to refineries for decades. Although the pipeline’s completion is sure to cause a surge in demand for oil refining, there’s zero evidence that the project will magically restore jobs or otherwise revitalize this overburdened community. If the historic record is any guide, residents of Port Arthur can expect the exact opposite: further declines in employment, health and property values. Hurricane Harvey provided a tragic reminder of the high cost of oil and gas expansion for communities like Port Arthur. In the current age of climate denial, the Trump Administration is seeking to roll back important environmental rules that protect communities most impacted by pollution and climate change.

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Wall St. Journal

October 13, 2017

It’s Lizard vs. Oil Magnate in the Latest Fight Over Fracking in Texas

The dunes sagebrush lizard is a picky reptile. The 3-inch-long, tan-skinned animal lives only in windblown hollows near the shrublike shinnery oaks scattered among the dunes of West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico. It even prefers a specific grade of sand—small grained, and not too coarse. Turns out the frackers powering Texas’ oil boom are just as picky. This is exactly the same sand miners are digging up to help supply the drillers in the Permian Basin, which produces more than 20% of U.S. crude. A wave of entrepreneurial diggers have moved into the lizard’s tiny range of a handful of counties to fill the demand. Texas sand is more economical than sand from mines in Wisconsin and the Midwest that has to be hauled by rail to the shale sites.

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Wall St. Journal

October 15, 2017

Global Gas Producers Turn to Next Challenge: Finding Buyers

After spending hundreds of billions of dollars to transform themselves into global natural-gas giants, some of the world’s biggest energy companies face a new challenge: generating more demand as supplies threaten to balloon and prices languish. Companies including Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Total SA and Cheniere Energy Inc., are trying to establish new markets for liquefied natural gas, a super-chilled version of the fuel that can be shipped around the world. Producers are promoting the use of LNG for industrial trucking and shipping. Companies also say they are considering building the power plants and infrastructure necessary to provide gas and electricity in developing markets such as South Africa and Vietnam.

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The Guardian (UK)

October 16, 2017

Indigenous rights “serious obstacle” to Kinder Morgan pipeline, report says

The controversial expansion of a pipeline that would carry tar sands crude from Alberta to British Columbia’s coast will be doomed by the rising power of Indigenous land rights. That’s the message that Kanahus Manuel, an Indigenous activist from the Secwepemc Nation in central BC, plans to deliver to banks financing the project as she travels through Europe this week. She’ll have in hand a report being released today by the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade, which argues that Texas-based Kinder Morgan has misled financial backers about the risks of expanding its TransMountain pipeline, almost half of which runs across “unceded” Secwepemc territory. The project, whose cost has ballooned from $5.4 to $7.4bn, would nearly triple capacity on an existing pipeline to ship 890,000 barrels a day to Asian markets, locking in expanded production of one of the world’s most carbon-intensive oils.

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Motley Fool

October 16, 2017

Why This Surprise Play Is Huge for ExxonMobil

Normally, the bigger the company is, the less likely it is that any single decision or event will impact it significantly. But that isn’t the case with oil giant ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), which has gone all in on an unexpected oil play. Luckily for the company — and its partner, the smaller oil industry player Hess (NYSE:HES) — its gamble seems to be paying off. Here’s what ExxonMobil did and why it may cause both companies to outperform. In the oil business, what looks like a promising field can sometimes be a dud. BP found this out firsthand when it discovered gas in the Katambi Block off the coast of Angola in 2014. What looked like an area ripe with hydrocarbon potential turned out to be a big letdown, as the Katambi gas block was deemed to be noncommercially viable. That resulted in a $750 million writedown for BP when it finally gave up on the play.

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World Oil

October 12, 2017

Dakota Access boosts drillers, but won’t be a Bakken game-changer

Once hailed as the spur for a North American “energy renaissance,” the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline has limited driller costs in its first four months in operation. Just don’t expect it to live up to its pre-approval hype. That’s the conclusion of analysts who say North Dakota’s Bakken shale play will continue to lag the drilling surge in Texas and Oklahoma, pipeline or no pipeline. The conduit’s use has dropped the break-even cost of drilling in the Bakken to around $52/bbl from $55, as drillers abandon costlier rail shipments, said Erika Coombs, an analyst at BTU Analytics. But that compares with about $46 on average in Texas’s Permian play and $41 in Colorado’s DJ basin, she said. Is the Dakota Access “a game-changer?” Coombs said in a telephone interview. “The short answer: For the basin as a whole, not really.” It helps, she said, “but it’s not enough to attract capital away from the Permian or SCOOP/STACK.”

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The Register (UK)

October 14, 2017

An oil industry hacker facing jail, a $20m damages bill, and claims of counter-hacking

David Kent, of Spring, Texas, USA, was sentenced to prison earlier this month for hacking Rigzone.com, a oil and gas industry website he founded and sold to employment data biz DHI Group, in an effort to build a second site, Oilpro.com, into an acquisition target. Kent is expected to report to prison in Texas for a year and a day just after Thanksgiving, and to pay $3.29 million in restitution. The criminal case against Kent has been concluded, at great personal cost, his attorney, James Munisteri, of Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP, explained in a phone interview with The Register. What remains is DHI’s civil lawsuit against Kent and the counterclaims by Kent and other individual involved in the affair.

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Houston Business Journal

October 13, 2017

Houston Methodist Hospital receives $101M gift

Houston Methodist Hospital has received its largest philanthropic gift in its nearly 100-year history. Paula and Rusty Walter and their Houston-based company, Walter Oil & Gas Corp., have donated $101 million to the hospital, according to a press release. Houston Methodist will also raise $66 million in matching funds. “The Walters are treasured members of our Houston Methodist family, so we are deeply moved by their generosity,” said Dr. Marc Boom, president and CEO of Houston Methodist, in a statement.

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Utilities Stories

Dallas Morning News

October 18, 2017

Irving-based Fluor wins $240 million contract to help restore power in Puerto Rico

Hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico will soon get help from Irving-based engineering and construction firm Fluor as part of federal efforts to return power to 3 million people. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded Fluor a $240 million contract this week to help restore the island’s electric grid. A month after Hurricane Maria struck, about 86 percent of Puerto Rico is still without power. Maria was one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes on record and arrived just after the financially troubled island was damaged by Hurricane Irma. And Puerto Rico was already struggling with occasional blackouts caused by faltering infrastructure. Officials have said it could take six months to a year to restore electricity in some areas.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

October 13, 2017

Alcoa forecasts boost to annual earnings after terminating electric contract in Texas

Alcoa Corp. said it expects a $60 million to $70 million boost to annual earnings, starting in the fourth quarter, after reaching an early termination agreement with with an electricity provider at its idled Rockdale smelter in Texas. The contract, with Luminant Generation Co., was set to expire no later than 2038. As part of the agreement, Alcoa made a lump sum payment of $237.5 million on Oct. 10 and transferred about 2,200 acres of related land and other assets to Luminant. As a result, Alcoa will record a charge of about $250 million in the fourth quarter.

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Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

October 17, 2017

A dozen reasons for the economic failure of nuclear power

In 2008, the “nuclear renaissance” hype was in full swing. South Carolina was one of the first states to hop on the bandwagon. Public and investor-owned utilities rushed to sign a contract for two new reactors at the V. C. Summer nuclear station before the design for the Westinghouse AP1000 reactors was finalized, to avoid the price run-up that was expected to occur when orders for dozens of reactors were signed. There was no rush of orders, but there were 17 formal revisions before the design was finalized, and perhaps many hundreds more made in a more informal manner. A decade later, the nuclear industry is in shambles. Billions of dollars were spent on the two now-abandoned reactors at V. C. Summer, and only two other reactors remain under construction, at a plant in Georgia. The South Carolina reactors were so far behind schedule and over budget that they triggered the bankruptcy of the reactor vendor (Westinghouse), the near-bankruptcy of its corporate parent (Toshiba), and the resignation of the CEO of the utility (Santee Cooper) that owns 45 percent of the V. C. Summer project.

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Politico

October 15, 2017

Trump’s Love Affair with Coal

In February, surrounded by coal miners at the White House, President Donald Trump signed a bill repealing the Obama-era Stream Protection Rule, which would have restricted coal companies from burying streams. “This is a major threat to your jobs,” Trump said, “and we’re getting rid of this threat.” He did not mention streams. In March, this time surrounded by coal miners at the Environmental Protection Agency, Trump signed an executive order vowing to roll back Obama-era climate change policies, including the Clean Power Plan limiting carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. “C’mon fellas, you know what this says?” Trump asked. “You’re going back to work!” He did not mention climate or pollution.

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Power Magazine

October 17, 2017

Maize: What Can Save the Staggering U.S. Nuclear Industry?

In their book – “Keeping the Lights on at America’s Nuclear Power Plants” – research fellow Jeremy Carl and research analyst David Fedor write, “There are many good policy improvements and energy technology options available to our country on energy going forward.” They say they became interested in the U.S. “nuclear situation in part because we were surprised by the silence around it.” They also cite what they perceive as “a sense of resignation” about the decline of existing nuclear plants and the lack of new units. The nuclear industry’s challenges are real,” write Carl and Fedor, “and solutions to that are not perfect, but they are better than the status quo.” What should policymakers who want to change that decline to do? The book lays out desirable state and federal policy proposals.

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IEEE Spectrum

October 13, 2017

Why Solar Microgrids May Fall Short in Replacing the Caribbean’s Devastated Power Systems

After the destruction inflicted across the Caribbean by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, renewable energy advocates are calling for a rethink of the region’s devastated power systems. Rather than simply rebuilding grids that delivered mostly diesel generation via damage-prone overhead power lines, renewables advocates argue that the island grids should leapfrog into the future by interconnecting hundreds or thousands of self-sufficient solar microgrids. “Puerto Rico will lead the way for the new generation of clean energy infrastructure. The world will follow,” asserted John Berger, CEO for Houston-based solar developer Sunnova Energy in a tweet before meeting in San Juan with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló this week. Rosselló appears to be on board, inviting Elon Musk via tweet to use Puerto Rico as a “flagship project” to “show the world the power and scalability” of Tesla’s technologies, which include photovoltaic (PV) rooftops and Powerwall battery systems.

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Green Tech Media

October 9, 2017

Merchant: Economics, Not Regulations, Are Waging a War on Coal

Speaking in Hazard, Kentucky on Monday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the Trump administration would begin the official process to roll back President Barack Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan. “It was wrong for the last administration to declare a war on coal, and it’s right for this administration to say the war is over,” he said. “It’s good for eastern Kentucky to hear that, right?” The announcement — which received a standing ovation from Pruitt’s audience — makes good on Trump’s campaign promise to do away with restrictions on the coal industry. But even a drastic policy shift will likely not “put our miners back to work” or inoculate the coal industry against the economics now working against it.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Clean Technica

October 14, 2017

Zart: Intelligent EV Charging Startups Shouldn’t Copy The Gas & Utility Business Model

Ten years ago, the world crashed and caught many out-of-touch companies unprepared. All of a sudden, clean and green projects popped up and enthusiastic business models sprouted left and right. The tone was optimistic, betraying a deeply archaic business model unable to address its consumer needs. Some of the things witnessed were truly creative, out-of-the-box business models that innovated and were revolutionary, if not evolutionary. Ten years later, intelligent charging infrastructure is on the rise, thankfully. If you’re like us and still lament that vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and vehicle-to-home (V2H) technology hasn’t been more implemented by now, you’re not alone. Honda and a few startups have made big announcements but haven’t gotten very far as far as offerings for their clientèle. The technology and the business case have been harshly held back by utilities and their power lobbies.

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Bloomberg

October 18, 2017

Solar Wants to Help Fix a Power-Grid Problem It Helped Create

Big solar farms helped create a power-grid predicament in California. And now they’re offering to help solve it. Solar panels have proliferated in the Golden State, flooding the grid with power supplies in the middle of the day when the sun’s out — and then quickly vanishing after sunset. This has created a sharp curve in California’s net-power demand that’s shaped like a duck. And the so-called duck curve is getting steeper every year, sending wholesale electricity prices plunging into negative territory, forcing generators offline and making it increasingly difficult to maintain the reliability of California’s transmission lines. First Solar Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Widmar thinks he has a solution: change the way solar farms are paid. If the state’s utilities compensate them for shutting generation when the grid doesn’t need it and providing power later when it does, he said, farms could use increasingly sophisticated inverters and software controls to adjust.

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San Antonio Express-News

October 17, 2017

Self-driving cars could ease traffic, but increase sprawl

A new study inspired by Boston’s early experiments with self-driving cars finds that the technology could ease congestion, but might also lead to more cars on the road and further encourage urban sprawl. The report, released Tuesday by the Boston Consulting Group and the World Economic Forum, is a mostly optimistic take on how autonomous vehicles could change cities. Three companies are now testing self-driving cars in Boston’s Seaport District. One of them, NuTonomy, has also partnered with ride-hailing service Lyft to research how passengers book and route a self-driving car. The consulting group’s study included a computer simulation of how downtown Boston traffic would change with the advent of self-driving taxis, buses or private cars. It would likely add vehicles to roads while simultaneously reducing traffic time and cutting pollution because of smoother driving patterns, such as steadier speeds and more gradual braking.

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North American Wind Power

October 3, 2017

Why Wind Operators Need Predictive Analytics Right Now

Nothing appeared out of the ordinary last March in northwest Iowa. If anything, it was a typical late-winter day. The temperature wouldn’t break the freezing mark. Snow fell off and on throughout the day. The wind blew, turning the blades of wind turbines that punctuate the region’s horizon. wind-turbine Why Wind Operators Need Predictive Analytics Right Now Although things seemed normal, something remarkable was happening. Four-hundred miles away, predictive analytics software had been monitoring data from the wind turbines. As the software’s data science models combed through the data, it spotted an anomaly in one wind turbine’s gearbox. The data insight predicting a future gearbox failure led the owner of the turbine to perform a few hours of predictive maintenance that cost $5,000. In the end, that work saved the owner from having a more catastrophic, $250,000 problem and at least several days of downtime.

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PBS

October 12, 2017

These conservatives are making a case for clean energy

On October 5, the Christian Coalition and the Young Conservatives for Energy Reform (YC4ER) hosted the third annual Conservative Clean Energy Summit in Washington D.C. More than 300 conservatives from across the nation met with industry leaders, activists, businesses and members of Congress to send a message to everyone in the energy debate. “Clean energy isn’t a left or right issue. It’s an American issue,” said Angel Garcia, the national outreach director for the YC4ER. “We need leaders out there to explain that this is something that will make America better, stronger and independent.” Coming together as conservatives for clean energy doesn’t exactly separate them from the larger dialogue, Garcia said. It just provides more perspectives and additional arguments in support of renewables. Key themes shared throughout the summit included “home-grown” energy, job growth and national security.

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Electrek

October 12, 2017

Here’s how much of the ocean would need to be covered in wind turbines to power Earth

A new study postulates that 3 million km2 of open ocean area in the windy North Atlantic could produce enough energy to satisfy the needs of the entire human species during the winter months, while it could cover the electricity needs of North America and Europe during the summer. … Several caveats were introduced by the authors – the first of which had to do with seasonality. The amount of energy produced varied greatly between the winter and summer. Winter time production would actually overproduce the word’s ‘energy’ needs – whereas summer would only meet ‘electricity’ in North America and Europe. Note in the two images below of seasonality – how the wind curve on the left and the solar power curve on the right inversely complement each other so nicely! The second major caveat was that two important technologies for open ocean wind farms haven’t yet been fully developed. These wind farms would be in one-mile deep water – the closest we’ve come to it are the first ‘floating wind farms‘ that are being built as we speak by Statoil off of the coast of Scotland. The Statoil wind farms are built to handle waves greater than 65 feet, however, the water depth will range from 310 ft to 390 feet – a far cry from 5,280 ft needed in this study. See Statoil’s connection technique in below image.

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Regulatory Stories

Dallas Morning News

October 17, 2017

DMN: Trump errs in naming climate denier and former Texas regulator to environmental post

Kathleen Hartnett White is a bad choice to head the national Council on Environmental Quality. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she would lead a White House office that’s traditionally known as an environmental watchdog. Her performance as an environmental regulator in Texas, however, suggests that she would walk lock step with the Trump administration and Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency in dismantling vital environmental protections. President Donald Trump named White, a climate change denier, to the position last week. Her record is abominable.

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Our Great Minds

October 16, 2017

7 Mega-Influential Energy Leaders

1) David Crane former President of NRG Energy Inc. Born in 1959, Crane is an investment banker, a lawyer, author and a business executive in the energy industry. Most well known for his role as CEO of NRG Energy Inc a leader in the energy space in the US under his leadership serving 3 million customers. … 2) Donna Nelson, Former Chairman Of The Public Utility Commission, Texas Donna Nelson is a former chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC). Nelson was appointed as chair by Governor Rick Perry on August 15, 2008, and served on the commission until her resignation on May 15, 2017. Over her tenure with the PUC, Texas saw the build-out of a $7 billion power line project to accommodate the state’s booming wind sector and called for the end of federal wind tax credits, saying they distorted the power market. Nelson called for Texas to crack down on deceptive retail electric providers, and her commission wrangled with giant power companies that are interested in taking over Oncor, the state’s largest electric transmission utility.

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Houston Chronicle

October 14, 2017

Moure-Eraso: Chemical accidents can be prevented

Hurricane Harvey has reminded us that much of America’s chemical infrastructure is in serious peril. The fires and explosions at the Arkema peroxide plant in Crosby, which sickened first responders and terrified the surrounding community, illustrate what happens when industry is allowed to operate for decades without effective safety oversight. Arkema capitalized on the weakness of the current regulatory system, even as the company lobbied the Environmental Protection Agency to keep those rules unchanged. The current rules largely omit coverage for reactive chemicals like Arkema’s peroxides – just as those rules still do not cover the fertilizer ammonium nitrate that detonated and leveled much of West, Texas in April 2013, killing 15 people.

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KUHF (Houston NPR)

October 11, 2017

Environmental Groups Worry About New EPA Haze Rule

Environmental groups are worried the Environmental Protection Agency is giving Texas power plants a pass on pollution. The agency has decided that plants won’t need to install new emissions controls to clean up haze over national parks. The Obama Administration had pushed for the controls. Now, the EPA is planning to let Texas power plants pursue “alternatives.” Those include a new “cap and trade” emissions credit program within the state. The agency is arguing that program, combined with the state’s participation in a similar national program, will lead to the same amount of emissions cuts as retrofitting old plants. Groups like the Sierra Club aren’t buying it.

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Dallas Morning News

October 16, 2017

Toyota to show off new car tech that can tell when you’re hungry, anxious or sleepy

Toyota will be highlighting an array of experimental technologies aimed at improving safety and anticipating drivers’ desires at the Tokyo Motor Show this month. Toyota Motor Corp. manager Makoto Okabe told reporters Monday that the use of artificial intelligence means cars may get to know drivers as human beings by analyzing their facial expressions, driving habits and social media use. Such a vehicle might adjust drivers’ seats to calm them when they’re feeling anxious or jiggle them to make them more alert when they seem sleepy. It might also suggest a stop at a noodle joint along the way.

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Associated Press

October 11, 2017

Japan court: Govt, utility accountable in Fukushima accident

A Japanese court on Tuesday ordered the government and the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant to pay 500 million yen ($4.5 million) to thousands of area residents and evacuees who were demanding compensation for their livelihoods lost in the 2011 nuclear crisis. The Fukushima District Court said the government had failed to order Tokyo Electric Power Co. to improve safety measures despite knowing as early as 2002 of a risk of a massive tsunami in the region. The 3,800 plaintiffs, who sued in 2015, form the largest group among about 30 similar lawsuits involving 12,000 people pending across Japan.

This article appeared in the Sacramento Bee

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Utility Dive

October 16, 2017

New Mexico regulators move forward on clean energy standard

New Mexico utilities are embracing clean energy, but under a proposal put forward by the state’s attorney general and consumer advocates, they could have even more impetus to move to renewable energy. Under the proposed clean energy standard, utilities would have to cut CO2 emissions by 4% through 2040. Public Service Co. New Mexico, the state’s largest utility, also crafted a draft Integrated Resource Plan that would end its use of coal-fired generation by 2031. The plan calls for the retirement of four units at the San Juan coal plant and exiting participation in the Four Corners coal plant. Instead, the utility plans to emphasize renewables and natural gas-fired generation. Public Service Co. New Mexico has already invested almost $270 million in 15 solar generation facilities. In other parts of the state, Xcel Energy is planning two wind farms to serve customers in New Mexico and West Texas, and El Paso Electric is contracting to buy power from solar farms in the region.

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Forbes

October 12, 2017

Investing In The Age Of Climate Change

Marija Kramer is Head of Responsible Investment Business at Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). She is responsible for all aspects of responsible investing (RI) offerings, including policy development, as well as research and data screening services covering more than 13,000 global companies for institutions seeking to fully integrate ESG into their investment decision-making. Kramer also oversees new product development and strategic alliances in all regions of the world where RI solutions are delivered to ISS clients. Christopher P. Skroupa: Have we reached a tipping point for mainstream investors on the issue of climate change? Marija Kramer: I would say so. Unprecedented votes this year on climate change resolutions at some of the largest energy companies, including Exxon Mobil, would suggest mainstream institutions have crossed the Rubicon on the materiality of climate change. So it’s not just leading climate scientists who agree that the release of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere contribute to climate change.

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Dallas Morning News

October 14, 2017

Hersh: How America can rebuild trust in business, one company at a time

A majority of people across the world are “distrusters” of the “mainstream institutions of business, government, media and NGOs,” according to the 2017 Trust Barometer published by public relations firm Edelman. The relative economic stagnation following the 2008 global financial crisis, combined with the rise in income inequality globally, have created a feeling that the “system is rigged,” the report states. Edelman’s report found that: “The trust collapse has moved beyond a simple class vs. mass problem to a systemic threat. More than three-quarters of respondents among both informed and general populations agree that the system is biased against regular people and favors the rich and powerful.”

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New York Times

October 10, 2017

How Will the Clean Power Plan Repeal Change Carbon Emissions for Your State?

It all depends on where you live. For California, repeal won’t make much difference. For West Virginia, it could matter a lot. When the Obama administration unveiled the Clean Power Plan in 2015, each state was given individual goals to slash power sector emissions. The aim was to shift utilities away from coal in favor of cleaner sources like natural gas, wind, solar and nuclear to help address global warming. Even though the rule has never taken effect — it was temporarily blocked by the Supreme Court in 2016 and is now slated for repeal by the White House — dozens of states were making that shift anyway, driven by economic considerations and local clean-energy policies.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 18, 2017
Lead Stories

San Antonio Express-News

October 17, 2017

Uresti lists 171 potential witnesses for his fraud trial

Democratic state Sen. Carlos Uresti has submitted a powerful list of Texas judges, politicians and lawyers to testify as potential witnesses in his upcoming criminal fraud trial, which starts Monday and may stretch three weeks. His witness list filed with the court late Monday is a who’s who of the San Antonio political elite, with Chief U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia and state Sen. Jose Menendez heading the list of 38 witnesses expected to be called for the trial. Uresti also supplied a separate list of 133 people who “may be called to testify” on his behalf. They include Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, former San Antonio Mayors Julián Castro and Henry Cisneros, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, Bexar County District Judges Solomon Casseb III and Peter Sakai, Bexar County Probate Judge Tom Rickhoff and Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood.

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Wall St. Journal

October 17, 2017

No Aramco IPO May Mean No More Oil Rally

The oil rally could have the legs kicked out from under it if Saudi Aramco opts to forgo a public listing of its shares. Many oil investors believe that Aramco’s plans to sell a sliver of the company in an initial public offering on an international exchange has underpinned Saudi Arabia’s commitment to easing a longstanding oil glut. But reports last week, including by The Wall Street Journal, that Aramco officials are considering alternatives to a 2018 IPO–such as listing on the kingdom’s exchange in Riyadh or selling a stake privately to a Chinese investor–could upend investors’ assumptions. “I think the market is clinging to the IPO as the rationale,” said Robert McNally, president of the Rapidan Group. Conventional wisdom has it that “the Saudis, as long as they were planning this IPO next year, they had almost no choice but to unilaterally, if necessary, cut production to keep oil prices from falling.”

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Dallas Morning News

October 17, 2017

Texans’ unhappiness with electric providers drops to deregulation era low

Choosing an electric provider in Texas still requires consumer initiative and sometimes leads to frustration. Increasingly, however, shoppers are complaining less. This year, customers sent state regulators 4,175 complaints, the fewest since the start of deregulation 16 years ago, according to the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power. That was a 14 percent drop compared to 2016. The consumer advocacy group’s annual reports have shown a steady decline in the past decade when the number of complaints were nearly 16,000. “These findings suggest the state’s electricity market continues to mature, with Texans becoming more comfortable with both prices and service,” said coalition executive director Jay Doegey in a written statement.

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The Guardian (UK)

October 15, 2017

‘This is the future’: solar-powered family car hailed by experts

A futuristic family car that not only uses the sun as power but supplies energy back to the grid has been hailed as “the future” as the annual World Solar Challenge wrapped up in Australia. How green is Britain’s record on renewable energy supply? Read more The innovative bi-annual contest, first run in 1987, began in Darwin a week ago with 41 vehicles setting off on a 3,000km (1,860-mile) trip through the heart of Australia to Adelaide. A Dutch car, Nuna 9, won the race for the third-straight time, crossing the finish line on Thursday after travelling at an average speed of 81.2kmh (55.5 mph). It was competing in the challenger class, which featured slick, single seat aerodynamic vehicles built for sustained endurance and total energy efficiency. But there was also a cruiser class, introduced to bridge the gap between high-end technology and everyday driving practicality.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 18, 2017

Oil prices rise on tighter US market, Middle East tensions

Oil prices rose on Wednesday, lifted by a fall in U.S. crude inventories and concerns that tensions in the Middle East could disrupt supplies. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $58.27 at 0131 GMT, up 39 cents, or 0.7 percent from their last close – and a third above mid-year levels. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $52.08 per barrel, up 20 cents, or 0.4 percent and almost a quarter above mid-June levels. Traders said that prices were pushed up by a drop in U.S. crude inventories as well as concerns that fighting in Iraq and mounting tensions between the United States and Iran could affect supplies.

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UT News

October 17, 2017

Track Tremors Across Texas With New Website

The University of Texas at Austin Bureau of Economic Geology has finished installing the state’s earthquake monitoring network, TexNet, and thanks to a new interactive website, the public can follow and sort seismic activity in Texas in real time. TexNet, the most advanced state-run seismic monitoring system in the country, was authorized by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Legislature in June 2015 with $4.47 million in state funding. Like many areas in the south-central United States, Texas has experienced an increase in the number of earthquakes during the past decade, especially in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the Permian Basin region and south-central Texas.

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UPI

October 16, 2017

Valero awarded $157M fuel contract for Israel

In a new deal struck between the Defense Logistics Agency and Valero Marketing and Supply Co., Pentagon officials announced Friday the allocation of $157 million to the Texas-based company in search of various types of fuel. The contract is designed to be a fixed-price in terms of base cost, but the deal does take into account economic-price-adjustments, so the totality of the contract can be adjusted upward or downward depending on external market factors. The contract acquisition was said to be competitive among the four defense contracting companies who submitted proposals to the Defense Department. The award is a one-year base contract with a one-year option period, plus a 30-day carryover. Work will occur in Texas, with a completion data of Sept. 30, 2017. The work completed will solidify the partnership between the U.S. and Israel, as they are the primary customer on the contract, in addition to the Defense Department.

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CNBC

October 17, 2017

Exxon Mobil fires up huge new Texas plant just two months after Harvey hit the Gulf Coast

Exxon Mobil on Tuesday began production at a new petrochemical facility in Mont Belvieu, Texas, just two months after Hurricane Harvey pummeled the U.S. Gulf Coast and hobbled the U.S. refining and specialty chemicals hub. The new first of two lines turning out polyethylene — the most common plastic used in manufacturing — will increase the plant’s output by 650,000 tons per year. The next line at Mont Belvieu will match that addition and bring total production at the plant to 2.5 million tons per year, making it one of the biggest polyethylene plants in the world. The facility positions Exxon Mobil to take advantage of the growing market at home and abroad for plastics as emerging markets buy more packaged food and consumer products. Demand for ethylene, the base chemical, is poised to grow by 5.5 million to 6 million tons a year, assuming 2.5 to 3 percent GDP growth, according to IHS Markit.

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Midland Reporter-Telegram

October 15, 2017

Permian petroleum industry remains on the rise

By all measures, the Permian Basin’s oil and gas industry is on the rise. The Texas Permian Basin Petroleum Index, on the rise since October 2016, was up 23.6 percent in August from August 2016 levels, fueled by higher commodity prices and oil field activity, according to Karr Ingham, the Amarillo economist who prepares the index. “Once again, only natural gas well completions are down compared to year-ago levels, with all other measures of regional upstream oil and gas activity vastly improved compared to the numbers in 2016,” he said. August crude prices averaged $44.70, up 7.7 percent from $41.49 last August. The year-to-date average is $45.79, up 22.4 percent from the $37.40 averaged in the first eight months of 2016.

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San Antonio Express-News

October 13, 2017

Construction of new sand mine in Atascosa County could start by end of the year

A Pennsylvania frac sand mining company expects to start construction by the end of the year at its new location in Atascosa County — a spot that it negotiated with the community. Preferred Sands has purchased more than 4,000 acres in northern Atascosa and southern Bexar counties, and the acreage includes a sand mine that’s already been in operation for decades. The mine’s original proposed site had created an uproar among residents in Atascosa County, who were worried about heavy truck traffic on their rural, gravel roads, possible health impacts, the loss of their view and the placement of heavy industry right across from people’s homes.

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JWN

October 13, 2017

Straightening out the kinks in hydraulic fracturing technology

The technologies that set off the shale gas and tight oil revolution, reviving the onshore industry across North America, still have some kinks that can be costly to straighten out. For example, the massive hydraulic fracturing completions required to liberate the oil and gas from the shale and extremely tight rock can pose unintended—and potentially dangerous—consequences to adjacent wells. In 2012, the blowout of a well near Innisfail, Alta., was caused by fracking in a nearby well, when frac fluid pumped under high pressure came into communication with the producing well—both targeting the same formation some 1,800 metres underground—and blew its top. Almost 500 barrels of oil and water blasted from the wellhead, impacting 4.5 hectares of surrounding area. Where sour gas might be present, a blowout presents the additional danger of exposure to toxic hydrogen sulphide (H2S).

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New Orleans Times-Picayune

October 16, 2017

Safety scrapes few for owner of Lake Pontchartrain platform that caught fire

Clovelly Oil Co. of Covington and its predecessor companies have developed several wells on state leases in Lake Pontchartrain since the early 1970s, a company spokesman said. Officials said Hydra Steam Generator Inc. of Houston was hired as a subcontractor to clean pipes on the platform. It was during the cleaning that the explosion occurred, but officials have not yet determined the cause. Inspections made in June and September 2017 by the state Department of Natural Resources found no problems with wells associated with the platform, or with the platform’s storage facilities. The inspections included reviews of tank batteries and the lines leading to them, the various valves used to operate the wells and platform, the structural integrity of storage tanks, fire hazards, and the discharge of exploration and production wastes. One of five wells connected to the platform is used to dispose of saltwater that is separated from oil and gas when it is removed from the ground.

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WOSU (Columbus OH NPR)

October 17, 2017

Rover Pipeline Fights Back Against Ohio EPA, As Investigations Into Spill Continue

The site of what’s alleged to be a 2 million-gallon spill of drilling mud is now just a quiet spot along the towpath trail south of Canton. There’s remnants of the cleanup work across the river: gray fencing snakes through the woods and a layer of what looks like wood chips covers a few acres of otherwise empty woods. A black tube hangs loosely over the river, held up by some metal wire and winches. This is just a tiny stretch of the Rover Pipeline’s path. In total, it’s a 700-mile natural gas pipeline that passes through four states. But what happened here in April temporarily delayed the project and may change the way Ohio regulates interstate pipelines.

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Wall St. Journal

October 17, 2017

An Old Fracking Hot Spot Makes a Comeback

One of the early centers of American shale drilling is roaring back to life, boosted by a building boom of petrochemical plants, fertilizer factories and gas-export terminals along the Gulf Coast. The Haynesville Shale, a giant natural-gas field in northwest Louisiana, was one of fracking’s hottest spots a decade ago. But it fizzled out about five years ago as gas prices plunged and drillers focused on finding oil next door in Texas. Now, the Haynesville is being reborn as companies with longstanding positions in the area, such as Chesapeake Energy Corp. CHK -1.05% , and newcomers seeking opportunity rush back in and drill again. Gas production from the Haynesville has risen more than 20% so far this year, to more than 7 billion cubic feet a day from less than 6 billion in January, according to the U.S. Energy Department. The number of rigs active in northern Louisiana parishes and the Texas portion of the field has more than tripled in the past year to 44, according to oil field services company Baker Hughes Inc.

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NASDAQ

October 16, 2017

Enbridge lifts force majeure on Texas Eastern natgas pipe in Ohio

Canadian energy company Enbridge Inc’s Texas Eastern natural gas pipeline said on Sunday it lifted a force majeure in Ohio that briefly trapped some gas in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. The company told customers in a notice that it shut part of the pipe south of its Berne compressor in Noble County, Ohio, on Oct. 11 after workers observed soil movement during an excavation of the line to install some test equipment.

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Hellenic Shipping News

October 10, 2017

Record U.S. oil exports set to surge further: Mercuria

Already record U.S. oil exports are set to surge further in the coming month as stored oil in one of the world’s last areas of excess stockpiles pours into global markets, the chief executive of trading house Mercuria, Marco Dunand, said. The U.S. shale oil revolution upended global energy markets, and in late September the country’s oil exports hit a record 1.98 million barrels per day (bpd). But Dunand said the surplus of oil in tanks meant more was likely to come. “I think the volume that’s going to be exported from the U.S. in the next two or three weeks is unprecedented in size,” Dunand told the Reuters Global Commodities Summit, adding levels could hit 2.2 million bpd.

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Midland Reporter-Telegram

October 14, 2017

Everley: Studies show hydraulic fracturing is safe – in Texas and all over the country

Ms. Leeder’s claim that “long-term studies on the impact” of hydraulic fracturing on water systems “are not available at this time” is simply not true. Researchers have investigated that topic for years, and their studies consistently show minimal risks associated with fracking. For example, after half a decade of study, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a report in December 2016 that showed no evidence of widespread water contamination from fracking. The EPA spent $30 million preparing the report, and even expanded the definition of fracking to include surface activities and other processes that are common with all oil and gas development. That followed a study from researchers at Yale University, published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which found “no evidence” of groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing

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Houston Chronicle

October 17, 2017

Former Chevron employee embezzles nearly 2 million from company

A 54-year-old Pasadena woman admitted embezzling nearly $2 million from Chevron Philips, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas. Darla Kay Beede used Chevron company credit cards for her own personal benefit, the release said. She used the cards to buy pre-paid debit or gift cards and copper wire. The woman would hide her crime by falsifying receipts from vendors, changing the item descriptions to reflect something other than her unlawful purchases.

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Bloomberg

October 15, 2017

Saudi Arabia’s Great Makeover Can’t Afford to Fail This Time

Visitors to Saudi Arabia could be forgiven for thinking the country just got a dynamic young new king. Images of him holding babies, drinking coffee with soldiers or meeting the world’s most powerful rulers are all over television. On National Day last month, a giant picture of him was projected onto a Riyadh skyscraper. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, has emerged as the unrivaled leader of the kingdom, now better placed to steer it through a transition no nation in history has managed to pull off: converting a major economy reliant on petrodollars into one that can survive in a post-oil 21st century. The grand remake involves investing in new industries and creating jobs for the young Saudi population. It will all be underpinned by the sale of a stake in oil giant Aramco, which is now facing possible delay, and the creation of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth fund. But almost two years since the start of the reform drive, officials are grappling with crucial questions of how to save money and speed up social change without crippling the economy and clashing with one of the world’s most conservative religious establishments. Before the government declared it would lift the long-standing Saudi ban on female drivers last month, security services rounded up independent clerics and other critical figures.

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Utilities Stories

Rare

October 16, 2017

Solar panel customers in Texas score a win against discriminatory rate charges

A settlement approved last Wednesday requires Texas utility provider, Oncor, to withdraw a convoluted rate plan which sought to charge people more for having solar panels installed on their homes. According to photovoltaic trade publication, Pv Magazine, Oncor wanted to charge its customers with energy sources such as solar panels or wind turbines an additional 3.53 per kilowatt of maximum demand, or the standard monthly rate for electricity, whichever was more expensive. Opponents of the proposed rate structure are relieved to hear of the settlement, calling it a discriminatory and unnecessarily expensive tariff on people who don’t want to use the conventional energy grid. “It avoids what would have been a catastrophic tariff for many families and completely undermined the value proposition of solar DG for many,” Benjamin Inskeep, research analyst at clean energy company EQ Research, said in an interview.

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Reuters

October 17, 2017

Fuel security and power generation in the United States: Kemp

“The resiliency of the nation’s electric grid is threatened by the premature retirements of power plants that can withstand major fuel supply disruptions caused by natural or man-made disasters,” the U.S. Department of Energy warned last week. Fuel security is the crux of the argument made by U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry in proposing a new grid resiliency pricing rule to save coal-fired and nuclear power plants from closure. “Fuel-secure resources are indispensable for the reliability and resiliency of our electric grid,” the Department of Energy wrote in its justification for the proposed rule, which was gazetted in the Federal Register on Oct. 10.

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KUHF (Houston NPR)

October 17, 2017

Coal Struggles In Texas, Despite Pro-Coal Administration

Texas coal is struggling, despite pro-coal politics. Luminant‘s recent decision to close two major coal plants reveals how economics can overshadow policy. Back in April, at a celebration of NRG’s new “carbon capture” plant near Houston, Energy Secretary Rick Perry praised President Trump for his pro-coal policies. “He’s taken action on regulations that distorted the energy marketplace that has left communities across America devastated,” Perry said. But Texas communities near the three Luminant plants set to close early next year will soon lose hundreds of jobs. The company said low power prices and competition from renewables and natural gas prompted the closures. “Well I mean rhetoric’s one thing, money’s another,” said Joshua Rhodes, a research fellow at the University of Texas’ Energy Institute.

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UPI

October 17, 2017

Coal still holds a slight edge as U.S. power source

U.S. coal production in the first half of the year is slightly lower than last year, but still holds an edge as an electricity source, the government said. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported total U.S. coal production during the first half of the year was slightly lower than the same time last year, but higher than the first half 2016. The EIA’s report said declines in 2017 were driven in part by lower demand for steam coal, which accounted for 90 percent of total U.S. production and serves as the main component for coal-fired electricity generation. “In recent years, coal has lost part of its electricity generation share to other fuels, but it still accounted for 30 percent of the U.S. electricity generation mix in the first half of 2017 compared with natural gas and renewables [including hydro] at 31 percent and 20 percent, respectively,” the report read.

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Oil Voice

October 13, 2017

Spark and Dark Spreads Indicate Profitability of Natural Gas, Coal Power Plants

Relative profits for some natural gas- and coal-fired generators in several Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic states may have decreased since 2016 because of higher natural gas and coal prices and lower wholesale electricity prices. A common measure of profitability for power plants within a region is the difference between their input fuel costs, such as the cost of coal or natural gas, and their wholesale power price. For electric power generation fueled by natural gas, this difference is called the spark spread; for coal, the difference is called the dark spread. Spark spreads and dark spreads in the first part of 2017 were lower than the 2016 averages in the PJM Western hub, which covers electricity generation in parts of several Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic states. Changes in spark spreads and dark spreads for a given electricity power market indicate the general operational competitiveness of coal-fired or natural gas-fired electric generators in meeting the market’s electricity demand.

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The Guardian (UK)

October 16, 2017

Nuccitelli: The war on coal is over. Coal lost.

Natural gas has now surpassed coal to supply 32% of US electricity (up from 21% in 2008), and solar and wind are up to 10% (from 3% in 2008). This trend will continue. As old coal plants continue to retire and be replaced by cheaper renewables and natural gas, their share of the US electricity supply will continue to plummet, and coal will become a fossil fuel in every sense of the word. That’s why American companies continue to invest in cheap, clean renewable energy. As a result, our air and water are becoming cleaner, Americans are becoming healthier, and our carbon pollution is falling. The shift away from coal poses a challenge for regions in which the local economy depends on the fossil fuel, but the transition is inevitable.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Houston Chronicle

October 13, 2017

Tomlinson: Houston’s Sunnova delivering power to Puerto Rico

If you had billions of dollars to rebuild an electric grid for 3.4 million people from scratch, how would you do it? Puerto Rico has that opportunity after Hurricane Maria wiped out its antiquated electricity system, and solar power companies are lining up to help. Most of the attention has focused on Telsa CEO Elon Musk’s very public Twitter exchange with Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, but Houston-based Sunnova Energy already has almost 10,000 customers with solar panels on the island. “Everybody can agree that we should not go back to the status quo,” Sunnova CEO John Berger said. “We need to have a better energy system, and the technology is here now. We need to adopt that technology and move forward.”

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PV Magazine

October 16, 2017

Coal plant retirements create opportunity for solar in Texas

Despite the Trump Administration’s plans to prop up uneconomic coal plants through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), more continue to go offline. This was underscored late last week when Luminant announced that it would close two coal plants in Central Texas in early 2018, for a total capacity of 2.3 GW. This comes only one week after Luminant revealed plans to close its Monticello coal plant in Northeastern Texas in 2018, for another 1.8 GW. The individual units at two of these three plants came online around 40 years ago, but the latest unit at the Sandow Plant is only eight years old. Environment Texas claimed the closure of the plants as a victory for the environment and public health, but these considerations appear to have little impact on causation. Luminant noted that these projects are a victim of “sustained low wholesale power prices”, and credited both an “oversupplied” renewable energy market as well as low gas prices.

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Hellenic Shipping News

October 13, 2017

The shipping industry may finally be turning to wind power

The Estraden is a Finnish cargo ship that sails the North Sea six times a week. And though it burns oil, it is sailing in the sense that its engines are powered in part by the wind. The Rotor Sail is the wind-power technology enabling the wide-scale experiment to green the shipping industry, and it’s produced by the Finnish company Norsepower. These sails, which are spinning cylinders fitted to a ship’s deck, harness wind power and produce forward thrust, so the ship needs less fuel — a major boost to the industry that transports 90 percent of international trade.

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Wall St. Journal

October 17, 2017

GM to Test Fleet of Self-Driving Cars in New York

General Motors Co. GM -1.62% plans to become the first company to test self-driving cars in New York City, a move aimed at asserting leadership in the race to develop autonomous cars and a potentially important step toward commercializing the technology. GM GM -1.62% will deploy a fleet of self-driving Chevrolet Bolt electric cars early next year in a 5-square-mile section of lower Manhattan that engineers are mapping, said Kyle Vogt, chief executive of Cruise Automation, the driverless-car developer GM acquired last year. The move could be seen as a threat to the thousands of taxi drivers piloting yellow cabs around New York, as autonomous robot-taxis operated by GM and its rivals are seen eventually displacing human drivers.

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Regulatory Stories

Houston Chronicle

October 17, 2017

Texas business tax climate ranks 13th in nation

Texas continues to have one of the worst corporate tax structures in the nation, preventing it from cracking the top ten in The Tax Foundation’s annual list of states with the best business tax climates. Each year The Tax Foundation ranks all states on their business tax climate. This year Texas ranked 13th, behind national leaders like Wyoming, South Dakota and Alaska. “The goal of the Index is to start a conversation between taxpayers and legislators about how their tax system compares with other states, and provide a roadmap for improvement,” said lead-report author Jared Walczak, a senior policy analyst at the Tax Foundation.

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Texas Tribune

October 17, 2017

Gulf Coast mayors discuss the impact of Hurricane Harvey

The mayors of four Texas Gulf Coast cities devastated by Hurricane Harvey — Charles Bujan of Port Aransas, Paul Polasek of Victoria, C.J. Wax of Rockport and Jack Whitlow of Port Lavaca — joined the The Texas Tribune on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the storm’s effects on their communities. Here’s what they had to say. … Recovery won’t be cheap … All four towns’ economies have suffered a devastating blow, and the communities will require significant state and federal support to recover. With the recent onslaught of natural disasters, some town leaders expressed concern that they won’t get the financial support they need from the government. “I’m not really that confident, to be honest with you, because the pot is only so deep, and we’ve had so many disasters lately, that you can only drain it so far,” Bujan said. … … And it won’t be done soon, either.

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Midland Reporter-Telegram

October 13, 2017

Railroad Commissioner Christian brings listening tour to Midland

Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian has embarked on a listening tour of sorts since joining the agency in January. He brought that tour to Midland this week because he thinks it’s important to listen to the people actually doing the work in the oil patch, he said. “I learned a long time ago, as a regulatory agency we shouldn’t tell companies what to do,” he said as he prepared to address a small luncheon at the Haley Library. The appearance wrapped up a three-day visit to the area that included visits to the commission’s Midland office, a tour of Fasken Oil & Ranch’s water recycling operations and the Odessa College Electronic Technology program.

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Bloomberg

October 18, 2017

Nafta Deadlock Forces Ministers to Extend Talks Into 2018

Nafta talks are switching gears and slowing down as key obstacles emerge, with Canada and Mexico rejecting what they see as hard-line U.S. proposals and negotiators exchanging their strongest public barbs yet. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland wrapped up the fourth round of North American Free Trade Agreement talks in Washington on Tuesday and said negotiations will run through the end of March 2018, abandoning a December target. They also extended the time between negotiating rounds, giving themselves more space to consider proposals. The ministers cast the longer timelines as a positive way to dig into tougher disputes, pledging to continue to work out a deal while acknowledging that strong differences remain. They next meet in Mexico Nov. 17-21.

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Mother Jones

October 13, 2017

Federman: Trump’s Pick for White House Environmental Post Once Said Coal Helped End Slavery

In April, Politico described [Kathleen] Hartnett White’s impending nomination as “a major win for Steve Bannon,” Trump’s then-chief strategist who was battling more moderate forces in the White House at the time. The White House did not immediately reply to HuffPost’s request for an interview with Hartnett White. Hartnett White has argued that carbon dioxide levels are good for life on Earth, the shift to renewable energy amounts to “green folly” and “a false hope,” and that “carbon dioxide has none of the attributes of a pollutant.” She lambasted the Obama administration’s environmental policies as a “deluded and illegitimate battle against climate change,” railed against the Paris climate agreement and attacked Pope Francis’ stance on global warming. But, in 2014, she made the particularly specious claim that fossil fuels are to thank for abolishing slavery. In a blog post criticizing an article in The Nation by MSNBC host Chris Hayes, Hartnett White made the connection between “the abolition of slavery and humanity’s first widespread use of energy from fossil fuels.”

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Salon

October 10, 2017

Why Rick Perry’s proposed subsidies for coal fail Economics 101

When we teach the concept of externalities — the idea that economic activities can generate costs or benefits that are not reflected in their prices — we often use coal markets as a textbook example of negative externalities. It is true that burning coal fueled the Industrial Revolution and has helped propel emerging economies to modern-day heights. However, mining, transporting, storing and burning coal also have all kinds of negative health and environmental consequences that are not reflected in coal market prices. For example, burning coal produces local and regional pollutants, including mercury, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and fine particulates. These pollutants cause thousands of premature deaths and illnesses in the United States annually. They also help form acid rain and ozone that damage crops and ecosystems. Even more significant from an economic perspective, burning coal is the source for almost a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, which lead to rising temperatures and sea levels, not just here but worldwide.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 17, 2017
Lead Stories

Reuters

October 13, 2017

U.S. oil pipeline rivals look to consolidate West Texas projects

As shale oil producers have rushed back into the Permian Basin after a downturn, U.S. pipeline firms have scrambled to plot new pipelines to take all that petroleum from West Texas to refineries, export hubs and petrochemical plants. But operators with plans for up to 20 new lines are now selling stakes in some of those projects amid concerns that production could fall short of the volumes needed to fill them. “I suspect some projects will disappear altogether,” said Roberto Simon, Americas head of natural resources and infrastructure for investment bank Societe Generale. “Not every one is going to be viable.”

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Bloomberg

October 17, 2017

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill May Be Largest Since 2010 BP Disaster

An oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last week may be the largest in the U.S. since the 2010 blowout at BP Plc’s Macondo well that sank the Deepwater Horizon rig. The Delta House floating production facility about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Venice, Louisiana, released 7,950 to 9,350 barrels of oil from early Wednesday to Thursday morning, according to closely held operator LLOG Exploration Co. That would make it the largest spill in more than seven years, data from the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement show, even though it’s a fraction of the millions of barrels ejected in the 2010 incident. The LLOG spill was triggered by a fracture in a flowline jumper, Rick Fowler, the company’s vice president for deepwater projects, said in an email. That’s a short pipeline used to connect nearby subsea structures. Multiple barriers placed on either side of the fracture stopped the release, but the the flowline jumper hasn’t yet been repaired, Fowler said.

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Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy

October 11, 2017

Five Things to Watch Out for with Iran Deal Decertification

Initially (and assuming that decertification is the extent of U.S. action in the near term), there may be little to no impact on energy markets. Iranian oil sales will probably continue at or around current levels, with oil prices and contract terms the more significant determinant of export levels and revenue. Because sanctions are not yet in place and because U.S. oil reduction sanctions operate on a 180-day implementation basis, oil companies will have some time to respond if sanctions are eventually re-imposed. New investment may be an early casualty, however. Oil and gas investments are largely long-term in scope and require sizeable commitments of funds. Major oil and gas companies with significant U.S. exposure are most likely going to either wait to commit to business in Iran or hedge their bets by making any investment modest and of short duration (such as with some exploration contracts). Those without U.S. exposure or confident of their ability to resist U.S. sanctions pressure if it is ever reinstated in full, however, may decide to stay in Iran to test both the extent of U.S. action and to profit from the abandoned field.

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Futurism

October 9, 2017

The Energy of Tomorrow May Not Be Solar, but Seaweed

The US Department of Energy has invested nearly $1.5 million in projects that will help establish large-scale seaweed farms for the purpose of making biofuel. … The renewable energy sector is rapidly increasing in the diversity of clean energy sources. Seaweed, in all its slimy glory, can be processed into a biofuel that could be used to power our homes and vehicles. The DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program is funding projects across the country to make the large-scale cultivation of seaweed a reality, supporting another alternative to fossil fuel use. Of the two latest projects funded, $995,978 went to Makai Ocean Engineering of Honolulu to help build an ocean simulating model that the will aid researchers in designing offshore seaweed farms, and $500,000 went to Kampachi Farms of Kailua-Kona to test harvesting methods for seaweed grown on these farms. Kampachi Farms will also develop an offshore seaweed farm.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 17, 2017

US crude rises 42 cents, settling at $51.87, as Kurdish conflict escalates in Iraq

Oil markets jumped on Monday as Iraqi forces entered the city of Kirkuk, taking territory from Kurdish fighters and raising concerns over exports from OPEC’s second-largest producer. “We’re seeing increased geopolitical tension in the Middle East providing support in the market today, namely in Iraqi Kurdistan, and some uncertainty around Iran,” said Anthony Headrick, energy market analyst at CHS Hedging LLC in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. Iraq’s Kurdistan briefly shut down some 350,000 barrels per day (bpd) of production from major fields Bai Hassan and Avana due to security concerns. Iraq launched the operation on Sunday as the crisis between Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) escalated. The KRG voted for independence in a Sept. 25 referendum. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude ended Monday’s session 42 cents higher at $51.87 per barrel. Earlier in the day, it traded as high as $52.37. International Brent crude futures rose 66 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $57.83 per barrel by 2:29 p.m. ET (1829 GMT), after trading as high as $58.47.

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New York Times

October 16, 2017

Boom in American Liquified Natural Gas Is Shaking Up the Energy World

A shale gas drilling boom over the last decade has propelled the United States from energy importer to exporter, taking the country a giant leap toward the goal of energy independence declared by presidents for half a century. Now the upheaval of the domestic energy sector is going global. A swell of gas in liquefied form shipped from Texas and Louisiana is descending on global markets, producing a broader glut and lower energy prices. The United States was supposed to be a big L.N.G. importer, not a world class exporter. The frenzy of drilling in shale gas fields across the country changed that over the last decade, creating a glut far larger than domestic demand could possibly consume. Companies that spent billions of dollars to build import platforms suddenly had useless facilities until they spent billions more to convert them for export.

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Houston Business Journal

October 13, 2017

Anadarko could spend $200 million on Peruvian deepwater project

The Woodlands-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC) could spend as much as $200 million to explore and develop 4.7 million acres in the Trujillo Basin in offshore Peru. The company signed three license agreements with the Peruvian government to explore across three deepwater blocks in the region, for which the company expects to invest at least $5 million in the first two years of exploration, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. If all goes well and the exploration turns up opportunities for further development, that investment could rise to around $200 million. Anadarko said in the SEC filing that there are multiple points at which it can decide not to move forward beyond the first $5 million, though.

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Houston Business Journal

October 16, 2017

Forbes names 11 Houston energy companies among ‘World’s Best Employers’

Houston’s very own Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL) has been ranked as the fifth best employer in the world. The energy company, along with 10 others based in Houston, earned a spot on Forbes’ first-ever “Global 2000: World’s Best Employers” list released Oct. 10. There were 500 spots on the list, which was complied from companies that made the Forbes Global 2000, an annual list of the world’s biggest public companies. The list was ranked by using surveys analyzed by Hamburg, Germany-based data company Statista Inc., according to Forbes. The survey asked employees to rate their employer, rate how likely they would be to recommend the company to another person and to list companies they admired.

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Dallas Morning News

October 16, 2017

Texas man missing after oil rig explosion on Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain

A Katy man is missing after an oil rig explosion Sunday night on Lake Pontchartrain, north of New Orleans. The missing worker was identified Monday as 44-year-old Timothy Morrison, the city of Kenner government said. Search-and-rescue efforts continue for the Texan. Seven people were injured in the explosion that occurred in unincorporated waters in the lake near Kenner. Three of the injured were in critical condition Monday morning, and four were discharged from the hospital, the city said.

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Washington Post

October 16, 2017

Iraqi forces retake the oil-rich city of Kirkuk in escalating dispute with Kurds

Iraqi forces took control of the contested city of Kirkuk on Monday, as two U.S. allies faced off over territory and oil in the wake of the Kurdish region’s independence vote last month. The Iraqi forces recaptured military bases, an oil field and other infrastructure held by the Kurdish troops, saying their aim was to return to positions around Kirkuk they held before fleeing in the face of an Islamic State push in 2014. But in the end they went further, entering the city itself. Iraqi officers lowered Kurdistan’s flag and raised Iraq’s flag at the provincial council building in oil-rich Kirkuk, the center of a fierce dispute between the Kurds and Baghdad. Cars packed roads out of the city as some residents rushed to leave. Others who had been unhappy with Kurdish rule took to the streets to celebrate.

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World Oil

October 13, 2017

EIA: Permian basin to drive fourth-quarter U.S crude production increases

In its Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) update released this week, EIA forecasts that U.S crude oil production will average 9.4 MMbpd in the second half of 2017, 340,000 bpd more than in the first half of 2017. EIA’s close monitoring of current rig activity in several producing regions shows continued production growth from tight-oil formations, such as shale in the Permian region, driving overall production increases. The STEO projects that the most significant production growth in the second half of 2017 will be in the Permian region. Permian production is forecast to grow to 2.6 MMbpd in the second half of 2017, a 260,000 bpd increase from the first half of 2017. Production in the Permian continues to increase, in part as a result of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil average monthly prices that have remained higher than $45/bbl since the second half of 2016.

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Reuters

October 16, 2017

Asia oil buyers turn to U.S. in hunt for cheap supply

Asia is set to ramp up crude oil imports from the United States in late 2017 and early next year, with buyers searching out cheap supplies after hurricanes hit U.S. demand for the commodity at a time of rising production in the country. As many as 11 tankers, partly or fully laden with U.S. crude, are due to arrive in Asia in November, with another 12 to load oil in the United States later in October and November before sailing for Asia, according to shipping sources and data on Thomson Reuters Eikon. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude benchmark stands at its largest discount in years against the Atlantic Basin’s Brent, with local appetite curbed as U.S. refineries are still pushing to get back on track in the wake of hurricanes such as Harvey.

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Houston Chronicle

October 16, 2017

BP launches IPO for new Houston business

British oil and gas giant BP said Monday it commenced a planned initial public offering for its new Houston-based pipeline spinoff, BP Midstream Partners. BP said the IPO puts up for sale 42.5 million units that are priced between $19 and $21 each, meaning that BP hopes to generate more than $800 million through the launch of the new business. The goals are to raise more money, attract new investors, and bring more value to its pipeline assets. The midstream business primarily will 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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Houston Chronicle

October 16, 2017

Gasoline prices fall for fifth consecutive week

Gasoline costs continue to plunge in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, although they’re still not back to their pre-storm levels. Fuel prices fell 7 cents a gallon in the Houston area in the past week, a fifth straight week of declines after costs spiked about 20 percent to about $2.50 a gallon following Harvey, which shut down refineries along the Gulf Coast.The average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded is now about $2.26, still about 16 cents higher than the week before Harvey struck Texas.

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New York Times

October 16, 2017

How Cheniere Energy Decided to Take a Gamble on Liquified Natural Gas

Every few days, a 900-foot long tanker sails from Cheniere Energy’s mammoth new Sabine Pass terminal on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast, loaded with natural gas for destinations around the world. Everything about the operation is oversized. The terminal straddles 1,000 acres on the Texas-Louisiana border and cost about $18 billion to build. Each shipment contains enough liquefied natural gas, or L.N.G., to heat 45,000 homes for a year. “This is a generational opportunity for us,” said Michael Wortley, Cheniere’s chief financial officer. “We’re not talking about the next couple of years, we’re talking about the next 50 years.”

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World Oil

October 16, 2017

EIA: U.S. crude production to increase through year-end, setting up record 2018

EIA forecasts that U.S crude oil production will average 9.4 MMbpd in the second half of 2017, 340,000 bpd more than in the first half of 2017. Production in 2018 is expected to average 9.9 MMbpd, surpassing the previous high of 9.6 MMbpd set in 1970, based on projections in EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO). The STEO projects that most of the crude oil production growth in the second half of 2017 will be in the Permian region, which extends across western Texas and southeastern New Mexico and has become one of the more active drilling regions in the United States. Production in the Permian continues to increase, in part, as a result of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil average monthly prices that have remained higher than $45/bbl since the second half of 2016.

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Houston Chronicle

October 16, 2017

Texas Supreme Court examines $48,000 an hour legal fee in H.L. Hunt case

The heir of Texas oil tycoon H.L. Hunt involved a bitter decade-long dispute with his son over control of a $1 billion trust wants the Texas Supreme Court to declare illegal his lawyers request to be paid $48,000 an hour for his legal services. Attorney Gregory Shamoun, who represented Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in 2014 in a sexual assault lawsuit brought by an exotic dancer, says Albert Hill Jr. made an oral agreement to pay him a 50 percent contingency fee if he was able to settle the intense and complicated family fight – a feat he accomplished after only a few weeks working on the case. When Hill Jr. refused to pay claiming the legal fee was ludicrously too high, Shamoun sued and won a $7.25 million award – or an estimated $48,000 an hour – from a jury.

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Wall St. Journal

October 12, 2017

Say Goodbye to $30 Oil as Supply Glut Is Mostly Gone, Says Platts

OPEC might be closer to working off a supply glut than it thinks, says Gary Ross, head of global oil analytics at S&P Global Platts. Brent crude, the global benchmark, is likely to top its 2017 high of $59.02 a barrel before the year’s end, Mr. Ross predicted speaking to reporters at a conference in New York. “We think with the surplus stocks are mostly gone–we’re not going to see $30 oil anymore,” he said. “We’re basically in a $50 to $60 Brent world for the time being,” he said. While he said Brent prices may rise to $60 this year, hedging by shale producers and slowing withdrawals from inventories in the first months of next year will likely limit gains.

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Utilities Stories

Washington Examiner

October 13, 2017

Wind power to overtake coal power in Texas

Wind energy is expected to overtake coal in Texas after Friday’s news that two large coal-fired power plants are set to close in the next year. The utility firm Luminant announced that it would close the Sandow Power Plant and the Big Brown Power Plant in early 2018. The power plants comprise 2,300 megawatts of electricity, which means 2.1 million homes in the Lone Star State will no longer be powered by coal. That gap in electricity generation is projected to be filled by wind farms in the Texas energy grid known as ERCOT, according to an analysis issued by the University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute soon after Luminant’s announcement.

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San Antonio Express-News

October 15, 2017

Bandera Co-op developing power solutions for rural Africa

A small Texas electric cooperative is hoping a mobile power plant will provide the spark to bring light and opportunity to a community in West Africa. The Bandera Electric Cooperative is testing and constructing a power system that will combine 70 kilowatts of solar panels, 100 kilowatts of batteries and a diesel backup generator to provide power for around 400 homes in the Liberian town of Totota. The project marks the first time that BEC will be placing the control systems, along with the battery, into a portable, 20-foot-long shipping container. The 200 solar panels will be set up nearby on less than half an acre and will feed the battery with electricity, which will then be distributed to customers hooked up to utility lines. A backup diesel generator will be able to provide at least seven days of backup power for days when inclement weather reduces solar generation.

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Ars Technica

October 16, 2017

More than 4,000MW of coal power slated for retirement in Texas. But why?

It seems that any expected help from the US government would not be enough to keep the older Texas plants economic. Bloomberg writes that, although demand for electricity has been growing in the Lone Star State (in contrast to much of the rest of the country, where demand is largely flat), wholesale prices for electricity have plummeted to $25 per megawatt-hour from a high of $49.3 per megawatt-hour in November 2014. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) announced in September that it expected to have a record-breaking winter, hitting 61,000MW of power demand. But supply would easily be able to meet that demand. “Nearly 86,000MW of total generation resource capacity is expected to be available for peak demand,” ERCOT wrote. The council added that approximately 3,000MW of new generation capacity had been added between May and September 2017, including “two gas-fired combined-cycle units totaling 2,200MW.”

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The Conversation

October 13, 2017

The pull of energy markets – and legal challenges – will blunt plans to roll back EPA carbon rules

On Oct. 10, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt formally announced a repeal of the Clean Power Plan, regulation intended to curb greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal- and natural gas-fired power plants. This follows a directive only a week earlier by Energy Secretary Rick Perry for the the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to start a process to essentially subsidize coal and nuclear power plants. At first blush, these developments give the impression that the U.S. power sector is about to take a dramatic turn, and these decisions do indeed represent a significant shift in U.S. policy. But major changes on the ground are unlikely to happen overnight, or perhaps even in the next several years, for many reasons. Topping the list are legal challenges and simply the way competitive energy markets work.

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Bloomberg

October 13, 2017

Utilities Accept the New, But Will They Embrace It?

Texas power generator Luminant announced Friday that it will close two coal-fired power plants in early 2018. Last week, it said it would close another coal plant that is more than 40 years old — an announcement that came days before the clearly telegraphed effort to roll back the Clean Power Plan. The three plants join the ranks of more than 200 plants that have closed in the past decade due to age, a losing battle against low-cost natural gas and renewable energy, low or negative demand growth, and pollution regulations. The news indicates that long-term economics, not short-term politics, are shaping today’s power mix. Utility companies, it seems, are just not that into coal anymore — or they don’t see it as a source of growth. Using the Bloomberg Document Search, I combed through investor presentations by 127 publicly listed U.S. utility companies since 2009 and discovered that four particular terms or keywords — “new technology,” “distributed energy,” “power/energy storage” and “batteries,” and “innovation” — are being mentioned with increasing frequency, indicating that companies view these new technologies and concepts as either areas for growth or material threats to their success.

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KUT

October 16, 2017

3 Takeaways From Unprecedented Texas Coal Plant Closures

Energy company Luminant says it’s shutting down three of its coal-fired power plants in Texas by early next year. The sudden closure of so many plants is unprecedented. That’s not the only thing unexpected about the closures, though. Josh Rhodes, a research fellow at UT Austin’s Energy Institute, said canceling out this much coal-generated electricity from the Texas grid this quickly is unusual. “We’ve never seen coal numbers move this fast,” he said. It got him wondering where Texas electricity will come from, and what he found surprised him. “It looks like we may have already crossed the threshold where we have more wind capacity than we do coal capacity,” Rhodes said.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

UPI

October 13, 2017

Total moves deeper into solar energy market

French energy company Total said Thursday it was playing an active role in the decarbonization of the French economy with a push deeper into the solar market. After a call for tenders, Total’s solar power subsidiary said it was working through a partnership with agricultural services company Groupe Carré on 70 projects for solar polar installations on building and carports across France. The combined capacity of all projects awarded is 32 megawatts. … The move by Total is its second in the solar market in less than a month. The French supermajor in September made a $284.7 million investment to take an indirect 23 percent stake in renewable power company EREN RE. Total said it could eventually take the company over completely within the next five years.

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New York Times

October 12, 2017

The U.S. Solar Industry’s New Growth Region: Trump Country

President Donald Trump’s administration has vowed to revive the coal industry, challenged climate-change science and blasted renewable energy as expensive and dependent on government subsidies. And yet the solar power industry is booming across Trump country, fueled by falling development costs and those same subsidies, which many Republicans in Congress continue to support. Data provided to Reuters by GTM Research, a clean energy market information firm, shows that eight of the 10 fastest-growing U.S. solar markets between the second quarters of 2016 and 2017 were Western, Midwestern or Southern states that voted for Trump, with Alabama and Mississippi topping the list. And solar firms are ramping up investments in these regions, signaling their faith that key renewable energy incentives will remain in place for years to come.

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Inverse

October 10, 2017

Google Will Hit 100 Percent Renewable Energy This Year

Google has announced that after 10 years a carbon-neutral company, it will be able to brag running on entirely renewable energy at the end of 2017. That means that all of the electricity the company consumes in both its data centers and offices are provided by wind and solar energy. As exciting as this milestone is, it hardly comes as a surprise. The company first announced its intention to hit this milestone last year. It was at this point it also first claimed that it is the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in the world. Announced in Google’s 2017 environmental report, Google says it has created “new energy purchasing models that others can follow” and that “we’ve helped drive wide-scale global adoption of clean energy.”

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Townsville Bulletin (AU)

October 8, 2017

Australia: Have you heard of a floating solar farm?

TOWNSVILLE could become home to Australia’s first floating solar farm under a $336 million proposal that promises to create up to 1200 local jobs. HydroSun will submit a market-led proposal for a solar farm on Ross Dam to Townsville City Council this week. Under the proposal, 33,400 individual “floats” would be ­installed on the water, generating up to 200MW/hour. HydroSun chairman Soren Lunoe said the council could become a high-voltage generator and retailer of electricity, with the farm to also offset water pumping costs from the Burdekin Dam. Energy would be stored on shore, with 400 containers each housing a ½MW/h battery made of ­vanadium, a metal that stores energy.

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Regulatory Stories

Texas Tribune

October 16, 2017

At post-Harvey Senate hearing, a bucket list of pricey solutions

Six weeks after the biggest rain event in U.S. history inundated large swaths of southeast Texas, a group of state senators convened in this small town north of Houston to discuss how best to address flooding related to the Houston area’s stressed reservoirs. In the Texas Senate’s first public hearing since Hurricane Harvey, the Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs talked for hours on Monday about a host of possibilities: dredging reservoirs and building new ones; better informing residents of flood risks and consolidating rainfall flood gauge data; capturing floodwater and storing it underground; and widening thousands of miles of bayous.

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The Hill

October 16, 2017

Trump approves oil pipeline expansion across Canadian border

The Trump administration on Monday approved a proposed expansion of an oil sands pipeline that crosses the Canadian border. Enbridge Energy’s Line 67, also known as the Alberta Clipper, now has State Department approval to nearly double its capacity at the crossing near Neche, N.D., to about 890,000 barrels per day. Line 67 serves a similar purpose to the highly controversial Keystone XL pipeline, and after the expansion, it would carry slightly more oil than Keystone. Environmentalists opposed to Line 67 have sought to tie it to Keystone.

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Bloomberg

October 17, 2017

North Korea Warns That Nuclear War Could ‘Break Out Any Moment’

North Korea warned that a nuclear war “may break out any moment” as the U.S. and South Korea began one of the largest joint naval drills off both the east and west coasts of the peninsula. Kim In Ryong, North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said on Monday that his nation had become a “full-fledged nuclear power which possesses the delivery means of various ranges” and warned that “the entire U.S. mainland is within our firing range.” He also called North Korea “a responsible nuclear state.” “As long as one does not take part in the U.S. military actions against the DPRK, we have no intention to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any other country,” Kim said, referring to his country’s formal name.

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The Hill

October 16, 2017

EPA to restrict settlements with environmentalists

The Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pledging to crack down on settlements with environmental groups that sue the EPA. “The days of regulation through litigation are over,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement on Monday announcing a new policy that seeks to increase transparency in the process through which the agency settles regulatory lawsuits with environmentalists and other outside groups.

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Houston Chronicle

October 10, 2017

Tomlinson: EPA clears way for more pollution

Who pays for the 52,000 deaths a year in the United States caused by small particulates and other air pollution released by coal-fired power plants? Who pays for the 26 percent increase in chronic bronchitis associated with living near a coal plant? Or the myriad of other health problems caused by toxins released when burning coal? When Environmental Protection Agency Administration Scott Pruitt talks about how the Clean Power Plan unfairly disadvantaged plants that burn coal, he never talks about who is paying for the human misery this industry causes. For if the industry had to compensate all the people who suffer and die prematurely from the air pollution produced, coal plants would have gone out of business long ago. And that’s before we begin talking about carbon dioxide, and how these plants contribute to climate change.

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Reuters

October 12, 2017

U.S. energy head: Nuclear power rescue helps national security

The U.S. energy secretary defended his plan to reward nuclear plants with incentives against criticism it would manipulate markets by telling a congressional hearing on Thursday that a strong domestic nuclear industry boosted national security. Rick Perry pushed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Sept. 29 to issue a rule within 60 days that would reward aging nuclear and coal-fired power plants that store 90 days of fuel on site. He has said those plants should be supported for their ability to boost the reliability of the U.S. power grid. Many U.S. representatives at the hearing, including Democrat Frank Pallone, said the plan favored aging industries, killed free markets and would saddle consumers with higher power bills. One lawmaker pointed to a study by ICF Consulting that said power bills could rise $800 million to $3.2 billion annually if FERC issued Perry’s plan.

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Daily Energy Insider

October 16, 2017

Energy Secretary Perry testifies before House Energy Subcommittee

Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry testified before the House Energy Subcommittee last week on DOE’s priorities and how they relate to emerging energy, environmental, technological, and national security challenges. Rick Perry Perry indicated that the department is exploring the issues energy market regulations and may take action related to these policies. “This proposal is just a first step in seeking to ensure that we truly have an energy policy that first and foremost protects the interests of the American people,” Perry said. “Following the recommendations of the Staff Report, the Department is continuing to study these issues and, if, necessary, will be prepared to make a series of additional recommendations to improve the reliability and resiliency of the grid.”

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Government Technology

October 13, 2017

A Harbinger of Fire and Flood, Hydromet Helps Residents, First Responders

When Hurricane Harvey locked its sights on Texas in late August, residents and authorities along the lower Colorado River found the information they might need to make life-or-death decisions online. The Hydromet monitoring system, a network of more than 275 gauges that continuously update an online map, isn’t new. Its parent agency, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), has managed it since the 1980s — decades before the term “Internet of Things” (IoT) had even been coined. It’s also not a flood warning system. Rather, the hydrological data generated by measuring river stages, lake levels and streamflows along with meteorological changes in rainfall, air temperature and humidity, prepares county judges, first responders and residents to make vital decisions.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 16, 2017
Lead Stories

San Antonio Express-News

October 13, 2017

Feds: Ex-FourWinds CEO misused investor money for prostitutes, ‘controlled substances’

Federal prosecutors this week provided a further glimpse into the criminal fraud case involving state Sen. Carlos Uresti, including that the head of a now-defunct oil field services company allegedly spent investor money on prostitutes and “controlled substances.” FourWinds Logistics CEO Stan Bates “misused” the money to “further the scheme to defraud the investors,” prosecutors alleged in a court filing Thursday. The “controlled substances” weren’t named. FourWinds, which bought and sold sand used in hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and gas from shale rock, collapsed into bankruptcy in the summer of 2015 amid allegations by some investors that they were defrauded. Uresti, who recruited two company investors and served as FourWinds’ legal counsel for a brief time, Bates and consultant Gary Cain were charged in a 22-count indictment in May. They have each denied the charges. Trial is set to start Oct. 23.

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Austin American-Statesman

October 13, 2017

Trump wants former TCEQ head to lead his environmental advisory panel

President Donald Trump has announced plans to nominate Kathleen Hartnett White, a climate change skeptic and former chairwoman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, to head the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality. White serves as a distinguished senior fellow-in-residence and director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment at the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation. Her past posts include director of the Lower Colorado River Authority, Texas Water Development Board and the Texas Emissions Reduction Advisory Board. “Throughout her career Kathleen has served Texans as a strong leader, in particular by ensuring that Texans have the energy and natural resources they need to prosper,” said Brooke Rollins, president and CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

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Dallas Morning News

October 13, 2017

Texas’ largest power generator speeds up coal’s decline with closure of two more plants

Coal’s decline in Texas accelerated this week as Luminant announced it would close three coal-fired power plants in early 2018. Combined, they account for 12 percent of the state’s coal power plant capacity. The state’s largest power generator revealed Friday that the Big Brown Plant southeast of Corsicana and Sandow Plant northeast of Austin would close next year. A week ago, Luminant announced it was shutting down its Monticello Plant near Mount Pleasant. The three plants can produce nearly 2,300 megawatts of electricity — enough to power nearly 2.1 million Texas homes. Luminant officials said cheap natural gas and Texas’ competitive energy market has gradually made these decades-old plants unprofitable. The state has also seen a boom in wind energy (it leads the nation) and increases in solar.

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Austin American-Statesman

October 13, 2017

Study: Proposed change to Texas power pricing could hurt wind sector

A proposal to make it more expensive to transmit electricity over long distances in Texas would benefit natural gas and coal plants near Houston but could hurt many other power generators around the state — with the burgeoning wind-energy sector likely to take the biggest hit, according to a new study. Net revenue for power generators overall would fall by about $239 million annually, the report said, with more than $150 million — or 63 percent — coming from the wind sector. The study was sponsored by First Solar Inc., Vistra Energy and the Wind Coalition, a trade group. The potential change in how wholesale electricity transmission is priced “would introduce a significant new challenge to the financial viability of existing generation in West and North Texas” in particular, it said.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 16, 2017

Oil jumps on fears of new Iran sanctions, Iraq conflict

Oil markets jumped on Monday on concerns over potential renewed U.S. sanctions against Iran as well as conflict in Iraq, while an explosion at a U.S. oil rig and reduced exploration activity supported prices there. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $57.85 at 0356 GMT, up 68 cents, or 1.2 percent, from the previous close. Traders said that worries over renewed U.S. sanctions against Iran were pushing up prices. U.S. President Donald Trump struck a blow against the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on Friday, defying both U.S. allies and adversaries by refusing to formally certify that Tehran is complying with the accord even though international inspectors say it is. Under U.S. law, the president must certify every 90 days to Congress that Iran is complying with the deal. The U.S. Congress will now have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions on Tehran that were lifted under the pact.

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Longview News Journal

October 13, 2017

Rig count drops another 8

Energy companies pulled eight rigs out of operation in Texas, Oklahoma and other states this week, slowing a drilling boom that has begun rejuvenating the oil industry this year. The pullback came as a delayed response to recent declines in oil prices, though they have since edged back up above $50 a barrel, a development analysts say could spur additional investments in coming months. This week’s decline was the second straight, Baker Hughes Inc. said Friday in its weekly report. It left 928 rigs at work after drillers idled five oil rigs, two natural gas rigs and one miscellaneous unit, losses that pushed the total count to its lowest level since June. Texas’ weekly total was down four to 444, Baker Hughes said, the state’s lowest since May.

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Texas Monthly

October 12, 2017

The Kurdish Vote for Independence: What It Means for Texas Energy

On September 25, in a nonbinding referendum, the people of Iraqi Kurdistan voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence. The critical international response to the referendum has cast additional uncertainty over the future of the region. Kurdistan’s prospects had already taken a hit in recent years as its security situation deteriorated, the price of oil plummeted, and concern over Kurdish legal authority over their energy resources grew. In the years after the end of major U.S. combat operations in Iraq, a number of Texas-based companies played important roles in developing Kurdistan’s energy resources and infrastructure. In 2011, Exxon signed a production sharing agreement with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) against the wishes of both Baghdad and Washington. A year later, a single well in the Atrush exploration block was tested at a flow rate of 42,000 barrels of oil a day, an order of magnitude more production than the average new well in the Eagle Ford and Permian shale plays in Texas (which typically produce 500 to 1,500 barrels a day). Two of the biggest stakeholders in the Atrush field were Houston-based Marathon Oil and Aspect Holdings, an independent exploration and investment company whose CEO, Alex Cranberg, has recently served on the board of regents for the University of Texas System.

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Longview News Journal

October 15, 2017

Closing of Luminant plant a tax hit to Titus County

Titus County began living with the pain of losing Luminant’s Monticello Power Plant for years before the company officially announced it would close the facility. Luminant’s parent company, Vistra, announced recently that the facility near Mount Pleasant would cease operations in January. The move means about 200 employees will lose their jobs, although some people will continue working there while the plant is dismantled. The closing of the Titus County plant will mark the end of a slow death for a facility that was at one time the largest taxpayer and largest employer in the county.

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Washington Post

October 15, 2017

Iraqi forces launch operation for Kurdish-held oil fields, military base

Clashes broke out early Monday as Iraqi forces moved to recapture Kurdish-held oil fields and a military base near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, after demanding that they return to the positions they occupied before collapsing in the face of an Islamic State advance three years ago. Iraqi forces said they were under instructions to avoid violence, but Kirkuk residents said that gunfire and explosions could be heard in the city in the early morning. Kurdish media reported that Kurdish volunteer fighters rushed to take up arms. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered his forces to “protect all citizens” as they retake positions, state television reported.

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San Antonio Express-News

October 14, 2017

San Antonio-based Camber Energy may be delisted as its stock price struggles

San Antonio-based oil and gas explorer Camber Energy may be delisted as the company’s stock price struggles. According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing by Camber its listing exchange, NYSE American, issued a notice Oct. 5 that Camber was not in compliance with the exchange’s listing standards. NYSE American, formerly known as NYSE MKT, specifically said that Camber’s stock price had been below 20 cents on a 30-day average price as of Oct. 5 and NYSE American staff “determined that the Company’s continued listing is predicated on it effecting a reverse stock split of its common stock or otherwise demonstrating sustained price improvement within a reasonable period of time.”

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Houston Chronicle

October 14, 2017

Vistra Energy adds to ongoing list of big layoffs for 2017

The latest round of layoffs in Texas, this time provided by Dallas-based Vistra Energy, is another sour point for 2017. Friday, the energy firm announced it was shutting down two major coal-fired power plants and laying off some 600 employees. The Texas Workforce Commission provides up-to-date data on the major layoffs occurring around the state thanks to the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.

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Houston Chronicle

October 13, 2017

Gulf of Mexico oil producers pumping again after Hurricane Nate

Oil companies have returned their workers to all but a handful of manned production platforms in the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Nate barreled through. Roughly 24 percent of the oil production in the Gulf, which is more than 425,000 barrels of oil a day, remains offline, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said early Friday. Only 20 of the Gulf’s 737 manned platforms remained evacuated. Last Saturday, BSEE said drillers had shut in 92 percent of the region’s crude production, and evacuated more than 300 manned platforms as Hurricane Nate approached.

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Break Bulk

October 13, 2017

Permania Roars On

From U.S. Silica’s frac sand plant springing up in West Texas to new dock, rail and storage facilities being built at Port Corpus Christi on the Gulf Coast, the frenzied phenomenon dubbed Permania is roaring on. And, with record resources available for tapping, the shale oil boom of the Lone Star State is anticipated to continue having wide-ranging, long-term impacts on industry and transportation. “The Permian Basin will be a very prolific basin for many decades to come,” said Walter Guidroz, program coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey, or USGS, Energy Resources Program. “It is really hydraulic fracturing, combined with directional drilling, that has made these resources technically recoverable.” USGS studies fully support Guidroz’s view.

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Houston Chronicle

October 12, 2017

As foreigners eye Chinese shale, political barriers persist, U.S. trade official says

Even as China promotes reforms to its oil and gas industry, access to its shale and offshore fields remains largely off limits to foreign firms, a U.S. trade official said Tuesday. Interest has grown around China’s oil and gas reserves in recent years, as new drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology employed in the United States is believed to have the potential to revive China’s dormant oil and gas industry. “They say we hear you, but we’re very far behind and will open up our market step by step,” said Alan Turley, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for China and Mongolia at the U.S. International Trade Administration, said during a talk at the Washington think tank the Atlantic Council. “They say we’re still a poor, developing country.”

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Associated Press

October 16, 2017

Texas man accused of lying about blowout preventer test

A Texas man is accused of lying about tests on a blowout preventer on an offshore oil and gas platform in 2012, Acting U.S. Attorney Duane Evans said. An indictment handed up Thursday charges Kenneth Johns, 45, of Rosharon, Texas, with one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and two counts of making false statements. Online court records don’t show an attorney for Johns, described as a supervisor for a contract company, which is not identified. If he’s convicted, maximum penalties would total 15 years in prison and $750,000 in fines.

This article appeared on the KRIS-TV website

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Houston Chronicle

October 13, 2017

New billboard effort asks “climate polluters” to help pay for Harvey

A new Houston billboard and media campaign is asking energy companies – the so-called “climate polluters” – to pay their fair share for the massive Hurricane Harvey recovery process. Environmental groups, the Center for Climate Integrity and Public Citizen, point out that man-made climate change is warming ocean waters and strengthening storms like Harvey, helping them to unleash much more rainfall and flooding on communities. The extraction and burning of fossil fuels is responsible for much of the climate change, they assert at the new website, whopaysforharvey.com. This is just the beginning of a larger national campaign that’s starting in Houston, said Adrian Shelley, Texas director for Public Citizen.

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New York Times

October 13, 2017

Drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge: How the G.O.P. Could Finally Break the Impasse

The Trump administration and congressional Republicans in recent weeks have renewed the fight over opening part of an enormous wildlife refuge in northern Alaska to oil and gas exploration. The battle over the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which pits Republicans in Washington and much of the political and business establishment in Alaska against congressional Democrats and environmental and conservation groups, has been going on for decades. With Republicans holding both houses of Congress and the presidency, the prospects for opening the refuge, at least to studies of its oil and gas potential, are better than they have been in years. And a budget resolution introduced late last month, and supported by Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, may help pave the way.

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The Globe and Mail (Canada)

October 9, 2017

Leach: How Donald Trump killed the Energy East pipeline

On March 24, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the death warrant for Energy East. Although he likely didn’t know it, when he signed a presidential permit for the not-quite-dead-yet Keystone XL pipeline, he set in motion a series of events which likely forced TransCanada Corp.’s hand and led to the cancellation of its cross-Canada pipeline project. When Energy East was proposed in 2013, it was a solution to three problems. First, Western Canadian and U.S. Bakken oil production were expected to grow – the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) forecast demand for pipeline shipments to increase to eight million barrels a day from four million between 2015 and 2030. Second, the Keystone XL pipeline was denied a presidential permit by former president Barack Obama, the Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat, B.C., was on life support and a pipeline capacity crunch was looming.

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Utilities Stories

Platts

October 13, 2017

Gas loses ERCOT fuel mix share to wind, coal in September

Wind and coal-fired generation’s share of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ fuel mix rose month on month in September, while natural gas-fired units’ cut slipped below 50%, a mark held for two months, as less cooling load and strong winds pushed more peaking units out of the stack, according to the grid operator. The largest monthly increase in percentage terms came from wind generation, which rose about 5% to make up nearly 14% of the total generation, after hitting a two-year low of about 9% in August, the data show. The year-ago level was 11%. ERCOT data showed wind farms produced 4.4 TWh in September, jumping about 33% from August output of 3.3 TWh. Meanwhile, coal’s share rose 2.7% month on month to 33.5% to account for more than a third of total generation in September, its highest mark since April, after ranging between 30% and 33% from May through August.

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McAllen Monitor

October 15, 2017

ERCOT, AEP Texas invest heavily in RGV growth

Thousands across the Rio Grande Valley were without power. Voltage concerns caused outages in McAllen, Edinburg, Harlingen and San Benito. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas instructed Valley-area transmission and distribution service providers to reduce demand on their electric system. At the time, in October 2014 when this happened, an AEP Texas spokesman called the situation a “lack of generation capacity.” “There was power in the Valley,” ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness said. “But it was not keeping up.” The Valley had become too much for the electric grid. Kip Fox from AEP Texas called the Valley’s growth “unprecedented.” That growth has been indisputable, which is why, three years after those rolling blackouts and more than $1 billion, the system has transformed.

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Community Impact Newspapers

October 6, 2017

Pedernales Electric Cooperative customers can sign up for solar rate option starting in December

Members of the Pedernales Electric Cooperative—including power customers in the Leander, Cedar Park, Westlake and Lake Travis areas—will have the option to sign up for a new solar rate starting in December, according to a press release issued this week by the PEC. Solar generation sites throughout the PEC’s service territory will produce up to 15 megawatts of solar power once complete, according to the press release. “The new Cooperative Solar Rate allows members of the cooperative to enjoy the benefits of solar energy without personally investing in or installing equipment at their home or business,” said Ingmar Sterzing, PEC’s vice president of power supply and energy services in the statement.

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Victoria Advocate

October 13, 2017

Widespread outage prompts search for alternative

When Victoria went dark after Hurricane Harvey, a lineman died, a handful of homes burned down, thousands of residents lost access to drinking water and the local economy took a hit. All this raises the question: Should power lines in Victoria be buried to lessen the effect? … The two big arguments against burying power lines are this: First, while burying power lines protects against strong winds, it doesn’t protect against flooding. “It wouldn’t have helped with the 21 inches of rain in (Hurricane) Beulah (in 1967),” said [Tom] Halepaska, who is also a Victoria city councilman. “We’ve got to look at this carefully. It’s too easy to pick a simplistic solution, and I think burying power lines is a simplistic solution.” Second, burying power lines is expensive. It’s expensive to convert from overhead, and underground power lines are expensive to maintain, said [AEP Texas spokesman Larry] Jones.

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Bloomberg

October 15, 2017

More Americans Are Getting Their Electricity Cut Off

More than 900,000 homes went dark in Texas last summer because of unpaid bills, almost triple the number 10 years ago. In California last year, it was 714,000, the most on record. The tally across the country is in the millions, a sign of the economic stress that lingers after the Great Recession. Utilities are disconnecting more households as President Donald Trump moved to end $3.4 billion in federal energy-bill help for the poorest Americans. Congress voted to reinstate the funding, but the administration has yet to release the money. “It’s indicative of an economy that’s still recovering,” said Katrina Metzler, executive director of the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition in Washington. “Underemployment is still common, and many families live paycheck to paycheck.”

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Texas Public Radio

October 12, 2017

Is This How The Trump Administration Might Save Coal?

The coal industry and its supporters, like Perry, argue that coal and nuclear are a base load power that’s needed to keep the lights on “when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining.” But because coal and nuclear can’t compete with cheaper (and cleaner) sources of power, they need to be subsidized. Perry also argues coal and nuclear are critical in extreme weather events, where on-site storage means power is there when it is needed. On Capitol Hill he specifically cited the 2014 “polar vortex” cold snap, although environmental groups point out that even coal plants had problems then, including frozen stockpiles of coal. In fact, the Department of Energy’s own recent “grid reliability” study found the current grid is highly reliable, despite an ever decreasing amount of coal-fired generation. As the grid is further transformed there will be new challenges that have to be overcome, the report concluded. Still, as one energy commentator put it, Perry’s proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear is a “solution in search of a problem.”

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Electrek

October 7, 2017

IEA proclaims ‘New Era for Solar Power’ – but are their projections bright enough?

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has significantly upped their global installation predictions of new solar power and other renewable energy technology through 2022. This updated growth prediction is greatly based upon the significant acceleration of solar power being installed in China and the abruptly falling prices of large installations. Specifically, the IEA raised predictions of renewable energy being deployed in the next five years by greater than 33%. The generally conservative group even left open that there could be still more growth, 30% above what’s already projected in a situation “where government policy lifts barriers to growth.” Record low pries for large-scale construction groups signing power purchase agreements with government entities lit up the news multiple times last year – breaking 3¢/kWh first in May and then diving 25% lower five months later. The biggest driver of the changes in this report are that solar power, in particular, had a huge growth year in 2016.

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WPXI (Pittsburgh)

October 12, 2017

Shell to buy electric vehicle charging provider

Oil company Shell has signed an agreement to buy electric vehicle charging firm NewMotion. It did not disclose terms. The company, which will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, operates more than 30,000 private electric charge points for homes and businesses in the Netherlands, Germany, France and the U.K. Shell’s Vice President for New Fuels, Matthew Tipper, says Thursday that the deal will give customers “flexibility to charge their electric vehicles at home, work and on the go.”

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Bloomberg

October 6, 2017

Battery Maker Backed by African Fuel Company Seeks More Cash

A U.K. battery maker backed by the biggest producer of fuel from coal is raising new funds to develop novel technology for airplanes, drones and spaceships. Oxis Energy Ltd.’s lithium-sulfur batteries eliminate some of the safety hazards of the batteries that has kept them out of commercial use, said Chief Executive Officer Huw Hampson-Jones. The Oxfordshire, England-based seeking new investors to join South Africa’s Sasol Ltd. and other high-net-worth individuals who already have stakes. While most of today’s batteries store energy inside packs stuffed with lithium, those can react badly to shocks. Oxis says it manufactures units that can withstand bullets and nails and overcomes the problems that made earlier lithium-sulfur batteries unsafe for widespread use. The ruggedness of that technology could become important safety advantage for industries with razor-thin margins of error like aviation and space exploration. And its ability to store energy exceeds the capabilities of current lithium-ion batteries, the company said.

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San Jose Mercury News

October 14, 2017

Tesla fires hundreds after company-wide performance reviews

PALO ALTO – Tesla fired hundreds of workers this week, including engineers, managers and factory workers, even as the company struggles to expand its manufacturing and product line. The dismissals come at a crucial point for the company, which is pushing to increase vehicle production five-fold and reach a broader market with its new Model 3 sedan. The electric vehicle maker missed targets for producing the lower-cost sedan, manufacturing only 260 last quarter despite a wait list of more than 450,000 customers. The company said this week’s dismissals were the result of a company-wide annual review, and insisted they were not layoffs. Some workers received promotions and bonuses, and the company expects to hire for the “vast majority” of new vacancies, a spokesman said.

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Regulatory Stories

New York Times

October 12, 2017

What Would Happen if the U.S. Withdrew From Nafta

Under Nafta, the three countries pay nothing on most goods that cross the border. After the United States exits the pact, the tariffs, or taxes, that Canada and Mexico put on its goods would rise. For some goods, tariffs could go as high as 150 percent. That would cause prices to spike and cut into company profits. All three countries are members of the World Trade Organization, so tariffs could revert to those levels. Currently, they are 0 percent for most goods under Nafta. After Nafta, the W.T.O. rules would apply to trade between the United States and Mexico. Tariffs on agricultural exports to Mexico are particularly costly, including a 15 percent tariff on wheat, a 25 percent on beef and a 75 percent tariff on chicken and potatoes. But goods like soap, fireworks, handbags and many articles of clothing face tariffs of 15 to 20 percent. Mexican goods would, in turn, face an average United States tariff of 3.5 percent.

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HuffPost

October 11, 2017

Carlson: Houston Will Get Hit With Another Harvey. Now’s The Time For It To Prepare.

As Houston begins the long rebuilding process after Hurricane Harvey, it has an opportunity to transform itself into a city ready and resilient in the face of climate change and the possibility of more extreme weather events. Known as the “oil and gas capital of the world,” this city has grappled for years with the challenge of adapting to global warming. While it’s difficult to know whether climate change is directly responsible for a particular hurricane, some scientists say it will make storms worse and more frequent, and their aftermaths more deadly. Protecting against this now could mitigate future catastrophes. The devastation that Harvey wreaked underscores the importance of urgent action.

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Texas Tribune

October 13, 2017

What does Trump’s repeal of environmental rules mean for Texas?

Earlier this week, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the agency will seek to repeal the Clean Power Plan — President Barack Obama’s signature effort to combat climate change. The announcement is the latest of the Trump administration’s moves to unravel several nationwide and Texas-specific environmental regulations that would have required the state to slash industrial emissions that are linked to global warming, human illnesses and diminished visibility in Big Bend and other national parks. Other regulations on the chopping block would have allowed the federal government to regulate small streams and wetlands so they don’t leach pollution into larger waterways and to require automakers to increase fuel efficiency standards.

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Associated Press

October 15, 2017

Rex Tillerson: NKorea diplomacy continues until 1st ‘bomb drops’

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving the North Korean crisis “will continue until the first bomb drops.” That statement comes despite President Donald Trump’s tweets a couple of weeks ago that his chief envoy was “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with “Little Rocket Man,” a mocking nickname Trump has given the nuclear-armed nation’s leader Kim Jong Un. “I think he does want to be clear with Kim Jong Un and that regime in North Korea that he has military preparations ready to go and he has those military options on the table. And we have spent substantial time actually perfecting those,” Tillerson told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle

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Tallahassee Democrat

October 10, 2017

Republicans attempt another statewide fracking ban

A group of Republicans from the House and Senate have filed a bill that would ban fracking in Florida, but it faces a tough journey without an environmental study. Sen. Dana Young said SB 462 was similar to a bill she filed during the last legislative session that was rejected by House Republican Leader Ray Rodrigues. The difference is this year, the bill will have more support. “I’m an eternal optimist,” Young, R-Tampa, said during a Tuesday news conference in the Capitol. “I think we have a lot of firepower behind it.”

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Waco Tribune-Herald

October 10, 2017

Spence: Big Coal has an influential friend in Washington

The Department of Energy and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are now debating a rule designed, in part, to subsidize coal-fired power plants that have struggled to compete with less-expensive gas-fired, wind and solar generators in electricity markets. The Trump administration says the subsidies are necessary to ensure system reliability. They are not. Instead, this proposal is a symbolic political gesture, only understandable as a sop to coal companies and a swipe at environmentalists and the Obama administration. Which is not to suggest we shouldn’t worry about the reliability of the electric system. There are legitimate questions to be asked about how competitive markets will ensure a reliable electric supply since, unlike traditional public utility regulation, competitive markets do not offer power plant owners predictable streams of revenue that make them want to build a plant in the first place.

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Crain’s Cleveland Business

September 18, 2017

Study: Cities, states and businesses put U.S. halfway to Paris goal

Efforts by cities, states and corporations to fight global warming have put the U.S. halfway toward its Paris climate accord goal, even as President Donald Trump rolls back federal environmental efforts. The push by public and private leaders from New York to California has put greenhouse gases on track to fall 12% to 14% below 2005 levels over the next eight years, according to a study released Monday, Sept. 18, by NewClimate Institute and The Climate Group. The U.S. pledged cuts of 26% to 28% during that period under a global pact brokered in the French capital in 2015. Trump announced in June that the U.S. would exit the agreement. The study uses data from CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), that includes commitments from 22 states, 54 cities and 250 U.S.-based businesses.

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The Hill

October 11, 2017

Watchdog expands probe into EPA chief’s travel

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) internal watchdog is expanding its investigation into Administrator Scott Pruitt’s travel habits. The EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) said Friday that it will now examine Pruitt’s taxpayer-funded travel through Sept. 30. It had previously limited the scope of its probe to Pruitt’s travel to his home state of Oklahoma through July 31. Pruitt has taken at least four charter or military flights, including one within Oklahoma, at a cost of more than $58,000. They included a flight from an event with President Trump in Cincinnati to New York City to catch a plane to Rome and flights to and from the Gold King Mine in Colorado.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 13, 2017
Lead Stories

Houston Chronicle

October 12, 2017

Houston companies join high-octane battle over fuel in Mexico

At a Rice University forum last year, Mexican Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquin Coldwell was asked whether his government would allow refiners to increase the concentrations of ethanol in gasoline beyond the 5.8 percent that it had just approved. Coldwell gave an emphatic no. “If it goes above that, it can generate a lot of ozone,” he said, referring to an air pollutant linked to increased asthma rates. “So that is the rule.” But just nine months later, the Mexican government changed its regulations to permit up to 10 percent ethanol in gasoline — the same level as the United States. That ruling is now under court review, but it represents a major victory for American ethanol producers, which only 18 months earlier had launched an intensive lobbying campaign to outmaneuver an entrenched chemical industry that has long dominated the Mexican fuel additives market.

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CNBC

October 12, 2017

Trump’s expected moves against Iran deal could create lingering concerns in oil market

President Donald Trump is expected to announce that the Iran nuclear deal is not in the nation’s interest and propose new conditions. The move is not expected to impact oil prices, but it does create an environment of uncertainty that could go on for months. The onus would then be on Congress, and it is expected to seek some new constraints on Iran for non-nuclear activity.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

October 12, 2017

Can rare earths turn old coal mines into gold mines supplying smartphone makers?

This summer, the Department of Energy awarded more than $20 million in grants for projects to extract, separate and concentrate rare earth elements from coal-associated materials — including a $1 million grant to a consortium involving three companies and Penn State University to develop a pilot plant at the Luzerne County site owned by Jeddo Coal Co., which calls itself the “aristocrat of anthracite.” The outside projects — along with in-house research at the department’s National Energy Technology Laboratory — are evaluating an array of possible coal sources for rare earths across Appalachia and western states. Those include fly ash from power plants, byproducts from coal-washing facilities, waste rock above and below coal seams, and sludge from acid mine drainage. “It is a very broad portfolio right now,” said Mary Anne Alvin, technology manager for the rare earths program at the laboratory, which has locations in South Park and in Morgantown, W.Va.

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Texas Observer

October 9, 2017

Sadasivam: In New Rule, Trump EPA Allows Texas Coal Plants to Pollute Even More Than They Already Do

In a gift to the struggling coal industry, a new air pollution rule finalized by the EPA will allow Texas coal plants to emit almost twice as much sulfur dioxide than an earlier proposal by the Obama administration. Aside from being a key component in forming haze, sulfur dioxide exacerbates respiratory illnesses such as asthma and contributes to acid rain. “The new proposal is a sham,” said Dan Cohan, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University. “It does nothing. It sets a cap that’s higher than what those plants have been emitting for the past few years.” For the last decade, hit by a double whammy of cheap natural gas and renewables and the cost of complying with air pollution rules, coal plants across the country have been shutting down.

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Washington Post

October 11, 2017

New EPA document reveals sharply lower estimate of the cost of climate change

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday released a detailed 198-page proposed analysis of the costs and benefits of its move to repeal the Clean Power Plan, suggesting the administration plans to greatly decrease the government’s estimates of the cost of climate change. The document explains the consequences of scrapping the Clean Power Plan, a set of rules for power plants aimed at reducing U.S. contributions to climate change. In the document, the EPA calculated the cost of one ton of emissions of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, to be between $1 and $6 in the year 2020. That’s down from the Obama administration’s central (inflation adjusted) 2020 estimate of $45 — “a reduction of 87 percent to 97 percent,” according to a comparison by the think tank Resources for the Future. The wildly divergent numbers arise in significant part because the agency is now calculating the cost of carbon only within the United States, rather than around the globe — a key change that could be of major consequence.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 13, 2017

Oil rises on tighter US market, strong China imports

Oil prices rose on Friday as both U.S. crude production and inventories declined, pointing towards a tightening market. Strong Chinese oil import data also supported crude prices, traders said. With the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) leading a production cut, analysts said that global oil markets were now broadly balanced after years of oversupply. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $50.94 per barrel at 0500 GMT, up 34 cents, or 0.7 percent, from their last settlement. Brent was at $56.59, up 34 cents, or 0.6 percent. U.S. crude inventories dropped 2.7 million barrels in the week to Oct. 6, to 462.22 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said late on Thursday. Crude production slipped 81,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 9.48 million bpd.

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San Antonio Express-News

October 12, 2017

Uresti asks court to exclude other investigations, comments to press from criminal trial

A flurry of court motions was filed this week in Democratic state Sen. Carlos Uresti’s criminal fraud case as lawyers jockey for an edge before the trial starts later this month. Uresti is fighting to keep out certain information from the trial, including mention of other alleged crimes, a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and statements he made to the press regarding the collapse of FourWinds Logistics. Uresti recruited investors and acted as a lawyer for the San Antonio oil field service company, which went bankrupt in 2015. Some investors say they were defrauded, triggering an FBI investigation that led to a 22-count indictment against Uresti, former CEO Stan Bates and consultant Gary Cain. The defendants have each denied the charges. The trial is set to start Oct. 23.

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Bloomberg

October 12, 2017

BNP to Halt Shale Oil Financing, Expand Funds for Renewables

BNP Paribas SA pledged to stop financing shale and oil sands projects, expanding earlier commitments in support of global efforts to tackle climate change. France’s largest bank will no longer do business with companies whose main activity stems from oil and natural gas obtained from shale or oil sands, it said in a statement Wednesday. The policy covers companies involved in activities ranging from exploration to marketing and trading. The company also won’t fund oil or gas projects in the Arctic region. BNP Paribas said it’s committed to bringing its financing and investment activities in line with international efforts to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Achieving that goal relies on reducing the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, starting with energy from shale and oil sands, the bank said.

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Bloomberg

October 13, 2017

Denning: Genesis Energy’s Unoriginal Sin

Do me a favor: Read this excerpt from Genesis Energy LP’s press release on Thursday and then answer a question:As noted above, our legacy operations continue to perform in line with expectations and, importantly, our recently acquired soda ash business is performing better than expected. As contributions from recently completed organic growth projects and acquisitions ramp, we expect to generate record net income, cash flows from operations, Adjusted EBITDA and Available Cash before Reserves in future quarters and fiscal years. Does that sound like a company that just slashed its dividend by almost a third?To be fair, Genesis is hardly alone when it comes to serving up word-salad from the corporate buffet bar, especially at distressing times. Even so, as I’ve noted before, words matter, especially when spoken by master limited partnerships at this point.

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Reuters

October 10, 2017

Colonial partners with Enterprise for fuel exports from Beaumont terminal

Colonial Pipeline and Enterprise Products Partners said on Tuesday they have partnered to boost exports from the Beaumont refined oil products terminal in Texas to rival the Houston Ship Channel. Colonial Terminal Logistics, a unit of Colonial Pipeline, is offering marine logistic services, that include blending, dock usage and access to as much as 2 million barrels of new storage at Enterprise’s Beaumont, Texas, facility. Colonial’s shippers will be able to move fuel from thirteen Gulf Coast refineries to the Beaumont terminal for vessel loading.

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E&P

October 12, 2017

Apache Reaches New Heights At Alpine High

Apache Corp. (NYSE: APA) is strengthening its position in the stacked Alpine High play it already dominates, having pinpointed thousands of “highly economic” drilling locations—mostly wet gas. The company delivered this week a detailed update on the West Texas play where it has identified an emerging oil play, a dry gas play with more than 1,000 highly economic locations and an even larger wet gas play with more than 3,500 highly economic locations. “The Alpine High is truly unique. It contains an unprecedented vertical hydrocarbon column of 4,000 to 5,000-plus feet with five discrete hydrocarbon-bearing formation—the Woodford, Barnett, Penn, Wolfcamp and Bone Springs—each with multiple target zones,” Apache CEO John Christmann said in the presentation.

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Associated Press

October 11, 2017

Assets of Ex-Brazilian President Frozen Over Refinery Deal

SAO PAULO (AP) — A Brazilian court has ordered ex-President Dilma Rousseff’s assets frozen in connection with an estimated $580 million loss at state oil company Petrobras resulting from the purchase of an oil refinery in Pasadena, Texas. Wednesday’s ruling also orders a freezing of assets for a former head of Petrobras and three members of its board of directors. Court justice Vital do Rego said there were signs of “intentional mismanagement to cover up irregularities.” The one-year freeze covers assets that could be used to recoup the loss.

This article appeared in US News

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Bloomberg

October 12, 2017

Dakota Access Helps Drillers But Isn’t a Bakken Game-Changer

Once hailed as the spur for a North American “energy renaissance,” the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline has limited driller costs in its first four months in operation. Just don’t expect it to live up to its pre-approval hype. That’s the conclusion of analysts who say North Dakota’s Bakken shale play will continue to lag the drilling surge in Texas and Oklahoma, pipeline or no pipeline. The conduit’s use has dropped the break-even cost of drilling in the Bakken to around $52 a barrel from $55, as drillers abandon costlier rail shipments, said Erika Coombs, an analyst at BTU Analytics LLC. But that compares with about $46 on average in Texas’s Permian play and $41 in Colorado’s DJ basin, she said.

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Houston Chronicle

October 12, 2017

Phillips 66 retirees say 401(k) plan should drop ConocoPhillips stock option

Three retirees sued the retirement plan investment committee of Phillips 66 for failing to provide them a wider array of investment offerings in the company’s 401(k) retirement plan. Plan sponsors have a fiduciary responsibility to provide a diversified mix of investment options. The three retirees who are seeking to represent about 12,000 other plan participants accuse senior executives of Phillips 66 who manage the retirement plan of continuing to offer an investment option that allows participants to buy the stock of ConocoPhillips, according to the lawsuit that was filed earlier this week in federal court in Houston. The stock offering was a holdover from 2012 when ConocoPhillips transferred its refining, marketing and transportation operations to Phillips 66, which then became a separate and independent company.

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Houston Chronicle

October 12, 2017

LNG Ltd. delays U.S. move after competitors go public

Australia’s LNG Ltd. is delaying its anticipated move to Houston and its plans to become publicly traded on Wall Street, just months after its next-wave liquefied natural gas exporting rivals like NextDecade and Tellurian went public earlier this year. LNG Ltd., which already has its chief executive and chairman based out of Houston, said it will focus on developing its LNG export project near Lake Charles, La. and further consider the move at a later time. Essentially, the LNG board of directors opted to punt for now. “We remain committed to bringing the Company to the U.S. market at an appropriate time best suited to maximize investor value,” said LNG Ltd. Chairman Paul Cavicchi. “A U.S. listing is the right step for LNGL, but we must ensure we proceed deliberately and remain attentive to all shareholder expectations.”

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Houston Chronicle

October 11, 2017

Merged Wood Group launches with new brand, office closures

Following its $2.7 billion acquisition of Amec Foster Wheeler, the Wood Group will call itself just plain Wood, adopting a logo featuring lowercase lettering and a period at the end – “wood.” The combined company is based out of the United Kingdom, but has a major Houston presence with well more than 6,000 Houston-area workers, including about 4,000 people in the Energy Corridor and another 2,000 in Clute. The merger brought together two U.K.-based engineering and construction companies specializing in energy and industrial projects sectors with a combined global workforce of 55,000 people.

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Reuters

October 12, 2017

Breitburn lays out bankruptcy exit plan, creditors want an auction

Breitburn Energy Partners LP (BBEPQ.PK) detailed plans at a Thursday court hearing to exit bankruptcy by transferring the oil-and-gas producer’s assets to creditors, but opponents pressed for an auction of main reserves to generate more money. Breitburn filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May 2016, one of more than 100 energy companies that sought court protection from creditors after oil prices crashed from more than $100 a barrel in 2014. On Thursday, it proposed splitting into two companies, with one owning its prized assets in the Permian Basin in Texas and the other owning its reserves in California, the Rocky Mountains, U.S. Midwest and U.S. Southeast. Holders of Breitburn’s unsecured bonds would be given the opportunity to buy their share of the Permian company’s stock, valued at $775 million, in what is known as a rights offering.

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Wisconsin State Journal (Madison)

October 11, 2017

Did Kinder Morgan Inc. Just Put Enterprise Products Partners’ Latest Growth Project on Ice?

The Permian Basin in western Texas and southwest New Mexico holds a treasure trove of oil. However, along with that crude, producers are finding the basin to be a prolific source of natural gas. In fact, according to an estimate from IHS Markit, gas output from the Permian will jump from an average of 6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) last year up to more than 14 Bcf/d by 2026. That surge in output represents a massive opportunity for pipeline companies, which are racing to be the first to build a new line out of the region. Three have already proposed new gas pipeline projects, including Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE: EPD), Kinder Morgan (NYSE: KMI), and NAmerico Partners, which is a private equity-backed company. However, Kinder Morgan appears to be the front-runner to build the next pipeline after announcing a joint venture with leading Permian processing companies Targa Resources (NYSE: TRGP) and DCP Midstream (NYSE: DCP). As a result, it seems increasingly less likely that Enterprise Products Partners will move forward with its proposed project anytime soon.

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Wall St. Journal

October 13, 2017

Chevron Loses Taste for Oil in Great Australian Bight

Chevron Corp. has abandoned plans for deep-water exploration wells off Australia’s southern coast, the second oil major to be squeezed out of the Great Australian Bight, citing low oil prices. The U.S. company said its exploration program in the Bight had failed to compete for capital against other projects in its global portfolio. It follows BP PLC’s decision a year ago to halt its own exploration efforts there, saying the project didn’t stack up financially. Nigel Hearne, managing director of Chevron Australia, said the decision to halt exploration was not due to regulatory, community or environmental concerns. “We are confident the Great Australian Bight can be developed safely and responsibly and we will work closely with the interested stakeholders to help realize its potential,” he said.

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Financial Times

October 10, 2017

Why the US east coast imports oil despite shale boom

The US has been shipping its shale oil riches to different parts of the world, including Canada and India, inspiring White House officials to muse about American “energy dominance”. But one place that is buying very little of this crude is the officials’ backyard. Last week as the US reported a record 2m barrels a day in crude oil exports, refineries located up the highway from Washington on the east coast imported about 900,000 b/d, mainly from Africa. A big reason is the Jones Act, a 97-year-old US law that requires all ships starting and ending their voyages on US coasts to be American-flagged, built and crewed. The Trump administration waived the Jones Act for 10 days, following the devastation inflicted by hurricanes in Puerto Rico, triggering renewed calls for its repeal.

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Rolling Stone

October 12, 2017

A Final Fight for the Keystone Pipeline

At the end of January, Jane Kleeb, chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party, drove to the Nebraska Sandhills, a region of rolling pasture and farmland an old rancher once described as halfway past “where the prairie chickens fuck the barn owls.” As the president of the Bold Alliance, a grassroots campaign to challenge Big Oil, Kleeb had helped lead a rural resistance to defeat the Keystone XL pipeline, blocking it in-state and successfully lobbying President Obama to deny its permit in 2015. But that was before Donald Trump endorsed bringing back the project on the campaign trail, saying during one debate that eminent domain – the government seizure of private property for public use – was “an absolute necessity” for companies to beat back landowners who oppose them.

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Utilities Stories

Utility Dive

October 11, 2017

25% of remaining US coal fleet headed for retirement or conversion, new report says

Roughly one in four of the remaining operating coal-fired plants in the U.S. are slated for closure or conversion to natural gas, according to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Another 17% of the nation’s operating coal plants are uneconomic compared with natural gas-fired generation and could face retirement soon, the report says. The UCS report also found that “a significant number” of coal plant are teetering on the edge of competitiveness and could be rendered uncompetitive by even a small increase in costs, such as higher fuel costs or further declines in the costs of renewable resources.

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Solar Industry Magazine

October 12, 2017

SEIA Applauds Approval Of Texas Utility’s Rate Case Settlement

On Wednesday, the Public Utility Commission of Texas unanimously approved a settlement agreement to resolve Dallas-based Oncor Electric Delivery Co.’s 2017 rate case, which according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), originally included some anti-solar proposals. Sean Gallagher, vice president of state affairs for SEIA, welcomed the settlement in a statement Wednesday. “SEIA supports the Texas Commission’s approval today of the settlement in Oncor’s rate case. We’re pleased that Oncor agreed to withdraw its original proposal to institute a solar rate specially designed to impose a minimum bill on residential customers who have or will install solar,” said Gallagher.

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Winston-Salem Journal (VA)

October 8, 2017

WFU researcher involved in new method to remove radioactive waste from nuclear fuel rods

A new method for capturing radioactive waste from nuclear power plants is cheaper and more effective than current methods, a potential boon for the energy industry, according to new research published in the journal Nature Communications. “Our capture method by far outperforms all current technologies and may change the landscape of energy production worldwide,” said Timo Thonhauser, the Wake Forest University computational physicist on the research team. The new molecular trap, a metal-organic framework called MIL-101-Cr, was developed by scientists led by Jing Li at Rutgers University, analyzed by Thonhauser’s lab at Wake Forest and measured by scientists in Yves Chabal’s lab at the University of Texas at Dallas.

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The Hill

October 11, 2017

Bloomberg pledges $64M for anti-coal initiatives

Billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg is making a new $64 million commitment to environmental groups’ efforts to shut down coal-fired power plants and replace them with cleaner forms of electricity generation. The media mogul and former New York City mayor made the announcement Wednesday at the Washington, D.C., office of the Sierra Club. The group’s Beyond Coal campaign is getting $30 million of the money, with the rest going to the League of Conservation Voters and others.

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Lower Hudson Journal-News (NY)

October 11, 2017

Nuclear waste stranded at Indian Point as feds search for permanent solution

The bold plan to rid the nation’s nuclear power plants of spent fuel that’s been piling up for decades is spelled out, down to the tiniest of details, in a 2002 Department of Energy report that took years to produce at a cost of billions of dollars. It envisioned shipping the country’s nuclear waste on a spider-like configuration of barge, rail and truck routes to Yucca Mountain in the Mojave Desert, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. For 15 years, the plans went nowhere as efforts to designate an underground repository for the nation’s nuclear waste foundered amid political opposition.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Clean Technica

October 10, 2017

Gigantic Wind Farm? No Problem! IRENA Says Low Cost Energy Storage Can Handle It

The Intertubes are all abuzz this week with news that offshore wind farms in the North Atlantic could power all of humanity. That’s all well and good while the wind is blowing, but one key factor is missing from this new vision of a sparkling green future: energy storage. Energy storage costs are still relatively high, and that’s putting a crimp on the speed of renewable energy development. The big question is whether or not costs can drop quickly enough to bump up the pace of change, and IRENA — the International Renewable Energy Agency — has some answers. IRENA is out with a new report aptly titled “Electricity Storage Costs and Markets to 2030,” which lays out the case for optimism. In a nutshell, IRENA projects that the cost of batteries for stationary energy storage systems could drop by as much as two-thirds by 2030, and if the global share of renewables doubles by 2030, energy storage capacity could triple.

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Regulatory Stories

The Guardian

October 11, 2017

Trump’s pro-coal agenda is a blow for clean air efforts at Texas’ Big Bend park

Big Bend national park is Texas at its most cinematic, with soaring, jagged forest peaks looming over vast desert lowlands, at once haughty and humble, prickly and pretty. It is also among the most remote places in the state. Even from Alpine, the town of 6,000 that is the main gateway to the park, it is more than an hour’s drive to one of the entrances. So far from anywhere, it might seem an unlikely location to be scarred by air pollution. Yet for decades its stunning vistas have been compromised by poor air quality that Texas, working with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is supposed to address.

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Dallas Morning News

October 12, 2017

House passes $36.5B disaster relief bill that Greg Abbott blasted for lack of Harvey aid

The House easily passed a $36.5 billion emergency disaster relief bill on Thursday, but not before a flare-up between Gov. Greg Abbott and members of the Texas delegation that prompted House Speaker Paul Ryan to intervene. Six Texas Republicans voted against the measure, arguing it will add to the debt and fails to include needed changes to a beleaguered federal flood insurance program. On Wednesday, Abbott popped off at Texas lawmakers, accusing them of lacking a “stiff spine” in negotiations over the latest round of relief funding, which omitted his recent $18.7 billion request for Hurricane Harvey-specific aid.

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Dallas Morning News

October 12, 2017

Energy boss Rick Perry points to WWII-era Manhattan Project to defend $56K in noncommercial air travel

Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Thursday defended $56,000 dollars in taxpayer money used to fund noncommercial air travel for him and his staff, in part by blaming the World War II-era Manhattan Project for building his agency’s assets in far-flung locations. The former Texas governor, appearing before a House energy subcommittee, explained that the Energy Department is “kind of unique.” He said that when legendary Lt. Gen. Leslie Groves created the atomic mission in the 1940s, “he wanted to go places that were pretty difficult to get to.” So to get to places like Hanford, Wash., in a “timely fashion” these days, Perry said it could sometimes require noncommercial travel.

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Dallas Morning News

October 12, 2017

Rick Perry against free markets? One Texan says that’s a ‘pile of Bevo longhorn poo poo’

Enemy of the free market. That simple taunt provided House Democrats all the fodder they needed Thursday to put Energy Secretary Rick Perry on the defensive over his contentious push to create new regulations that would favor the long-beleaguered coal and nuclear industries. The former Texas governor, a Republican, has spent decades touting his free market credentials. And so Rep. Gene Green — a Houston Democrat who’s known Perry for years — knew exactly what he was doing when he said the energy chief was “socializing now by this effort that you are trying to do” in the name of shoring up the nation’s power grid.

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The Hill

October 12, 2017

Lawmakers slam DOE’s proposal to help coal, nuclear power

Lawmakers used a Thursday hearing with Energy Secretary Rick Perry to criticize his recent proposal to prop up coal and nuclear plants with higher payments for their electricity. Numerous Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s energy subpanel, and one Republican, said the plan would be unnecessarily disruptive to energy market and prop up power plants that aren’t competitive. “You are distorting the market, damaging the environment and delivering preferential treatment to favored industries,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), the top Democrat on the full committee, told Perry.

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Washington Examiner

October 12, 2017

Congress warned North Korean EMP attack would kill ‘90% of all Americans’

Congress was warned Thursday that North Korea is capable of attacking the U.S. today with a nuclear EMP bomb that could indefinitely shut down the electric power grid and kill 90 percent of “all Americans” within a year. At a House hearing, experts said that North Korea could easily employ the “doomsday scenario” to turn parts of the U.S. to ashes. In calling on the Pentagon and President Trump to move quickly to protect the grid, the experts testified that an explosion of a high-altitude nuclear bomb delivered by a missile or satellite “could be to shut down the U.S. electric power grid for an indefinite period, leading to the death within a year of up to 90 percent of all Americans.”

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San Francisco Chronicle

October 12, 2017

Judge’s order ends Valero bid for petroleum terminals

Valero Energy Corp.’s onetime plans to buy oil terminals in Richmond and Martinez, which ran into an antitrust suit by the state of California, received their last rites Thursday when a federal judge signed an agreement by all sides to call off the sale and dismiss the suit. Valero, the world’s largest independent petroleum producer, owns a refinery in Benicia and has said its acquisition of the nearby storage and distribution terminals from Plains All American Pipeline would help consumers. The company noted that the Federal Trade Commission, which shares oversight of antitrust enforcement for the federal government, had not challenged the sale.

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The Hill

October 11, 2017

Pro-Trump energy group blasts plan to help coal, nuclear

An energy policy think tank, whose political arm endorsed President Trump, is panning the administration’s proposal to mandate higher payments to coal and nuclear power plants. The Institute for Energy Research’s Director of Policy Kenny Stein wrote Wednesday that the Department of Energy’s proposal is “excessive and unnecessarily distortive.” The proposal, unveiled last month, asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to require that electric grid operators pay power plants for their costs plus a fair return, as long as the plants have at least 90 days of fuel on-site, a quality only possible in coal and nuclear plants.

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The Hill

October 9, 2017

In aftermath of hurricanes, FEMA’s slow flood mapping leaves homeowners vulnerable

The government’s disaster preparedness agency has failed to map flood risks in U.S. communities in a timely manner, leaving many vulnerable homeowners with a false security that they don’t need flood insurance, the Homeland Security Department’s internal watchdog warns. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has delayed decisions on flood zone determinations — in some cases by two years or more — and currently has more than 240 mapping projects on hold, the department’s inspector general warned in a report dated Sept. 27. As a result, only 42 percent of FEMA’s flood risk database is currently up to date, meaning more than half of the country’s flood map miles need to be revised, the review found. The agency’s stated goal is to have 80 percent of its flood maps current.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 12, 2017
Lead Stories

MarketWatch

October 11, 2017

EIA lifts WTI, Brent oil-price forecasts for this year and next

The U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday raised its price forecasts on West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude oil for this year and next, and lifted its U.S. production outlook for 2018. In its monthly energy outlook report, the government agency forecast WTI prices at $49.69 a barrel for this year, up 1.7% from its September forecast. For 2018, it forecast $50.57-up 2% from the previous outlook. The EIA also upped its 2017 forecast on Brent crude by 2.7% to $52.43 and its 2018 outlook by 4.8% to $54.07.

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Houston Chronicle

October 11, 2017

Drilling permits surge as oil hovers above $50 a barrel

Oil companies took out a greater number U.S. drilling permits in September, boosting permitting levels 66 percent higher than this time last year, as oil prices hover near $50 a barrel. The number of U.S. land permits issued last month totaled more than 4,700, compared to 3,300 the previous month, with the biggest surges coming in California, Pennsylvania and Wyoming, according to data compiled by investment bank Evercore ISI. It marked the first time since January 2015 that the four-week trailing average of drilling permits rose above 2014 levels. Evercore said it expects drillers to pull back on fourth-quarter spending, but the flurry of permits could mean the rig count could, at the very least, stabilize.

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Phys Org

October 6, 2017

Team develops cutting-edge lubricant technologies to improve gas mileage, reduce wear

Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington have developed a pipeline of new vehicle lubricant technologies that lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce wear and improve gas mileage, as part of an 18-year collaboration with ESL TEKnologies and its predecessor companies in Dallas. “This is a really good example of business leveraging knowledge and know-how at the university to develop new products over the long term,” said Pranesh Aswath, UTA professor of Materials Science & Engineering and Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering. “The University also benefits through sustained financing of its research and help accessing federal and state development funds. Another clear positive is the high quality of research experience we can offer to our students on these projects, many of whom have gone on to excellent positions in Chevron and other oil companies,” he added.

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Washington Post

October 11, 2017

Why 2017 will go down as the beginning of the end of the internal combustion engine

Electric vehicles no longer seem like a futuristic fever dream, but they remain a rarity on most American city streets, accounting for less than 1 percent of the nation’s auto sales, according to the automotive website Edmunds.com. Yet, when future auto historians look back, they may pinpoint 2017 as the year electric vehicles went from a promising progressive fad to an industry-wide inevitability. The tipping point, experts say, follows three developments, each rippling outward with economic and cultural consequences. 1. China’s flexing: In addition to setting aggressive production quotas for EVs, China plans to scrap internal combustion engines entirely as soon as 2030. By taking a lead role in the shift to plug-ins, the world’s largest auto market is forcing the rest of the international community to follow in its footsteps. 2. The debut of Tesla’s Model 3: The company’s first mass-market vehicle has ushered in an era of excitement about EVs because of the car’s slick design and starting price of around $35,000. And 3: Major automakers announce plans for an “all-electric future.”

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 12, 2017

Oil prices drop on rising US crude inventories

Oil prices eased on Thursday as U.S. fuel inventories rose despite efforts by OPEC to cut production and tighten the market. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were trading at $51.08 per barrel at 0014 GMT, down 22 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last settlement. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $56.65, down 29 cents, or 0.5 percent, from the previous close. Starting this year, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers including Russia have agreed to cut output by 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) to prop up prices.

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Reuters

October 11, 2017

Most U.S. oil executives see prices below $60/barrel through 2018

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. oil executives see crude oil prices remaining below $60 per barrel through 2018 and not hitting $70 until at least the next decade, according to a survey published on Wednesday by consultancy Deloitte Services LP. The survey, based on a poll of 250 executives at companies that produce, transport and refine oil and natural gas, reflects a shift from last year when many respondents forecast commodity prices would rise and capital spending budgets grow. This year’s more dour view, especially among shale industry managers, comes as executives are focusing on cost controls and returns and have largely stopped looking for a rise in commodity prices.

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Dallas Morning News

October 11, 2017

Dallas’ Energy Transfer wins right to keep oil flowing through contentious Dakota Access pipeline

BISMARCK, N.D. — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Dakota Access oil pipeline owned by a Dallas firm can continue operating while a study is completed to assess its environmental impact on an American Indian tribe. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg’s decision will come as a blow to the Standing Rock Sioux, who have argued that an oil spill from the pipeline under Lake Oahe — from which the tribe draws its water — could have a detrimental effect on the tribal community. Boasberg found that it is likely the Army Corps of Engineers will be able to justify previous decisions made while permitting the $3.8 billion pipeline built by Energy Transfer Partners. ETP argued that a shutdown would cost it $90 million monthly and significantly disrupt the broader energy industry as well as state and local tax revenue.

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UPI

October 11, 2017

OPEC’s oil price forecast near a make-or-break point for U.S. shale

The price for crude oil next year should be around the so-called Goldilocks number for shale oil drillers in the United States, OPEC economists said. The Goldilocks scenario refers to a price point that’s not so high that it encourages a strong drive in crude oil exploration and production, but not low enough to curtail capital spending and operations. Economists with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said in their monthly market report for October that the price for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of oil, could be in a range between $50 per barrel and $55 per barrel for 2018. “A rise above that level would encourage U.S. oil producers to expand their drilling activities, otherwise the lower prices could lead to a reduction in their capital expenditures,” the report read.

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Washington Examiner

October 7, 2017

Dakota Access pipeline faces new wave of uncertainty from environmental review

The Dakota Access oil pipeline faces new uncertainty after the Army Corps of Engineers said Friday that a court-ordered environmental review won’t be completed this year and will extend through next spring. “The Corps’ original estimate that its review and analysis of the remand issues would conclude between late November and early December 2017 was based in part upon the Corps’ understanding that it would take Dakota Access approximately 30 days to provide the requested information,” federal lawyers said in a court brief filed Friday.

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Washington Post

October 12, 2017

Federal judge rules Dakota Access oil pipeline may continue operating

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the Dakota Access oil pipeline can continue operating while a study is completed to assess its environmental impact on an American Indian tribe. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg’s decision will come as a blow to the Standing Rock Sioux, who have argued that an oil spill from the pipeline under Lake Oahe — from which the tribe draws its water — could have a detrimental effect on the tribal community. Boasberg found that it is likely the Army Corps of Engineers will be able to justify previous decisions made while permitting the pipeline. Boasberg also acknowledged that shutting down the pipeline would disrupt the energy industry.

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Reuters

October 11, 2017

PBF’s split with PDVSA grows as U.S. refiner halts direct deals

The fifth largest U.S. buyer of Venezuelan crude, PBF Energy Inc, has halted direct purchases from state-run oil company PDVSA, according to four sources, deepening a rift amid sanctions on the OPEC-member country. PBF is the second buyer in as many months to go elsewhere for its oil and further disagreements could spell new hardships for PDVSA, which owes bondholders $1.2 billion in debt payments due this month. Venezuela relies on oil for over 90 percent of export revenue and U.S. refiners are among its largest cash-paying customers. In August, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Venezuela, in part barring new financial arrangements with PDVSA. Those restrictions have banks refusing to issue letters of credit needed to assure some oil sales.

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Nature

October 4, 2017

How fracking is upending the chemical industry

As the Ineos Intrepid cruised slowly through the sapphire waters of Norway’s Frierfjord, chaperone tugboats sprayed jets into the sky to herald her arrival. In giant refrigerated tanks below decks, the ship carried 27,500 cubic metres of liquid ethane — enough to fill 11 Olympic swimming pools. Intrepid also brought a message, painted in giant capital letters along her side: “SHALE GAS FOR PROGRESS”. The vessel’s arrival in March 2016 brought the first ever shipment of shale gas from the United States to Europe — and marked the start of a burgeoning business. More of these 180-metre-long ‘Dragon’-class vessels have followed in her wake, forming a ‘virtual pipeline’ for ethane across the Atlantic Ocean. This gas, which is extracted from the ground through the hydraulic fracturing of shale deposits, isn’t destined to fuel power stations or domestic stoves. Instead, it will be transformed into the chemical building blocks needed to make a panoply of products, including plastics, clothes, adhesives and medicines.

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PBS

October 6, 2017

Human activity can trigger earthquakes, but how many? This number might surprise you

A new database, created by geophysicists at Durham and Newcastle Universities in the United Kingdom, has tracked down 730 cases of man-made earthquakes over the last 150 years. The Human-Induced Earthquake Database (HiQuake) is the most comprehensive collection of these quakes to date and might be used to predict future ones. “Although incomplete, HiQuake provides a more global picture than people have had access to before,” Miles Wilson, a Durham geophysicist and the study’s lead author, said via email. “Humans are increasingly making changes to the Earth to meet greater resource demands, which is why it’s so important to understand the effects these changes might have.”

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Minneapolis Star Tribune

October 10, 2017

North Dakota oil production continues to rise

North Dakota’s oil production rose 3.5 percent in August, hitting the highest monthly mark since early 2016. North Dakota, the nation’s second largest oil producer, pumped out 1.085 million barrels of crude per day in August, compared with 1.048 million per day during the previous month, according to data released Tuesday by North Dakota’s Department of Mineral Resources. The state’s output generally has been rising in 2017, after dropping below 1 million barrels per day for a few months in 2016 and in January of this year. The oil rig count in North Dakota currently stands at 57, up from 56 in September and August, but down from a peak of 58 in July. A rising rig count indicates operators are drilling more new wells.

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Real Clear Energy

October 9, 2017

Harvey and Irma Remind Us of the Importance of Energy Infrastructure

With Hurricanes Harvey and Irma subsided, now begins the difficult and often heart-wrenching work for those affected throughout Texas, Florida and the Southeast. Families displaced by the storms are slowly returning to survey the damage to their neighborhoods. Communities face the hard task of beginning to repair and rebuild infrastructure fundamental to day-to-day life. The damages from these storms are still being tallied. What’s evident is that the road to recovery will be long. An analysis by AccuWeather estimates the economic costs will total as much as $290 billion—a full 1.5 percent of U.S. GDP. Yet, amid the devastation, the most important story to emerge has been the resilience and solidarity with which America has responded. From the White House to the everyday heroes organizing volunteer efforts, the country’s collective response has been swift, effective and well-coordinated.

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Philadelphia Inquirer

October 9, 2017

A new domestic market opens for Marcellus ethane, via Marcus Hook

Sunoco Logistics Partners LP has begun shipping ethane by truck from its Marcus Hook Industrial Complex to domestic markets, establishing a new outlet for ethane from the Marcellus Shale, and reinforcing claims that its Mariner East pipeline is not just about exports. Gas Innovations, a specialty gas producer in La Porte, Texas, on Sept. 21 began loading tanker trucks and special shipping containers with the supercooled liquid at a new truck-loading facility at the Marcus Hook complex. Most of the ethane will be destined for domestic markets, said Ashley Madray, the company’s executive vice president. Gas Innovations previously bought ethane in Europe and shipped it to the United States because there were no domestic facilities geared to distributing smaller volumes of the material, despite the growth in ethane production from shale gas, Madray said.

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Texas Monthly

October 11, 2017

Why Trump’s Latest Travel Ban May Be Bad for Oil Companies

For the oil and gas industry, though, the ban is nettlesome. “The travel ban is a problem for the oil and gas industry because they’re a global industry,” says Michael Webber, deputy director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas. “If you put restrictions on how people can move around the world, it affects how these companies operate.” Managers may be unable to oversee workers they manage in the U.S., and supervisors may be unable to visit well sites or meet with regulators. Recruiting new talent also may become more difficult at a time when oil and gas companies need it most. The industry has been on the hunt for young talent as many senior engineers enter retirement, sometimes referred to as “the great crew change.”

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Houston Chronicle

October 11, 2017

Another Florida businessman admits to role bribing Venezuelan national oil company

A Miami businessman pleaded guilty in Houston Wednesday to federal bribery charges in a corruption scheme involving Venezuela’s state-owned and state-controlled energy company. He is the tenth person to be snared in a federal probe of foreign corrupt practices involving Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. or PDVSA, according to a news release from Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez. Fernando Ardila Rueda, 49, a partial owner of a number of Florida-based energy companies, admitted to offering bribes to illegally secure contracts from the national oil company. He pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller to violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. His sentencing was set for Feb. 8.

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Houston Chronicle

October 11, 2017

Failures of floating roof tanks during Harvey raise concerns

As Hurricane Harvey swept across the Houston area, torrential waves of rain built on top of crude oil storage tanks at Valero Energy’s Houston refinery, causing one of the roofs that float atop the oil to flip almost on its side and release more than 235,000 pounds of toxic vapors and other pollutants into the atmosphere. The collapse at Valero was one of more than 15 floating roof storage tanks that failed on Houston area storage tanks during the record-setting storm, allowing a combined 3.1 million pounds of volatile chemicals to spew into the air across the region, according to reports the companies filed with environmental agencies. This series of failures, along with the breakdown of drainage systems designed to funnel water off the roofs, exposed the vulnerabilities of floating roof tanks even as climatologists warn that future storms will carry more rain as global temperatures rise and ocean waters warm. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched an investigation into the Valero tank failure, which may include a broader inquiry into the potential weaknesses of floating roofs, but declined comment.

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Utilities Stories

Longview News Journal

October 11, 2017

Kilgore joins coalition studying SWEPCO wind project

Kilgore has added itself to the growing list of cities seeking oversight of a utility company’s investment in wind energy — and any additional costs that might be passed on to consumers. City Council members approved a resolution Tuesday to review Southwestern Electric Power Co.’s investment in a wind energy project in Oklahoma that the company says ultimately will save consumers money on future bills. Kilgore joins Longview, where the City Council voted Sept. 28 to join a coalition that will review SWEPCO’s construction invoices and ensure that any of those costs passed to customers is fair and reasonable, according to municipal attorneys.

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Forbes

October 11, 2017

Adams: FERC Proposal Supporting Coal And Nuclear Prompts Howls From Gas, Wind, Solar, Antinuclear

If his goal was to stimulate a conversation with a rapid approach to concluding action, Energy Secretary Rick Perry has scored a victory with his recently proposed Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule. During the past week, the insular world of energy policy wonks has talked of little else, numerous congressional hearings have been held to gather the views of selected stakeholders, dozens of critical articles have been published, a detailed request for comments that address specific questions has been published and a broad coalition of opponents has formally filed an objecting motion. Today, the 11th calendar day after Perry published his proposal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Federal Register is publishing the Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule. Comments will close on November 24 and the final action will be taken by December 11.

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Washington Examiner

October 9, 2017

Siciliano: Rick Perry’s vision of hot tub-sized nuclear power plants isn’t so far-fetched

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has a vision for developing fully mobile, hot tub-sized nuclear power plants that could become the latest piece in the Energy Department’s innovation and grid resiliency push. Perry brought up the idea while addressing a National Clean Energy Week conference late last month. He used it as an example of what the Trump administration means when it talks about energy “innovation” as part of its energy dominance agenda.

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Xinhuanet

September 19, 2017

New U.S. project to use artificial intelligence to minimize electric grid failures

A new project led by SLAC, or Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, will combine artificial intelligence (AI) with massive amounts of data and industry experience to identify places where the electric grid is vulnerable to disruption. The project is the first to employ AI to help the grid manage power fluctuations, resist damage and bounce back faster from storms, solar eclipses, cyberattacks and other disruptions. Its eventual goal, according to a news release from Stanford University, is an autonomous grid that absorbs routine power fluctuations from clean energy sources like solar and wind and quickly responds to disruptive events with minimal intervention from humans. Called GRIP, for Grid Resilience and Intelligence Project, the project builds on other efforts to collect massive amounts of data and use it to fine-tune grid operations, including SLAC’s VADER project. It was awarded up to 6 million U.S. dollars over three years from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Slate

September 18, 2017

The Race to Build a Computer Powerful Enough to Predict the Future

The more powerful the computer, the more realistic the models it can create. Supercomputers are already used to predict weather and earthquakes, but there’s not currently enough computing power to model complex biological systems precisely enough to make endeavors like large-scale transitioning to wind energy, for example, feasible. An exascale computer would be powerful enough to uncover answers to questions about, say, climate change and growing food that can withstand drought. … Take the problem of transitioning to more wind energy. At the moment only about 5 percent of U.S. energy needs are met through wind power. That’s because wind farms aren’t always more cost effective than fossil fuels when factoring out subsidies, even if wind energy is ultimately better for the environment. And that’s why, according to a recent paper by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the DOE has dubbed the effort to improve the efficiency of wind power plants a national “grand challenge” that requires “the world’s largest computers and advanced computationally efficient algorithms to resolve.” In other words, with better computing, researchers will be able to accurately model how wind flows through a plant. That know-how will filter directly into better industrial designs and cost reduction of sustainable energy systems.

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Regulatory Stories

Houston Press

October 11, 2017

What the EPA’s Repeal of the Clean Power Plan Means for Texas

Texas has long been known for bucking at anything that even smells like an environmental regulation, so it might be easy to think that the latest round of repealing and relaxing rules issued by the federal Environmental Protection Agency would not affect the state. The truth, as is so often the case, is a bit more complicated than that. First, there’s the Clean Power Plan. On Monday night EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt — the former Oklahoma attorney general who had a fondness for suing the EPA that was downright Texan — announced he would repeal the Clean Power Plan, a crucial policy written by the Obama administration to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in Texas and across the country. The Clean Power Plan, completed in 2015, would have pushed states to move away from coal in favor of energy sources that produced fewer carbon emissions.

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San Antonio Express-News

October 11, 2017

EPA announces $115 million cleanup for Houston site

The Environmental Protection Agency approved a plan to remove sediments laced with highly toxic dioxin from a partially submerged Superfund site near Houston damaged during Hurricane Harvey, officials announced Wednesday. The announcement comes two weeks after the federal agency said an unknown amount of dioxins — which have been linked to birth defects and cancer — may have washed downriver from the San Jacinto Waste Pits after floodwaters jarred loose a protective cap of fabric and rock designed to keep them from spreading. The EPA said in a statement that it planned to excavate 212,000 cubic yards of contaminated material from the site along the San Jacinto River that was a paper mill in the 1960s. It estimated the cost at $115 million.

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The Economist

October 11, 2017

How conservative states and liberal cities vie for control

AT FIRST glance, they seem unrelated: a fracking ban in Denton, Texas; a minimum-wage increase in St Louis, Missouri; and an anti-discrimination ordinance in Charlotte, North Carolina. Yet each was passed in a city then later overturned by a Republican-controlled state legislature. Legal observers see a trend in the rollbacks. Grassroots Change, a nonprofit organisation, counts 140 state bills introduced this year specifically to block municipal laws. These laws vary, but reflect the generally progressive bent of America’s cities. They include measures for public health (nutrition labelling and gun control), the environment (bans on fracking and plastic bags), workers (paid family leave) and immigrants (sanctuary-city designations). Conservative legislators respond by passing laws to invalidate them at the state level. Using a tactic known as pre-emption, states can nullify local measures and thus ensure statewide uniformity. It is a tactic that cuts both ways, politically.

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The Hill

October 3, 2017

Nieves: Puerto Rico needs a new energy grid (not just repairs to the old one)

While waiting in a five-hour line to get some gas, I have been reflecting about the long-term recovery package for Puerto Rico that the Trump administration could send to Congress in the next few weeks. In the House, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Reps. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), and in the Senate, Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have called for a relief and an infrastructure package for Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority certified that 80 percent of the island’s transmission and distribution lines are down. Most of the system is literally in the ground. The power authority’s executive director has stated that it could take up to six months to get the power back on. It seems obvious that any federal relief package will have to include funds for energy infrastructure. The government of Puerto Rico, and the already bankrupt power authority, lack the resources needed to repair the transmission and distribution lines.

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Law 360

September 29, 2017

Judge Shoots Down Pa. Town’s Ban On Fracking Activities

A Pennsylvania federal judge on Friday gutted a municipality’s “community bill of rights” that aimed to restrict a number of activities connected to fracking, finding that the measure’s provisions were preempted by both federal and state law. U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter delivered the latest in series of rulings that invalidated efforts by Elk County’s Highland Township — located in the northwestern part of the state — to prevent Seneca Resources Corp. from storing fracking waste within its boundaries.

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The Hill

October 11, 2017

Wetstone: Rick Perry, put American electricity consumers first

Over the next few months, we’ll find out if economic growth really is a priority for the Trump administration. If it is, you would think that the renewable energy industry, which has garnered nearly $100 billion in domestic investment over the past two years, would be looked upon favorably. This same industry was also the number one source of private sector infrastructure investment over the past five years. Driven by a compelling combination of decreasing costs and increasing demand for renewable power, wind and solar energy are thriving, despite the reality that these technologies are competing against natural gas at record low prices in the market to provide Americans with electrical power. This incredible growth has created the nation’s two fastest growing job categories, wind turbine technician and solar power installer — all while generating low cost power for American homes and business. Only affirmative government intervention in the electricity marketplace could undermine the continuing competitiveness of wind and solar power. Unfortunately, that is exactly what is being considered.

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Reuters

October 10, 2017

BlackRock hires former Obama climate adviser: memo

The world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock Inc (BLK.N), on Tuesday hired the Obama administration’s one-time adviser on climate change to lead an effort to appeal to people who want to invest in a way that helps society. BlackRock is bringing in Brian Deese to run its recently-renamed Sustainable Investing group, according to a company memo seen by Reuters. Deese helped negotiate the Paris agreement on climate change, from which Obama’s successor, U.S. President Donald Trump, has said he wants to withdraw. Wall Street is increasingly championing environmental, social and corporate-governance (ESG) standards to attract younger investors and institutions like universities and religious organizations that want to align their portfolios with their values. BlackRock has previously said investors should factor climate change into their decision-making and that doing so would not mean having to accept inferior returns.

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New York Times

October 11, 2017

E.P.A. Says It Will Write a New Carbon Rule, but No One Can Say When

When Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, signed a blueprint Tuesday to eliminate a major Obama-era climate change regulation, the text said the agency would at some point consider a new rule to ratchet down greenhouse gas emissions. But those adept at reading between the lines of dense federal documents say the subtext reads more like: “Don’t hold your breath.” Industry leaders and environmental activists predict that when the Trump administration formalizes its plan to repeal the Clean Power Plan, nothing will take its place for possibly years to come. The E.P.A. said it would seek public comment on how to fashion a more modest measure to address pollution from power plants, although the agency has not said when it would do so.

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New York Times

October 10, 2017

NYT: Mr. Trump Nails Shut the Coffin on Climate Relief

The Trump administration formally proposed on Tuesday to roll back yet another of President Barack Obama’s efforts to position the United States as a global leader in the fight against climate change. The move, though widely anticipated, was deeply disheartening. In March Mr. Trump ordered Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which was aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. Mr. Pruitt, a climate denier closely tied to the fossil fuel industry, was only too happy to oblige — boasting to an audience of Kentucky coal miners on Monday that the plan was dead and that “the war on coal is over.” All this is infuriating on several levels.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 11, 2017
Lead Stories

Oil Price

October 8, 2017

This Unexpected Move Could Derail Mexico’s Oil Boom

Just as Mexico’s oil industry was starting to get off the ground with foreign players entering, Mexico is throwing a wrench in the works with its consideration of new regulations that could turn off private interest for its significant oil reserves. This summer, Mexico’s landmark energy reform—ending decades of Pemex’s monopoly—started to pay off when a consortium including foreign companies struck oil in a world-class discovery off the Mexican coast. Now Mexico wants to get its hands on some of that oil in a move that could threaten to derail future interest in Mexico’s oil industry. The recent discovery could potentially extend into a neighboring block owned by state-run Pemex, so Mexico is currently drafting regulations on how to share this discovery, and other discoveries that could follow. Anxious about how the country would decide to split royalties or proceeds, the consortium—consisting of Talos Energy as operator and joint venture partners Sierra Oil and Gas S de RL de CV and UK-listed Premier Oil Plc—has temporarily suspended development and investment plans for the huge offshore oil discovery, Bloomberg reports, citing a person familiar with those plans.

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NBC News

October 10, 2017

Experts: North Korea Targeted U.S. Electric Power Companies

The cybersecurity company FireEye says in a new report to private clients, obtained exclusively by NBC News, that hackers linked to North Korea recently targeted U.S. electric power companies with spearphishing emails. The emails used fake invitations to a fundraiser to target victims, FireEye said. A victim who downloaded the invitation attached to the email would also be downloading malware into his or her computer network, according to the FireEye report. The company did not dispute NBC’s characterization of the report, but declined to comment. There is no evidence that the hacking attempts were successful, but FireEye assessed that the targeting of electric utilities could be related to increasing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, potentially foreshadowing a disruptive cyberattack.

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Miami Herald

October 10, 2017

Ophelia poised to tie a hurricane season record more than a century old

The feverish 2017 hurricane season doesn’t seem to be letting up: on Monday, Tropical Storm Ophelia formed in the central Atlantic and is expected to become a hurricane this week. While the storm poses no threat to land, it could become the 10th consecutive storm to grow to hurricane strength — a streak of intense systems that will tie a record last set in the late 1800s. It comes in a season that has already produced five major hurricanes, including three ferocious Category 5 storms, and 15 named storms. The amount of accumulated cyclone energy — a measure of the intensity and longevity of storms — is also 254 percent higher than average with seven weeks left in the season, said University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy.

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Washington Post

October 9, 2017

There’s enough wind energy over the oceans to power human civilization, scientists say

New research published on Monday finds there is so much wind energy potential over oceans that it could theoretically be used to generate “civilization scale power” — assuming, that is, that we are willing to cover enormous stretches of the sea with turbines, and can come up with ways to install and maintain them in often extreme ocean environments. It’s very unlikely that we would ever build out open ocean turbines on anything like that scale — indeed, doing so could even alter the planet’s climate, the research finds. But the more modest message is that wind energy over the open oceans has large potential — reinforcing the idea that floating wind farms, over very deep waters, could be the next major step for wind energy technology.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 11, 2017

Oil rises on signs of tighter market, but 2018 looks more uncertain

Oil prices edged up on Wednesday, rising for a third day, on signs that markets are gradually tightening after years of oversupply, although the outlook for 2018 remained less certain. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were trading at $51.06 per barrel at 0523 GMT, up 14 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last settlement. Prices rose 2 percent the day before to back above $50 a barrel. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $56.69, up 8 cents, or 0.1 percent, from their last close. Brent also rose 2 percent the previous day. Traders said they would look to U.S. fuel inventory data on Wednesday and Thursday for indicators on price direction.

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E&P

October 10, 2017

Anadarko Petroleum To Invest $200 Million In Peruvian Oil Area

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC) will invest some $200 million to develop an offshore oil area near Peru’s northern coast, Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski said Oct. 9. Kuczynski and executives with The Woodlands, Texas-based company signed three exploration and drilling agreements with state oil agency Perupetro SA in blocks Z-61, Z-62 and Z-63 in the Pacific Ocean adjacent to the Lambayeque and La Libertad regions. “It’s important that Anadarko has chosen to come to Peru, to an area as vigorous as the northern region,” Kuczynski said. “These are deep waters of 1,000 m (3,280 ft) where it is very difficult to work,” he said in a speech after signing the contracts.

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Reuters

October 10, 2017

Seadrill’s unsecured creditors say looking at pre-bankruptcy deals

Seadrill Ltd’s (SDRL.OL) official committee of unsecured creditors said it has hired an investment banker and is looking into transactions made by the global offshore drilling contractor before it filed for U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Texas last month. “We are looking at numerous pre-petition transactions that were described at least in part” in Chapter 11 filings by Seadrill on Sept. 12, the committee’s lawyer, Douglas Mannal, of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP said at a hearing in Houston on Tuesday. “There are unique facts and circumstance in this case and we’ll discuss them more at an appropriate time,” Mannal said.

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Rigzone

October 5, 2017

Refinery Blazes to Dent Shell 3Q Earnings

A recent string of fires at Royal Dutch Shell’s refineries, including at Europe’s largest, is expected to hit the oil and gas company’s third-quarter profit and deal a setback to its efforts to improve the segment’s performance. Shell’s refining, trading and marketing division, known as downstream, was the driver of the Anglo-Dutch company’s strong recovery in profits over the past year, as soaring demand for fuels offset a sharp drop in revenue from production of crude oil and natural gas amid a three-year price slump. Downstream profit in the third quarter of 2017 is however expected to drop to $1.5 billion from $2.5 billion in the previous quarter due to the refinery disruptions and Hurricane Harvey, which crippled many refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast for weeks, said Anish Kapadia, senior research analyst at investment bank Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co.

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Reuters

October 10, 2017

OPEC Secretary General urges U.S. shale oil producers to help cap global supply

OPEC’s Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo on Tuesday called on U.S. shale oil producers to help curtail global oil supply, warning extraordinary measures might be needed next year to sustain the rebalanced market in the medium to long term. “We urge our friends, in the shale basins of North America to take this shared responsibility with all seriousness it deserves, as one of the key lessons learnt from the current unique supply-driven cycle,” said Barkindo. The comments by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries official came during a speech delivered at the India Energy Forum organized by CERAWeek in New Delhi.

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San Antonio Express-News

October 9, 2017

Oil and gas industry resilient amid low prices, executives say

Low oil and gas prices, the rise of electric cars and tracking an overwhelming amount of data — there’s no shortage of challenges facing the oil and gas industry. But executives who spoke Monday at the Society of Petroleum Engineers’ Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, which is being held through Thursday at the Convention Center, said they see a world where oil and gas has a place at the energy table for a long time to come. Advances in technology and improvements in efficiency continue to drive well costs down, keeping the industry economically competitive, executives said. “The way we’re doing it now is dramatically different than the way we did it in the early 2000s,” said Dave Hager, CEO of Devon Energy.

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Bloomberg

October 10, 2017

IMF Says Venezuela’s Inflation Rate May Rise Beyond 2,300% in 2018

Venezuela’s triple-digit annual inflation rate is set to jump to more than 2,300 percent in 2018, the highest estimate for any country tracked by the International Monetary Fund. An intensifying political crisis that’s spiraled since 2014 has weighed heavily on economic activity. Gross domestic product is expected to contract 6 percent next year, after shrinking an estimated 12 percent in 2017, the IMF said in its latest World Economic Outlook report published Tuesday. While Venezuela’s central bank stopped publishing inflation data in December 2015, the IMF argues the country’s consumer prices are estimated to leap 2,349.3 percent in 2018, the highest in their estimates, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 44 percent. As oil production declines and uncertainty increases, unemployment is forecast to increase to about 30 percent in 2018, also the highest and followed by South Africa’s 28 percent and Greece’s 21 percent.

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NASDAQ

October 9, 2017

Lilis Energy Boosts Permian Presence with $45.6M Acquisition

Oil and gas exploration and production company Lilis Energy, Inc. LLEX recently agreed to acquire more than 4,000 net acres from a private firm in the Permian Basin of West Texas, adding to its existing holdings in the lucrative region. Lilis Energy will pay around $45.6 million in cash for the acreage. Deal Rationale The deal will help the company to increase its presence in the basin to 15,250 net acres, outdoing its 2017 acreage goal. The acreage is in the heart of the Delaware Basin and includes more than 150 net potential locations. The company expects the added assets to be highly accretive and support long-lateral developments. From the combined acreage, current production is around 2,952 net barrels of oil equivalent per day, of which 71% is liquid. Lilis Energy expects to add its second rig in its Permian assets in October 2017. The deal is expected to close by November 2017.

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Law 360

October 4, 2017

Texas Court Revives Fight Over Panhandle Oil Asset Sale

A Texas appeals court on Tuesday said a trial court had wrongly dismissed claims a group of Texas Panhandle property owners breached a $230 million sale agreement for oil and gas interests when they allegedly “changed horses” and sold to a third party. Reviving Le Norman Operating LLC’s claim that the sellers — Chalker Energy Partners III LLC, Raptor Petroleum LLC and affiliated parties, and R. Byron Roach Trustee LLC and Russell L. Roach — breached a $230 million deal for a portion of their oil and gas holdings in the Texas Panhandle, the First Court of Appeals remanded the contract dispute to a Harris County trial court. According to the court, LNO believed it had entered a binding agreement to buy a portion of the oil and gas interests, referred to as the “Kitty Stroker assets,” but the sellers ultimately sold the property to third party Jones Energy.

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NASDAQ

October 6, 2017

Targa Resources Inks Three Back-to-Back Agreements

Midstream service provider Targa Resources Corp. TRGP recently announced the completion of the sale of 25% joint venture interest in the Grand Prix natural gas liquids (“NGL”) pipeline to private equity giant Blackstone Energy Partners. Simultaneously, Targa completed a deal with a portfolio company of Blackstone, EagleClaw Midstream Ventures, LLC. Also, Targa signed a letter of intent (“LOI”) with energy infrastructure provider Kinder Morgan KMI and DCP Midstream, LP DCP for jointly developing the proposed Gulf Coast Express Pipeline Project. The Grand Prix pipeline will connect Permian Basin in west Texas and New Mexico to Targa’s plant in Mont Belvieu, east of Houston. The pipeline will transport volumes from the Permian Basin and the company’s North Texas system to its fractionation and storage complex in the NGL market hub at Mont Belvieu.

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Tulsa World

October 7, 2017

Oklahoma oil fields attract private equity

Billions of dollars of private equity money has flooded into Oklahoma oil fields, sparking drilling, pipeline and support projects throughout the state, speakers said this week at Gov. Mary Fallin’s Energy Investment Luncheon. The private equity emphasis is both a function of the general equity markets and the age of development of the state’s oil fields, said Jason McMahon, upstream investments partner at Encap Investments. “These plays move in cycles,” he said Thursday. “The people who get in early are the entrepreneurs. They prove it up first.

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UPI

October 10, 2017

Expect more U.S. oil on the global market

U.S. crude oil exports will likely increase in part because of the discount for the U.S. benchmark price for oil against other grades, an industry report found. An emailed market report from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch this week said the spread, or difference, between West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of oil, and Brent, the global benchmark, made U.S. crude competitive on the open market. A 40-year-old ban on U.S. crude oil exports ended in the waning years of President Barack Obama’s tenure. During his term, Republican lawmakers helped broker an end to the ban enacted in the 1970s in response to an oil embargo embraced by some members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

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Denton Record-Chronicle

October 4, 2017

Documentary about Denton fracking battle to screen in Dallas video fest

A feature length documentary about Denton’s fight against natural gas fracking will screen at the 30th annual Dallas Video Fest on Saturday, Oct. 7. Don’t Frack With Denton chronicles the local activists who took on the Texas oil and gas industry to pass a ban against hydraulic fracturing in the city limits. The ban was repealed, but Denton earned national and international attention for its effective grassroots effort to challenge a powerful industry. The documentary’s filmmaker, Garrett Graham, studied filmmaking at the University of North Texas.

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Utilities Stories

Wall St. Journal

October 10, 2017

Power Companies to Stick With Plans Despite EPA’s Emissions Repeal

Some of the biggest U.S. power companies said they are pushing ahead with investments in renewable and gas-fired electricity and are including climate change as a part of their corporate strategy, regardless of the Trump administration’s plans to roll back Obama-era environmental rules. President Donald Trump has pledged to boost the energy industry by cutting regulation, and on Tuesday his administration took one of its biggest steps yet toward that goal. The head of the Environmental Protection Agency signed a proposal to repeal the first federal limits on carbon emissions at power plants, which would vacate the Obama administration’s cornerstone plan to slow global warming. Some sizable power companies, such as American Electric Power Co. , NRG Energy Inc. and Southern Co. , said Tuesday the move will have only a marginal effect on their planning.

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Bloomberg

October 9, 2017

Denning: Power Producers Should Cheer Coal’s Closing Time

Et tu, Texas? Barely a week after Energy Secretary Rick Perry pitched his latest plan to revitalize the coal industry, the biggest power company in his home state announced it was shutting down one of the largest coal-fired power plants there.In fairness, Vistra Energy Corp. has been expected for quite a while to close several of its older coal-fired plants in Texas. The 1,800-megawatt Monticello plant, about 100 miles east of Dallas, began operating the year President Richard Nixon resigned and will shut down in January. Still, Vistra’s decision to move forward shows the multiple forces acting on the Texas power market will make it difficult to keep these plants open by regulatory fiat.Even as demand for electricity in Texas has kept rising — in contrast to much of the U.S. — and hot summers have sparked big peaks on some days, power prices have been on a prolonged slide:

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Norfolk Virginian-Pilot

October 9, 2017

Scientists say cost of capturing CO2 declining

Technology now in limited use removes about 90 percent of carbon dioxide from the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants, but energy experts say cost remains the chief obstacle to bringing the “clean coal” touted by President Donald Trump into the mainstream. They cite recent advances in applying the longstanding technology, despite some earlier setbacks, but say the U.S. power sector needs bigger tax credits or other incentives to close the cost gap for using them. “What we have now is a public policy challenge, or call it a political challenge if you will, in that next phase which is to deploy this technology more widely and bring the cost down, (which) requires a whole new set of policies that go beyond R&D to actual deployment incentives,” said Brad Crabtree, vice president for fossil fuels at the Great Plains Institute.

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Times of India

October 5, 2017

Kalyanaraman: Hyper-Local Power Markets: Time for a rethink of traditional utilities model

Rarely a day goes by without renewable resources making news headlines, be it the ever-falling prices of solar or wind power generation (instances such as spot prices falling below zero in Texas, USA, due to strong wind generation are indeed headline material) and storage, or the rapidly increasing rooftop solar penetration (for example, over 4GW of it in California, USA, alone accounts for more than 10% of the peak load). Such renewable resources could be categorized as utility-scale resources (solar farms, wind farms or storage), and distributed resources (rooftop solar, Tesla Powerwalls, even micro CHPs). Over the years, utility companies have mastered integrating utility-scale renewables such as solar and wind to address the dominant challenge of variability in generation. But integrating distributed generation at scale is still a challenge. However, technology and newer business models hold the potential to change all that. Is it time then for a rethink of the traditional utilities model? Will the role of utilities companies as producers, transporters and retailers of power change? It is important to understand electric utilities’ point of view on this paradigm change.

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Reuters

October 4, 2017

The bankrupt utility behind Puerto Rico’s power crisis

In the rural village of Salinas in southern Puerto Rico, frayed electric lines hanging from a utility pole blew in the breeze last week near the town square. But the damage didn’t come from Hurricane Maria. “Those wires were actually there before,” said Fermin Seda, 68, a Salinas resident who said he has grown accustomed to downed lines and power outages. Two weeks after the storm plunged the island into a blackout, less than 10 percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million people have seen power restored – and many will wait months. Restoring the grid after the worst storm to hit here in nine decades would be a monumental task even for a well-run utility. It will be much harder for the chronically underfunded Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), which went bankrupt in July amid mounting maintenance problems, years-long battles with creditors, a shrinking workforce and frequent management turnover.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

JWN

October 5, 2017

Already steeped in wind, Statoil enters solar market

Statoil will acquire a 40 per cent share in the construction-ready 162 megawatt Apodi solar asset in Brazil from Scatec Solar, a Norwegian independent solar power producer. The project will provide approximately 160,000 households with electricity, said Statoil, which has also agreed to exclusive cooperation with Scatec Solar to jointly develop potential future solar projects in Brazil. In addition, Statoil will acquire a 50 per cent share in the project execution company, enabling Statoil to participate in building and operating solar projects in the future. “Brazil is a core area for Statoil where our ambition is to deliver safe and sustainable growth in a significant energy market.

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Futurism

October 4, 2017

Leary: Tyson Says We Can Use Hurricanes to Power the Cities of Tomorrow

Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson wants scientists to confront hurricanes head on and use the insights they gather to develop a way to turn their cyclonic energy into electricity. In an interview with The Today Show, Tyson expressed a degree of frustration with how we react to hurricanes, saying, “I’m tired of looking at photos of countless thousands of cars exiting a city, because a hurricane is coming.” He continued, “Where are the engineers and scientists saying, you know, instead of running away from the city that’s about to be destroyed by this hurricane, let me figure out a way to tap the cyclonic energy of this hurricane to drive the power needs of the city that it’s otherwise going to destroy?” It’s an ambitious idea, and one that would certainly help in our efforts to shift to clean energy. We already use solar panels and wind turbines to gather energy from sunlight and wind, and are looking into floors that harvest kinetic energy. Harnessing hurricanes, however, would be another matter entirely. Not only because they tend to move around (and aren’t as frequent as, say, the wind blowing) but also because they’re uncontrollable and extremely powerful.

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Wall St. Journal

October 2, 2017

China, With Methodical Discipline, Conjures a Market for Electric Cars

China has created the world’s largest electric-car market by sheer force of will, a giant bet on domestic production that’s leaving major foreign auto makers scrambling to keep up. The government is funding its own manufacturers, luring domestic buyers with subsidies and building a vast charging-station network—while strong-arming its consumers by making sure buying an electric car is the only sure way to get license plates in crowded cities. William Zhou, a 33-year-old software-company manager, recently abandoned his 18-month quest to buy a gasoline-powered foreign car—a middle-class status symbol—when his wife became pregnant.

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Regulatory Stories

The Telegram (UK)

October 10, 2017

Conservationists take nine flights a year, despite knowing danger to environment, study shows

Conservationists may preach about the importance of going green to save the planet, but most have a carbon footprint which is virtually no different to anyone else, a new study has shown. Scientists as Cambridge University were keen to find out whether being fully informed about global warming, plastic in the ocean or the environmental impact of eating meat, triggers more ethical behaviour. But when they examined the lifestyles of conservation scientists they discovered most still flew frequently – an average of nine flights a year – ate meat or fish approximately five times a week and rarely purchased carbon offsets for their own emissions.

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Houston Chronicle

October 10, 2017

Factories attack Perry’s plan for power grid

Add the nation’s factories and industrial plants to the list of groups fighting Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s plan to save the coal and nuclear power industries. The trade group Industrial Energy Consumers of America wrote to members of Congress Tuesday, asking they tell Perry to withdraw his proposal requesting power market regulations be adjusted to raise prices for coal and nuclear power. “Though we remain supportive of both coal and nuclear, we are opposed to providing subsidies that would damage competitive markets,” the IECA said. “The proposal is anti-competitive and if implemented, it would distort, if not destroy, competitive wholesale electricity markets, increase the price of electricity to all consumers, and directly negatively impact the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturing.”

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Associated Press

October 10, 2017

Trump administration says court can’t suspend pipeline decision

BILLINGS, Mont. – Attorneys for the Trump administration said a federal judge has no authority to second-guess a presidential permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline as they seek to stop a lawsuit that would block the project. Justice Department attorneys are due in U.S. District Court in Montana on Wednesday to defend the administration’s March approval of the 1,179-mile pipeline – a lightning rod in the debate over what to do about climate change. The TransCanada proposal would transport Canadian crude oil through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with an existing system of lines to carry oil to Gulf Coast refineries. The Obama administration rejected the project before the proposal was revived in March by President Donald Trump, who said it would create jobs and lead to greater energy independence.

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle

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Los Angeles Times

October 6, 2017

Ballantine, Dyson: Rick Perry’s plan to subsidize coal and nuclear plants does nothing to fix the U.S. power grid

Energy Secretary Rick Perry proposed a rule last week that would require electricity customers to subsidize coal and nuclear power plants that can demonstrate “fuel security,” which the rule defines as 90 days’ worth of stockpiled fuel that could be used to generate electricity in the event of a disruption. The Department of Energy claims it proposed this rule in order to improve the resilience of the electric power grid — its ability to adapt to changing conditions and recover from problems. This is a worthy goal, of course. The country’s grid is vulnerable to many threats. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria demonstrated what happens when power grids do not have built-in resilience. Next to extreme weather, the most common cause of outages is squirrels. Less likely but potentially more damaging are a host of other threats — cyber attacks, physical attacks, the detonation of a nuclear weapon, natural solar storms. Under the right circumstances, any one of these scenarios could bring down large portions of the grid for months and cost trillions.

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Houston Chronicle

October 9, 2017

Carbone: Why do Americans fear climate change less than the rest of the world?

When asked about major threats to their country, Europeans are more likely than Americans to cite global climate change, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Just 56 percent of Americans see climate change as a major threat, versus an average of 64 percent of Europeans surveyed. Why the difference? Like climate data itself, data regarding public concern for climate change are “noisy.” Public response can vary depending on what’s going on in the news that week. Surveys of these types of surveys find no single explanation for how the public perceives the threat of climate change. Of course, many explanations exist. As a climatologist who has taught university classes and given public lectures on global climate change for 30 years, I find it clear that public concern about climate change has evolved dramatically over the past three decades. In the U.S., now more than ever, it seems tied to ideology.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 10, 2017
Lead Stories

Bloomberg

October 9, 2017

Oil Companies Wade Back Into Gulf of Mexico as Nate Fizzles

Oil companies were heading back into the Gulf of Mexico and working to restore operations after Hurricane Nate fizzled out over the U.S. South on Sunday. While an estimated 93 percent of U.S. oil production in the Gulf was still shut, no damage had been reported, suggesting crude and natural gas supplies may quickly rebound this week. Power failures related to Nate, which was downgraded to a tropical depression over Alabama, have fallen to about 66,000 customers, utility data compiled by Bloomberg show. Nate spared the U.S. Gulf the worst of its rain and wind by falling apart shortly after making landfall near Biloxi, Mississippi, as a Category 1 hurricane. Losses may reach about $2.5 billion as the system struck a stretch of the coast dotted with casinos and resorts, but energy assets emerged unscathed. Drillers including Chevron Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc were already working to restore production. … Gulf oil and gas production “should fully recover by the end of the week, if not sooner,” Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, said by phone Sunday.

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Washington Post

October 9, 2017

The Energy 202: Trump’s energy policies have endeared him to establishment Republicans

A year and a half ago, Andrew Wheeler, a prominent coal lobbyist who worked for years for Senate Republicans, joined many other “establishment” Republicans in criticizing the long-shot candidacy of political newbie Donald Trump. In February 2016, ahead of the Super Tuesday primaries, Wheeler laid out in a Facebook post a skepticism of Trump’s character, business acumen and viability as a general-election candidate. He wrote that Trump was a “bully,” one who “hasn’t been that successful” in business and who “has more baggage then all of the other Republican candidates combined.” He wrote that Trump was a candidate who “has demonstrated through the debates and interviews that he doesn’t understand how the government works.” But what truly precluded Trump from becoming president, Wheeler wrote in the since-deleted Facebook post obtained by The Energy 202, was his propensity to bully. “This alone should disqualify him from the White House.”

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Dallas Morning News

October 9, 2017

DMN: Texas’ Monticello power plant closes, signaling the undeniable shift to natural gas and renewable energy

If there were any remaining doubts, the age of coal is over and the era of natural gas and renewables is officially here. Luminant’s decision last week to shut its Monticello Power Plant near Mount Pleasant, one of Texas’ largest and dirtiest coal-fired electricity plants, is a prime example of this shift. The plant’s pending closure in January is a win for clean air and the result of the new economics of energy that renders coal-fired power plants like the Monticello facility cost-prohibitive relics. This is particularly true in Texas: Hydraulic fracturing has made natural gas production cleaner and cheaper than coal. Each year, electricity from the sun and wind contribute more megawatts to the state’s power grid.

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The Hill

October 9, 2017

EPA chief: I’d ‘do away with’ wind, solar tax credits

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said on Monday that the federal tax credits for the wind and solar power industries should be eliminated. Pruitt told a crowd at a Kentucky Farm Bureau event that the credits stand in the way of utility companies making the best decisions about power generation. “I would do away with these incentives that we give to wind and solar,” he said, referring to wind’s production tax credit and solar’s investment tax credit. “I’d let them stand on their own and compete against coal and natural gas and other sources, and let utilities make real-time market decisions on those types of things as opposed to being propped up by tax incentives and other types of credits that occur, both in the federal level and state level,” he continued.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 10, 2017

Oil prices stable as OPEC says market is rebalancing

Oil prices were stable on Tuesday as OPEC said there were clear signs the market was rebalancing and as U.S. production remained offline following Hurricane Nate. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were trading at $49.66 per barrel at 0054 GMT, up 8 cents, or 0.16 percent, from their last close. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were up 5 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $55.84 a barrel. Traders said that oil prices received support from a statement by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) saying that oil markets had re-balanced following years of oversupply.

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San Antonio Express-News

October 9, 2017

Harvey makes a small dent in Eagle Ford production

Hurricane Harvey largely spared the South Texas oil fields from damage, though it did leave behind a small dent in daily production. The Eagle Ford Shale, the 400-mile-long field that swoops from Laredo to College Station, this month will produce an estimated 1.27 million barrels per day, about 7,400 fewer daily barrels than it did in August, mostly before the storm made landfall, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show. Ed Hirs, who teaches energy economics at the University of Houston and is managing director of an oil company, said the dip is temporary and minor, and that it’s likely that some companies decided to do some well maintenance as they were getting production flowing again.

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Hellenic Shipping News

October 8, 2017

Game is changing with latest leaders of oil majors

With Michael Wirth named as the next CEO of Chevron a few days ago, four of the biggest integrated energy companies are headed by seasoned executives who spent the bulk of their careers in the so-called downstream part of the business. The companies include Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Total of France. Downstream usually includes refining and petrochemicals, but some of the executives also worked in pipeline divisions (midstream) or trading. This leadership trend has implications the industry and investors need to keep a close eye on, and understanding what got us here is key. Over a long period, the focus of these companies was on replacing the reserves produced during the previous year. Wall Street focused on the reserve replacement ratio as a measure of the long-term viability of companies in the industry. It was a traditional but narrow measure of future performance, especially as international contracts shifted from legal ownership of resources to something more like service contracts in which companies were compensated by a formula based mostly on achieving production goals.

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Midland Reporter-Telegram

October 8, 2017

Midland-Odessa economy posts 10th month of expansion

A “spring-loaded” recovery is in place as the Midland-Odessa economy recovers from the deep contraction fueled by a plunge in oil prices and oil field activity. The Midland-Odessa Regional Economic Index posted its 10th consecutive month of increase in August and is 6.5 percent above August 2016 levels, said Amarillo economist Karr Ingham, who prepares the index for the Midland Development Corp. “We knew the general economy would go up just based on the momentum of what’s going on in the oil and gas industry, but these numbers look increasingly impressive,” he said. Any negative numbers, such as the decline in new housing permits, are now the exception, not the rule, and won’t happen often, he said.

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Associated Press

October 9, 2017

Review of Dakota Access oil pipeline to extend into spring

The US Army Corps of Engineers says it likely will take until April to finish court-ordered additional environmental study of the Dakota Access pipeline. The agency had anticipated completing the task this year. But attorneys say in court documents that it will take longer than expected to get information needed from Texas-based pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners and at least one American Indian tribe. The $3.8bn pipeline began carrying oil from North Dakota to Illinois on June 1.

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Bloomberg

October 6, 2017

Denning: Oil Buys Trump’s Calm But Ignores the Storm

The U.S. commander-in-chief informed the nation on Thursday evening that a meeting he was having with military brass might be “the calm before the storm.” President Donald Trump didn’t elaborate, brushing off reporters’ questions with a more-after-the-break response. It’s possible he meant nothing; you may recall he blithely undercut the $3.8 trillion muni-bond market this week with a choice remark about Puerto Rico’s debt getting “wiped out.” (Yeah? Nah.) Yet there is a storm looming in the shape of a decision about the nuclear deal with Iran. On October 15, the administration must either re-certify that Tehran is complying with its terms and that the suspension of sanctions remains vital to U.S. national security — or not.

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Houston Chronicle

October 9, 2017

Gasoline prices plunge as refineries get back to normal

Gasoline prices are falling quickly now that the Texas Gulf Coast’s refining complex nearly is back to normal after Hurricane Harvey struck in late August. The Houston-area’s average for a gallon of regular unleaded fell about 7 cents in the past week to $2.33. That’s still about 23 cents higher than before Harvey made landfall. Nationally, average gas prices dropped another 6 cents to $2.47 a gallon, about 14 cents more than before the Category 4 hurricane, according to GasBuddy, which tracks fuel pricing nationwide.

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Houston Chronicle

October 9, 2017

Ensco cutting jobs, closing Atwood HQ in Houston

London-based Ensco said it plans to shutter the old Atwood Oceanics headquarters in Houston and cut about 80 jobs after acquiring the Houston-based offshore driller. The merger between the two drilling companies in the struggling offshore energy sector means the bigger Ensco won’t carry over all the Atwood office space or employees. Ensco will eventually close the Atwood headquarters that’s leased out at the Energy Crossing II building along Houston’s Energy Corridor. Despite Ensco’s London home, it has its operational headquarters in Houston at the San Felipe Plaza building. “Ensco intends to conduct a mass layoff of most of the employees who currently work at, and eventually close, the headquarters of Atwood Oceanics,” the company said in a letter to the Texas Workforce Commission that was filed Monday.

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Bloomberg

October 9, 2017

The East Coast’s Warm Fall Spells Trouble for Gas Bulls

October weather warm enough for backyard barbecues in the U.S. Northeast isn’t doing natural gas bulls any favors. From Boston to Chicago, overnight temperatures are lingering above 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 Celsius) at a time when they usually begin dropping into the 50s and below, AccuWeather Inc. data show. Homes and businesses are using the least gas for seasonal heating in PointLogic Energy data going back a decade, and energy consultant EBW AnalyticsGroup predicts this “blowtorch October” will make an even bigger dent in demand before the month ends. Gas bulls were counting on a quick transition between summer heat and chillier fall temperatures to keep demand elevated and limit stockpile gains. Instead, persistent warmth may revive a stubborn supply glut, threatening to send gas prices plunging even as record exports of the fuel head to Mexico and overseas buyers.

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The Hill

October 9, 2017

Arnold: Opposing currents alter playing field for US oil production

Several years ago, I traveled frequently to Turkey and Central Asia and to learn more about the region, I read Neal Ascherson’s book, “Black Sea.” Something I found fascinating was his description about how currents run in opposite directions at various depths in the Black Sea, yet all we see is the one closest to the surface. This seems like a fitting analogy for the paradoxes of the energy industry. What we see isn’t necessarily what we will get over a longer period of time. In part, the natural price volatility of oil as a commodity explains this conundrum. But it is important to look at opposing and shifting currents we can’t easily see. For example, the most recent data shows that the U.S. exports about 2 million barrels of oil per day. A 40-year ban on most U.S. oil exports was lifted by Congress in December 2015. Before then, there were robust exports of processed oil products, but not crude oil.

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Daily Sabah (Turkey)

September 30, 2017

Turkey set to implement national energy policy with diverse resources

The national energy and mining policy, announced in early April by Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak, focuses on domestic resources, decrease energy dependency on imported resources by diversifying energy supply through increasing investments in areas such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), floating storage and regasification units (FSRU) and by expanding the storage capacity of oil and natural gas storage. Turkey occupies a unique geographic position, extending into Asia and Europe, which provides it with opportunities in many areas, especially in energy. As it is located on the transit route of countries that supply and demand energy, Turkey aims to convert its geographical advantages into opportunities. The national energy strategy clearly reflects the country’s determination on energy, including security of supply, indigenization of energy and formation of a foreseeable energy market.

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Rigzone

October 3, 2017

LNG Can Play ‘Meaningful Role’ Targeting US Trade Imbalance

According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the U.S. goods trade deficit – in which imports exceed exports – with China totaled $347 billion in 2016. During the same period, U.S. goods trade deficits with Japan and South Korea amounted to $68.9 billion and $27.7 billion, respectively, observed USTR. As it continues to ramp up exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the United States can tilt that trade imbalance a bit more in its favor by expanding the volumes of LNG it ships to those three countries, Kathleen Eisbrenner, founder and CEO of NextDecade, said Monday during Energy Dialogues LLC’s North American Gas Forum in Washington, D.C. “LNG has a very meaningful role to play,” remarked Eisbrenner, whose company is developing an LNG export facility and related pipeline infrastructure in South Texas and may develop a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) and associated LNG import terminal infrastructure at the Port of Cork in Ireland. “I think it’s a real exciting opportunity.”

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Utilities Stories

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

October 6, 2017

LP&L officially applies to join ERCOT; vote to happen in first quarter of 2018

Lubbock Power &Light has submitted its formal application to join the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT. The application was submitted to Texas’ Public Utility Commission, which will ultimately vote on whether Lubbock’s city-owned electric provider can disconnect from the Southwest Power Pool and connect to the ERCOT system. This vote could happen as soon as in the first quarter of 2018. Lubbock’s wholesale contract with Xcel Energy expires in 2019, and it was in late 2015 that LP&L announced its intent to join the ERCOT system once that expires.

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Platts

October 9, 2017

ERCOT real-time power price spikes above $1,100/MWh

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas footprint saw real-time prices jump to over $1,100/MWh Monday on record-breaking load expected, driven by late-season heat in the region. Real-time prices spiked across the footprint as Houston Hub real-time prices reached around $1,150/MWh at around 1:45 pm CDT (1845 GMT) Monday, while the prices across other hubs averaged about $200/MWh around the same time. The Houston Hub on-peak real-time futures price for balance-of-the-day was valued about $150/MWh on Intercontinental Exchange as of 1:50 pm, almost four times the prior settlement in the high $30s/MWh.

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Texas Public Radio

October 6, 2017

Inside The STP During Hurricane Harvey Was No Picnic

“It was quite an experience – it was one that I won’t forget anytime soon,” said Buddy Eller, the director of external communications for the South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Company. He and 250 other STP employees remained at the STP during the hurricane. They had prepared for severe weather, but Hurricane Harvey was more than they had trained for. “We generally plan for storms to last two to three days. This one lasted well over a week,” he said. The nuclear operators, engineers, and security personnel began a monster work shift on Friday August 25th that didn’t end until Friday September 1st. The crew members worked rotating 12-hour shifts for a full week.

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New York Times

October 7, 2017

Minus Electrical Grid, Puerto Rico Becomes Generator Island

SAN JUAN, P.R. — Like many other frivolous things on the island these days, the shiny motorcycles at the Planet Honda showroom have been pushed to the side. In their place are dozens of folding chairs, and on Thursday morning, they were all filled with Puerto Ricans waiting to buy the most essential machines on the post-hurricane landscape: portable generators, to light their powerless homes. María Aguilera, 57, a teacher, was waiting in the line that had formed outside the showroom Thursday morning. When the sun sets these days, she said, she relies on candles for light. And like everyone else in Puerto Rico — including Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló — Ms. Aguilera said she had no idea when the power grid might be restored. “From the things I’ve seen with the infrastructure,” she said, “it could be months.”

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San Francisco Chronicle

October 9, 2017

PG&E cuts gas to more homes even as power restored to some areas

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. restored power Monday to some of its customers blacked out by the wildfires raging across Napa and Sonoma counties, but as the day wore on, the utility cut natural gas service to an increasing number of homes and businesses close to the flames. By 4 p.m., 99,000 customers in the North Bay remained without power, down from 114,000 earlier in the day. Santa Rosa and St. Helena remained the hardest hit areas, according to a PG&E website that tracks outages. The blackouts occurred through a broad swath of the wine country, from Geyserville in the north to Napa in the south.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

IOL

September 20, 2017

The electric car that charges itself while driving

Delft, Netherlands – The age of the electric car is just about upon us; this much is made clear by the stands at this week’s Frankfurt motor show being littered with battery-powered production cars and concepts. But replacing the internal combustion engine with cars that get charged at wall sockets is, according to some, itself just a stepping stone to a future of self-powered cars that require neither combustible fuel nor electricity from pollution-generating power stations. They believe the real end game is to have a solar electric car that’s charged by nothing more than the rays of the sun, and to kickstart this idea of a fume-free utopia the inaugural Energy Independent Electric Vehicles conference is being held in the Netherlands on September 27-28. “Energy independent electric vehicles (EIVs) are propelled entirely by electricity produced on-board from ambient energy,” says a conference spokesman.

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Seeking Alpha

October 4, 2017

IEA: Solar growing at record pace, faster than all other forms of power

Solar power grew faster than any other source of fuel for the first time in 2016, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency, showing how the falling cost of green technology is reshaping the global energy system. Global solar capacity rose by 50% last year, and nearly two-thirds of net power capacity added was renewable, with 126 GW of solar and wind easily exceeding the 86 GW from coal and gas, and renewables are forecast to grow by another 43% over the next five years – the new growth forecasts are 12% higher than last year’s, the latest in a succession of upgrades. IEA executive director Fatih Birol says renewables are rapidly eroding the dominance of coal-fired power, and contract prices for solar and wind power are “increasingly comparable or lower” than generation costs for newly built gas and coal-fired plants in markets including India, Mexico, Chile and the United Arab Emirates.

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Power Engineering

October 4, 2017

Saudi solar plant attracts lowest offers ever recorded

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Sakaka solar power plant has received offers to supply the electricity from the facility at record low prices. The plant is the first of many under a $50bn plan to expand renewable energy in the kingdom, as it looks to diversify away from fossil fuels. Saudi renewable energy seminar The energy ministry said Abu Dhabi’s Masdar and Electricite de France SA bid to supply power from the 300 MW solar photovoltaic plant for as little as 6.69736 halalas a kilowatt hour, or 1.79 cents, according to a webcast of the bid-opening ceremony on Tuesday in Riyadh. If awarded, that would beat the previous record for a solar project in Abu Dhabi for 2.42 cents a kilowatt-hour.

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Regulatory Stories

Dallas Morning News

October 9, 2017

Carley, Perry: The debate over fuel-economy standards

A rule increasing corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, standards from 34.5 mpg to 54.5 mpg is up for final review. It was mandated by President Barack Obama and adopted by Congress in 2015. Now the Donald Trump administration has indicated it might toy with those standards. Should we keep Obama-era fuel economy standards? YES: Mandates will help motorists, economy down the road The U.S. government regulates greenhouse-gas emissions through two primary mechanisms: corporate average fuel-economy standards, known as CAFE standards, and greenhouse-gas standards.

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Politico

October 9, 2017

Mattis urges military ‘to be ready’ with options on North Korea

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Monday urged military leaders “to be ready” with military options for President Donald Trump to deal with North Korea should diplomacy fail — after Trump reprimanded his top brass last week for not providing him contingency plans quickly enough. “Right now it is a diplomatically led, economic sanctions-buttressed effort to try to turn North Korea off this path,” Mattis said following a speech at the annual convention of the Association of the United States Army in Washington. “Now, what does the future hold? Neither you nor I can say, so there’s one thing the U.S. Army can do, and that is we have got to be ready to ensure that we have military options that our president can employ if needed.”

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Politico

October 9, 2017

Trump administration to sign climate rule repeal proposal Tuesday

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said Monday he will formally sign a proposal to withdraw the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan on Tuesday in Washington. “That rule really was about picking winners and losers. Regulatory power should not be used by any power to pick winners and losers,” Pruitt said an event in Kentucky’s coal country with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “The last administration just simply made it up,” he continued, referring to the regulation that was designed to curb carbon emissions from power plants. “When you think about the Clean Power Plan, it was not about regulating to make things regular. It was truly about regulating to pick winners and losers.”

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Houston Chronicle

October 9, 2017

Houston area flood maps based on outdated rainfall data

The flood maps that help determine where homes are built in Texas, how much insurance costs and which areas would benefit from flood control projects are based on rainfall data that hasn’t been updated for as long as a half-century, meaning that development has expanded here for decades without a complete understanding of the flood risks. Those risks have come into sharp focus following the record-setting rainfall of Hurricane Harvey, which inundated areas never touched by floodwaters before, and growing expectations among climate scientists that powerful storms will not only happen more frequently, but also pack more rain as global and ocean temperatures rise. Of the 39 Texas counties that experienced flooding during Hurricane Harvey, fewer than 10, including Harris County, have flood maps based on precipitation data from this century.

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Houston Chronicle

October 9, 2017

Perry defends travel, as inquiry widens

Energy Secretary Rick Perry is defending tens of thousands of dollars spent on flights aboard charter and government aircraft, as a congressional inquiry into the travel expenditures of members of the Trump administration widens. In May, Perry and members of his staff flew aboard a chartered Gulfstream jet to a Department of Energy event in Kansas City at a cost of up to $35,000, according to documents the Department of Energy sent the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week. Along with three other flights aboard government aircraft, the Department of Energy estimates it has spent more than $56,000 on non-commercial travel for the secretary and his staff. “The Department of Energy strictly follows both government-wide and internal DOE travel regulations and policy,” a spokeswoman said. “The Secretary travels almost exclusively on commercial aircraft.”

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US News

October 5, 2017

GOP Establishment Attacks… Itself?

The Republican Party’s long-simmering internal divisions under President Donald Trump, temporarily papered over when his surprise 2016 win gave the party control of federal government, have erupted into open political warfare – and the newest insurgents from the establishment are fighting their former allies. A day after a top West Wing staffer urged heavyweight donors to close their wallets to Capitol Hill Republicans until Congress kick-starts Trump’s stalled agenda, Politico reports that a group of wealthy conservatives who have long supported Republican candidates and causes told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to his face: The GOP won’t get any campaign contributions until he gets a legislative win. “Anybody who was there knew that I was not happy. And I don’t think anybody was happy. How could you be?” oil magnate Thomas Wachtell told Politico. He was describing a recent, exclusive Los Angeles fundraising dinner with about 10 deep-pocketed contributors and McConnell as the guest of honor.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 9, 2017
Lead Stories

CNBC

October 7, 2017

President Trump’s big decision on Iran next week could rattle the oil markets; here’s why

If the White House decertifies the Iran deal, RBC Capital Markets is warning investors that oil prices could jump. Helima Croft, the firm’s global head of commodity strategy, is watching next Thursday, October 12 very closely. That’s the day when President Donald Trump is expected to deliver a key speech on Iran policy. There’s speculation that Trump will move to unravel the international deal, signed under President Barack Obama, that curbs Iran’s nuclear program. “It’s a very significant development that could happen next week,” Croft said on CNBC’s “Trading Nation” this week. An official told Reuters this week, speaking on the condition of anonymity, that Trump is also expected to introduce a broader U.S. strategy that would be more confrontational with Iran.

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Wall St. Journal

October 4, 2017

U.S. Now Exporting as Much Oil as Some Gulf Countries

U.S. crude exports are blasting through records, approaching a level that is almost as much as Kuwait sends abroad. U.S. crude exports surged to a record 1.984 million barrels a day last week– an increase of close to 500,000 barrels a day from the previous week’s level, which was also a record. The export rate is more than twice as high as it was a month ago. Until these last two weeks, the most that had ever been shipped from U.S. shores was 1.3 million barrels of crude a day—a level reached in May. Kuwait ships more than 2 million barrels of oil abroad per day. The U.S. is still an oil importer. But net imports of crude fell to a record low last week, analysts at Citigroup said in a research note.

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Power Engineering

October 6, 2017

Luminant to Close 1,800-MW Coal-Fired Monticello Power Plant

Luminant, a subsidiary of Vistra Energy, announced plans to retire the coal-fired Monticello Power Plant in Titus County, Texas, by January 2018. Curt Morgan, Vistra Energy’s President and CEO, said a year-long analysis concluded operating the 1,800-MW plant is no longer economical. “For more than 40 years, Monticello employees have generated reliable power for Texans, and we honor and recognize their service,” he said. “But the market’s unprecedented low power price environment has profoundly impacted its operating revenues and no longer supports continued investment.”

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New York Times

October 8, 2017

For Electric Car Owners, ‘Range Anxiety’ Gives Way to ‘Charging Time Trauma’

An oft-cited reason people don’t buy electric cars is “range anxiety” — if batteries struggle to take you as far as gas and charging stations are limited in number, the thinking goes, who would want one? But there is another obstacle: charging time trauma. Compared with a five-minute pit stop at your local gas station, charging an electric vehicle is a glacially slow experience. Modern electric cars still often need an entire night to recharge at home, and even at a commercial fast charging station, a fill-up can take an hour or more. “Driving long distances and stopping for one to two hours is not something I would want to do,” said Mark McNabb, the chief executive of Electrify America, a Volkswagen subsidiary that is installing charging stations across the United States as part of the German automaker’s settlement for cheating on diesel emissions tests. The good news? Charging times will eventually shrink to little more than 10 minutes. The bad news: That won’t be for several years.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 9, 2017

Oil up on expectation of Saudi production restraint, lower US rig count

Oil prices edged up on Monday, after a 2 percent slide on Friday, on expectations that Saudi Arabia would continue to restrain its output in order to support prices, and as the amount of rigs drilling for new oil in the United States dipped. Oil ports, producers and refiners in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, which shut facilities ahead of Hurricane Nate, were planning to reopen on Monday as the storm moved inland, away from most energy infrastructure on the U.S. Gulf Coast. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) front-month crude futures were trading at $49.48 per barrel at 0436 GMT, up 19 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were up 16 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $55.78 a barrel.

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Houston Chronicle

October 6, 2017

Rig count falls as oil prices stagnate

The U.S. rig count fell by four this week as oil prices continued to stagnate. Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported Friday that oil rigs dropped two to 748, gas two to 187. The total has slipped to 936, 22 off its recent peak of 958, at the end of July. Still, the count has risen 412 over this time last year, with oil rigs up 320, gas 93. The U.S. offshore count is unchanged from last week at 22, down one year over year.

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Houston Chronicle

October 7, 2017

Oil producers shut in 92 percent of Gulf of Mexico output ahead of Hurricane Nate

Oil companies in the Gulf of Mexico have evacuated hundreds of production platforms and shut off 92 percent of the region’s crude production as Hurricane Nate moves toward the U.S. Gulf Coast, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said Saturday. Producers have evacuated personnel from 302 manned platforms, about 41 percent of such facilities in the Gulf, and drilling companies have evacuated 13 offshore drilling facilities and moved 16 dynamically positioned rigs out of the path of the storm.

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Associated Press

October 8, 2017

Houston asks oilman to help with hard choices after Harvey

As Houston confronts the immediate and long-term crisis created by Hurricane Harvey, it’s turning once again to an oilman. The choice of former Shell president Marvin Odum to advise the mayor on storm recovery efforts reflects Houston’s history as a Texas oil town, long before it became the nation’s fourth-largest city with a sprawling mix of skyscrapers and multiethnic strip malls on the Gulf of Mexico. Several oil companies are headquartered in Houston, and oil money helped build its downtown, its priciest neighborhoods and its cultural centers. One of the biggest challenges facing Odum, a native Houstonian, in his job as recovery officer will be pushing Houston away from its roots as a city that’s long chosen development over conservation, paving over critical wetlands to make way for new buildings. Some advocates working on those causes wonder whether someone from the city’s most powerful interest can get leaders to make better choices for the future.

This article appeared in the Austin American-Statesman

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San Antonio Express-News

October 7, 2017

Eagle Ford Shale fuels $50 billion in Corpus Christi port projects

PORTLAND — Where the coastal prairie meets Corpus Christi Bay, stubborn sunflowers bloom in the hard-packed earth and 90 construction cranes draw slashes across the blue sky. From this spot, Houston-based Cheniere Energy in 2019 expects to launch global shipments of natural gas produced in Texas shale fields. The idea would have sounded absurd a decade ago, when everyone thought the U.S. was running out of oil and natural gas. Instead, the burgeoning export plant, on the remnants of a ranch that once spanned 1 million Coastal Bend acres, is one of the latest examples of the turnaround in the domestic energy industry. After a decadeslong slide, U.S. oil and gas production have surged with shale drilling, the process of using water, chemicals and sand pumped at high pressure to shatter tight rock.

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San Antonio Express-News

October 8, 2017

Jury convicts activist who targeted North Dakota pipeline

A North Dakota jury has convicted an environmental activist who targeted an oil pipeline a year ago. The Pembina (PEM’-buh-nuh) County jury found Michael Foster of Seattle guilty Friday of conspiracy to commit criminal mischief, criminal mischief and trespass. Foster was acquitted of reckless endangerment. Foster’s actions were part of a broader four-state effort last October to draw attention to climate change. Foster did not deny using a bolt cutter to get through a chain link fence so he could turn the pipeline’s shut-off valve. He contended his law-breaking was in the public’s interest.

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Reuters

October 4, 2017

Exxon says Beaumont refinery back at normal operations post Harvey

Exxon Mobil Corp said on Wednesday its 362,300-barrel-per-day (bpd) Beaumont, Texas, refinery was at normal operations for the first time since Hurricane Harvey shut the plant on Aug. 30. Sources familiar with plant operations said earlier that the refinery was running all production units, with the 45,000-bpd coking unit completing on Wednesday its first 24-cycle run since the refinery was shut by the storm. “The refinery is now at normal operations,” said Exxon spokeswoman Charlotte Huffaker. Exxon restarted the coking unit on Tuesday finishing a restart of production units at the Beaumont refinery that began on Sept. 25.

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Tyler Morning Telegraph

October 3, 2017

Tyler Morning Telegraph: Scotland bans fracking and the benefits of cleaner, inexpensive energy

Scotland is bravely rejecting cleaner air, more affordable energy and a reliable power grid. The Scottish government on Tuesday announced a ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. What does this mean for East Texas and the United States in general? We’ll simply keep building liquefied natural gas export facilities and preparing for more and bigger sales of our gas to the Europeans. “The Scottish government has announced an effective ban on fracking,” the BBC reports. “Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse told MSPs that the practice ‘cannot and will not take place in Scotland.’ He said an existing moratorium on the technique, which has been in place since 2015, would continue indefinitely after a consultation showed overwhelming opposition.”

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The Oklahoman

October 7, 2017

Drilling activity increases in southeast Oklahoma

Southeast Oklahoma’s Arkoma Woodford basin was the fastest-growing oil and natural gas field in the country over the past week as investment continues to grow in the area. Also known as the east STACK, southeast Oklahoma has attracted growing attention over the past few months. Edmond-based Tall Oak Midstream last month announced plans for a $400 million natural gas gathering and processing facility in Hughes County and parts of six surrounding counties.

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Texas Monthly

October 7, 2017

How Trump’s Tax Proposal Could Affect Oil and Gas

On Wednesday, September 27, Republicans in Congress introduced a plan for sweeping tax reform, proposing to cut the corporate income tax from 35 percent to 20 percent, among other significant changes. Reducing the corporate income tax, currently among the highest in developed nations, seems like a home run for oil and gas producers in Texas. But for a national industry that receives over $4 billion of tax exemptions annually, simplifying the tax code to eliminate loopholes might not be uniformly positive. The fate of key exemptions during negotiations will determine how much Texas oil and gas producers actually benefit. Importantly for oil and gas companies, the proposed reform maintains deductions for “intangible drilling costs” (IDC), the largest exception they enjoy under the current tax code. IDCs, which include costs from drilling new wells like labor and chemicals, can be immediately deducted from taxable income. That offers an advantage relative to other industries who have to deduct upfront expenses over time.

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The Globe and Mail (Canada)

October 4, 2017

Investors rushing to secure drilling rights for cheap alternative to oil sands

There’s a land grab quietly taking place in a little-known corner of the Alberta oil sands. Just 200 kilometers southwest of the Fort McMurray oil-sands hub in northern Alberta, investors are rushing to secure rights to land that produces crude at much lower costs than the massive operations the region’s known for. That’s because beneath the area’s characteristic oil-rich soil, which requires expensive extraction and refining techniques, there’s crude trapped between layers of rock that can be pumped with conventional gear. “It’s definitely an emerging play,” said Roger Tang, chief executive officer Deltastream Energy Corp., one of the companies that’s producing oil in the area. “It’s new and the production is quite respectable at this price.”

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Utilities Stories

Dallas Morning News

October 6, 2017

East Texas coal plant, once a big polluter, snuffed out by cheap natural gas

One of Texas’ largest coal plants is shutting down, a victim of plentiful and cheap natural gas, plant owner Luminant announced today. The Monticello Power Plant near Mount Pleasant, about 115 miles east of Dallas, is expected to close in January after ERCOT, which manages Texas’ electric grid, signs off on the decision. The plant, once seen as a key source of smog-causing pollution, has an operating capacity of 1,880 MW — enough to power about 940,000 homes in normal conditions and 376,000 homes in periods of peak demand. It employs about 200 workers.

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Austin American-Statesman

October 8, 2017

Weinstein: Why renewable energy’s rising use challenges grid integrity

Most people never think about electricity. We just assume when we flip the light switch or charge our laptops, power will be available. But behind the switches and outlets in our homes and places of work is a huge and complex infrastructure that helps ensure the reliability and resilience of the electric power grid. To produce power, we have to convert another form of energy into electricity. Coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar, and hydropower are the primary “fuels” used to create the electrons that are fed in the power grid. But the mix is changing rapidly. A decade ago, more than 50 percent of the electricity consumed in the United States came from coal-fired generating plants. But by 2016, natural gas had become the number one fuel accounting for 35 percent of generation with coal dropping to 30 percent, nuclear holding steady at about 20 percent, and hydro unchanged at about 8 percent. Non-hydro renewables—mainly wind and solar—have jumped from about 4 percent of supply a decade ago to 12 percent today.

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Los Angeles Times

October 4, 2017

Sempra revises financing for $9.5B deal to buy Oncor

With an eye toward receiving approval from regulators in Texas, Sempra Energy on Wednesday revised the financing for its $9.45 billion bid to buy Oncor Electric Delivery, the company that delivers power to more than 10 million customers in the Lone Star State. “We do feel it will improve our likelihood of being able to reach a regulatory resolution in this case,” said Sempra CEO Debra Reed in a teleconference with analysts from some of the top firms on Wall Street. “And that was our key move in making the change.” The Oncor deal is the largest in the 19-year history of Sempra, the San Diego-based Fortune 500 company that counts San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas among its subsidiaries. Sempra made headlines in the financial world in August when it swooped in and outbid billionaire Warren Buffett of the Berkshire Hathaway investment firm, which offered $9 billion for Oncor.

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Houston Chronicle

October 8, 2017

CenterPoint energy sends crews to help with Hurricane Nate

Houston-based CenterPoint energy sent a platoon of trucks Sunday morning in anticipation of repairs needed after Hurricane Nate. Crews would help restore power in areas impacted by the hurricane. About 40 vehicles carrying 70 linemen drove east Sunday morning. Nate was producing a “life-threatening” storm surge in Florida and heavy rain on the Gulf Coast east of the Mississippi River Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

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Wall St. Journal

October 6, 2017

Puerto Rico’s Power Restoration Slowed by Miles of Downed Lines

One recent morning, a Black Hawk helicopter flew specialists from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Energy Department over an area of eastern Puerto Rico to survey the damage Hurricane Maria delivered to the island’s power grid. In a hilly area near Juncos, where the storm shredded trees and left the landscape barren and brown, they spotted a metal lattice transmission tower that had crashed to the ground and lay in pieces. Farther along ridges lay another downed tower, then another—at least a half-dozen in a row—leaving power lines strewn and tangled amid debris. “It looks like dental floss laying across the trees,” Sgt. First Class Gregory Ganser of the New York Army National Guard, which operated the flight, said over the radio.

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World Coal

October 5, 2017

US Energy Secretary visits Texas Mineral Resources’ rare earths-from-coal project

Texas Mineral Resources Corp. (TMRC), an exploration company targeting the heavy rare earths and a variety of other high-value elements and industrial minerals, hosted a visit from Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Congressman Lou Barletta (R-PA) to the site of the company’s DoE-funded rare earth project at the Jeddo Coal Company in eastern Pennsylvania. TMRC is part of a team that includes Inventure Renewables, K-Technologies Inc. and Penn State University. The project is funded by Phase I of a two-phase DoE grant program totalling US$20 million. Work on the project commenced in early September after funding was formalised with a contract signing with the DoE. Speaking to media at the site, Secretary Perry said: “The rare metal extraction process creates ‘staggeringly important’ opportunities for the industry and country.”

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Inside Climate News

September 19, 2017

10 Giant Companies Commit to Electric Vehicles, Sending Auto Industry a Message

A coalition of global corporations, including Unilever, Ikea and shipping giant DHL, launched a global campaign today to accelerate the shift to electric vehicles and away from gas- and diesel-powered transportation—which generates almost a quarter of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and has been the fastest growing emissions source. Since more than half of the cars on the road belong to companies, the new EV100 coalition could have a major impact. It aims to do for EVs and electric car charging infrastructure what coalitions such as the RE100 are already doing to encourage corporate purchasing of clean energy (and thus motivating development of new solar and wind power). EV100’s goal is to send a signal to automakers that there is mass demand for electric vehicles before 2030, when current forecasts suggest global uptake will start to really ramp up.

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Regulatory Stories

NASDAQ

October 4, 2017

Kinder Morgan’s Utica Marcellus Texas Project Gets FERC nod

Kinder Morgan Inc KMI , one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in North America, has received green signal from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for its Utica Marcellus Texas project. The project cost is estimated at $412 million. The project involves alteration of 964-mile of natural gas pipeline to transfer natural gas liquids from the northeast United States to Texas. The NGL system having a capacity of 430,000 barrel per day is expected to use infrastructure on the company’s Tennessee Gas pipeline system. Construction of 200 miles of new pipeline is a part of the project. The pipeline would be linked to a header system that will be accessible to storage sites near Mont Belvieu.

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The Hill

October 5, 2017

Harvey: Rick Perry’s new coal subsidy could wreck America’s power markets

When old, established industries are threatened by new, better technologies, they often go running to Washington for special protections. It is an old practice, generally taxing the common good for private interests. Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Energy has set a new record for gall in this practice in a fairly stunning move that would impose a new tax on electricity consumers and roil America’s power markets for years to come. Here’s the story: Renewable energy — especially wind and solar — has plummeted in price. Today a new wind farm, for example, is often cheaper than just the operating costs of an old coal power plant. Cheap natural gas creates additional price threats to existing coal or nuclear. And these favorable economics for renewables and gas don’t even count the public benefits they create through clean air, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and avoided fuel price spikes.

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

October 6, 2017

Fantasy or the future? Planners dream of high-speed Hyperloop in Fort Worth

Hyperloop may be a realistic, safe and extremely fast way to travel across Texas in the coming decade or so. Or it may be little more than a concept, rivaling anything seen on the 1960s television cartoon “The Jetsons.” Either way, North Texans likely will be hearing about it a lot in the coming months, and maybe years, after a Texas group won an international competition for proposals to build the first links of the futuristic transportation system.

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Green Tech Media

October 5, 2017

Behind the Backlash to Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s Demand for Coal-Nuclear Market Intervention

Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s demand for market-disrupting price supports for coal and nuclear power plants has broken multiple rules for how energy policy is made, from upending the facts to subverting regular order. … On Tuesday, FERC received a joint motion from a coalition representing literally every sector of the energy economy except coal and nuclear power, asking it to deny DOE’s request for an interim final rule to take effect within 60 days, and to extend the comment period out to at least 90 days. The coalition includes the country’s biggest solar and wind trade groups and renewables boosters like the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) and Advanced Energy Economy. But it also includes the Natural Gas Supply Association, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, and the American Petroleum Institute — a highly unusual set of bedfellows.

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Houston Chronicle

October 6, 2017

Federal grant to add tech to Texas trucks

Federal highway officials are kicking in $6 million for a Texas effort to connect cargo trucks in the hopes that putting timely information in drivers’ hands will lead to less time for freight on the roads. The Federal Highway Administration announced the grant to the Texas Department of Transportation on Wednesday. “Technology is the future of U.S. transportation,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson, in a news release. “With innovation such as this, we are giving state and local officials the tools needed to address the growing congestion problems.” The grant will be used to install a dozen connected vehicle technologies in more than 1,000 large vehicles. TxDOT spokesman David Glessner said the trucks include a handful of commercial freight companies and agency fleet vehicles.

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The Hill

October 3, 2017

EPA launches industry partnership program for regulating

The Trump administration wants to work more closely with industrial sectors in formulating the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that affect them. The EPA announced Tuesday that it’s reviving a Smart Sectors program to more formally cooperate with industries like oil and natural gas drilling, mining, steelmaking and agriculture for regulating. It’s part of the administration’s efforts to be more industry-friendly while still protecting the environment, the EPA said. “When we consider American business as a partner, as opposed to an adversary, we can achieve better environmental outcomes,” EPA head Scott Pruitt said in a statement.

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Texas Tribune

October 5, 2017

Roberts, White: Rolling back the red tape

There is nothing quite like the power of American ingenuity and innovation. And nowhere in the country is there a better example of economic growth and empowerment on display than right here in Texas. A primary reason for that? Freedom. Specifically, there is simply less government intrusion into the daily lives of families and businesses because we believe when government gets out of the way, Texans thrive. Here, we know individuals and markets are the best decision makers, not the heavy hand of government regulations dictating each of our choices. At the federal level, however, they’ve got some work to do.

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Houston Chronicle

October 6, 2017

A French oil company navigates Washington

Oil companies are a ubiquitous presence in Washington, where small battalions of lobbyists are assigned to keep their ears to the ground while trying to influence policies where they can. So, it came as some surprise when the French oil giant Total sent out invitations for a reception commemorating the opening of its first office in the U.S. capital. “It’s a little strange,” pointed out CEO Patrick Pouyanne. “We are not such a new company.” Founded in Paris almost a century ago, Total is one of the largest oil companies in Europe, competing alongside the likes of Royal Dutch Shell, the Italian company Eni and the British oil major BP, the latter of which maintains a modern, LEED certified office in between the White House and the Capitol, where it hosts consultants, political staffers and even reporters for events.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 6, 2017
Lead Stories

San Antonio Express-News

October 5, 2017

Judge won’t postpone FourWinds trial

A federal judge will not postpone the fraud trial involving a failed sand-fracking business at the center of an FBI probe that also ensnared state Sen. Carlos Uresti. A lawyer for Stan Bates, the former CEO of the now-defunct FourWinds, filed for a continuance this week, saying that his other cases had stacked up and he may not be able to adequately prepare for Bates’ trial. But Senior U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra stood firm that Bates, Uresti and a consultant, Gary Cain, will be tried on Oct. 23. As the trial inches closer, federal prosecutors filed a motion Thursday seeking to limit what arguments Uresti might make to jurors as part of his defense.

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Financial Times

October 5, 2017

Oil groups shut Gulf platforms in storm Nate’s path

Oil companies have begun shutting down platforms in the Gulf of Mexico in the path of Tropical Storm Nate, affecting hundreds of thousands of barrels per day of production. The US National Hurricane Center forecast on Thursday that Nate would hit the coast of eastern Louisiana around New Orleans on Sunday. The storm’s expected track would take it through a region of the central gulf that holds a large number of offshore oil and gas platforms. BP and Chevron said they were shutting all the platforms they operate in the gulf, including two of the region’s largest: BP’s Thunder Horse and Chevron’s Jack/St Malo. Modern weather forecasting gives oil companies several days warning of approaching storms, allowing them time to shut production and evacuate on a measured timetable.

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Bloomberg

October 5, 2017

Trump Says Military Gathering Might Be ‘Calm Before the Storm’

U.S. President Donald Trump offered cryptic remarks Thursday night while posing for photos with military leaders, saying the gathering might represent “the calm before the storm.” He made the comments among senior military leaders and their spouses in the White House State Dining Room ahead of a dinner expected to include the discussion of a range of national security issues. “You guys know what this represents?” Trump asked assembled members of the media. “Maybe it’s the calm before the storm.” Asked repeatedly by reporters to clarify his comments, Trump said, “You’ll find out.” During a meeting with military leaders earlier in the afternoon, Trump said his administration was focused on “challenges that we really should have taken care of a long time ago, like North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, ISIS, and the revisionist powers that threaten our interests all around the world.” During those remarks, the president also appeared to issue a vague threat toward the regime in North Korea, which has antagonized the U.S. president with a series of nuclear and ballistic-missile tests.

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Dallas Morning News

October 5, 2017

Millions of Texans to see lower utility bills if Austin OKs $9.45 billion bid for Oncor

Berkshire Hathaway was knocked out of the Oncor sweepstakes this summer. But the new bidder for Texas’ utility giant is borrowing from Warren Buffett’s playbook. Sempra Energy released a list of 47 regulatory commitments Thursday intended to woo the Texas Public Utility Commission, including a promise to return 90 percent of savings from lower interest rates to Oncor customers. Most of the commitments are very similar to the ones offered by Berkshire Hathaway. Other commitments include maintaining Oncor’s independence from its new owner, a PUC requirement. Previous Oncor bids were derailed by companies that didn’t provide enough independence or consumer benefits.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 6, 2017

Oil markets cautious as another tropical storm heads for Gulf of Mexico

Oil markets opened cautiously in Asia on Friday as traders monitored a tropical storm heading for the Gulf of Mexico and as China remained closed for a week-long public holiday. But the prospect of extended oil production cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) helped support prices. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were trading at $50.73 per barrel at 0016 GMT, down 6 cents from their last close. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were down 6 cents at $56.94 a barrel. Oil market activity was subdued on Friday, due to the ongoing Golden Week holiday in China and because traders were monitoring tropical storm Nate, which is threatening to disrupt the oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico just weeks after several hurricanes pummelled the region, knocking out many oil producing and processing facilities.

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Business Insider

October 5, 2017

Oil climbs as King Salman makes the first-ever visit by a Saudi monarch to Russia

King Salman of Saudi Arabia made the first ever visit by a Saudi monarch to Russia. King Salman told Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow that the two countries will continue to work on stabilizing oil markets. Brent crude oil , the international benchmark, was up by 2.0% at $56.91 per barrel and West Texas Intermediate , the US benchmark, was up by 1.6% at $50.80 per barrel at 12:51 p.m. ET. “The Saudi visit to Russia marks a remarkable turnaround in the relationship between the two countries that had been staunch Cold War adversaries,” Helima Croft, head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note to clients.

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Houston Chronicle

October 5, 2017

Exxon Mobil makes fifth discovery off Guyana

Exxon Mobil has made a fifth oil discovery off the coast of Guyana in a new exploration well that hit 75 feet of oil-soaked rock, the company said Thursday. Exxon drilled the deep-water well, called the Turbot-1, more than 18,000 feet in almost 6,000 feet of water over the month and a half that ended Sept. 29. It plans to drill another exploration well in the region next year. “The results from this latest well further illustrate the tremendous potential we see” off Guyana, said Steve Greenlee, president of Exxon Mobil Exploration Company, in a statement.

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Wall St. Journal

October 5, 2017

U.S. Shale Juggernaut Shows Signs of Fatigue

American shale drillers, which defied expectations and upended traditional oil markets by increasing production in the face of lower prices, are finally showing signs of slowing down. The U.S. oil-rig count, typically viewed as a proxy for activity in the sector, grew 6% in the third quarter—a marked deceleration from the previous four quarters, when it rose more than 20% on average. Last month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration cut its forecast for U.S. oil production, saying it now expects the industry to end the year at 9.69 million barrels a day, down from 9.82 million. U.S. oil output remains robust and may still surpass the record annual average of 9.6 million barrels a day, set in 1970. But companies, confronting technological, operational and financial obstacles, are starting to ease up on drilling.

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San Antonio Express-News

October 5, 2017

San Antonio’s Lilis Energy pays $46.5M for 4,000 acres in West Texas

San Antonio-based oil and gas exploration company Lilis Energy has bought 4,000 more acres in West Texas’ Permian Basin for $45.6 million from a private seller, the company announced Wednesday. Lilis expects to close on the deal in November, it said in a news release. The acreage, located in the Delaware Basin that is part of the Permian, increases Lilis’ holdings in the Delaware oil field to more than 15,000 acres.

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Forbes

October 5, 2017

Flowers: Shifting Risks In Global Oil Supply

The coming change to global supply is the world’s growing dependence on US tight oil. Volumes on our forecasts reach 10 million b/d next decade (from 4.7 million b/d currently) and by 2025 will satisfy 10% of global demand. Two thirds of the growth, or 3.5 million b/d, is from the Permian Basin deep in the heart of Texas. But does this tectonic shift away from geopolitical hot spots and OPEC producers de-risk global supply? As a supplier at the margin, price is a primary risk for tight oil production; and there are technical risks that may manifest as the industry climbs a steep learning curve. Two are emerging already.

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Houston Chronicle

October 5, 2017

Kinder Morgan ups capacity on $1 billion natural gas pipeline in West Texas

Houston-based Kinder Morgan has increased the capacity on a new natural gas pipeline that it estimates will cost more than $1 billion to build. The Gulf Coast Express pipeline from the Waha hub in West Texas’s Permian Basin oil field to Agua Dulce near Corpus Christi will now stretch 450 miles, 20 miles longer than originally planned when it was announced in March. The company confirmed that the pipeline’s capacity has increased nearly 13 percent, from 1.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day to 1.92 billion cubic feet a day. The project is expected to cost more than $1 billion, according to company spokeswoman Melissa Ruiz.

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Houston Chronicle

October 5, 2017

Targa buys stake in Kinder Morgan project, sells part of another

Houston pipeline giants Targa Resources and Kinder Morgan are teaming up to build the Gulf Coast Express Pipeline project from West Texas’ Permian Basin to the Corpus Christi area. Targa is buying a 25 percent stake in the Kinder Morgan-led project. At the same time, Targa agreed to sell 25 percent of its proposed Grand Prix natural gas liquids pipeline project that treks from the Permian to just east of Houston in Mont Belvieu. Private equity giant Blackstone Energy Partners is acquiring the stake in Grand Prix. Both deals help Targa diversify in the booming Permian without spending much additional money, although the companies are not revealing the acquisition costs.

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San Antonio Express-News

October 5, 2017

Texas sales tax revenue jumped more than 10 percent in September

Texas sales tax receipts jumped more than 10 percent in September, hitting $2.4 billion, state Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Thursday. Increased spending in the oil and natural gas sectors was largely responsible for the double-digit growth in sales tax revenue last month, Hegar said in a statement. Spending on retail trade and telecommunications also provided a boost, Hegar said. … Revenue from oil and natural gas production taxes spiked in September by 35.8 percent to $293.2 million from $215.9 million in September 2016.

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Houston Chronicle

October 5, 2017

Growth of Gulf Coast storage enables crude oil export boom

The expansion of storage tanks, pipelines and loading terminals along the Texas Gulf Coast is driving record U.S. crude oil exports, much of it coming from West Texas. The nation exported 2 million barrels a day of crude last week, the Energy Department reported, and that volume industry continues to build out Texas Gulf Coast facilities. The Houston and Corpus Christi regions are leading the way as companies race to build pipelines from the booming Permian Basin, install new storage capacity in tanks and underground caverns, and construct new terminals at ports that can accommodate massive oil tankers, said Sandy Fielden, Morningstar’s director of oil and products research.

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Bloomberg

October 4, 2017

Private Oil Made a Big Find in Mexico. Now State Oil Wants a Cut

When private drillers struck oil off Mexico’s coast this year, they didn’t anticipate sharing it with the state oil company. It looks like they’ll have to. The discovery of as much as 2 billion barrels in July, by a group led by Houston-based operator Talos Energy LLC, grabbed the oil world’s attention. Mexico’s energy reformers celebrated. It was the first big find since the government opened the industry to investors in 2014 — a controversial move in a country that kicked out foreign oil companies in the 1930s, and had mixed feelings about letting them back in. The reformers were vindicated: Private capital could get results where Pemex, the cash-strapped state operator, couldn’t. More would surely follow. Then a problem emerged. The crude deposit found by Talos, it turned out, spread beyond the boundary of the company’s exploration bloc and into a neighboring one — owned by Pemex.

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Associated Press

October 5, 2017

TransCanada says it’s cancelling Energy East pipeline

Pipeline company TransCanada said Thursday it’s cancelling a plan to build a pipeline that would ship 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Western Canada to the Atlantic coast in a decision that exposed deep divisions across Canada. TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling said in a statement that “after careful review of changed circumstances,” it won’t go ahead. Girling had previously called the pipeline a historic opportunity to connect the oil resources of Canada’s west to eastern consumers. He’d noted the oil could be shipped to the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, Asia and Europe.

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Reuters

October 5, 2017

Dirty water in U.S. shale patch drives investment in water handlers

Huge volumes of dirty water produced by U.S. shale firms are driving up investment in water-handling specialists, as cash-conscious oil and gas companies try to trim costs. For every barrel of crude, drillers generate up to six barrels of brackish water containing chemicals used to release oil and gas from shale rock. The water is trucked or piped to disposal wells, or recycled. Transporting and disposing of water is costly for energy producers who are cash-strapped after more than two years of slumping oil prices, and some are opting to sell pipelines and wells to wastewater companies and then pay them to manage water.

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Seeking Alpha

October 4, 2017

Chesapeake To Benefit From New Discovery Below The Eagle Ford In South Texas

Chesapeake Energy (CHK) is one of the beneficiaries of a new discovery in the Georgetown in South Texas below the Eagle Ford made by privately owned CML Exploration, LLC. The discovery is along the Zavala/Dimmit border near a major fault line called the Zavala Syncline. Just like the Austin Chalk and the Buda in this area, the Georgetown is naturally fractured and does not require fracture stimulation to produce oil and gas. Chesapeake recently re-acquired the 55,000 net acres in Zavala and Dimmit from EXCO Resources (XCO) that it had sold them a few years ago. As can be seen in the image below, some of that acreage is near the border and in the Georgetown Sweet Spot:

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Dallas Morning News

October 5, 2017

Dallas oil baron on investing millions in esports: ‘I’ve become a lot more interesting at cocktail parties’

North Texas long ago established its credentials as one of the nation’s top sports hubs with championship teams, billion-dollar franchises and stadiums. But those with deep pockets are always looking for the next sport to add to that thriving ecosystem. The latest entrant is Team Envy, a group of young gamers currently dominating the new Overwatch video game league. And, backing them is energy investor Ken Hersh, a fund manager, the CEO of the George W. Bush Presidential Center and one of the Texas Rangers’ owners. Hersh, 54, is a little outside the league’s demographic, but he represents wealthy investors putting millions of dollars into competitive esports. He did not want to talk about how much he invested in Team Envy, but ESPN reported that it was a $35 million deal that moved the team from Charlotte to Dallas.

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Bloomberg

October 2, 2017

Oil Market Stars Risk Being Dimmed by China’s Mega Refineries

China’s independent refiners burst onto the international oil market scene only a couple of years ago and lifted the nation past the U.S. as the world’s No. 1 crude buyer. Now, a new generation of firms building some of the globe’s biggest plants are threatening to eclipse them. The original set of private processors, known as teapots, is clustered in the eastern Shandong province, and operate relatively small refineries that pump out fuels such as gasoline and diesel. By contrast, the budding giants supported by the regional governments in Zhejiang and Liaoning will focus on making petrochemicals — the building blocks of everything from sportswear to soda cans and Star Wars figures.

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Wisconsin State Journal (Madison)

October 3, 2017

Guess Which 5 States Burn One-Third of America’s Total Energy (No. 3 Is a Shocker)

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s most recent data, five U.S. states were responsible for more than one-third of the entire country’s energy consumption. And while that may seem like a crazy-high portion for such a small group of states to use up, there are multiple factors at play that drive energy use in these states, including how many people live and work there, environmental factors such as extreme heat and cold that require more energy consumption, and industrial energy consumption. No. 1: Texas It’s probably not much of a surprise that the Lone Star State topped the list, consuming over 13% of total American energy use. … No. 2: California With a population approaching 40 million, California is another unsurprising member of this list. What may be surprising for some readers, however, is that California ranks as high as it does on this list for similar reasons as Texas, with some of the highest industrial and transportation energy consumption in the country. … No. 3: Louisiana With a population of just over 4.5 million putting it exactly in the middle of the 50 most populous states, Louisiana is the most surprising member of the top-five energy-burning states.

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Quartz

October 3, 2017

Denmark’s biggest energy company is completely abandoning fossil fuels

How could you tell if there’s an energy transition underway? Just ask Dong Energy. The $154 billion fossil-fuel company is abandoning all fossil fuels and changing its name to Ørsted, to honor the discoverer of electromagnetism. Dong once stood for Danish Oil and Natural Gas. On Feb. 2, the company announced it will stop all use of coal by 2023. On Sep. 29, Dong sold all its oil and gas business. On Oct. 2, the company called for an extraordinary general meeting to ask for approval of the change of name. “This is no longer who we are,” said Thomas Thune Andersen, chairman of Dong’s board of directors. “Now is the right time to change our name.”

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Utilities Stories

Austin American-Statesman

October 5, 2017

Building that’s home to Texas power regulators suffering power outage

The lights have gone out in a portion of the state office building that houses the Public Utility Commission, which oversees electricity providers in Texas. But the power outage at the William B. Travis building — which started Sunday and won’t be restored before the weekend — isn’t the result of retaliation for perceived regulatory overreach, or of a late bill payment. Instead, part of a high-voltage electrical distribution system failed, knocking out all but emergency power to the top five floors of the 12-story high-rise, state officials said. The utility commission has been impacted only minimally because it mainly occupies the seventh floor of the building, which is north of the Texas Capitol at 1701 Congress Ave.

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KLBK (Everything Lubbock)

October 5, 2017

LP&L Hopes a Move to ERCOT Could Lower Utility Costs

Lubbock Power & Light has initiated the formal application process to join the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT. They hope the change in where they get their power could have a positive impact on utility costs in Lubbock. “Well it is certainly our goal that we get our costs down to as low of levels that we could possibly achieve,” LP&L Director Of Electric Utilities David Mccalla said. “We are sympathetic to those customers who paid higher bills this summer.” He went on, “We had an unusually hot June which caused higher usage. Air conditioning units ran longer and customers were just using more energy and that was coupled with the fact that we had higher fuel costs that had to be passed along to customers as well.” LP&L said they hope the move could bring costs down.

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Utility Dive

October 2, 2017

Report charts a path for more corporate purchases of utility-scale solar power

The corporate procurement of utility-scale solar power has grown from less than 1% of annual installed utility-scale capacity in 2014 to 9% in 2016 and 17% in early 2017, according to a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Through July 2017, corporate buyers contracted for more than 2,300 MW of utility-scale solar, primarily using financial power purchase agreements and green tariff or bilateral contracts with utilities (43% and 36%, respectively), the report found. For solar power to play a larger role in corporate purchasing, the report authors said states and utilities should consider working with stakeholders to develop purchasing options in areas where solar is most cost -competitive.

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Green Tech Media

September 29, 2017

Cheap Offshore Wind Won’t Make UK Give Up on Nuclear

A pricing record for offshore wind this month won’t change Britain’s nuclear plans, government sources confirmed. “We need a diverse energy mix to ensure that demand for energy can always be met, and both nuclear and renewables will play an important role in this for many years to come,” a spokesperson for the U.K. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said. The statement follows widespread speculation about the future of the U.K.’s new nuclear program in the wake of an auction that saw offshore wind prices drop to just £57.50 (USD $76.34) per megawatt-hour. That’s almost 38 percent below what the U.K. government has agreed to pay for nuclear generation at Hinkley Point C, a contentious 3.2-gigawatt plant slated for construction in Somerset, southwest England.

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Clean Technica

September 29, 2017

Tesla Has 100 Days To Finish Building South Australia’s 129 MWh Energy Storage Facility … Or Its Free

After South Australia experienced a major blackout recently, Tesla CEO Elon Musk publicly proposed that his company could install an energy storage system to solve the problem, and that if the system wasn’t installed within 100 days of signing a grid connection agreement, he was willing to do the job for free. Just such a grid connection agreement was signed on Friday, according to company execs, setting the stage for Tesla’s promised 100-days-or-its-free installation blitz to become a reality. So, as it now stands, if Elon Musk’s tweet is to be believed, the state of South Australia (which has an exceptionally high percentage of wind and solar energy) will have a functioning 129 megawatt-hour (MWh) battery facility within 100 days … or the project will be completely free.

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The Hindu (India)

October 2, 2017

India: Coal is still the secret of our energy

With India embarking on an ambitious journey to achieve renewable energy capacity of 175 gigawatt (GW) by 2022, questions have been raised on the relevance of coal in the present context. Does coal, the principal source of energy for now, face a dark future? “No, it can’t be. If the future of coal is dark, then the future of the country will be dark,” said Partha Bhattacharya, former chairman of Coal India Ltd. “You can’t live without coal. Coal is at the centre of everything. With all this hype [about] renewables, today in power generation, 81% is out of coal,” he pointed out. “Going forward, the share will definitely come down. But the growth in renewable does not mean the generation from coal will come down. It will never come down, at least in next few decades,” he said emphatically.

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Regulatory Stories

Reuters

October 5, 2017

Energy secretary took charter flight day before Price resigned

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry took a chartered jet to Ohio last week, according to an airport management company, the day before fellow Cabinet member Tom Price resigned over his use of private charter flights for government business. Perry took the private plane from Hazleton Regional Airport in Pennsylvania to the Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport in southern Ohio on Sept. 28, PMH Aviation, the company that runs the Portsmouth airport, said on Wednesday. The purpose of his trip was to visit a uranium facility in Piketon, Ohio, according to the Energy Department. The only private jet to land at Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport last Thursday belonged to Dixie Capital Corp, a Richmond, Virginia-based charter company, according to data from the Flightaware website. Dixie confirmed it owned the plane, but declined to comment on Perry or say how much the trip cost.

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Bloomberg

October 3, 2017

These Suburbanites May Have No Fracking Choice

When Bill Young peers out the window of his $700,000 home in Broomfield, Colo., he drinks in a panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains. Starting next year, he may also glimpse one of the 99 drilling rigs that Extraction Oil & Gas Inc. wants to use to get at the oil beneath his home. There’s little that Young and his neighbors can do about the horizontal drilling. Residents of the Wildgrass neighborhood own their patches of paradise, but they don’t control what’s under them. An obscure Colorado law allows whole neighborhoods to be forced into leasing the minerals beneath their properties as long as one person in the area consents. The practice, called forced pooling, has been instrumental in developing oil and gas resources in Denver’s rapidly growing suburbs. It’s law in other states, too, but Colorado’s is the most favorable to drilling. Now fracking is coming to an upscale suburb, and the prospect of the Wildgrass homeowners being made by state law to do something they don’t want to do has turned many of them into lawyered-up resisters. “It floors me that a private entity could take my property,” says Young, an information security director.

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Forbes

October 4, 2017

Blackmon: The Wisdom And Foresight Of The Texas Rainy Day Fund

Over the last 36 years, the Rainy Day Fund has proved to be exactly what it was billed to be back in 1981: a fund that has had the effect of stabilizing the state’s budget situation. As an example, the Great Recession created huge revenue shortfalls for the state government going into both the 2009 and 2011 legislative sessions, forcing policymakers to cut spending on state services deeply. But the ability to take billions of dollars from the Rainy Day Fund ensured that cuts to the bone did not become cuts into the marrow of those services. The Rainy Day Fund has also allowed legislators to address other pressing state issues without impacting the budget’s General Fund. The 2013 session of the legislature funded the state’s entire $50 billion State Water Plan by tapping the Rainy Day Fund for $2 billion, establishing a revolving line of credit that will be used to finance a large variety of dams and other water projects in the coming decades. That same session also, with the approval of the state’s voters, tapped the Rainy Day Fund for $2.25 billion to fund much-needed road improvement projects all over Texas.

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Rigzone

October 4, 2017

Congressmen: Oil and Gas Industry Needs a Better Narrative

The oil and gas industry needs to do a better job of defining itself to the public to counter ongoing opposition from various anti-industry forces, several members of Congress from three energy-producing states said during a panel discussion in Washington, D.C. Tuesday. “The opposition is constant,” said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, during Energy Dialogues LLC’s North American Gas Forum (NAGF). “It’s got to be a constant messaging, constant storytelling.” Cuellar, the sole Democrat on the five-person panel, described himself as “pro-energy, pro-trade.” He represents a South Texas district extending from San Antonio to the U.S.-Mexico border that is home to the Eagle Ford shale formation. He said that one way the domestic oil and gas industry can better enlighten the public is to relay facts that weaken the widely held perception that it is “Big Oil.”

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Green Tech Media

October 4, 2017

Commissioners Hear Final Trade-Case Arguments Before They Send Advice to Trump

Representatives for Suniva and SolarWorld stood before a packed hearing room Tuesday and urged the International Trade Commission to endorse their proposed tariffs on imported solar equipment, while dozens of witnesses took turns denouncing the measures as a threat to the U.S. solar industry. The 10-hour hearing at the ITC in Washington, D.C. was the last chance for public testimony before officials send their final recommendations to President Donald Trump. The two financially troubled solar manufacturers are seeking a tariff of 25 cents per watt on CSPV cells — down from an initial 40 cents per watt request — and 32 cents per watt on CSPV modules. They say the tariffs are needed to revive their industry, which has been flooded by cheap imports from Asia.

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New York Times

October 5, 2017

Trump Takes a First Step Toward Scrapping Obama’s Global Warming Policy

The Trump administration will repeal the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s effort to fight climate change, and will ask the public to recommend ways it could be replaced, according to an internal Environmental Protection Agency document. The draft proposal represents the administration’s first substantive step toward rolling back the plan, which was designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector, after months of presidential tweets and condemnations of Mr. Obama’s efforts to reduce climate-warming pollution. But it also lays the groundwork for new, presumably weaker, regulations by asking for the public and industry to offer ideas for a replacement.

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Chicago Tribune

September 29, 2017

Trump told Iowa he’d save ethanol. His EPA chief has other ideas

As he sought votes during last year’s Iowa caucuses, candidate Donald Trump courted farmers with praise for ethanol and promises that he would boost the home-grown fuel. Now those farmers and other biofuel supporters say the people President Trump has put in charge of the issue in Washington are instead boosting their fossil-fuel rivals. “This seems like a bait-and-switch,” Iowa’s senior Republican senator, Chuck Grassley, said on the Senate floor this week. “Big Oil and oil refineries are prevailing, despite assurances to the contrary.” The issue is politically precarious for Trump, as it pits the oil industry against Midwest voters who helped elect him. Trump repeatedly vowed to “protect” ethanol. But he loaded his Cabinet with allies of the oil industry, which views the Renewable Fuel Standard that mandates biofuel use as costly and burdensome.

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Washington Post

October 3, 2017

The Energy 202: Rick Perry manages to unite oil, gas, wind and solar — against him

As he did nearly a year ago to win the presidency, Donald Trump has done the seemingly impossible and brought together disparate coalitions of unlikely interests. This week, it happened again when Trump managed to unite an unlikely band of fossil-fuel and renewable-energy advocates. These 11 energy associations are working together. Together, that is, against the Trump administration’s latest energy policy directive. On Monday, a coalition of 11 energy lobbying groups asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to delay issuing and enforcing a new rule issued by the Energy Department. Energy Secretary Perry had asked for FERC to streamline the rulemaking process but the groups want time to weigh in during the traditional comment period.

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Houston Chronicle

October 2, 2017

European oil companies plan major carbon capture project in Norway

Three European oil companies will assemble a major carbon storage project in Norway, part of an effort to mitigate rising temperatures. Norway’s Statoil, France’s Total and Anglo-Dutch oil company Royal Dutch Shell have struck a deal to develop equipment and facilities that will store carbon dioxide emanating from industrial sites in Norway. “Without carbon capture and storage, it is not realistic to meet the global climate target as defined in the Paris Agreement,” said Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president for new energy solutions at Statoil, in a statement. “A massive scale up of number of CCS projects are needed.”

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Washington Post

October 4, 2017

‘Death spiral’: Tillerson makes nice but may not last long with Trump

The moment was as remarkable as it was unprecedented: A sitting U.S. secretary of state took to the microphone to pledge his fealty to the president — despite his well-documented unhappiness in the job and the growing presumption in Washington that he is a short-timer. Rex Tillerson said Wednesday he would stay as long as President Trump wants him to, and Trump said he has “full confidence” in the former ExxonMobil chief executive. Shortly afterward, Tillerson’s spokeswoman also felt compelled to publicly deny an NBC News report that Tillerson had called the president a “moron,” and she said he was determined to remain in his job. But Tillerson’s move on Wednesday to reassure Trump of his convictions may well be too little and too late for the long term, according to the accounts of 19 current and former senior administration officials and Capitol Hill aides, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer candid assessments.

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WBAL (Baltimore)

September 27, 2017

Maryland suing EPA on power plant pollution in other states

Maryland is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to act on a petition requiring power plants in five upwind states to reduce pollution, the state’s attorney general and an official in Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration said Wednesday. The Hogan administration says 70 percent of Maryland’s ozone problem originates in upwind states. Maryland petitioned the EPA in November for a finding that 36 power plant units in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are emitting air pollution affecting Maryland in violation of the Clean Air Act’s “good neighbor provision.” In January, the EPA issued a six-month extension to the act, setting a July 15 deadline that Maryland officials say expired without action being taken.

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The New American

October 2, 2017

Ethanol Supporters Fight to Keep Government Regulations

Now, ethanol backers are angry with Trump for the action of his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) director, Scott Pruitt, whom they contend is breaking the president’s promises to increase government support for ethanol. The two senators from Iowa, both Republicans, are among those who contend the government should continue to intervene in support of ethanol. Chuck Grassley, Iowa’s senior senator, asserted, “This seems like a bait-and-switch. Big Oil and oil refineries are prevailing, despite assurances to the contrary.” The junior senator, Joni Ernst, who ran as a free-market conservative in winning her own election last year, shared Grassley’s disappointment, telling Trump in a letter, “It is my hope that your EPA has not forgotten about the pledges that were made to my constituents and to farmers across the country.” The ethanol lobby contends that Scott Pruitt is helping oil producers at the expense of farmers. Brooke Coleman, executive director of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council, stated, “The White House needs to rein in the EPA before the agency tramples the president’s rural base — and his promises to voters. I would be surprised if those in the White House realize the depth of [Pruitt’s] attacks on the Renewable Fuels Standard.”

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New York Times

October 3, 2017

E.P.A. Chief’s Calendar: A Stream of Industry Meetings and Trips Home

For lunch on April 26, Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, dined with top executives from Southern Company, one of the nation’s largest coal-burning electric utilities, at Equinox, a white-tablecloth favorite of Washington power brokers. That evening, it was on to BLT Prime, a steakhouse inside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, for a meal with the board of directors of Alliance Resource Partners, a coal-mining giant whose chief executive donated nearly $2 million to help elect President Trump. Before those two agenda items, Mr. Pruitt met privately with top executives and lobbyists from General Motors to talk about their request to block an Obama administration move to curb emissions that contribute to climate change.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 5, 2017

Lead Stories

Oil Price

October 2, 2017

Cunningham: U.S. Shale Isn’t As Strong As It Appears

The extraordinary cost reductions achieved by North American oil and gas companies have likely reached their limit, and any boost in profitability for much of the U.S. shale and Canadian oil sands industries will have to come from higher oil prices, according to a new report from Moody’s Investors Service. Moody’s studied 37 oil and gas companies in Canada and the U.S., concluding that although the oil industry has dramatically slashed its cost of production in the past three years and is currently in the midst of posting much better financials this year, there is little room left for more progress.

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Houston Chronicle

October 3, 2017

HC: Sins of oil will be shouted from the rooftops — Forces both moral and market are moving away from fossil fuels and toward the future.

How long until Houston becomes a heresy? Forty different Catholic organizations from across the globe announced on Tuesday their intention to divest from fossil fuels. Nearly $5 trillion worth of investments will be withdrawn from key industries responsible for carbon emissions, according to the Global Catholic Climate Movement. The decision, which will take years to pull off, is in response to Pope Francis calling for greater environmental protections in his 2015 encyclical, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.” Oil and gas, thou hast sinned. As a city built on fossil fuels, Houston will eventually have to pay for those sins. The clock is ticking on the drillers, frackers and refiners who drive the core of our economic engine. Some major oil and gas companies predict that demand for crude will peak as soon as the 2020s. And it isn’t hard to imagine Houston declining into the 21st century version of a ruined Rust Belt town if we don’t start building a more diverse economy.

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Bloomberg

October 4, 2017

Trump Begins Repeal of Obama Power Plant Emission Cuts

The Trump administration will propose repealing former President Barack Obama’s signature plan for combating climate change by asserting that its expansive approach to addressing carbon emissions exceeds legal limits, according to a person familiar with the deliberations. The Environmental Protection Agency will also issue a formal request for the public to offer ideas for a replacement to the Clean Power Plan that could be more modest in scope, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the proposal is still under review at the White House. The proposed repeal could be released this week or next, they said. An advanced notice of formal rulemaking, which may come later, isn’t slated to outline a specific replacement plan, though the administration is setting the stage for a new regulation that focuses on emissions from individual power plants, rather than the broader model adopted under Obama.

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Reuters

September 30, 2017

Renewable energy investors see opportunity in Puerto Rico’s demolished grid

Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico’s antiquated and bankrupt electrical system, leaving millions in the dark and utility crews scrambling to help. Now some politicians and renewable energy investors see a golden opportunity in the crisis to use federal funds to re-invent the U.S. territory’s grid as a storm-resistant network that relies less on costly coal and oil imports and more on local wind, solar, and batteries. If it happens, it could ease power bills on an island that struggles with the second-costliest electricity in the United States, behind Hawaii, as well as infrastructure prone to failing in the region’s frequent hurricanes. “We cannot waste the opportunity of this crisis and federal aid package,” said Ramon Luis Nieves, a Puerto Rican politician in the Popular Democratic Party, who headed the island’s senate energy committee until his term expired in January.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 5, 2017

Oil stabilizes on expectations of extended output cut, but US crude exports drag

Oil prices stabilized on Thursday on expectations that Saudi Arabia and Russia would extend production cuts, although record U.S. exports dragged on the market. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $55.89 per barrel at 0259 GMT, up 9 cents, or 0.16 percent, from their previous close. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that a pledge by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers, including Russia, to cut oil output to boost prices could be extended to the end of 2018, instead of expiring in March 2018. The statement came ahead of a visit by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to Moscow.

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Reuters

October 4, 2017

U.S. crude stocks fall as exports hit new record: EIA

U.S. crude oil stocks fell sharply last week as crude exports rose to a record high of nearly 2 million barrels per day, the Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday. Crude inventories fell 6 million barrels in the week to Sept. 29, compared with analysts’ expectations for a decrease of 756,000 barrels. Inventories have dropped in the past two weeks as Gulf Coast refineries restart after weeks of shutdowns due to Hurricane Harvey. Crude exports, meanwhile, jumped to 1.98 million bpd, surpassing the 1.5 million bpd record set the previous week. The jump in U.S. exports points to growing demand and the rising profile of the United States as a major supplier of crude and products around the world.

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Platts

October 4, 2017

Upstream oil, gas industry sees little lasting impacts from Hurricane Harvey: analyst

Although Texas upstream oil and gas and oilfield services companies saw their operations negatively impacted in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which struck the Texas Gulf Coast August 25, the negative effects were largely short-lived, an analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said Wednesday. The Dallas Fed included several questions about the impacts that Harvey had on exploration and production and service companies in its quarterly Dallas Fed Energy Survey, which gauges the attitudes of executives of these businesses, Kunal Patel, a senior research analyst with the bank, said. “Respondents reported widespread but generally limited impact on their operations due to Hurricane Harvey and most believe these effects will be gone six months from now,” Patel said.

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Houston Chronicle

October 4, 2017

Tropical depression could hit U.S. Gulf Coast

A tropical depression forming in the Caribbean Sea could impact U.S. states on the Gulf Coast. Forecasters with the National Hurricane Center warn that Tropical Depression 16 is heading toward the Gulf of Mexico and could strengthen into a hurricane late in the weekend. According to the National Hurricane Center, the tropical depression formed around Nicaragua and is expected to be in the Caribbean Sea by Friday and in the Gulf of Mexico by 8 a.m. Saturday, then possibly hit the Florida Panhandle by 8 a.m. Sunday as a hurricane.

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Houston Chronicle

October 3, 2017

Multinational oil trio to create carbon capture project

Three major European oil companies announced plans on Monday to assemble a network of technology and facilities that will capture and store carbon bleeding out of industrial sites in Norway, part of an effort to help mitigate rising temperatures. The carbon capture and storage project, shared by Norway’s Statoil, France’s Total and the Anglo-Dutch oil major Royal Dutch Shell, could collect and sequester 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide per year after its first phase has been completed. But the companies said they have designed the project to eventually expand its carbon-capture capacity and its reach beyond Norway’s borders if outside European investors pay for it. That future expansion, the companies said, would make the carbon storage project the first commercial venture of its kind to handle carbon dioxide from industrial sites in multiple countries.

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Financial Times

October 4, 2017

US fuel storage decline depresses tank rental rates

The US petroleum market is undergoing its own version of a property downturn with strong demand emptying fuel storage terminals and depressing rental rates for tanks.  The trend indicates a three-year oil glut may be dissipating — good news for energy producers but unwelcome for terminal landlords and traders leasing space they no longer need.  US inventories of distillate fuels, such as diesel and jet fuel, have dropped by 25.3m barrels in the past year to 135.4m, the Energy Information Administration reported on Wednesday. Petrol stocks built slightly last week but were down by 8.5m barrels from a year before to 218.9m. Stocks of both products were falling before hurricane Harvey curtailed US oil refinery output in late August.

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Forbes

September 30, 2017

Poole: 6 Oil Companies That Might Follow Anadarko’s Move To Boost Shareholder Value

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. made a move on Sept. 20 that cheered investors, announcing it would buy back $2.5 billion worth of stock, or about 10% of its shares. Its stock jumped 8% on the news to $48.48. That’s not all. The Woodlands, Texas-based company also suggested it might ease back on oil and gas production growth if it can’t do so profitably. “Going forward, we will continue to demonstrate financial discipline with a focus on returns,” CEO Al Walker said in a statement. It’s a new era in the oil and gas industry, which drilled with abandon when oil prices were high, chasing growth over profitability — and being amply rewarded by the capital markets to do so. But lower oil prices — which seem to be capped at around $50 per barrel — have sobered up the industry over the past few years and investors increasingly are valuing returns over growth. So other companies will probably be looking at making similar moves.

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The American Interest

September 28, 2017

Where Big Oil Meets Big Green

Before assessing areas of larger debate, it is useful to address some common misperceptions about unconventional oil and its carbon footprint. One form of unconventional oil—oil sands—is associated with higher emissions, about 17 percent greater than most other conventional crudes. These higher emissions are largely due to the greater energy required both to extract and to process this oil. It is, however, useful to keep in mind that oil sands—while accounting for close to two-thirds of Canada’s oil production and for about one-third of all types of unconventional oil—only constitute about one-fortieth of overall global oil production. Extra-heavy oil and oil shale—two other unconventional oils—also are associated with higher emissions, but they constitute an even smaller amount of global oil production. By contrast, the production of tight oil—which accounted for more than half of all types of global unconventional oil production and half of U.S. crude oil production as of 2017—involves significantly lower emissions than those associated with oil sands.

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Dallas Morning News

October 3, 2017

How Texas figures into Warren Buffett’s big stake in Pilot Flying J truck stops

Warren Buffett’s company is acquiring a major stake in Pilot Flying J truck stops and will become a majority owner within about five years. The ubiquitous truck stops, 750 of them in 44 states and Canada, make up the 15th-largest private company in the U.S., according to Forbes, with revenue of more than $20 billion per year. It has 69 locations in Texas. Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire Hathaway and Pilot Travel Centers announced the deal Tuesday morning. Initially, Berkshire will buy 38.6 percent of the company that runs 750 truck stops across 44 states and Canada and employs 27,000, but in 2023 that will increase to 80 percent.

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Yenisafak (Turkey)

October 2, 2017

Salameh: How the United States manipulates global oil prices

The oil price is like the two inseparable sides of a coin: one side is economics and the other is geopolitics. The United States understands this dictum well. That is why it has been manipulating global oil prices in order to achieve its geopolitical objectives. The U.S. has at its disposal two weapons: one is the false information it spreads through the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) about increases in U.S. shale oil production and U.S. oil stocks using mainstream media in an attempt to depress oil prices; and the other weapon is the petrodollar. In the 1980s the United States in connivance with Saudi Arabia manipulated the oil price causing it to crash to $10 thus leading to the collapse of the Soviet oil-dependent economy and thereafter the Soviet Union itself. Now Washington is at it again. And once again it has set its sights on Russia.

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Ars Technica

October 2, 2017

At $50 a barrel, billions in tax breaks keep many oil projects profitable

At $50 a barrel, the low price of crude oil has slowed some of the oil production in the US, especially in regions that are costly to develop, like the Arctic. But US oil producers aren’t bearing the whole brunt of low prices, because federal and state governments provide tax breaks that stimulate oil production despite low prices. The tax situation isn’t unique to the US—China, the EU, and India also offer a variety of flavors of tax breaks to fossil fuel producers, despite their recognition of the need to address climate change. Although the US has signaled its intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, tax breaks that fund more fossil fuel production don’t help the rest of the globe to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius. The latest research offers some hard numbers on just how much tax policy is supporting extra CO2 emissions. “Federal tax subsidies to the oil and gas industry alone cost US taxpayers at least US$2 billion each year,” write researchers from the Stockholm Environment Institute and Earth Track in a recent Nature Energy article.

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Utilities Stories

Austin American-Statesman

October 4, 2017

Panel weighs changes to pricing in the state’s electricity market

Electricity that most Texans take for granted when they flip on their lights or crank up their air conditioners is increasingly being generated by power plants running on cheap natural gas or by the wind turbines proliferating across the state. The result has been lower wholesale electricity prices and plaudits from advocates for a cleaner energy mix. But some power plant operators say the trend also has revealed cracks in how prices are set on the state’s wholesale market — and they’re advocating changes to the system that, among other things, would make it more expensive for remote Texas wind farms or any other faraway generator to transmit electricity to population centers. … The state’s Public Utility Commission has been holding work sessions — the next is scheduled for Oct. 13 — regarding recommendations for changes in how prices are established in the Texas market, which is overseen by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, commonly known as ERCOT. The recommendations come from a study sponsored by NRG and fellow power company Calpine Corp.

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Dallas Morning News

October 4, 2017

Sempra, the bidder for Texas’ largest regulated utility, says it won’t burden Oncor with new debt

The San Diego energy giant trying to buy Oncor has backed off its plan to add $3 billion in new debt to Texas’ largest regulated utility in a bid to appease state officials. Sempra Energy announced several changes to its $9.45 billion offer Wednesday after talking to Texas stakeholders including state regulators. The executives said they also intend to buy all of Energy Future Holdings’ stake in Oncor rather than teaming up with third-party investors to complete the proposed acquisition. “We’ve learned a lot from our meetings in Austin and from working closely with Oncor’s senior leadership team,” said Debra Reed, president, CEO and chairwoman of Sempra. The alterations were made with an eye toward getting approval from the Texas Public Utility Commission. In past deals, regulators have expressed dissatisfaction with acquisition plans that add new debt to Oncor’s books.

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RTO Insider

October 2, 2017

Compromise Reached on Eliminating ERCOT CRR Deration

After two months of significant discussion at various levels of ERCOT’s stakeholder process, the Technical Advisory Committee on Thursday unanimously approved compromise language eliminating the reduction of congestion revenue rights (CRRs), or “deration.” The nodal protocol revision request (NPRR821) eliminates the deration process for resource node-to-hub or load zone CRRs. Stakeholders drafted compromise language in the Protocol Revision Subcommittee (PRS) to address concerns that the deration process interfered with hedging behavior. In the end, stakeholders agreed that the language deters the exploitation of CRR gaming opportunities that pose the most risk to loads, and continues the policy of sharing CRR underfunding costs established when the nodal market went live. “Stakeholders have been working on and debating a solution for three months now,” Reliant Energy’s Bill Barnes said.

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Houston Chronicle

October 4, 2017

In wake of Hurricane Harvey, city asks for electric bill protections for residents

The City of Houston and several consumer protection organizations are asking the state to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey avoid costly fees and deposits on their electric bills. In a written petition submitted Wednesday, Houston and six others, including Texas Legal Services Center, asked the Public Utilities Commission of Texas to issue an emergency rule stating that those in a Harvey affected area cannot have their electric service discontinued for nonpayment. Customers would also not have to pay deposits or late fees, and electric companies would have to offer payment plans to those who cannot afford to pay their electric bill. The protections, if granted, would be good for a year.

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Energy Manager Today

October 4, 2017

Texas’ Largest PACE Project Will Reduce Electricity Use By More Than 6.6 Million Kilowatt Hours Per Year

Texas’ largest Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) project will cut energy use by about 40% and annual water use by almost 700,000 gallons. The site of such savings is the abandoned Butler Brothers building in Dallas, an abandoned building erected in 1910 that now serves as nothing more than an eyesore. Seeing an opportunity, real estate developer Alterra International will turn the building into a mixed-use complex with apartments, hotel rooms and retail space. To do so, Alterra is using $23.9 million in financing from Texas’ PACE program, which backs energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades for homes and businesses. The funding will cover improvements to HVAC, lighting, insulation, roofing, glazing, exterior waterproofing and plaster, plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems. Texas is the only state that includes water in its PACE programs and could serve as a model for other water-strapped states.

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The Eagle

October 5, 2017

Houston-based Enchanted Rock, Ltd. to invest almost $8 million to build, install back up power at RELLIS

The Texas A&M University System has inked a deal to ensure its RELLIS Campus, located west of Bryan, will have a reliable source of back up power to support its current and forthcoming facilities. Houston-based Enchanted Rock, Ltd. has agreed to a 15-year, public-private agreement with the A&M System to provide the 2,000-acre campus with what’s called a natural gas resiliency microgrid to provide full electrical reliability in the event of a power outage. A&M System Executive Director of Risk Management & Benefits Administration Kevin McGinnis said addition of a reliable back up power system is one of several steps aimed at making sure the campus is ready for the massive expansion unfolding off of Texas 47 and Texas 21.

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Utility Dive

October 4, 2017

28 utilities join RESTORE program to boost grid resilience, reliability

The RESTORE program – for Regional Equipment Sharing for Transmission Outage Restoration – was founded in 2016 by Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities, PPL Electric Utilities, Tennessee Valley Authority and Southern Company. The program seeks to address the threats outlined earlier this year in the Department of Energy’s Strategic Transformer Reserve Report to Congress that highlighted how damage to or attacks on transformers could severely disrupt the nation’s electrical grid. The program also comes as utilities in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico grapple with widespread and devastating infrastructure damage in the wake of three massive hurricanes. The participants of the program agree to identify and share spare transformers and other transmission equipment. In the event of a major disaster, that equipment would be available to participants for purchase.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

CNBC

October 3, 2017

‘Speculative frenzy’ over electric cars and battery tech as investors mull lithium futures

The future of electric vehicles has led several investors to view lithium as the hot new commodity. Governments and car manufacturers alike have taken steps to electrify fleets and further phase out the combustion engine. In turn, a number of traders now believe lithium to be a high-return investment as demand soars. This is no surprise; lithium is a vital component to lithium-ion batteries. These rechargeable batteries are used in devices as common as smartphones and laptops. They have increasingly become popular with electric car manufacturers due to being able to produce more electricity per unit than conventional batteries.

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Green Tech Media

September 28, 2017

Why Local Means Nimble in the Volatile Solar Manufacturing Space

Manufacturing solar hardware in North America is not for everyone. In fact, it’s not for most. Pricing pressures, especially for solar PV modules, has forced many solar companies to shutter U.S. factories and consolidate manufacturing overseas. Some of those companies are now debating whether to build U.S. factories given the potential looming tariffs due to the ongoing Suniva Section 201 trade case, but ramping up would likely take years. For those that have continued to maintain a manufacturing presence in the U.S., however, they see a distinct advantage no matter what happens with the trade case. “Rather than compete with commodity products, we wanted to innovate and be at the leading edge of technology,” said Sam Martens, director of commercial operations at Mission Solar, which has a 200-megawatt manufacturing facility for its solar panels in San Antonio. “Our only market is the U.S., and we want to stay on top of whatever technology trend is important for our customers.”

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Bloomberg

September 29, 2017

Storm-Ravaged Caribbean Is Eyeing Solar, But It Won’t Come Cheap

For Caribbean islands plunged into darkness after hurricanes Irma and Maria, more resilient, small-scale electric systems powered by the sun are looking increasingly attractive. Transforming a grid, though, doesn’t come cheap. In making the case for so-called microgrids, environmental nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute pointed to solar installations on the Turks and Caicos islands that remained largely intact while the local utility reported more than 1,200 poles down. That was the case on Richard Branson’s Necker Island, too. Even Bruce Walker, the nominee to lead the Energy Department’s electricity office, hailed Puerto Rico’s devastated grid as an opportunity to test technologies that’ll make it more resilient to storms. Governor Ricardo Rossello said Friday that he’s considering microgrids. The catch is the price tag. By Rocky Mountain Institute’s estimates, it would cost roughly $250 million to build about 90 megawatts of solar and storage across a chain of Caribbean islands. That’s enough to power an estimated 15,000 U.S. homes. While it may be sufficient for the Turks and Caicos, about a million households live in storm-battered and debt-ridden Puerto Rico.

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Green Tech Media

October 2, 2017

This New Solar Collector Design Could Bring CSP Costs to Record Lows

Just when it looked like concentrated solar power (CSP) couldn’t get cheaper, a U.S.-based startup says it’s found a way of cutting heliostat costs by a third. Skysun, of Bay Village, Ohio, is aiming to achieve the cost reduction by tying multiple heliostats — the mirrors that reflect sunlight onto CSP power tower receivers — onto a single motor and support structure. Currently, each heliostat on a power tower solar field has its own motor and support, significantly adding to the cost of what is essentially just a mirror. Sandia National Laboratories, which is collaborating with Skysun through a $275,000 Small Business Voucher provided by the Department of Energy, believes this ‘ganged heliostats’ design could cut average heliostat costs by 33 percent.

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Regulatory Stories

Texas Tribune

October 5, 2017

Texans shouldn’t expect enough federal money to fully rebuild after Harvey

Texans whose homes were wiped out when Hurricane Harvey slammed ashore and dumped more than 50 inches of rain on some parts of this region may find that federal money allocated for long-term recovery won’t come close to meeting their collective rebuilding costs. The exact size of the shortfall is unknown — and could remain unclear for weeks or months as federal officials also grapple with the destruction of two subsequent hurricanes that damaged wide swaths of Florida and Puerto Rico. State officials estimate that Texas will need $60 billion in Housing and Urban Development disaster relief funds to fully rebuild houses, businesses, roads and other buildings and infrastructure that Harvey damaged. That’s far more than the $7.4 billion Congress has approved so far — and that money will be divvied up across the U.S. states and territories walloped by Harvey, Irma and Maria in less than a month.

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The Oklahoman

October 2, 2017

Tax break has cost Oklahoma $465 million, report finds

Oklahoma should end a capital gains tax exemption that benefits high-income residents and cost state coffers $465 million over five years, a state board was told last week. … “It was added to try and help Oklahoma not lose as badly to Texas in our competition to create an environment of robust economic growth,” he said. “Lawmakers should focus on eliminating crony capitalism — like the hundreds of millions in subsidies being paid to wind power generation — and reform exploding government programs instead of reaching into Oklahomans’ pockets once again.” … PFM also recommended the state repeal its coal tax credit program because it “is effectively subsidizing a few companies — with little resulting economic benefit.” … Oklahoma is the only state in the nation that provides a tax credit for ethanol and requires the 1.6-cent tax credit be passed to the consumer. PFM favors ending the credit.

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Dallas Morning News

October 4, 2017

Tillerson won’t deny calling Trump a ‘moron,’ but says he didn’t consider quitting State Department

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday would not deny a report that he called President Donald Trump a “moron,” even as he sought to downplay rumblings of ongoing tension between himself and the White House. The surreal dichotomy came through in a rare press briefing that the former Exxon Mobil boss hosted to address “some news reports this morning.” NBC News on Wednesday published a piece chronicling “mounting policy disputes and clashes” between Tillerson and the White House. Among the reported flash points were Tillerson calling Trump a “moron” at one meeting and Tillerson threatening to resign from Trump’s Cabinet.

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KUHF (Houston NPR)

October 5, 2017

Arkema’s Chemical Plant Flooded After Harvey Faces Another Lawsuit

A Houston-area chemical plant is facing yet another lawsuit, the second against the plant from nearby residents. After Harvey flooded the Arkema, Inc., plant near Crosby, Texas, residents claim their properties were contaminated with toxins. In the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Houston, plaintiffs claim smoke from the fires led to “mysterious black ash” raining down on their land. One resident claims to have recovered jars full of it after the fires. The people suing, which include a Texas state trooper and a sheriff’s deputy, say they suffered a variety of medical problems. “One gentleman has some very disturbing scaling and rashes that he got after he mowed his yard,” said Kevin Thompson’s an attorney handling the case. “It’s limited primarily at this point to respiratory difficulties and skin rashes.”

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HuffPost

October 2, 2017

Kaufman: The Oil Industry Needs Taxpayers To Prop Up Nearly Half Of Its New U.S. Drilling

The U.S. oil industry remains heavily dependent on state and federal subsidies to make drilling profitable, particularly as the price of crude stays at historical lows, a new study found. Forty-seven percent of discovered oil reserves that remained untapped by the middle of last year required subsidies to turn a profit with prices at about $50 per barrel, according to the research published Monday in the journal Nature. “Almost half of new U.S. oil fields would not be profitable, and would not go ahead without subsidies,” Peter Erickson, the study’s lead author and a senior scientist at the nonpartisan Stockholm Environment Institute, told HuffPost by phone. “This is an industry that’s been around for a century, so for it to still be so dependent on these tax breaks, most of which are permanent, was surprising.”

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Houston Business Journal

September 21, 2017

Threadgold: Post Harvey, chemical and refinery safety may be compromised

Hurricane Harvey wrought destruction on Texas at the end of August. One significant series of events were explosions that occurred at the Arkema Inc. facility in Crosby. On Aug. 31, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board announced it was initiating an investigation into what happened. The CSB has been in existence operationally since 1998. The CSB’s mission has been to investigate significant chemical accidents that have occurred at industrial plants, usually incidents with multiple fatalities or environmental issues. Their goal is to identify root causes and provide recommendations to the companies involved, industry and regulators to prevent similar accidents from occurring in the future. Over the years it has conducted more than 130 investigations and made nearly 800 safety recommendations and with a relatively small staff. CSB is not a regulatory body and therefore does no rulemaking or enforcement activities such as issuing fines or legal citations.

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Reuters

September 28, 2017

Energy industry says ‘no thanks’ to Trump offer of marine sanctuaries

In a bid to boost energy development, U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is considering shrinking or eliminating 11 marine sanctuaries designed to protect 425 million acres of coral reefs, marine mammal habitats and pristine beaches. The review is part of a broader strategy to open new areas to oil and gas drilling and “put the energy needs of American families and businesses first,” according to the order Trump signed in April that triggered it. But interviews with energy industry representatives signal the effort will likely miss its target. Opening up these areas would likely help wind power companies – which Trump has lambasted – more than oil producers, they say.

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Stuff (Australia)

September 30, 2017

Cattle behind unexplained surge in methane emissions, US study finds

When it comes to climate change, we know where the most important warming agent – carbon dioxide – is coming from. Most of it is coming from the burning of fossil fuels, with some additional contributions from deforestation and other causes. But the second most potent greenhouse warming agent – the hard-hitting, if short-lived, gas known as methane – presents more of a mystery. There has clearly been an alarming uptick in atmospheric methane in recent years, following a flattening of concentrations from 2000 to around 2007. But the cause of this particular pattern has been hotly debated, with some blaming the fracked natural gas boom (natural gas is primarily composed of methane), and others pointing to other causes, such as agriculture.

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Business Insider

September 29, 2017

White House says Alaska will be the centerpiece of Trump’s ‘energy dominance’ plan

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke made it very clear that boosting energy production in Alaska would be a major part of the Trump administration’s plan for U.S. “energy dominance.” “The road to energy dominance goes through the great state of Alaska,” Zinke said in a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Zinke touted Interior’s first successful sale of leases in Alaska’s Cook Inlet since 2008. That lease sale attracted more than $3 million in high bids for offshore drilling rights across 76,000 acres. Zinke ordered officials in May to open the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), and the department more recently allowed seismic studies in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 4, 2017
Lead Stories

Bloomberg

October 3, 2017

Shell to Seek Sale of Stake in $1.4 Billion Wind Farm

Royal Dutch Shell Plc and its partners Eneco Holdings NV and Mitsubishi Corp. are seeking to sell a stake in two Dutch offshore wind-farm projects that may cost $1.4 billion to develop, two people familiar with the plan said. The companies are looking to reduce their ownership in the Borssele III and IV wind farms by as much as 45 percent, according to the people who asked not to be named because they aren’t authorized to speak about it publicly. The fourth partner, infrastructure contractor Van Oord NV, is keeping its share of the project.

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Houston Chronicle

October 3, 2017

Hurricane Harvey cost Occidental Petroleum some $70 million in lost income

Occidental Petroleum lost about $70 million in income when Hurricane Harvey forced it to shut down several Gulf Coast chemical facilities and its oil export terminal for days. The Houston oil company took an ethylene cracker and six other chemical facilities in Ingleside, Deer Park, Pasadena and LaPorte offline for days, with a few down through mid-September. The lost chemical production will cost Occidental some $60 million in pre-tax income in the third quarter. It also closed its oil export terminal near the Port of Corpus Christi for five days, costing some $10 million, and it lost about 1,000 barrels of oil production per day in the Permian Basin amid “third-party disruptions,” the company said Tuesday.

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Washington Examiner

October 3, 2017

Oil, renewable industries join forces to oppose Trump’s grid plan at FERC

An unlikely coalition of fossil fuel and renewable energy groups are pushing back against the Trump administration’s plan to create new rules to prop up nuclear and coal-fired power plants, which have been suffering economically from increased competition from low-cost natural gas. The coalition on Monday formally opposed the proposed plan that Energy Secretary Rick Perry sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Friday. Perry directed the commission to enact new pricing rules for the electricity market to preserve the nation’s diverse mix of energy resources to keep the grid afloat, citing the recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida as reasons for creating new rate structures for coal and nuclear. … The crux of the industry’s opposition involves the pace at which Perry suggests the commission must act. The coalition argues that if FERC were to follow Perry’s guidance, it would be violating the Administrative Procedures Act, a law governing regulatory process and procedure.

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Texas Tribune

October 3, 2017

Texas solar industry watches as trade case moves forward

A recent solar energy boom in Texas and other states could be hobbled, critics warn, if a federal agency agrees to levy taxes or other protective measures on solar products made abroad. The U.S. International Trade Commission is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday to consider imposing a tariff or price floor on imports of solar panels and cells to help domestic manufacturers compete. But opponents hope to convince the commissioners that protectionist policies would harm the bulk of the industry that works with solar panels and cells but doesn’t manufacture them.

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Oil & Gas Stories

San Antonio Express-News

October 3, 2017

CPS Energy Board member takes stock of decade at utility

Derrick Howard, who’s leaving CPS Energy’s board of trustees on Jan. 31 after about a decade of service, has helped steer the public utility through leadership changes, hundreds of millions of dollars in losses on a failed bid to expand its nuclear energy holdings, and an expanded portfolio of solar and wind energy generation. The Express-News sat down with Howard as the Thursday deadline to apply for his board seat in Quadrant 3 — which includes portions of City Council District 2 and 3 — looms. … Q: Have you seen significant changes to how CPS operates from when you started to now? A: When I first got here, we were in what I call the throes of the nuclear conversation. For me it was an exercise of learn by drinking out of a fire hydrant. Fortunately for us, we were able to exit that nuclear project at that time under former CEO Milton Lee’s leadership, who led the utility from 2002 to 2010.

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CNBC

October 4, 2017

Oil dips over doubts recent rally will last through fourth quarter

Oil prices eased on Wednesday, with U.S. crude dipping below $50 per barrel, pulled down by caution that a rally that lasted for most of the third quarter would not extend through the last three months of the year. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were trading at $50 per barrel at 0417 GMT, down 42 cents, or 0.8 percent, from their last close. They fell below $50 per barrel earlier in the session. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were down 38 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $55.62 a barrel. Traders said the drops came over concerns that a third-quarter market rally that had lifted Brent to mid-2015 highs by late September had been overdone.

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Houston Chronicle

October 3, 2017

Drillers choke off dollars to Permian Basin operations

Rising production costs, high acreage prices and a shareholder push for financial discipline have dramatically slowed the land rush in the Permian Basin, one of the world’s most active oil fields. Drillers spent $35 billion in West Texas over a nine-month period that ended in early spring. By comparison, the collective value of land deals of the last six months is less than $5 billion, energy research firm Wood Mackenzie reports. Shortly after OPEC announced plans to curb global crude supplies, oil prices rose and drillers made a flurry of acquisitions in the Permian, willing to pay high prices to lease land that sits atop multiple stacked layers of oil-soaked rock that could ultimately yield another 70 billion barrels of crude in coming decades. But that multibillion-dollar push, prodded along by outside investors, couldn’t last forever.

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Houston Chronicle

October 3, 2017

New York fund paying $1.83 billion for Permian oil pipelines

New York investment fund Global Infrastructure Partners will pay $1.83 billion for the Permian Basin’s largest privately owned network of crude oil pipelines. GIP is buying the Medallion gathering and processing system of pipelines that spans more than 800 miles from The Energy & Minerals Group, which is based out of Houston, and Oklahoma-based Laredo Petroleum. Medallion Gathering & Processing will keep its name and leadership, operating out of Irving as a GIP subsidiary.

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Times of India

October 3, 2017

Valero’s Port Arthur, Texas refinery repairing fire-damaged tank: sources

Valero Energy Corp was repairing a feed tank damaged in a Sept. 19 fire at its 335,000 barrel per day (bpd) Port Arthur, Texas, oil refinery on Tuesday, sources familiar with plant operations said. Valero also on Tuesday shut a 45,000 bpd hydrocracking unit at the Port Arthur refinery for a planned overhaul that may last up to a month, the sources said. A Valero spokeswoman did not reply to messages seeking information about operations at the refinery. Repairing the tank will allow Valero to restart the smaller of two crude distillation units (CDUs), which has been shut since the blaze, the sources said.

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Texas Monthly

October 2, 2017

Exxon Loses Top Spot in Annual Oil Giant Power Rankings

ExxonMobil is no longer the top energy company in the world, at least according to one annual power ranking. The Irving-based company lost its grip on first place in the Platts Top 250 energy company rankings after being the top dog for twelve straight years. The new power rankings came out last week, and Exxon was knocked from the top spot by state-owned Russian company Gazprom, falling all the way down to ninth, according to Yahoo Finance. San Antonio-based Valero was the only other U.S. company in the top ten, at number eight on the list, down from number three last year. According to Yahoo, Gazprom flew up the rankings because of its state ownership and its captured market in Europe for its natural gas, as well as its ability to weather sanctions, regulatory threats from the EU, and low oil and gas prices. Exxon was hit particularly hard by a drop in oil prices, suggests Platts.

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CNBC

October 2, 2017

Oil prices are heading into what has been an ugly part of the year

The sharp declines in oil futures on Monday put the commodity on pace to confirm a trend that has held in many fourth quarters past: U.S. crude does not typically perform well in the final three months of the year. Oil prices have been on a tear lately, rising on the back of improved demand forecasts and geopolitical tension. International Brent crude posted its best third-quarter performance since 2004. Meanwhile, U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude notched its best three-month gain since the second quarter of last year. On Monday, both benchmarks were down about $1 a barrel. To get a sense of the likelihood that oil can rally into the end of the year, CNBC performed a study using hedge fund analytics tool Kensho to see how U.S. crude typically performs in the fourth quarter.

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CNBC

October 2, 2017

The market’s worst-performing sector is about to rebound, top strategist Lee predicts

Energy stocks may be bottoming as a number of bullish historical signals herald a potential reversal for the worst-performing S&P 500 sector this year, according to Tom Lee of Fundstrat Gloabl Advisors. Energy stocks are currently a “style orphan” because they are not cheap enough for value investors and aren’t delivering enough upward momentum for growth investors, the closely followed Wall Street bull said in a research note on Friday. However, Lee is monitoring the energy sector for signs that a value recovery has reached “escape velocity.” The S&P 500 Energy sector is down more than 9 percent this year while the S&P 500 is up more than 12 percent.

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San Antonio Business Journal

September 27, 2017

Abraxas Petroleum selling last of its Powder River Basin oil leases

San Antonio-based oil company Abraxas Petroleum Corp. is taking the final step in selling non-core assets that will help it focus on the Permian Basin, Eagle Ford and Bakken. In an investors presentation filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this week, Abraxas (Nasdaq: AXAS) reported that the company has sold $40.1 million worth of non-care assets since January 2016 but still has one last property for sale. After successfully selling other leases and assets in deep South Texas and the Powder River Basin, the company is now seeking to sell its 947 acres of oil leases in the Porcupine-Frazier Federal area of Campbell County, Wyoming.

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UPI

October 2, 2017

KBR to work at gas sites in Algeria hit by terror attacks in recent years

Engineering company KBR said Monday it would support construction activity for gas operations in Algeria at two sites hit in terrorist attacks in recent years. KBR, which has headquarters in Texas, said it was awarded a contract for management support services by a joint venture between British energy BP, Algerian energy company Sonatrach and Norwegian major Statoil. “Under the terms of the contract, KBR will provide detail design engineering, procurement services, as well as construction management at the major gas developments at In Salah Gas and In Amenas,” the company stated Monday. Algeria has the 10th-largest natural gas deposits in the world and is the third-largest supplier to Europe. Its exports have been in decline, however, because of lagging foreign investments.

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Houston Chronicle

October 3, 2017

Struggling Corpus Christi plastics plant project may close

M&G, a financially struggling plastics plant under construction in Corpus Christi, will shut down and eliminate jobs unless the Italian parent company receives an influx of funding and liquidity. The more-than-$1 billion jumbo plastics plant, owned by Italy’s Mossi & Ghisolfi Group, will close within two months, cutting about 100 jobs in the process, unless something changes, M&G informed the Texas Workforce Commission. The warning comes a couple of weeks after construction contractor Fluor, of Irving, said it was cutting 275 jobs at the construction site and pulling out because of M&G’s inaction and financial woes. Also, M&G announced last week it may close its West Virginia chemicals plant.

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Houston Business Journal

September 25, 2017

Blank-check co. led by former Schlumberger, Weatherford execs files for $300M IPO

Sentinel Energy Services Inc. is the latest special purpose acquisition company — commonly called a blank-check company — to file for an initial public offering in Houston, and it has some major energy executives at the helm. Sentinel, which is incorporated in the Cayman Islands but has its main offices in Houston, plans to offer 30 million units priced at $10 each. Underwriters also will have a 45-day option to purchase up to an additional 4.5 million units. Citigroup and Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC are serving as underwriters, according to Sentinel’s filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company has applied to list its units on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the symbol “STNLU.”

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Associated Press

September 29, 2017

Disputed East Coast pipeline likely to expand

The developers of a disputed natural gas pipeline on the U.S. East Coast are considering a major expansion of the project into South Carolina, according to remarks made by an energy company executive and interviews with others in the industry. Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline said that raises questions about whether Dominion Energy, the project’s lead developer, has withheld important information from the public and whether the pipeline is even needed as initially proposed. But business leaders say the pipeline would help lower energy costs and boost economic development in South Carolina. Dan Weekley, Dominion Energy’s vice president and general manager of Southern pipeline operations, told attendees at a recent energy conference “everybody knows” the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — currently slated to pass through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina — is not going to stop there, despite what the current plans say.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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Globes (Israel)

October 1, 2017

Tamar gas field finally back to full production

The Tamar partners had not announced last week that there would be a further three-delay in the return to full production. The Tamar natural gas reservoir resumed full production three days late. The Tamar partnership announced that the supply of 50% of the maximum amount of gas had been resumed, and that the supply “would be gradually increased over the next 24 hours until the maximum is reached.” This did not actually happen until today however, sources inform “Globes,” and the partners did not issue a notice about the delay in returning to full production.

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Denver Business Journal

September 30, 2017

Denver-based online back-office firm for oil and gas sector grows with a new deal

Denver-based Transzap Inc. — better known as Oildex and a big player when it comes to handling the accounts payable of oil and gas companies — is getting bigger. The company announced Thursday it’s purchased Houston’s Phoenix DAS, a software company that enables oil field service companies to manage their operations electronically rather than by old-school paper tickets. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The two companies have had a partnership since earlier this year to support Oildex’s electronic field ticket initiative. Transzap said the deal also “sets the stage” for Oildex to smooth electronic communications between oil and gas operators and their suppliers, from sourcing through final payment.

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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.” … “The historic rainfall and flooding presented unique challenges for our power plant operations and personnel,” NRG said. “The external coal pile at W.A. Parish became so saturated with rainwater that coal was unable to be delivered into the silos from the conveyer system. In response to that situation, we transferred W.A. Parish Unit 5 and Unit 6 to natural gas rather than coal as the fuel source. These units haven’t used natural gas for operational purposes since 2009.”

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RTO Insider

October 2, 2017

Texas PUC Resistant to NextEra’s Minority Interest in Oncor

Having thrice been rejected in its attempts to acquire Oncor Electric Delivery earlier this year, NextEra Energy is now making a long-shot bid to acquire a minority ownership in Texas’ largest electric utility. However, the state’s Public Utility Commission has been resistant. During an open meeting Thursday, it invited Texas utilities to file amicus briefs and comments to help the commission determine whether Oncor should be a party to the proceeding (Docket 47453). NextEra and Texas Transmission Holdings Corp. (TTHC) filed a joint application with the PUC in July seeking permission to complete an acquisition of TTHC’s 19.75% interest in Oncor. However, staff in August ruled the application deficient, saying neither applicant is a public utility under state regulations and that the case should not proceed without Oncor’s involvement.

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HuffPost

October 3, 2017

How Hurricane Responders Track People Whose Lives Depend On Power

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, large swaths of Florida went without power for days. Sweaty and frustrating for millions, the lack of electricity could have been deadly for tens of thousands of mostly elderly Floridians who rely on home health equipment such as oxygen concentrators, ventilators, motorized wheelchairs and dialysis machines. But in much of the state, first responders and public health officials knew exactly where the most vulnerable residents lived and what their medical needs were. That’s because Florida, like a handful of other hurricane-prone states, requires counties to create registries of residents who are most vulnerable to severe storms and the prolonged power outages that follow them. Some states also maintain their own databases of medically fragile residents.

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Austin Monitor

October 3, 2017

Austin Energy to turn over Holly Power Plant site by December

The bitter reminder of decades of pollution that the Holly Street Power Plant presents to the residents of the Holly neighborhood will soon disappear. As of the Parks and Recreation Board meeting on Sept. 26, the plant is in its final phase of decommissioning before the land will be transferred from Austin Energy into the hands of the Parks and Recreation Department. Nine acres of land will be transferred to Parks and Recreation once the final cleanup is complete. Currently, Austin Energy is removing the remaining concrete and continuing with its soil cleanup to ensure that the eradication of toxins complies with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality criteria. According to Eric Stager, a senior environmental scientist for Austin Energy, “For future Parks land, we are cleaning up to the strictest residential standards.”

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Platts

October 3, 2017

US DOE proposal for FERC market reforms draws heavy fire at GCPA

The US Department of Energy’s proposal that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission revamp organized power markets to compensate coal-fired and nuclear generation for their reliability and resilience attributes drew sharp criticism Tuesday at a Gulf Coast Power Association conference in Austin. During a CEO roundtable, Pat Wood, former FERC chairman and current Dynegy chairman, said it was an unwelcome present. He noted the irony of Secretary of Energy Rick Perry — who as Texas governor oversaw the development of Texas’ wholesale and retail power markets — calling for what Wood called a “cost-of-service” regulatory model for coal and nuclear generation.

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Washington Examiner

October 3, 2017

Electricity industry, government monitor Las Vegas shooting for possible broader threat

A security partnership between the electric utility industry and the federal government is monitoring the situation in Las Vegas after a shooter killed at least 58 people and injured hundreds more in a rampage Sunday night. The Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council, or ESCC, which was created to protect the nation’s power grid from physical or cyberattacks, said it is “tied into [the Department of Homeland Security] and monitoring the situation,” said Scott Aaronson, the Edison Electric Institute’s executive director for security and part of the ESCC secretariat, in a statement to the Washington Examiner. “Should anything be relevant to the electricity sector, we will be communicating that to our community,” he added. The Edison Electric Institute is the lead trade association for the investor-owned utility sector. The electricity council is made up of power company CEOs and government officials.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

CNBC

October 3, 2017

Saudi Arabia opens bidding for its first utility-scale solar power plant

UAE-based Abu Dhabi Future Energy (Masdar) and EDF Energies Nouvelles, a wholly-owned unit of France-based EDF, have submitted the lowest bid to build the first utility-scale solar plant in Saudi Arabia, results seen by Reuters show. The 300-megawatt solar photovoltaic project is in Sakaka, the Al Jouf Province in the north of the kingdom. The two companies submitted a joint bid for a levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of 6.69 halalas/per kilowatt-hour (kWh)($0.0178/ kWh ). Saudi-based Acwa Power came second with 8.78 halalas/ kWh. The bid measure comprises the cost of generating a megawatt-hour of electricity; the upfront capital and development cost; the cost of equity and debt finance and operating and maintenance fees.

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Regulatory Stories

San Antonio Express-News

October 3, 2017

EPA misses deadline on ozone, leaving San Antonio without answers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has missed a key deadline to say whether San Antonio’s air meets smog standards, as local leaders grapple with what they can do without state and federal support. The EPA had planned to make an official designation on Oct. 1 on whether the air in three-dozen cities meets the health standard for ozone, a key ingredient in smog. Currently, 38 areas in the U.S. officially do not meet the standard, according to EPA slides published by news outlet Inside EPA. The EPA had said in June it would push the deadline back to 2018, then did an about-face after 16 Democratic attorneys general and environmental groups filed lawsuits.

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Washington Post

October 3, 2017

Fancy dinners, far-flung speeches: Calendars detail EPA chief’s close ties to industry

During his seven months in office, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has filled his days meeting with executives from many of the companies he regulates, while all but sidestepping environmental and public health groups. But the face time with industry representatives has extended well beyond his Washington office. ADVERTISING On April 26, for example, Pruitt had lunch with executives from Southern, one of the nation’s biggest coal-burning utilities. They dined at Equinox, a restaurant near the White House, where the baby-carrot-and-red-beet salad with shrimp runs $28. Later that day, Pruitt met with senior leaders at Alliance Resource Partners, a major coal-mining operation, for a dinner at BLT Prime, a steakhouse in the Trump International Hotel, just across from EPA headquarters.

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Bloomberg

October 2, 2017

Trump May Have Found Paths to Save Coal and Hobble Clean Energy

President Donald Trump may soon have a chance to prove wrong the notion that economics will kill the U.S. coal industry and keep clean energy thriving. Two initiatives pending in Washington — one to prop up large traditional power plants and a second to impose tariffs on solar panels — could let Trump upend wholesale electricity markets and tip the advantage away from renewables. The moves, which both invoke laws that haven’t been used in a decade, come as Congress begins debating a White House tax plan that may undermine a key source of financing for clean energy. Together, they raise questions about whether falling costs will be enough to keep wind and solar thriving under a president intent on supporting fossil fuels.

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Washington Post

September 29, 2017

The Energy 202: Zinke suggests solar power may not best use of public land

Despite saying in speeches that he happens “to love the coal miners” but that wind power “kills all the birds,” the Trump administration’s official policy is ostensibly to pursue an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. Under such a policy, as it’s described, the government does not pick winners and losers in the marketplace. Private firms are free to develop the energy source they determine to be the most economical. The more sources of electricity and fuel there are domestically, the thinking goes, the less dependent the United States is on other nations to meet its energy needs. Or as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke put it in a March television interview: “Producing energy domestically and reasonable regulation is far better than watching it being produced overseas with no regulation.”

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Wall St. Journal

October 3, 2017

Trump Has Confidence in Tillerson, White House Says

The White House said Monday that President Donald Trump has confidence in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a day after Mr. Trump said the chief diplomat was “wasting his time” by trying to negotiate with North Korea. Mr. Tillerson disclosed over the weekend that the U.S. has had direct contact with Pyongyang and was trying to ascertain whether North Korean officials want to hold talks on their nuclear program. His statements, during a trip to Beijing to meet Chinese leaders, prompted Mr. Trump to tell Mr. Tillerson in a Twitter message that he should save his energy, and “we’ll do what has to be done.” The apparent disagreement prompted charges that the White House and State Department were at odds over a critical foreign policy issue, and that Mr. Trump had undercut his chief diplomat.

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National Geographic

September 29, 2017

Hidden Costs of Climate Change Running Hundreds of Billions a Year

Extreme weather, made worse by climate change, along with the health impacts of burning fossil fuels, has cost the U.S. economy at least $240 billion a year over the past ten years, a new report has found. And yet this does not include this past month’s three major hurricanes or 76 wildfires in nine Western states. Those economic losses alone are estimated to top $300 billion, the report notes. Putting it in perspective, $300 billion is enough money to provide free tuition for the 13.5 million U.S. students enrolled in public colleges and universities for four years. In the coming decade, economic losses from extreme weather combined with the health costs of air pollution spiral upward to at least $360 billion annually, potentially crippling U.S. economic growth, according to this new report, The Economic Case for Climate Action in the United States, published online Thursday by the Universal Ecological Fund.

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Washington Examiner

September 28, 2017

Energy Department needs to push harder on energy development: Study

The Energy Department is not pulling its weight when it comes to developing energy on its own lands, according to a new study from the National Academies of Sciences issued Thursday. On the other hand, the Interior Department, headed by Ryan Zinke, has led by example on that front, primarily on renewable energy development. “While other government agencies, such as the Department of the Interior, have examined and marketed opportunities to promote renewable resource development on public lands, [the Department of Energy] appears to have done much less,” according to the report that was sponsored by the Energy Department. It said the Department of Energy, now led by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, has the skills and technical ability to do a lot more.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 3, 2017

Lead Stories

San Antonio Express-News

October 2, 2017

Uresti loses bid to dismiss one of his 22 charges

A federal judge Monday rejected state Sen. Carlos Uresti’s request to dismiss one of the 22 charges against him in a case involving a now-defunct oil field services company. One of the San Antonio Democrat’s lawyers, Tab Turner, told Senior U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra that prosecutors failed to include enough facts to meet federal requirements for charging Uresti with acting as an unregistered securities broker. Uresti was charged in May in a 22-page indictment, and the charges also include securities fraud and wire fraud. He has denied the charges. Also charged in the case are former FourWinds Logistics CEO Stan Bates and company consultant Gary Cain. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Blackwell argued that there is enough in the indictment to let the charge remain.

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Texas Monthly

September 30, 2017

A New Approach to Wastewater Could Vaporize It Right Out of Existence

Treated water would need to be transported either by pipeline, a substantial capital investment, or by truck. All told, treating O&G wastewater at the well site and getting it to customers would likely be more expensive than just disposing of it. SeaChange Technologies has another idea—vaporizing the wastewater and releasing it into the atmosphere. Vaporizing wastewater would dramatically reduce the volume of waste that oil producers have to dispose of without the additional costs associated with treating the water and selling it to customers. One of SeaChange’s pilot-scale units can vaporize more than thirty barrels of water a day, enough to eliminate wastewater disposal needs for hundreds of thousands of stripper wells around the U.S. Two of these units can fit in a standard 20-foot shipping container, making it easy to scale up vaporization capacity for larger wells and move the vaporization units to other wells, as production dictates. Such a technology could be particularly beneficial for wells in remote locations where trucking costs for wastewater disposal are too expensive for production to continue.

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Alt Energy Stocks

September 28, 2017

Water Out Of Thin Air

Ambient Water Corporation (AWGI: OTC/PK) has been trying to make water from thin air with a patented technology management describes as ‘atmospheric water generation.’ Actually, the technology simple extracts and concentrates water vapors from the air. The moisture is chilled to the ‘dew point’ and then condensed in stainless steel coils that channel the water droplets to a filtering chamber. The system can work even in localities and weather conditions where humidity is as low as 30%. Ambient’s current system requires connection to an electric grid, but future models are expected to be compatible with wind or solar power sources. It is a bit ironic that Ambient’s first commercial demonstration of its 400 and 800 Models is in Houston, Texas. The units were installed at the Applied Cryo Technologies plant, where the water will be used by the company for everyday use. The first demonstration using the Model 400 began in January 2015, and then a second demonstration was started in September 2016 with the specialized Model 800 intended for use in water scares regions.

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The Conversation

September 25, 2017

Nathwani: Solar power alone won’t solve energy or climate needs

Recent reports that solar capacity will soon exceed nuclear capacity reveal an important fact. It also hides a crucial distinction needed to understand the context of energy production, and use and consequences of choices among supply options for the future. As executive director of the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE) and lead author of the Equinox Blueprint Energy 2030, a technological roadmap for a low-carbon electrified future, I have investigated energy options, alternatives and their utility. I have also found that people get confused with terminology. Capacity installed in kilowatts (kW) is not equal to energy produced in kilowatt hours (kWh)—and the energy services we demand and pay for (such as cooking, cooling, lighting, entertainment) is measured in kilowatt hours. For large-scale, industrial purposes, output is measured in megawatt hours (MWh) or gigawatt hours (GWh). The technical capacity of any energy technology to deliver useful energy is measured as energy output. Because of the efficiency of energy conversion, solar energy output tends to be low. Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-09-solar-power-wont-energy-climate.html#jCp

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

October 3, 2017

Oil prices fall for a second day on oversupply concerns

Oil prices fell on Tuesday, declining for a second day and sapping more strength from a third-quarter rally, amid signs that a global glut in crude may not be clearing as quickly as some had hoped. U.S. crude was down 14 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $50.44 a barrel by 0149 GMT, after closing the previous session down $1.09, or 2.1 percent. The U.S. benchmark posted a third quarter gain of around 12 percent, its strongest quarterly climb since the second quarter of 2016, but has now dropped nearly 5 percent from a six-month high reached on Thursday. Brent crude, the global benchmark, was down 19 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $55.93 a barrel. The contract fell 67 cents, or 1.2 percent, in the last session.

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San Antonio Express-News

October 2, 2017

Texas, other states will collaborate on oil field-related earthquake research

Researchers in some of the biggest oil producing states are starting to collaborate with each other to monitor and study earthquakes caused by oil field activity. A regional induced sesimicity collaborative will launch this week with scientists from Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Kansas, scientists at the University of Texas at Austin said. The idea is to link up researchers across states so they can share information and use similar methods, said Michael Young at the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, who spoke at an energy journalism conference on campus last week. Scientists are working to understand how processes tied to oil and gas development can cause once-quiet geologic faults to slip and cause shaking on the surface.

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Midland Reporter-Telegram

October 1, 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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Midland Reporter-Telegram

October 1, 2017

USGS geologist details survey’s Permian assessments

Revisiting a scene can often yield significant new insights. Such is the case of the U.S. Geological Survey and its assessment of undiscovered continuous resources in the Midland and Delaware Basins. Stephanie Gaswirth, research geologist with the survey, speaking at the West Texas Geological Society’s annual fall symposium, cited the example of the survey’s 2007 assessments. She said an assessment released by the survey in 2007 found: – 190 million barrels of reserves in five conventional Wolfcamp benches, – 53 million barrels in the Bone Spring, – 20 million barrels in the Spraberry and – 510 million barrels in the Spraberry Continuous.

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Facing South

September 29, 2017

Federal lawsuit says Texas pipeline firm ‘strong-armed’ landowners, protesters

Four Pennsylvania residents filed a federal lawsuit this week against Texas-based pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), claiming the Fortune 500 company and its subsidiaries violated their constitutional rights by engaging in illegal surveillance and harassment against landowners and pipeline protesters and caused emotional distress and other harm. The suit, which seeks compensatory damages, also names ETP’s private security provider, North Carolina-based TigerSwan, as well as local law enforcement officers who arrested pipeline opponents on charges that ultimately were not prosecuted. It claims that energy companies like ETP are increasingly relying on de facto public-private partnerships with government to “strong-arm” opponents into silence with false arrests and malicious prosecution.

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The Street

October 2, 2017

Oil Stocks Are Now The Smart Play on Higher Oil Prices Says Goldman Sachs

Oil prices roared back into a bull market last quarter, despite dips in recent sessions, and yet oil company equities have lagged those gains, opening up a performance gap that Goldman Sachs believes could make shares the smart play on long-term oil prices of $50 to $55 a barrel. “The headwinds for the equities have now largely played out: energy has been the worst performing sector in MSCI World, with relative performance of energy equities in the US & Europe lagging their normal relationship with the oil price,” analysts including Peter Hackworth wrote in a note published Monday. … “Big Oils’ competitive positioning has structurally improved, owing to better access to low-cost barrels, simpler developments and more favorable tax terms,” wrote Goldman’s analysts. “The European majors now have better FCF coverage at $52/bl than they had at >$100/bl, which. Risk-reward is therefore skewed to the upside in our view, with strong 3Q results, capex cuts and scrip removal the main catalysts.”

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Reuters

October 2, 2017

Laredo to sell Permian pipeline unit stake for $825 million

Oil and gas producer Laredo Petroleum (LPI.N) said on Monday it would sell its stake in a Permian pipeline unit for $825 million, lower than some industry estimates and prodding the company’s shares down nearly 8 percent. Laredo and private equity firm Energy & Minerals Group said they would sell the unit, Medallion Gathering & Processing LLC, for $1.83 billion to infrastructure fund Global Infrastructure Partners. Williams Capital Group analyst Gabriele Sorbara said Laredo’s estimated net proceeds of $825 million missed the brokerage’s expectation of $892 million and Wall Street’s expectations of as much as $1.25 billion.

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Oil Price

September 30, 2017

Another U.S. LNG Export Project To Come Online In Q4

Liquefied natural gas, long the domain of foreign producers like Qatar, has come to the U.S., with many LNG projects in the works. In general, these projects are progressing quickly, and several have released recent updates on their operations. While most planned LNG facilities are located in either Louisiana or Texas, a few will be constructed outside of the Gulf. One of these, Dominion Energy’s (ticker: D) Cove Point in Maryland, is queued to become the second major U.S. LNG export facility to begin shipping cargoes, following Cheniere Energy (ticker: LNG) which in February 2016 became the first LNG export project to begin shipping liquefied U.S. natural gas to international customers.

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Oil Price

September 28, 2017

$60 Oil Could Revive The Eagle Ford

The world’s hottest shale play right now, the Permian, is boosting its oil production and contributing the most to the U.S. crude output growth. Meanwhile, Texas’ other shale play, the once-hot Eagle Ford, has cooled, turning thriving communities into ghost towns. The economic impact of the oil price crash is plainly seen across the counties in and around the Eagle Ford. Small business owners began struggling after the oil boom turned to gloom in 2014. Ghost towns and abandoned plots now bear the scars of the downturn, Bloomberg’s Dan Murtaugh and photographer Max Burkhalter report. Photos of what could easily be mistaken for the set of The Walking Dead document how the Eagle Ford-related economy has suffered through the oil price crash. Still, the business owners who spoke to Bloomberg called the bottom of the downturn a few months ago, and report signs of a rebound lately.

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LaCrosse Tribune (WI)

September 30, 2017

Less oil on the rails, but fears persist as old tank cars remain

The deluge of oil trains rolling through La Crosse three years ago has slowed to a trickle as the bulk of North Dakota’s oil production now moves through pipelines, helping the rail industry comply with new federal safety regulations. That has assuaged some concerns, though rail safety and environmental advocates remain vigilant over ongoing threats from other hazardous materials on the rails. A new report from the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows rail shippers are on track to meet a 2018 deadline to stop hauling crude oil in old, unprotected tank cars, but tens of thousands of those DOT-111 cars remain in service hauling ethanol and other flammable liquids.

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Houston Chronicle

October 2, 2017

Fuel prices continue stubbornly slow fall

Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on Texas’ fuel production and supplies, but gasoline costs continue to slowly fall as the industry rebounds and the nation’s fuel inventories come back into balance. Houston-area fuel prices are down to $2.39 for a gallon of regular unleaded, a 3-cent dip in the last week, while the national average is down more than 2 cents to about $2.53. Still, Houston prices remain about 29 cents higher than before Harvey made landfall, while the national average is still up by more than 20 cents. The Category 4 hurricane knocked almost almost 25 percent of the nation’s oil refining capacity to churn out fuels along the Texas Gulf Coast. But nearly all of those refineries have since reopened and less than 5 percent of the nation’s capacity remains offline.

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Houston Business Journal

September 27, 2017

Former El Paso CEO’s new energy co. acquires local companies, eyes more deals

Houston-based Tally Energy Services launched earlier this year with a “buy and build strategy” to acquire U.S. companies that offer technical oil field products and services. It’s specifically focused on directional drilling, completion equipment and artificial lift and is looking for companies with opportunities for growth, consolidation and differentiation, according to a Sept. 26 press release. So far, the company has made two acquisitions: Houston-based Terra Directional Services, a full-service directional drilling company specializing in horizontal wells for shale projects throughout the U.S., and Conroe-based Tech-Flo Consulting, a worldwide supplier of hydraulic lift systems that made the Houston Business Journal’s Fast 100 List in 2014 and the Inc. 5000 list in 2013.

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Dallas Morning News

September 29, 2017

Dallas man pleads guilty in $1.3 million oil and gas embezzlement scheme

A Dallas man pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of mail fraud in a $1.3 million oil and gas embezzlement scheme, U.S. Attorney John Parker said in a written statement. Kristopher Brian Anderson, 32, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and could be ordered to pay restitution. Sentencing is set for Jan. 11. Anderson was hired in May 2014 by Pivotal Petroleum Services as the company’s corporate controller. He was responsible for the accounting operations of both that company and Pivotal Petroleum Partners II LP. Anderson created Empery Resource Consultants, LLC, through which he claimed fictitious petroleum “landmen” services to embezzle money from his employers, the statement said.

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Houston Chronicle

September 30, 2017

Sweeny residents’ lawsuit blames Phillips 66 for Harvey flooding

About 350 residents who suffered flood damages near Sweeny are suing Phillips 66 for damming nearby bayous during Hurricane Harvey and allegedly diverting floodwaters into homes. The plaintiffs from the small city southwest of Houston claim Phillips 66 employees erected temporary dams at the Linnville and Little Linnville bayous to prevent petroleum and chemical leaks at its Sweeny refining and petrochemical complex. The lawsuit alleges the Houston-based energy giant knew the efforts would cause nearby homes to flood, but that they did so anyway without notifying local communities. Phillips 66 and its joint venture with Chevron, Chevron Phillips Chemical, deny the claims. Sweeny counts a population of about 3,800 people.

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Utilities Stories

Union of Concerned Scientists

September 30, 2017

One Lesson For DOE From Harvey & Maria: Fossil Fuels Aren’t Always Reliable

Recently, new debates have arisen regarding the more contentious but less-relevant (and erroneous) argument that “base-load” plants are the single best provider of grid reliability. In a market where coal-burning plants are losing money and closing, coal’s champions argue that a long list of reliability features of coal are unique and valuable. Now that the owner of the W.A. Parish plant in south Texas reported it shifted 1,300 MW of capacity from coal to gas due to rainfall and flooding disrupting power plant operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, yet another of these claims about the unique advantages of coal for electricity has been muddied by facts. Plant owner NRG reported to the Public Utility Commission of Texas that W.A. Parish units 5 and 6 were switched to burn natural gas due to water saturating the coal. The subbituminous coal stored on site is supposed to be a reliability advantage, according to those pushing coal. As that debate heats up (the DOE is seeking vague and unspecified changes to compensation in the electricity markets for plants that have a fuel supply on-site), the too-simple notion that reliability is created by power plants rather than grid operations that integrate all sources will be put to the test.

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UPI

October 2, 2017

‘Fuel-secure’ steps in Washington counterintuitive, green group says

A proposal to address what the Trump administration outlined as threats to traditional energy sources is counterintuitive, sustainable energy supporters said. The U.S. Department of Energy said last week it was calling on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to change how the wholesale electricity sector works by offering compensation for “traditional” power generators. In a letter to FERC, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said there’s been a “significant” loss to traditional baseload generation over the last six years. According to Energy Department estimates, about 37 gigawatts worth of coal power was retired over the period and 34.4 GW more is under threat. The next largest set of planned retirements will come from the nuclear power sector, the department said.

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Utility Dive

October 2, 2017

DOE rulemaking threatens to destroy wholesale markets with no tangible benefit

The Department of Energy’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) to FERC, directing the Commission to issue new tariff rules that reward certain (coal and nuclear) resources for so called “resilience” benefits, fails to demonstrate how it will improve resilience while threatening to upend the very markets it purports to protect. The nearly unprecedented NOPR requires FERC to establish a tariff and “recovery of costs and a return on equity” for plants that have “a 90-day fuel supply on site,” which they argue would enable the plants “to operate during an emergency, extreme weather conditions, or a natural or man-made disaster.” According to the NOPR, “compensable costs shall include, but not be limited to, operating and fuel expenses, costs of capital and debt, and a fair return on equity and investment.”

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Grist

September 29, 2017

Puerto Rico had towering landfills and coal ash pollution. Then, Maria hit.

Flooding poses an even greater threat to the island’s coal ash waste sites. Puerto Rico has nearly nearly 40 toxic dumps, most of them dotting the natural landscape along the island’s picturesque southeastern coast. This byproduct of burning coal for energy is full of dangerous metals, like lead and arsenic. And when ash mixes with water and soil, it boosts their concentration of those toxic elements, making them much less safe. Water and soil contamination is a huge concern surrounding a five-story pile of coal ash in Guayama. We still don’t know for certain if Maria blew it away, washed it away, or miraculously spared it. The waste comes from a coal-fired plant run by the multinational corporation Applied Energy Systems. And according to a 2016 analysis paid for by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it contains levels of heavy metals that may “exceed up to 9,000 times federal safety standards upon contact with liquids and soil.”

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

New York Times

October 2, 2017

G.M. and Ford Lay Out Plans to Expand Electric Models

In a push to produce cars powered by batteries or fuel cells, General Motors on Monday laid out a strategy to vastly expand the number of electric models in the marketplace. G.M. said it would introduce two new all-electric models within 18 months as part of a broader plan toward what the company says is its ultimate goal of an emissions-free fleet. The two models will be the first of at least 20 new all-electric vehicles that G.M. plans to bring out by 2023. The announcement came a day before a long-scheduled investor presentation by Ford Motor that was also expected to emphasize electric models. After the G.M. news emerged, Ford let loose its own plan, saying it would add 13 electrified models in the next several years.

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Phys Org

September 29, 2017

Bioreactors on a chip renew promises for algal biofuels

For over a decade, companies have promised a future of renewable fuel from algae. Investors interested in moving the world away from fossil fuel have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the effort, and with good reason. Algae replicate quickly, requiring little more than water and sunlight to accumulate to massive amounts, which then convert atmospheric CO2 into lipids (oils) that can be harvested and readily processed into biodiesel. Despite high-profile demonstrations, promises have fallen short, and start-ups have revised business models to include production of specialty lipids, such as those used in cosmetics and soaps. Yet the dream of producing commercial-scale renewable energy persists, as new technologies emerge that might finally lead algal biofuels toward a competitive niche in the marketplace. One of many improvements necessary for sustainable production of algal biofuel is the development of better algae. This week, researchers from Boyce Thompson Institute and Texas A&M University report in Plant Direct exciting new technology that may revolutionize the search for the perfect algal strain: Algal droplet bioreactors on a chip.

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Des Moines Register

September 28, 2017

Iowa View — Swanson: Industrial wind turbines are a horrible nuisance

Industrial wind installations are being proposed across Iowa. In the counties where residents are keeping track, it has become clear that these projects are being driven by absentee landowners 85 percent of the time. Many other states see this trend as well. Industrial wind turbines are a horrible nuisance. One wind company offers a contract with a small, one-time payment to people who live within a half-mile of the project area, giving the company “exclusive easement on, over, under and across all of the owner’s property to permit generating units or other wind energy conversion systems on adjacent property or elsewhere to cast shadows or flicker onto the owner’s property; impact view or visual effects from the owner’s property; and cause or emit noise, vibration, air turbulence, wake, and electromagnetic and frequency interference.” (Invenergy neighbor agreement, 2015)

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Wired

September 26, 2017

Can this Tesla alum build the world’s greenest battery?

AT TESLA, PETER Carlsson spent nearly five years at Elon Musk’s side, locating various parts of the Model S as the electric car company’s global supply chain manager. “The overarching goal of Tesla is to help reduce carbon emissions, and that means low cost and high volume,” Musk said back in 2006. “We will also serve as an example to the auto industry, proving that the technology really works and customers want to buy electric vehicles.” Now, as Tesla builds its Gigafactory in the Nevada desert, the company is recapitulating that mission, aiming to reduce not just the energy consumed by its cars, but the energy used to build its battery in the first place. Tesla says the factory will employ rooftop solar and wind turbines for energy, along with a closed loop water system. But Carlsson, who left Silicon Valley in 2015 for his native Sweden, wants to make his own progress toward the goal of green batteries.

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Regulatory Stories

San Antonio Express-News

October 2, 2017

Residents: Tests find toxic chemicals after Texas plant fire

Tests detected toxic substances in soil, water and ash samples taken miles from a chemical plant that flooded during Hurricane Harvey, caught fire and partially exploded, nearly 20 Houston-area residents said Monday. The findings were disclosed in a letter the residents’ lawyers mailed to the chief executive of the plant’s owner, France-based Arkema Inc., and several regulatory agencies, giving notice that they planned to sue. The letter accused Arkema of violating multiple environmental protection laws because of unauthorized chemical spills and releases that happened when the company failed to properly store and contain its organic peroxides before and after six feet of water overwhelmed the facility.

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Houston Business Journal

September 28, 2017

Houston Ship Channel ‘in desperate need’ of dredging after Harvey

The Houston Ship Channel reopened within days of Hurricane Harvey’s tropical storms leaving the area, but work still needs to be done to address the damages left behind. At its monthly meeting this week, the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority proactively approved an additional payment of up to $2 million to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Harvey-related dredging expenses, according to a press release. “We are in desperate need of additional relief to properly dredge the channel so that it can accommodate normal commerce at its authorized depth and width,” Commission Chairman Janiece Longoria said at the meeting, per the release. The massive flooding carried silt into the channel and deposited 10 feet of sediment in some places, Longoria said, per the release.

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Forbes

September 27, 2017

Conca: Renewable Energy Tax Credits – Forever?

Maybe not, but certainly for a long time – according to the new published U.S. Renewable Energy Brief. The Brief, published by CohnReznick Renewable Energy Industry and CohnReznick Capital, concludes that the renewable energy tax equity market is in an extremely healthy state, and is growing yearly. $11 billion was raised or committed in 2016, up significantly from the $6.5 billion in 2013, according to J.P. Morgan. New investors continue to enter the market. There are now over 45 active providers of tax equity for renewable systems. Older providers are becoming more comfortable and confident that the market will continue to grow for some years, especially since Red States get more renewable subsidies than Blue States.

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Victoria Advocate

September 29, 2017

Formosa releases most chemicals in region after hurricane

Imagine 13 elephants floating over Calhoun County. Formosa recently released more than 160,000 pounds – or the equivalent of 13 elephants – of chemicals, some of which are carcinogens, into the air. These emissions are rarely discussed among residents, whose livelihoods depend on the company. The plastic producer’s emissions are, if you will, the elephant in the room in a county where Formosa is working on a $5 billion expansion that will bring with it hundreds of jobs. The company is already one of Calhoun County’s biggest employers. As of Aug. 31, it provided more than 3,000 jobs, a mix of Formosa employees and outside contractors.

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Ars Technica

September 30, 2017

Energy Secretary proposes rule to make grid managers favor coal, nuclear

Today, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry directed the nation’s federal grid regulator to create rules favoring coal, hydroelectric, and nuclear generators. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) (PDF) stated that the Federal Energy Regulatory Council (FERC) must order grid operators to increase how they value “reliability and resilience attributes” in energy generation. Although no specific electricity sources were mentioned as beneficiaries of the rule, generating units that can hold a 90-day supply of fuel on site would be favored. Coal, nuclear, and hydroelectric power plants fit the bill, and variably-generating renewable resources like wind and solar would be left out of whatever compensation scheme comes out of FERC’s rulemaking process.

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Washington Post

September 28, 2017

Trump administration reverses under legal pressure, requires measuring greenhouse gases from cars and trucks

Following a lawsuit by California and seven other states, the Trump administration has reversed course and instituted new regulations requiring that greenhouse gases from cars and trucks be measured and compared over time. The regulation was published two days before the Obama administration left office and was repeatedly delayed by President Trump’s Transportation Department. The transportation sector is one of the top sources of emissions causing global warming. “The Trump Administration backed down and will now implement the measure as is legally required,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) said in a statement this week. “Climate change is real. If President Trump is not prepared to admit it or to do his job of protecting our families by enforcing our environmental rules, then I’m prepared as Attorney General to call his bluff.”

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips October 2, 2017
Lead Stories

Houston Chronicle

September 29, 2017

How a Texas insurance lobbyist ended up in the anti-swamp Trump administration

Dan Brouillette – in the language of President Donald Trump – is a “swamp creature.” A sober-looking 55-year-old with a greying beard, Brouillette spent more than a decade as a staffer on Capitol Hill, learning how to make deals and get legislation moving. Then he took the connections he made and moved onto corporate lobbying, first for the automaker Ford Motor Co. and then with the Texas-based insurance giant United Services Automobile Association or USAA. It would not be a notable story in Washington, where movements between public service and the private sector have long been the norm. Except now he is back in government again — as Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s deputy — at a time Trump is promising to “drain the swamp” and rid the capital of the lobbyists and “deep state” bureaucrats who have long made Washington go.

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Reuters

September 28, 2017

Blackstone, Apollo team up for Westinghouse bid – sources

Private equity firms Blackstone Group LP and Apollo Global Management LLC have teamed up to bid for the business of bankrupt U.S. nuclear power plant services firm Westinghouse Electric Co, people familiar with the matter said. A successful deal would limit the financial hit to Japan’s Toshiba Corp, the owner of Westinghouse. Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in March, hit by billions of dollars of cost overruns at four nuclear reactors under construction in the U.S. Southeast. Westinghouse is working with investment bank PJT Partners Inc on a sale process, which is still at its early stages, the people said this week. A deal could value Westinghouse at close to $4 billion, the sources added.

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Reuters

September 28, 2017

U.S. lawmakers ask Facebook, Twitter for information on anti-fracking ads

A U.S. House committee investigating whether Russia has tried to influence U.S. public opinion on fossil fuels asked Facebook (FB.O), Twitter (TWTR.N) and Alphabet (GOOGL.O) on Wednesday to turn over information about Russian entities that may have bought anti-fracking advertisements. House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and climate change denier, asked the CEOs of the technology companies to turn over documents by Oct. 10 that detail the involvement of Russian-based or funded entities detected on their platforms, information on ads they purchased, and any communications concerning ads advocating for “so-called green initiatives.” Smith and the Republicans on the committee that oversees U.S. scientific agencies have targeted mainstream climate change scientists, questioning their integrity and calling for eliminating federal funding for climate research. They have also accused environmental groups of colluding with Russians to push for regulations to curb fossil fuel extraction.

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San Antonio Express-News

September 29, 2017

South Texas nuclear power plant granted license extension

A nuclear power plant that city-owned utility CPS Energy buys power from will now generate power into the mid-century. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the operating license extension request from the South Texas Nuclear Project Electric Generating Station Thursday after a six year review. The original 40-year operating licenses for the power plant’s two nuclear reactors were set to expire in 2027 and 2028. The extension will allow the reactors to operate until 2047 and 2048. The South Texas Project, as the power station is also known, provides 40 percent of its 2,700-megawatts to CPS. Houston-based NRG Energy owns a 44 percent stake in the facility while Austin Energy owns a 16 percent stake.

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Oil & Gas Stories

Associated Press

September 29, 2017

US Rig Count Increases by 5 to 940

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by five this week to 940. That’s up from the 522 rigs that were active a year ago. Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes said Friday that 750 rigs sought oil and 189 explored for natural gas this week. One was listed as miscellaneous. Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Utah gained four rigs and Louisiana increased by two. New Mexico and North Dakota each gained one. Oklahoma lost three rigs and Texas shed two.

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Houston Chronicle

September 29, 2017

Market Currents: Increasing imports/exports highlight U.S. Gulf recovery

It is now a little over a month after Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the US Gulf Coast. While some refineries are still in the process of ramping up activities, refining utilization is clambering higher towards historical norms. This improvement is being reflected through in higher crude and product flows, with product export activity looking particularly elasticated, snapping back close to whence it once was. The EIA reported refinery runs on the US Gulf Coast [in the week ended Sept. 23] rebounded to 8.15 million barrels per day, back in line with the five-year median. This is a rebound of over 2.4mn bpd from just two weeks ago, and further upside lies ahead in the coming weeks as refineries return to full strength, and strong crack spreads (aka profitability) encourage refiners to run as hard as they can, deferring maintenance where possible. This rebound in refining activity is reflected through in crude import volumes. After dropping to just 111,000 bpd in the week that Harvey made landfall, crude imports into Texas ports rebounded to over 1.1 million bpd last week. Conversely, Louisiana ports discharged 1.54 million bpd in the week following Harvey’s landfall – a 16-week high – as cargoes were diverted away from the storm.

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Dallas Business Journal

September 28, 2017

Three Texas colleges among world’s most innovative universities

Three Texas colleges made Reuters list of the world’s 100 most innovative universities. Austin’s University of Texas system, which includes the University of Texas at Dallas and UT Arlington, took the top spot among schools in the Lone Star state, ranking ninth. According to Reuters, the system spends nearly $3 billion in research in each year, and that it researchers have produced more than 120,000 publications. Locally, UT Arlington recently announced the founding of the Conrad Greer Lab, which will develop methods of compressing natural gas into high-grade diesel and jet fuel. And researchers at UT Dallas have invited a biomonitor for diabetes patients that measures glucose levels in sweat.

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Bloomberg

September 28, 2017

Profit-Hungry Traders Prowl Local Gas Hubs

Profit has become so much harder to come by in the huge U.S. market for natural gas that some traders are buying and selling in lesser-known local pipeline hubs, where bigger risks offer the promise of better rewards. Futures contracts traded in New York — a benchmark for U.S. prices — are seeing fewer of the big price swings that traders crave because of a prolonged domestic glut. But that isn’t the case in regional markets like Pennsylvania, Ohio or west Texas, where Mercuria Energy America Inc., Vitol Inc. and Trafigura Trading LLC are among those increasing bets on next-day gas deliveries, data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission show. As gas production surged in remote shale formations in recent years, pipelines were built to carry those supplies to high-demand areas and boost shipments to Canada, Mexico and coastal plants that converted the gas to liquid for export overseas.

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Houston Chronicle

September 29, 2017

Harvey abruptly changes economic fortunes, for better and worse

Cafe Benedicte, a popular eatery near Buffalo Bayou in the heart of the Energy Corridor, shared the pain of its oil industry neighbors during the oil downturn — and rejoiced with them in the recovery, as its dining room and patio filled again with guests. Then, Hurricane Harvey hit. The 12-year-old restaurant took on three feet of water, shutting the place down indefinitely. Vahid Navissi, the co-owner, had no choice but to plunge into debt to rebuild his business in an area where mansions had mushroomed as nearby companies added thousands of high-paid jobs, but now sit empty and molding. … Hurricane Harvey abruptly changed the fortunes of companies and industries across metropolitan Houston, leaving some that were prospering, such as Cafe Benedicte, struggling to survive, and others that were slumping, such as car dealers, with jolts of new business. In one of the ironies of economics, the Houston economy is likely to get a boost despite the widespread destruction and disruptions, as tens of billions of dollars in federal disaster relief and insurance payouts pour into the region.

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Daily Texan

September 27, 2017

$118 million sale of oil-populated land will fund UT, Texas A&M

A recent $118 million lease sale of state lands to oil companies will continue funding UT and Texas A&M universities through oil and natural gas wells. The lease of approximately 44,000 acres of land was announced last Thursday by University Lands, an entity that manages the surface and mineral interests of West Texas state lands that fund UT and A&M Systems through the Permanent University Fund. The Texas Constitution mandates two-thirds of the fund to the UT System, at least 45 percent of which goes to support maintenance and administrative costs at the UT-Austin campus. Karen Adler, director of media relations and communications programming of UT System, said the fund helps the UT System’s many students by fulfilling facility costs.

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Columbia Missourian

September 28, 2017

Dakota Access developer gives $15M toward security costs

The builder of the Dakota Access pipeline sent North Dakota $15 million on Thursday to help pay law enforcement bills related to months of sometimes violent protests over the project’s construction. Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners has wired the money, said Mike Nowatzki, a spokesman for Gov. Doug Burgum. Company investors also contributed, he said. The $3.8 billion pipeline began moving oil from North Dakota to a distribution point in Illinois in June. The project is still being contested in federal court by American Indian tribes who fear a leak could endanger their water supply, and protests from August to February resulted in a large-scale police response and more than 700 arrests.

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San Antonio Express News

September 28, 2017

Tribal head who led Dakota Access pipeline fight voted out

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault, who has been the face and voice of the Dakotas tribe during its long and futile attempt to block the four-state Dakota Access pipeline, has lost his bid for re-election. Unofficial results from Wednesday’s general tribal election showed that Dave Archambault received only 37 percent of about 1,700 votes cast. His opponent, longtime tribal councilman and wildlife official Mike Faith, received 63 percent. Archambault conceded defeat in a statement Thursday.

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Houston Chronicle

September 28, 2017

Chevron names new CEO with Watson set to retire

Chevron said Thursday it is promoting Michael Wirth to chairman and chief executive in February with longtime CEO John Watson set to retire. The expected move was first reported by the Wall Street Journal in August, and it allows a few more months for Wirth to transition into the top role of the nation’s second-largest energy giant. California-based Chevron telegraphed the move early this year when it added the vice chairman title to Wirth’s position as executive vice president of midstream and development.

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The Hill

September 28, 2017

Matthews: US energy is surviving hurricane season unscathed

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma killed dozens of Americans and caused tens of billions of dollars in property damage. But there’s one silver lining. The storms taught us three invaluable lessons about the U.S. energy market. We need more refineries scattered around the country. Harvey decimated the Gulf Coast, which accounts for about 55 percent of overall U.S. refining capacity. MarketWatch notes that three refineries were idled while 11 were trying to return to full operations. Federal regulations have made it harder and more expensive to build new refineries, which are needed more than ever to handle the fracking boom’s expanded oil and natural gas production. Many refining companies have simply settled for expanding and modernizing their existing plants, rather than building new ones.

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Metal Miner

September 29, 2017

BP Makes a Big Push into Fracking Outside of the U.S.

Fracking as a technology has been a spectacular success in transforming the energy landscape in the U.S., Elsewhere, however, it has failed to catch on, largely due to concerns about the environmental consequences of ground water pollution or sometimes, as in the U.K., by illogical worries about fracking causing tremors or earthquakes, concerns that environmental groups are only too keen to stoke up. Of all places, the Middle East would not spring to mind as an obvious place for fracking to catch on. The region is blessed with some of the most extensive oil and natural gas reserves in the world, even after decades of extraction. But that is precisely where BP’s largest new project is starting this year, according to a Telegraph report.

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Wall St. Journal

September 27, 2017

Saudi Arabia Sells $12.5 Billion of Bonds

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday sold $12.5 billion worth of bonds, the largest sovereign debt issue this year, as the kingdom taps the international markets again to bolster its finances hurt by lower oil prices. The kingdom raised $3 billion of long five-year debt at 110 basis points over Treasurys, $5 billion of long 10-year bonds at 145 basis points over Treasurys and $4.5 billion of 30-year bonds at 180 basis points over Treasurys, according to one of the lead arranging banks. Saudi Arabia and other major oil exporters of the Persian Gulf have increasingly turned to the international debt markets to plug budget deficits caused by the sharp fall in the price of oil since the middle of 2014.

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Utilities Stories

New York Times

September 30, 2017

What’s Up in Coal Country: Alternative-Energy Jobs

From the mountain hollows of Appalachia to the vast open plains of Wyoming, the coal industry long offered the promise of a six-figure income without a four-year college degree, transforming sleepy farm towns into thriving commercial centers. But today, as King Coal is being dethroned — by cheap natural gas, declining demand for electricity, and even green energy — what’s a former miner to do? Nowhere has that question had more urgency than in Wyoming and West Virginia, two very different states whose economies lean heavily on fuel extraction. With energy prices falling or stagnant, both have lost population and had middling economic growth in recent years. In national rankings of economic vitality, you can find them near the bottom of the pile.

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Daily Energy Insider

September 29, 2017

Nuclear power plant outages see 10 percent decrease in Summer 2017

Nuclear power plant outages in the United States during the summer of 2017 averaged 4.6 gigawatts (GW), a 10 percent decrease from summer 2016. © Shutterstock June had the highest amount of outages with an average of 7.4 GW. July averaged 3.8 GW, and August averaged 2.6 GW. Nuclear outages hit their summer low on Aug. 14 when 0.4 GW of nuclear plants were out of service. Outages are typically fewer during the summer and winter months when electricity demand is higher. Outages might be either scheduled or unscheduled and could also be full or partial. Outages are scheduled for refueling, which must be done about every 18 to 24 months, and maintenance. Unscheduled outages may occur because of equipment failure, operational error, fuel shortages or limitations, or weather or environmental concerns. Most unplanned outages occur because of non-reactor core issues.

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Power-Technology

September 28, 2017

Duke Energy partners with Sentient Science to reduce wind turbine management cost

Duke Energy Renewables has collaborated with Sentient Science to adopt a digitalisation system to safely manage and reduce the cost of maintaining its wind turbines. As part of the collaboration, Duke Energy Renewables aims to integrate Sentient Science’s DigitalClone solution to reduce costs and provide accurate data to the company’s wind technicians. This will enable the production of more reliable wind energy. Duke Energy Renewables currently owns and manages 4,000MW of windpower generating assets and has been able to achieve significant savings by shifting to in-house operations and maintenance (O&M).

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Utility Dive

September 28, 2017

Nanogrid storage could prevent future Puerto Rico-style electricity disasters

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico hard this week, knocking out electricity and other essentials for much of the island. Days later, the island is still reeling as generator fuel is running out. The biggest issue facing the island is in transmission and distribution lines, not power generation, as reported by Reuters. Engineers and other experts from Cornell University are among those working on power storage solutions to avoid future Puerto Rico-style catastrophes. Edwin Cohen, faculty director for energy at the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, says that storing power in nanogrids could be part of the solution and a step in building truly resilient communities. A nanogrid, a single building that generates and controls power to meet the needs of its occupants, could be powered by solar panels or small wind turbines. Electricity storage could be sufficient for smaller storms where the grid may only be down for about a day before power is restored. Though batteries are getting cheaper, they’re still a bit costly, so to truly make a building “islandable,” it has to produce its own power. “By integrating renewables such as solar or small-scale wind turbines with onsite storage, a building can host its own grid and distribute power from its generation capacity to critical functions in the building, and store the excess to be distributed at night or when the wind is low,” Cohen said in a statement.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Clean Technica

September 28, 2017

Over $37 Billion Worth Of Wind Turbine Blade Materials Expected Over Next Decade

More than $37 billion worth of wind turbine blade materials is expected to be produced and purchased over the next ten years, according to new figures published this week by Navigant Research, highlighting the growing strength of the global wind energy industry. Navigant Research published its latest Market Data: Wind Blade Materials Demand Forecast report this week, which assesses and quantifies the global demand for key wind turbine blade materials, and concluded that “The wind blade materials market is one of the most competitive, dynamic, and strategically important parts of the wind turbine supply chain.” Specifically, Navigant’s key findings from its latest report was that between 2017 and 2026 the materials market for wind turbine blades will produce and sell over $37.34 billion.

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Biofuels International

September 28, 2017

US researchers to use $1.1m grant to improve biofuel crops

Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) will use a $1.1 million (€930,000) U.S. Department of Energy grant to produce disease-resistant switchgrass in order to produce biofuels from it. It will use the grant to fight disease in switchgrass by identifying regions of the genome that cause disease resistance. According to the MSU, locating these disease-fighting regions will help improve switchgrass’ viability. “I am very interested in using evolutionary principles to improve biofuel crops,” said David Lowry, MSU plant biologist and grant coordinator. “We’ll identify the diseases that attack switchgrass across the United States and then uncover the genetic causes of resistance to those diseases. The end result will be regionally adapted switchgrass that can thrive in different regions of the US.”

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Albany Times Union

September 27, 2017

Wind power hits headwinds in New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push for more renewable energy took a direct hit on September 12 when the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization announced its opposition to eight proposed wind projects in the northern part of the state due to the deleterious effect those projects could have on radar systems and military aviation. The move by the Watertown-based group, which is dedicated to assuring Fort Drum’s future, will likely derail more than 1,000 megawatts of proposed wind generation capacity in the state. The effort to protect the base from the encroachment of Big Wind provides yet another example of the backlash against wind-energy development in New York. That backlash is undermining Cuomo’s mandate requiring utilities to be obtaining 50 percent of their electricity from renewables by 2030.

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Science Alert

September 26, 2017

Scientists Have Designed a Crystalline Type of Aluminium That’s Insanely Light

Aluminium is already highly prized. It’s conductive, has a low melting point, is very strong when alloyed, is impervious to rust and, above all, it’s extremely light. But what if you could get it lighter – so light, in fact, that it could float on water even when not made into the shape of a foil boat? According to a model created by researchers at Utah State University and Southern Federal University in Rostov-on Don, Russia, such a thing is actually possible. A team used computational design to conceive a form of crystalline aluminium with extremely low density. “My colleagues’ approach to this challenge was very innovative,” said USU chemist and researcher Alexander Boldyrev. “They started with a known crystal lattice, in this case, a diamond, and substituted every carbon atom with an aluminium tetrahedron.”

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Regulatory Stories

Houston Chronicle

September 30, 2017

As Perry pushes oil and gas, he finds opposition on left and right coasts

Energy Secretary Rick Perry delighted in poaching companies from California while he was governor of Texas. Now he is going after the West Coast state once again, saying he is “frustrated” with its opposition to oil and gas development. “They are anti-fossil fuel,” he said at a recent meeting of the National Petroleum Council in Washington. “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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Midland Reporter-Telegram

September 28, 2017

Christi Craddick: RRC is state’s most important agency

On why she’s running for re-election: Railroad commissioners serve six-year terms, and Craddick is chasing her second. Given the oil and gas industry is a major portion of the economy and pays a lot in direct and indirect taxes, the chairman said the RRC is the most important agency in the entire state. “That’s just my opinion, but I think that’s probably been proven,” she said. … On the Corley issue: Craddick said she didn’t oust Corley. As for why she will wait so long to reveal the reason for Corley’s resignation, Craddick said, “Part of it is scheduling for each commissioner to be there, and we want to make sure we post appropriately. We have to a post a week ahead of time. So, it’s a timing issue for us.” There is also the Open Meetings Act to consider, she said. “I followed general counsel’s advice. We can’t speak if we’re not in open meeting. …” Given that the conversation between Craddick and Corley happened a day ahead of a RRC hearing, the item wasn’t able to be put on the agenda.

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San Antonio Express-News

September 30, 2017

Governor’s new chief of staff was one of the top lobbyists in Texas

Luis Saenz is taking over the top job in Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s office less than a month after he was registered to lobby for the largest health insurer in the country, the Philip Morris parent company and a New York-based hedge fund, filings with the Texas Ethics Commission show. Saenz’s quick jump from lobbying government officials to becoming one himself is troubling to some advocates, who warn of potential conflicts of interest that are hard to police. “You are a million-dollar lobbyist and the next day you are working for the public,” said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice. “It represents a potentially huge conflict of interest. Who are you working for, whose interests are you pursuing?” A spokesman for Abbott said all of Saenz’s contracts have been terminated and he will end his registration as a lobbyist. … Saenz was registered to lobby on more than 80 issue areas during the regular session, ranging from weapons and gambling to women’s issues, animals, city government and energy, reports show.

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San Antonio Express-News

September 30, 2017

Houston eyes flood control projects during Harvey recovery

Houston officials said Saturday that they’re already thinking about how to build and fund projects that will lessen the blow of the next storm, even as the nation’s fourth-largest city continues to recover from Harvey’s devastating floodwaters. Leaders with the U.S. Conference of Mayors gathered in Houston to meet with Mayor Sylvester Turner. They discussed how Houston is working to rebuild and what other communities can learn from its experience. Turner has said his top two priorities in Houston’s recovery are removing the 8 million cubic yards of debris that Harvey left behind and finding permanent housing for the hundreds of Houston-area residents who remain in shelters. Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on Aug. 25 and dumped more than 50 inches of rain in some areas around the city after weakening to a tropical storm.

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Dallas Morning News

September 28, 2017

DMN: At the Texas Railroad Commission, bad habits and secret dealings

The Texas Railroad Commission again is under fire for lack of transparency, this time from an internal board fight between Chairwoman Christi Craddick and board member Ryan Sitton. During a commission meeting last week, Sitton publicly accused Craddick of trying to oust the agency’s executive director, Kimberly Corley, without consulting him or the commission’s third member, Wayne Christian. Sitton accused Craddick of running a dictatorship and rightly asked for an opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on whether a personnel decision can be made unilaterally by one member of the board. “If any one railroad commissioner can call any employee into their office at any time and give them a ‘choice’ of ‘resign or you’ll be fired,’ this deficiency must be addressed,” Sitton wrote.

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Houston Chronicle

September 29, 2017

Trump’s offshore safety head says inspectors need to stop focusing on “little bitty things”

The offshore oil industry’s top cop says the inspectors that oversee drilling in the Gulf of Mexico are overly focused on what he described as minor infractions that needlessly hold up production. Scott Angelle, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, said in an interview Thursday, he was concerned that over policing was creating a contentious environment in which the bureau and the oil companies it oversees were spending too much time sending paperwork back and forth and not enough time focused on preventing oil spills and blowouts. “If BSEE is saying you’re not doing this right and that right, they got to shut us up, just like Delta airlines has to shut up the FAA,” Angelle said. “If you’re inspecting around some things… but they’re for little bitty things and we’re not focused on the big things, or we’re not even inspecting for those big things, isn’t that a misalignment?”

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Politico

October 1, 2017

Miller, Sokolsky: Should Rex Tillerson Resign?

The secretary of state clearly has not helped himself. Through his budget cuts, his focus on departmental reorganization at the expense of appointing assistant secretaries, his reliance on a tiny inner circle of outsiders and his maladroit use of the press, Tillerson has isolated himself within his own department. The Beltway foreign policy blob has already written him off as the worst secretary of state in history, and clearly others are hovering (U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley says she doesn’t want the job, but if you believe that, or if John Bolton make similar protestations, we have an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal to sell you). But in all fairness, the former ExxonMobil chief has never been empowered by his president.

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Texas Tribune

September 29, 2017

EPA: Hurricane Harvey compromised cap on toxic waste site

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed that rains from Hurricane Harvey damaged a temporary protective cap on a pit of toxic sludge along the San Jacinto River east of Houston, exposing “underlying waste material.” The San Jacinto River Waste Pits — one of the most hazardous of Houston’s many EPA Superfund sites — is contaminated with carcinogenic waste, including dioxins. In a statement late Thursday, the EPA said samples from 14 different areas “confirmed the protective cap had been damaged and the underlying waste material was exposed. The sample showed dioxins at 70,000 ng/kg. EPA recommended clean up level for the site is 30 ng/kg.”

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New York Times

September 30, 2017

How Two Sentences in Tax Plan May Help Unleash $1 Billion in Lobbying

The sweeping tax rewrite unveiled by President Trump and Republican lawmakers this past week leaves many of the details to Congress, but two sentences in the nine-page framework have Washington lobbyists salivating over a payday that some industry experts predict could top $1 billion. Tucked away on Page 8, the sentences refer vaguely to plans to repeal or roll back “numerous” exclusions and deductions, and to “modernize” tax rules affecting specific industries “to ensure that the tax code better reflects economic reality and that such rules provide little opportunity for tax avoidance.” That language has prompted concerns among a wide range of businesses and industries about the prospect of losing valuable tax breaks — from preferential tax treatment for insurers to credits for renewable energy to a prized tax treatment used by the commercial real estate industry.

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