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

 

 

 

 

November 30, 2017

LEAD STORIES

 

Houston Chronicle November 29, 2017

Concerns mount over Citgo’s future in face of Venezuelan crisis

Concerns are mounting in Texas and Washington about the state of Citgo Petroleum, its refineries and its 4,000 U.S. employees following the recent arrests of the company’s top executives in Venezuela as the nation’s political and economic crisis spills over to the Gulf Coast.

Citgo, headquartered in Houston, is the U.S. subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA, and increasingly enmeshed in President Nicolas Maduro’s efforts to consolidate power in the face of an economic collapse, shortages of basic goods and growing opposition.

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Bloomberg November 29, 2017

Moody’s Warns Cities to Address Climate Risks or Face Downgrades

Coastal communities from Maine to California have been put on notice from one of the top credit rating agencies: Start preparing for climate change or risk losing access to cheap credit.

In a report to its clients Tuesday, Moody’s Investors Service Inc. explained how it incorporates climate change into its credit ratings for state and local bonds. If cities and states don’t deal with risks from surging seas or intense storms, they are at greater risk of default.

“What we want people to realize is: If you’re exposed, we know that. We’re going to ask questions about what you’re doing to mitigate that exposure,” Lenny Jones, a managing director at Moody’s, said in a phone interview. “That’s taken into your credit ratings.”

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Wisconsin State Journal November 17, 2017

Why Wind and Solar Energy Costs Aren’t Dropping Like They Used To

For the last two decades, the costs of wind and solar energy have been dropping like a rock, driving adoption around the world. In the early 2000s, neither energy source was competitive with fossil fuel power generators without massive subsidies, something that’s changed today.

But there’s no denying that the pace of cost reductions in renewable energy is falling. That might be a sign that the industry is maturing, which could be good long-term.

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Forbes November 28, 2017

McMahon: Red States, Led By Texas, Spearheaded ‘War On Coal’

When carbon emissions from coal plants dropped by record amounts in 2015, Texas led the charge, according to a new analysis from the Energy Information Administration. Nine of the ten states where emissions dropped the most in 2015 turned out to be red states that would go for Trump in 2016.

EIA attributes most of the drop to competition from natural gas, although Texas also got a boost from its flourishing wind industry.

“Most of the decline in 2015 U.S. coal consumption occurred in the electric power sector, where reduced coal-fired electricity generation was largely offset by higher natural gas-fired electricity generation,” says EIA economist Owen Comstock in an analysisreleased this month.

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Washington Post November 28, 2017

Nisen: Big Pharma Would Gain If a Patent-Challenge Process Dies

A court case over an obscure fracking patent could put an end to one of the pharmaceutical industry’s biggest irritants.

The Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in two patent cases that could determine the future of inter partes review (IPR) — an expedited patent-challenge process that has knocked out thousands of patents and has been turned against several blockbuster drugs. It was thrust into the headlines after Allergan PLC tried to avoid it by taking advantage of a Native American tribe’s sovereign immunity.

Comments made during Monday’s arguments suggest conservative justices such as Neil Gorsuch have issues with IPR and that it’s possible the Supreme Court could do away with it — which would benefit big pharma handsomely.

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OIL AND GAS STORIES

 

CNBC November 30, 2017

Oil markets on tenterhooks ahead of OPEC meeting in Vienna

Oil markets were cautious on Thursday ahead of an OPEC meeting in Vienna, with producers set to debate an extension of the supply-cut agreement that came into effect in January with the goal of tightening supplies and propping up prices.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will be meeting at its headquarters in the Austrian capital, along with ministers from other oil producing countries, most importantly Russia.

OPEC is scheduled to hold an open session, including media, at 10 a.m. in Vienna on Thursday (0900 GMT), before going into a closed session at noon, according to a tentative program on OPEC’s website. Non-OPEC ministers are set to join at 3 p.m., followed by a joint press conference after the meeting.

Spot Brent crude oil futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $62.74 a barrel at 0428 GMT, up 21 cents from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $57.41 a barrel, up 11 cents.

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San Antonio Express News November 29, 2017

San Antonio’s Andeavor dealt blow in quest for Washington oil terminal

San Antonio-based refiner Andeavor was dealt another blow in its quest to build a large crude oil-by-rail facility in Washington when a state regulator recommended denying the project’s application Tuesday.

The unanimous vote by the Washington State Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC, capped a four-year review of the $210 million crude oil terminal project called Vancouver Energy, a joint venture between Andeavor and Utah-based partner Savage Cos. They formed Vancouver Energy to build the terminal, which could receive up to 360,000 barrels of oil a day from North Dakota and other Midwestern states.

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Wall St. Journal November 30, 2017

OPEC Is Expected to Extend Output Cuts, but Questions Remain Over Length

VIENNA—OPEC, Russia and other big oil producers are expected Thursday to extend their efforts to cut crude production and reduce a swollen oversupply of petroleum, a crucial juncture for an oil industry in the midst of a fragile recovery.

Nearly every big oil producer involved agrees: A deal struck last year to withhold almost 2% of global petroleum production should be extended past its expiration date of March 31, 2018. The remaining question for Thursday’s meeting at the headquarters of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is how long to keep up their efforts.

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San Francisco Chronicle November 28, 2017

Report: Keystone pipeline leak likely caused by 2008 damage

A federal agency says a leak in TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone oil pipeline in South Dakota likely was caused by damage during construction in 2008.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a corrective action report Tuesday on the estimated 210,000-gallon oil spill. The report says a weight installed on the pipeline nearly a decade ago may have damaged the pipeline and coating.

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UPI November 28, 2017
Pressured for profit, oil majors bet big on shale technology

For the last decade, smaller oil companies have led the way in shale technology, slashing costs by as much as half with breakthroughs such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracking that turned the United States into the world’s fastest-growing energy exporter.

Now, oil majors that were slow to seize on shale are seeking further efficiencies by adapting technologies for highly automated offshore operations to shale and pursuing advances in digitalization that have reshaped industries from auto manufacturing to retail.

If they are successful, the U.S. oil industry’s ability to bring more wells to production at lower cost could amp up future output and company profits.

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Houston Chronicle November 29, 2017

Tomlinson: Venezuelan virus turns Citgo into a zombie

More than 800 employees at Houston-based Citgo now report to a tin-pot general appointed by a banana republic known for human rights abuses, drug trafficking and the economic destruction of one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, shortly after ordering the arrest of Citgo’s top managers and some of its board last week, named Maj. Gen. Manuel Quevedo to take over as oil minister and CEO of the national oil company, PDVSA, on Monday. Citgo is a wholly owned subsidiary of PDVSA, and Maduro has also appointed a cousin of the late dictator Hugo Chavez, Asdrubal Chavez, to lead the company.

Whether the U.S. government will grant Asdrubal Chavez a visa to work in Houston remains to be seen, considering that he served as the oil minister in one of the most corrupt regimes in the world.

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Austin American Statesman November 29, 2017

Oil tycoon Pickens puts ranch on market for $250 million

Famed oilfield wildcatter, financier and corporate raider T. Boone Pickens wants to sell his prized ranch, covering more than 100 square miles in the Texas Panhandle, for $250 million.

Pickens on Wednesday announced he’s putting his Mesa Vista Ranch, about 90 miles northeast of Amarillo, on the market. Pickens in October also put his Dallas mansion up for sale for $5.9 million.

The 89-year-old Pickens has had health concerns that include a series of strokes.

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Austin American Statesman November 29, 2017

Dallas Fed: Regional economy expands despite lingering Harvey effects

The regional economy brushed off most of Hurricane Harvey’s impact and sustained a healthy pace of expansion over the past six weeks, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

In its chapter of the Beige Book, an anecdotal survey of the economy compiled every six weeks by the Federal Reserve banks, the Dallas Fed said economic growth in its district “continued to expand at a moderate pace.”

The Dallas Fed’s district includes all of Texas and parts of New Mexico and northern Louisiana. Texas accounts for more than 95 percent of the region’s economic activity, and the greater Houston area accounts for about a quarter of that.

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Washington Post November 29, 2017

One of the country’s biggest oil fields just turned to an unexpected power source: Solar

The Belridge oil field near Bakersfield, Calif., is one of the largest in the country. It has been producing oil for more than a century and last year produced about 76,000 barrels a day, according to Aera Energy, its operator.

But the oil field is about to become even more remarkable. Its future production operations will be partly powered by a massive solar energy project that will make the oil extraction process more environmentally friendly, according to Aera and GlassPoint Solar, the firm that will create the solar project.

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Seeking Alpha November 28, 2017

ValueAnalyst: The State Of U.S. Oil Production

While market participants are focused on whether or not OPEC will extend production cuts, I keep my eye on factors that matter beyond the near term. … Despite alarming handwringing from oil bears earlier this year, U.S. oil production has repeatedly disappointed throughout 2017:

That’s an increase of less than 200 kb/d in nine months in Texas, which includes both the Permian and Eagle Ford shale plays, dramatically less than the 1.0+ mb/d surge predicted by oil bears in December of 2016.

Is anyone even talking about the EIA’s Drilling Productivity Report anymore?

That’s a rhetorical question.

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Houston Chronicle November 28, 2017

Houston plunges on ULI/PWC list of top real estate markets

In 2015 Houston’s high-flying real estate market ranked at the top of a prominent national list of cities to watch.

That same list, published annually by the Urban Land Institute and PWC, now ranks Houston no. 60. Why the epic downgrade? The oil bust, according to the Emerging Trends in Real Estate report for 2018, which is based on interviews and surveys from more than 1,600 real estate investors, fund managers, developers and others.

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Houston Chronicle November 28, 2017

Shell restores full cash dividend as it emerges from slump

Royal Dutch Shell Plc will pay its entire dividend in cash for the first time in more than two years as Europe’s biggest oil company seeks to demonstrate it has left the worst of the crude slump behind.

From this quarter, Shell will no longer offer shareholders the option to take the payout in stock, it said Tuesday. The company paid about $16 billion in dividends in the past year, of which about $4 billion was in shares. It also reiterated plans to buy back at least $25 billion of stock by 2020, subject to further debt reductions and a continued recovery in oil prices.

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UPI November 28, 2017

Gas production accelerating in the Bakken

Even though more crude oil than gas comes out of the Bakken shale in North Dakota, the pace of growth for gas is far greater, a federal report found.

North Dakota crude oil production stands at around 1.07 million barrels per day, putting it in the No. 2 spot nationally behind Texas. Nearly all of the state oil production comes from the Bakken and Three Forks shale formation and North Dakota now accounts for about 11 percent of total U.S. crude oil production.

A profile from the federal Energy Information Administration, however, said oil production is off its peak of 1.2 million barrels per day three years ago and the ratio of gas production to oil finds natural gas output is accelerating.

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Bloomberg November 27, 2017

OPEC’s Clash With U.S. Oil Is Nearing Its Day of Reckoning

The clash between OPEC and America’s oil industry is reaching a day of reckoning.

The U.S. shale revolution is on course to be the greatest oil and gas boom in history, turning a nation once at the mercy of foreign imports into a global player. That seismic shift shattered the dominance of Saudi Arabia and the OPEC cartel, forcing them into an alliance with long-time rival Russia to keep a grip on world markets.

So far, it’s worked — global oil stockpiles are draining and prices are near two-year highs. But as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia prepare to meet in Vienna this week to extend production cuts, ministers have little idea how U.S. shale production will respond in 2018.

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UTILITIES STORIES

Clean Technica November 28, 2017

Third Mexican Auction Awards Enel 593 Megawatts Of Wind, Canadian Solar Awarded 367 Megawatts Solar

Solar power company Canadian Solar announced this week that it won 367 MW worth of solar power projects in Mexico’s third Long-term Auction for renewables which was held earlier in the month, while the Enel Group was awarded an impressive 593 MW worth of wind projects, including a record low $17.7/MWh award.

Canadian Solar announced on Monday that it had been awarded a total of 367 MW (megawatts) across three separate solar projects in Mexico’s third auction for long-term renewable energy, held on November 15. The three projects will be developed in the Mexican cities of Aguascalientes, Hermosillo, and Obregón.

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Energy Institute at Haas November 27, 2017

The Cushion in Coal Markets that Will Make it Harder to Kill

Discussions of U.S. coal policy generally focus on coal mining or coal burning, but hardly ever on coal transportation, the critical link between the two. Yet, transportation is a significant percentage of the total cost of electricity from nearly all coal-fired generators. And hidden in that link between mining and generation is a protective layer that is likely to slow the decline of coal in the American energy system.

That is one conclusion of an important new Energy Institute at Haas working paper by Louis Preonas, a PhD student at EI, who will be finishing his dissertation this year. The paper, “Market Power in Coal Shipping and Implications for U.S. Climate Policy” shows that rail transportation of coal to many power plants comes with fat margins for the railroads.

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Washington Post November 28, 2017

In the heart of coal country, EPA gets an earful about Clean Power Plan’s fate

Coal executive Robert Murray ambled through the packed hearing room inside the gold-domed capital complex here, past reporters and photographers, past environmental activists and energy lobbyists, past more than two dozen of his miners who had filled the seats, wearing their work uniforms and hard hats.

Like the roughly 300 other people signed up to speak about the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to withdraw the Clean Power Plan — Barack Obama’s signature effort as president to combat climate change by limiting emissions from power plants — Murray got three minutes to make his case.

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Bloomberg November 24, 2017

A Power Plant Is Burning H&M Clothes Instead of Coal

Burning discarded clothing from retail chain Hennes & Mauritz AB is helping a Swedish power plant replace coal for good.

The combined heat and power station in Vasteras, northwest of Stockholm, is converting from oil- and coal-fired generation to become a fossil fuel-free facility by 2020. That means burning recycled wood and trash, including clothes H&M can’t sell.

“For us it’s a burnable material,” said Jens Neren, head of fuel supplies at Malarenergi AB, a utility which owns and operates the 54-year-old plant about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Stockholm. “Our goal is to use only renewable and recycled fuels.”

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ALTERNATIVES AND RENEWABLES STORIES

 

Wisconsin State Journal November 18, 2017

The Energy Revolution Is Here: Solar Energy and Storage Now Cheaper Than Coal

There’s no question wind and solar energy are now competitive with fossil fuels around the world on a per-kilowatt-hour basis, but they still face the challenge that they’re intermittent sources of energy. The sun won’t provide energy to make electricity at night and wind turbines only generate electricity about half the time, at best. For now, natural gas or another fossil fuel is needed to fill in any gaps in electricity supply.

What may change that narrative is energy storage. If energy storage can cost-effectively fill the gaps in wind and solar’s energy production, renewable energy could be a 24/7 energy source and compete directly with fossil fuels in wholesale markets. An analysis by investment bank Lazard says we’re already there.

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Bloomberg November 27, 2017

The Way Asia Pays for Clean Energy Is Being Upended

China’s electricity price on a solar deal for Inner Mongolia plunged 44 percent last year. In India, prices to supply wind energy dropped to a record low in October.

And Japan last week cut its solar-industry support by as much as 28 percent. In all three cases, the government had adopted an auction system to determine how much it would pay developers. Across Asia competitive bidding is making the difference, accelerating a renewables boom sparked by already tumbling prices for solar panels and wind turbines.

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Forbes November 28, 2017

Lynch: Overpricing Renewable Power Is Dangerous

An old Soviet-era joke goes like this: Stalin wakes up in a hospital and is informed that glorious Soviet medicine has resurrected him, and it is now 2047. “You will be pleased to hear, Comrade First Secretary, that the entire world is Communist except for New Zealand.” “Why not New Zealand?” Stalin asks. The doctor shrugs, “Someone has to tell us what prices are.”

Unfortunately, there are too many politicians and regulators who believe that it is their job to decide prices, particularly for renewable power. Regulators often set feed-in-tariffs, or the purchase price for wholesale power, at aggressive levels for renewable projects in order to encourage “progress” in the sector. It sounds like a good idea, unless you happen to know a little history.

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REGULATORY STORIES

 

Houston Chronicle November 29, 2017

Sens. Cornyn, Cruz express concerns about Citgo

Texas’ U.S. senators are speaking out against the Venezuelan government after the recent arrests of Citgo Petroleum executives, including several Texas residents.

Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz issued a joint statement Wednesday saying they’ve long been concerned about the foreign influence on Houston-based Citgo, which is owned by Venezuela, and the potential impacts on U.S. operations.

“The recent detainment by the Venezuelan government of six Citgo employees – five U.S. Citizens and one permanent resident who lives in Texas – is deeply troubling. We are glad the administration is taking these actions seriously, and hope that the government of Venezuela allows these Texans their rightful access to consular affairs,” Cornyn and Cruz stated.

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Dallas Morning News November 29, 2017

Climate skeptic from Texas moves closer to top environment post under Trump

A Senate committee approved Kathleen Hartnett White, a climate change skeptic and former chairwoman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, for a top environmental post Wednesday.

Voting along party lines, the Senate’s Environment and Public Works committee approved White to head the Council on Environmental Quality. Her nomination must be approved by the full Senate before she is confirmed.

White was appointed to a six-year term at the TCEQ by Gov. Rick Perry in 2001 and was previously considered to head the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

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The Hill November 29, 2017

Energy regulator denies ‘conspiracy’ to delay addition of new commissioners

The head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Tuesday denied that there is a “conspiracy” to delay the addition of two new members on the five-person board.

Chairman Neil Chatterjee told reporters that he is not trying to delay Republican Kevin McIntyre and Democrat Richard Glick from being sworn in.

McIntyre — who is slated to be the new chairman of the body — and Glick were confirmed by the Senate Nov. 2, and President Trump recently processed their paperwork for ascension to the commission. But they have not been sworn in.

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Houston Chronicle November 28, 2017

Top Perry aide: Inaction on coal, nuclear plan endangers power grid

A top official with the Department of Energy urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Tuesday to approve Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to protect coal and nuclear plants, saying there was “broad consensus FERC must act.”

“Continued action only would make the problem worse,” said Energy Undersecretary Mark Menenzes. “We know there are constant threats to our system, so [Perry] will do what he can to make sure the grid is resilient.”

Menezes’ comments, made during a forum in Washington hosted by the Consumer Energy Alliance, come as FERC is fast approaching its Dec. 11 deadline to decide on Perry’s proposal to give coal and nuclear power plants an additional tariff to help stop them from shutting down and potentially destabilizing the grid.

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This story is repeated because of technical problems with its earlier appearance in the Clips

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips November 29, 2017
LEAD STORIES

November 28, 2017

The Hill

Clintons understated support from firm hired by Russian nuclear company

The Clinton Foundation’s donor disclosure site vastly understated support that the Clinton Global Initiative received from APCO Worldwide, a global communications firm that lobbied on behalf of Russia’s state-owned nuclear company.

The site, created to detect conflicts of interest for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton because of her family’s various charitable efforts, shows APCO gave between $25,000 and $50,000 over the last decade.

But according to interviews and internal documents reviewed by The Hill, APCO was much more generous and provided hundreds of thousands of dollars in pro-bono services and in-kind contributions to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) between 2008 and 2016.

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November 26, 2017

The Oklahoman

Keystone XL approval could require upgrades to Cushing’s storage, takeaway systems

Numerous pipelines carry domestically produced oil to various terminal operators in Cushing. More recent projects include:

• Plains All American Pipeline LP is expanding its gathering and transport system it uses to carry oil from the Delaware Basin in west Texas to Cushing to about 200,000 barrels per day. It expects to bring the upgrade online in early 2019, company officials announced earlier this year.

• SemGroup’s Glass Mountain Pipeline delivers crude oil from the Mississippi Lime and Granite Wash Plays to Cushing. A 44-mile extension, expected to be operational early next year, will add in crude produced from Oklahoma’s STACK and Merge Plays. The line went operational in 2014. Officials announced the line would have a daily capacity of about 210,000 when the extension is complete.

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November 27, 2017

Bloomberg

Drivers May Bear the Brunt of U.S. Biofuel Quotas

Senator Ted Cruz may want to spotlight a new victim in the King Corn versus Big Oil tussle: U.S. motorists.

 The Texas Republican took up arms for fuel makers after President Donald Trump upheld the Renewable Fuel Standard, the 12-year-old rule that forces refiners to either mix biofuels in with their gasoline and diesel or buy credits. Despite the petroleum lobby’s efforts, the Environmental Protection Agency last week rejected a petition from independent refiners including Valero Energy Corp. and CVR Refining LP to alter the rule and put the burden on companies that blend the finished fuel that goes into cars and trucks.
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November 28, 2017

Bloomberg

Why Battery Cost Could Put the Brakes on Electric Car Sales

Battery prices need to drop by more than half before electric vehicles will be competitive with cars powered by internal-combustion engines, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, whose two-day Future of Energy summit in Shanghai concludes on Wednesday. That’s likely to happen by 2026, when the cost for lithium-ion battery packs is projected to fall to about $100 per kilowatt hour, speakers at the summit said.

The focus of the industry has moved from lithium-ion batteries using liquid electrolytes to solid-state ones, which address the need for safer and more powerful energy storage. Toyota Motor Corp. has said it’s working to commercialize the technology in the early 2020s, and Dyson Ltd. says it will build an electric car using solid-state batteries in three years.

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OIL & GAS STORIES

 

November 29. 2017

CNBC

Oil falls on doubts over extended output cuts, surprise rise in US fuel stocks

Oil prices fell on Wednesday on doubts OPEC and Russia will agree an extended crude production cut that the market has priced in, and after a report of an unexpected rise in U.S. fuel inventories.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $57.72 a barrel at 0130 GMT, 27 cents, or 0.5 percent below their last settlement.

Traders said WTI was pulled down by a report from the American Petroleum Institute (API) late on Tuesday which showed U.S. crude inventories rose by 1.8 million barrels in the week to Nov. 24 to 457.3 million barrels.

Official U.S. fuel inventory data is due later on Wednesday. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $63.27 a barrel, down 34 cents, or 0.5 percent.
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November 27, 2017

KUHF (Houston)

Texas Oil Drilling Could Soften Impact Of OPEC Cuts

A new agreement aimed at boosting global oil prices is expected this week, but drilling in Texas could work against the deal and keep prices low.

At a meeting on Thursday, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is expected to extend a deal to cut oil production, an agreement meant to ease the world’s oil supply glut and help raise prices.

That may be the result in the short-term, but the story could be different over the long-term, according to oil analyst Jacques Rousseau with ClearView Energy Partners.

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November 28. 2017

The Oklahoman

Natural gas storage near capacity as winter begins

The country’s natural gas storage entered the winter heating season at levels down slightly from previous years but still near capacity, according to a report this week from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Storage finished last winter at above-average levels, but increased summer demand limited refilling during the summer season.

“From May 2015 through mid-September 2017, working gas levels were higher than the five-year average for 118 out of 122 weeks,” the report stated. “However, since late September 2017, working natural gas levels have been lower than the previous five-year average for seven consecutive weeks, based on data through November 10.”

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November 28, 2017

Bloomberg

Why Investors Are Unfazed by North Korea’s Missile Launch

North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile near Japan, but investors and analysts were unfazed by the latest provocation.

 The benchmark Kospi index opened higher Wednesday morning, gradually climbing as much as 0.4 percent with financial shares and automakers spurring the advance. …
 The latest ICBM test fits a pattern of investors brushing aside geopolitical tit-for-tat moves and instead focusing on a world that’s still awash with liquidity, where economies and earnings are powering on. The Bank of Korea will set policy on Thursday and release figures for gross domestic product on Friday.
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November 28, 2017

Platts

US breaks into China’s top 10 crude oil supplier list

China’s crude oil imports from the US in October surged 77.3% month on month to average of 208,000 b/d, or a total of 878,623 mt, making the US the country’s ninth top crude supplier, data released Monday by China’s General Administration of Customs showed.
In the same month last year, no US crude oil imports were recorded.
The US inflow in October was likely due to buying from state-owned refiners, as arrivals for independent refiners was down 42% from September at 163,000 mt, an S&P Global Platts survey showed.

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November 27, 2017

Houston Chronicle

Big oil warms to efforts to slow climate change

Just writing about global warming and its connections to the oil and gas sector will elicit plenty of angry emails denying its existence or downplaying the impact humans have on the environment.

But energy companies are – slowly – taking more steps to combat climate change. What’s yet to be proven is whether this momentum will amount to more actions than words.

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December 23, 2017

Chicago Tribune

Decatur plant at forefront of push to pipe carbon emissions underground, but costs raise questions

As scientists and politicians around the world debate the best way to combat rising greenhouse gases, an Illinois ethanol plant, with help from state and federal researchers, is advancing a strategy that buries carbon emissions underground.

After a successful pilot program, the public-private research project spearheaded by Archer Daniels Midland Co. was expanded in April to begin annually injecting 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide — the equivalent of the amount of pollution produced by 214,133 passenger vehicles driven for one year — beneath ADM’s Decatur plant.

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November 12. 2017

Business Insider

Saudi Arabia is building a $10 billion city on the sand — here’s what it will look like

The Saudi Arabian government has been working in recent years to transform hundreds of square miles of desert into new cities.

One of the developments under construction is the King Abdullah Financial District.

Designed by architecture firm Henning Larsen, the 17.2 million-square-foot master plan calls for over 60 residential, office, and retail towers, several schools and parking garages, a medical clinic, civic buildings, and three hotels. …

Construction, which began in 2006, is over 70% complete. The government doesn’t have a set timeline for its completion.

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November 27, 2017

PBS

Keystone XL operator asks Nebraska to reconsider after state approves alternative pipeline route

TransCanada Corp, the Canadian-based company that owns the Keystone pipeline, is asking the Nebraska Public Service Commission to reconsiderits approval of an alternate route for the Keystone XL pipeline instead of the route preferred by the energy company.

After last week’s decision, Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement that a careful review was underway to determine how the new route would “impact the cost and schedule of the project.”

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November 24, 2017

National Observer

Are Kinder Morgan and Keystone XL locked in race to be Canada’s last big pipeline?

As dust settles on the grave of TransCanada Corp.’s cancelled Energy East project, the race to build what could be Canada’s last major oil pipeline is hitting a crescendo.

 In British Columbia, Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain expansion is struggling to break ground. Opponents are seeking to overturn the federal government’s approval of the project in court, while the Texas-based multinational has launched its own legal salvos to accelerate its construction schedule and bypass requirements for it to get municipal construction permits.
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November 22, 2017

Texas Monthly

So Much Natural Gas—But Where to Put It?

The number of rigs in the Permian has climbed more than 70 percent in the last year, to 391, the Journal reported. But this abundance of gas is depressing prices for the commodity, and may force producers to temporarily put the brakes on drilling. If that doesn’t happen, “the roughly 6 billion cubic feet of gas that needs to be moved out of West Texas each day will rise to 8.5 billion cubic feet by late 2019,” the Journal continued, citing a report from Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. “That will exceed what pipelines can transport north, east and west from the Permian.”

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November 22, 2017

New York Times

Giving Thanks, but Not for Turkey-Powered Energy

This is a story of loggers, an energy company and turkey droppings — and a dispute that’s putting a dent in Minnesota’s Thanksgiving.

The company, Xcel Energy, wants to stop buying energy from three biofuel plants in Minnesota, one that runs on wood and turkey droppings and two others that run on wood only. The loggers, who risk losing their jobs, and turkey farmers, who would be left with a whole lot of surplus bird poop, are not happy.

Xcel says the energy it buys from the plants is too expensive.

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UTILITIES STORIES

 

November 28, 2017

Houston Chronicle

Top Perry aide: Inaction on coal, nuclear plan endangers power grid

A top official with the Department of Energy urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Tuesday to approve Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to protect coal and nuclear plants,  saying there was “broad consensus FERC must act.”

“Continued action only would make the problem worse,” said Energy Undersecretary Mark Menenzes. “We know there are constant threats to our system, so [Perry] will do what he can to make sure the grid is resilient.”

 Menezes’ comments, made during a forum in Washington  hosted by the Consumer Energy Alliance, come as FERC is fast approaching its Dec. 11 deadline to decide on Perry’s proposal to give coal and nuclear power plants an additional tariff to help stop them from shutting down and potentially destabilizing the grid.

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November 27, 2017

San Antonio Express News

CPS Energy CEO Gold-Williams rose through the ranks

When you turn the air conditioner to full blast in the heat of summer and switch your lights on at night without a problem, you can thank Paula Gold-Williams.

The president and CEO of San Antonio’s city-owned utility, CPS Energy, is a native San Antonian who’s been at the utility since 2004. She and her company ensure that San Antonio’s residents and businesses have power and natural gas to run their businesses, homes, and charge their batteries.

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November 27, 2017

The Hill

Eberhart: The Polar Vortex of 2014 was bad, Perry’s resiliency proposal of 2017 is worse

When Energy Secretary Rick Perry testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee last month, much of the discussion focused on the Department of Energy’s new directive aimed at enhancing the power grid’s reliability. The secretary repeatedly returned to a single event to justify the rationale behind the directive – the 2014 extreme cold weather caused by the southward shift of the North Polar Vortex.

The gist of his argument was simple and, outwardly at least, intuitive. Those few days of extreme cold across the Atlantic seaboard demonstrated the need to change the way electricity markets operate in order to ensure the resiliency of the grid

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November 28, 2017

Bloomberg

Trump’s Coal Man Is Racing Against the Clock to Bail Out Plants

President Donald Trump is on the verge of subsidizing coal plants that would otherwise be driven out of business by cheaper, cleaner natural gas.

 A plan that would leave consumers footing a potential multibillion-dollar bill is expected Dec. 11, and Trump couldn’t have chosen a more enthusiastic person to get it done: Neil Chatterjee, a Republican from coal country, who has spent years brokering seemingly impossible deals for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Now he’s cutting the biggest deal of his career — and he’s running out of time to do it.

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ALTERNATIVES AND RENEWABLES STORIES

November 25, 2017

NPR

Texas A&M And UT Expand Renewable-Energy Operations In West Texas

The two largest universities in Texas own hundreds of thousands of acres across West Texas—and the University of Texas and Texas A&M are increasingly leasing that land to solar and wind operations.

As The Daily Texan reports, the two universities combined control over 2.1 million acres of land statewide. The universities have often fueled their growth in the past by leasing acreage to oil and natural gas producers.

But now, as renewable energy becomes more economically viable, the institutions are rethinking their strategies.

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November 24, 2017

NBC News

Why wave power may be the next big thing in green energy

About a mile offshore from Kaneohe Bay on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, a yellow, doughnut-shaped contraption bobs up and down with the motion of the ocean. The hulking device, as wide as a school bus is long, looks a bit like a massive buoy or life raft. In fact, it’s a wave energy converter — one example of a new renewable energy technology that transforms ocean waves into electrical power.

The Lifesaver, as the device is known, is full of gears, cables, and sophisticated electronics. But while other renewable energy devices (like wind turbines and solar panels) are relatively mature technologies, wave energy converters represent a nascent technology.

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November 24, 2017

Newsweek

Hydrogen cars: Sustainable fuel for vehicles of the future edges closer with solar breakthrough

Your dreams of owning a solar-powered car could soon come true. Researchers at UCLA have created a device that effectively converts solar energy into usable and storable power that could be fed into a hydrogen fuel cell to power an eco-friendly car. Best yet, it would be affordable.

UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry Richard Kaner and his team have been working on creating a more renewable source of energy and believe they have finally completed this task. The device, not yet named and only referred to as “an integrated electrochemical device based on earth-abundant metals” is described in a paper published online in Energy Storage and Materials.

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November 17, 2017

Azo Clean Tech

Solar-Powered Device Produces Electricity Using Ion Transport

Chemists at the University of California, Irvine have created a new type of solar power generator by binding photosensitive dyes to standard plastic membranes and adding water.

The device is like well-known silicon photovoltaic cells but varies in a fundamental way: Instead of being created via electrons, its electricity arises from the motion of ions.

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November 27, 2017

Travel Weekly

Airbus hints at development of pilotless aircraft

Airbus has reportedly outlined plans for a future of flights with no pilots on board.

A looming shortage of pilots and advances in automation are encouraging the European aircraft manufacturer to develop technology that eventually will remove human beings from the cabin.

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November 17, 2017

PV Magazine

Switching to solar can boost education, prosperity for developing world, study finds

Research from the Overseas Development Institute estimates that children in developing world can gain 15 minutes extra study time a day if their homes switch from fossil fuel to solar, while households can enjoy savings of $10 per month.

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November 21, 2017

WUNC (NC)

The world’s largest candy maker is betting a billion dollars on the planet

In the US, and throughout the globe for that matter, the private sector is increasingly being looked to as a source of leadership for combating climate change. And many companies are stepping up, especially with the lack of leadership coming from Washington.

Consider the family-owned company Mars, the world’s largest candy maker — it produces iconic brands like Snickers, Skittles and M&M’s. … More companies are talking about climate change, but Mars, which is based in McLean, Virginia, is putting a big pile of money behind that talk — $1 billion toward cutting its greenhouse gas pollution by two-thirds by the year 2050.

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REGULATORY STORIES

 

November 28, 2017

The Hill

Tax bill clears Senate Budget Committee

The Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday advanced the chamber’s GOP tax bill.

The measure was approved by a party-line vote of 12-11, with two key Republicans voting for the measure after previously expressing concerns.

The vote sends the measure to the Senate floor, where the bill could start to be considered as early as Wednesday. … The Budget Committee combined the tax bill with a measure that allows drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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November 27, 2017

Washington Examiner

McConnell: How one Trump nominee combined environmental quality and economic development

Throughout Kathleen Hartnett White’s six-year tenure at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and in subsequent years thereafter, she has demonstrated thoughtful and effective regulatory insights and practice.

Kathleen has been nominated by President Trump to chair the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and she is being questioned and challenged – not for her record, and not for her qualifications, but because she has refused to define environmental quality and economic development as mutually exclusive.

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November 26, 2017

BBC

Mayor of London calls on councils to ban fracking

The Mayor of London will recommend councils block appraisals or production of shale gas using fracking in his draft London Plan, published later this week.

Sadiq Khan called the method “harmful” and said any applications to his office would be denied.

Mr Kahn said London’s boroughs should focus on “clean and renewable forms of energy”.

The process can generate toxic silica dust, which can cause chronic lung damage, as well pollutants that worsen neurological problems, Mr Khan said.

The levels of water required for fracking could also lead to shortages, the plan will say.

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips November 28, 2017

 

LEAD STORIES

 

November 27, 2017

Houston Chronicle

Foreign markets want Texas oil, say experts

Texas crude oil is being shipped worldwide at ever higher rates as foreign markets get used to the taste of light sweet crude.

More than 70 percent of the crude oil moved into Port Corpus Christi in October was exported said Jarl Pedersen, the Port’s chief commercial officer, who was speaking at the Hart Energy’s DUG Eagle Ford Conference held earlier this month at the Convention Center in San Antonio.
That oil is not just coming from South Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale but also from the prolific Permian Basin oil field in West Texas.

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November 24, 2017

Oil Price

Oil Major: 70% Of Crude Can Be Left In The Ground

Canada’s oil sands are too dirty to be produced, and should probably stay in the ground.

That has long been the sentiment of environmental groups, but it is also gaining acceptance even among some of the largest oil companies in the world.

“A lot of fossil fuels will have to stay in the ground, coal obviously … but you will also see oil and gas being left in the ground, that is natural,” Statoil’s CEO Eldar Saetre told Reutersin an interview. “At Statoil we are not pursuing certain types of resources, we are not exploring for heavy oil or investing in oilsands. It is really about accessing the most carbon-efficient barrels.”

Meanwhile, Statoil is under pressure at home on another front: its Arctic wells in the Barents Sea have come up dry, capping off a highly disappointing drilling season.

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November 27, 2017

The Hill

Keystone pipeline to restart operations on Tuesday

The Keystone pipeline will return to service on Tuesday, operators announced, nearly two weeks after spilling about 5,000 barrels of oil in rural South Dakota.

Keystone operator TransCanada said the pipeline will operate at reduced pressure “to ensure a safe and gradual increase in the volume of crude oil moving through the system.”

The company said federal pipeline safety regulators had signed off on plans for a “safe and controlled return to service.”

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November 12, 2017

IndraStra

Solar Power Has 50% Chance of Being Deployed as Enhanced Oil Recovery Tool, GIQ Survey Reports

The deployment of renewable solar energy in the recovery of crude oil from difficult reservoirs will take up to three years to become a normal part of a growing toolkit of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques, according to 50% of respondents in a Gulf Intelligence GIQ Industry Survey.

So far, the most common EOR method deployed today is thermal EOR. This process injects steam into the ground so that oil operators can heat the rock formations surrounding the reservoir to reduce the oil’s viscosity and facilitate extraction. To produce the steam necessary for EOR, oil companies burn enormous quantities of natural gas, which is a scarce and expensive commodity in many countries in the region.

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OIL AND GAS STORIES

 

November 28, 2017

CNBC

Oil prices fall on uncertainty over OPEC output cuts, pipeline restart

Oil prices slipped in early Asian trade on Tuesday amid uncertainty over a possible extension of output cuts by major crude producers and expectations of higher supply as the Keystone pipeline restarts.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures were down 24 cents at $57.87 a barrel at 0117 GMT, after falling 1.4 percent in the previous session.

U.S. crude touched $59.05 a barrel on Friday, the highest level since mid-2015, fuelled by the outage of the Keystone pipeline, one of Canada’s main crude export routes to the United States.

 Brent futures fell to $63.73 a barrel, down 11 cents from the previous close.
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November 27, 2017

Reuters

Exxon Mobil CEO makes first big changes to refining

Exxon Mobil Corp Chief Executive Darren Woods is reorganizing the company’s refining operations, part of a push to boost profits amid volatile oil and natural gas prices, the company said on Monday.

The changes at the world’s largest publicly traded oil producer are the most sweeping to date by Woods, who became chief executive in January after former chief Rex Tillerson resigned to become U.S. secretary of state.

Woods has moved first to reshape the parts of the businesses he knows best, according to sources familiar with the matter. Before taking the helm at Exxon, Woods ran Exxon’s refining operations.

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November 27, 2017

D Magazine

Yet Another Study: Oil and Gas Industry at Fault for North Texas Quakes

Published over the weekend in the journal Science Advances, the report’s authors include researchers from SMU and the U.S. Geological Survey. What distinguishes this study from pastresearch connecting North Texas earthquakes to human activity is the analysis of “high-resolution seismic reflection data,” collected by a sort of underground ultrasound that uncovers hundreds of millions of years of geological history.

Researchers had to sift through 300 million years of geological layers to to find any signs of an active fault underneath Texas, leading them to rule out the possibility that recent earthquakes here were caused by natural forces. (For comparison, the team also studied data from north Mississippi, which unlike North Texas, has a pre-2008 history of seismic activity.)
The remaining culprit, then, is the oil and gas industry.

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November 27, 2017

Oil & Gas Investor

Black Stone’s Magic: $340 Million Pries Minerals From Noble Energy

Adding to its larder of mineral and royalty interests, Black Stone Minerals LP (NYSE: BSM) said Nov. 27 it agreed to acquire 140,000 net mineral acres in 20 states from Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL), including 15,500 net acres of royalty interests in the Permian Basin.

Blackstone will pay $340 million for the interests, with 90% funded through a private placement of new cumulative convertible preferred units to an affiliate of private-equity firm The Carlyle Group, the company said.

For Noble Energy, the deal is the second announced sale in November.

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November 27, 2017

Bismarck Tribune

No prison time ordered for men convicted of Bakken environmental crimes

Two men convicted of federal charges related to illegally operating a saltwater disposal well near Dickinson will not go to prison for the environmental crimes, a judge ruled Monday.

Jason Halek, 44, of Southlake, Texas, will serve up to one year in a halfway house and pay a $50,000 fine, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland ruled.

Halek, who pleaded guilty to three felony counts of violating the Safe Drinking Water Act, also was ordered to serve three years of supervised release.

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November 27, 2017

Wall St. Journal

America’s New Energy Diplomacy

Poland wants to reduce its reliance on Russian energy, and last week its state-owned oil and gas company, PGNiG , signed its first five-year deal to buy American liquefied natural gas. The agreement illustrates how the energy boom from the fracking revolution can serve U.S. national interests and deter the reach of dictators abroad.

Moscow has long used its energy resources as a political weapon. Gazprom , the Kremlin-owned energy company, currently provides more than two-thirds of Poland’s gas, and other European nations also rely heavily on Russian energy. President Vladimir Putin has used that dependence as a diplomatic cudgel, threatening to cut off supplies. And on several occasions he has followed through.

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November 27, 2017

WHIO (Dayton OH)

Michigan, Enbridge reach deal to boost safety of pipelines

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian oil transport company Enbridge Inc. announced a timeline Monday for determining the future of twin pipelines beneath the channel where Lakes Huron and Michigan converge.

Options include shutting down the lines or routing them through a tunnel beneath the lakebed where they now rest.

The plan calls for reaching a final agreement by Aug. 15, 2018, on the pipes beneath the Straits of Mackinac, a 5-mile-long (8-kilometer-long) scenic waterway with high value to the tourist industry and Great Lakes environment.

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November 22, 2017

Houston Chronicle

Exxon, Shell, BP and more pledge to reduce methane emissions

Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and more of the world’s largest energy companies are pledging to reduce their methane emissions, acknowledging publicly that global warming is a major problem worldwide.

The companies said Wednesday they’re coming together to address climate change so they can continue to provide more efficient natural gas power to the world. However, they’re not adopting any specific numeric goals to reduce methane emissions. Instead, they’re adopting what they call “guiding principles.”

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November 27, 2017

Reuters

Keystone’s existing pipeline spills far more than predicted to regulators

TransCanada Corp’s existing Keystone pipeline has leaked substantially more oil, and more often, in the United States than indicated in risk assessments the company provided to regulators before the project began operating in 2010, according to documents reviewed by Reuters.

The Canadian company is now seeking to expand the pipeline system linking Alberta’s oil fields to U.S. refineries with its proposed Keystone XL project, which has U.S. President Donald Trump’s backing.

The existing 2,147-mile (3,455 km) Keystone system from Hardisty, Alberta, to the Texas coast has had three significant leaks in the United States since it began operating in 2010, including a 5,000-barrel spill this month in rural South Dakota, and two others, each about 400 barrels, in South Dakota in 2016 and North Dakota in 2011.

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November 27, 2017

Texas Standard

Keystone Pipeline Spill Could Affect Oil Prices and Future Regulations

The Keystone pipeline – a target of environmental activists since before it began operating in 2010 – has leaked substantially more oil, more often in the United States than indicated in risk assessments provided to regulators. Keystone has been back in the news because of a recent spill.

Matt Smith, director of commodity research at Clipperdata says a spill last week shut the pipeline down, and the fallout will be serious.

“It’s very serious, really. From both an operational standpoint and from an environmental perspective as well,” Smith says.

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November 27, 2017

Richland Source (OH)

Ohio EPA: Rover Pipeline spill leaks 200 gallons of drilling fluid into Black Fork

Only a few months after the Rover Pipeline was given permission by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to continue drilling construction at certain Ohio locations, five more spills have taken place, three close to home for Ashland and Richland County residents.

In addition, on Wednesday, Rover Pipeline plans to host “check presentation events,” including one that will take place in Mansfield. Each county’s emergency management department will receive $10,000.

In the latest incident, the company’s construction activity caused 200 gallons of bentonite-based drilling fluid to be released into a tributary of the Mohican River near the Ashland-Richland County border in Milton Township, according to a press release from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

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 November 27, 2017

Wall St. Journal

SandRidge Energy Adopts ‘Poison Pill’ After Carl Icahn Increases Stake

SandRidge Energy Inc.’s board has adopted a so-called poison pill that would make it more difficult for activist investor Carl Icahn, who recently disclosed a 13.5% stake in the oil and natural-gas producer, to increase his stake as he criticizes SandRidge’s plan to buy Bonanza Creek Energy Inc.

The shareholder-rights plan adopted by SandRidge’s board Sunday is aimed at blocking a person or group of people from amassing 10% of the company’s common stock. It also would deter shareholders who already own significant stakes, including Mr. Icahn, from scooping up more shares.

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November 27, 2017

CNBC

OPEC meeting: Cartel poised to announce deal extension despite Russia concerns

OPEC ministers head to Vienna on Thursday to decide whether to extend output cuts beyond March next year. The prospect, however, of an alliance breakdown between the world’s two largest oil producers threatens to scupper the cartel’s plans.

OPEC is expected to extend its deal with Russia and other oil producers to keep 1.8 million barrels a day off the market, but what’s not clear is for how long. Analysts believe the market is positioning for a nine-month extension from the deal’s current expiration in March.

“OPEC has been left with little room for error,” Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Denmark’s Saxo Bank, said in a research note.

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November 23, 2017

Oil Price

Citi: Prepare For An OPEC Disappointment

A week out from the OPEC meeting, everyone is assuming a rollover of the production cuts for an additional nine months will be a simple formality, putting the limits in place until the end of 2018. But what if such a scenario fails to materialize? What if the cuts are for a shorter duration, or perhaps worse, there is no consensus at all?

Russia is likely to be the key to this puzzle, and there are reports that Russian officials are not convinced that any action is needed at this time. They argue that it is too early to announce anything, and that the OPEC/non-OPEC alliance should just wait until the expiration of the current agreement (March 2018) draws closer.

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November 27, 2017

Bloomberg

OPEC Is in the Dark About Shale

OPEC will have to decide whether to extend global oil cuts without knowing whether they’re triggering a new flood of rival supply from U.S. shale producers.

 Analysts gave differing outlooks for U.S. shale output in a briefing to officials from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, stoking concern ahead of OPEC’s planned meeting on Nov. 30, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. The analysts included Andy Hall, the veteran crude trader who closed his hedge fund this year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the briefing was private.
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November 22, 2017

Reuters

Detained Venezuelan-U.S. Citgo executives to be tried as ‘traitors’: Maduro

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday that Venezuelan-American executives at refiner Citgo who were arrested in a corruption sweep this week would be tried as “corrupt, thieving traitors” despite a request by the United States to free them.

Five of six executives of U.S.-based refiner Citgo [PDVSAC.UL] who were arrested in Caracas this week are U.S. citizens, according to a source familiar with the matter, possibly complicating Venezuela’s corruption sweep of the oil industry.

The six executives included acting Citgo President Jose Pereira, who has Venezuelan citizenship and U.S. permanent residency, the source said. Citgo did not respond to requests for comment.

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UTILITIES STORIES

 

November 27, 2017

Austin Monitor

Changes in the Texas wholesale energy grid may increase prices

In August 2017, City Council made a commitment to providing 65 percent renewable energy to its residents by 2027. This aggressive energy plan is, according to Robert Cullick, director of communications and marketing at Austin Energy, the only one of its kind in the country.

At the Nov. 13 meeting of Council’s Austin Energy Utility Oversight Committee, Erika Bierschbach, AE’s market operations and risk management manager, reviewed upcoming changes to the Texas wholesale energy grid and their corresponding effects on pricing. The most noteworthy of these changes was a 5 percent shutdown of fossil fuel power generation in 2018.

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November 27, 2017

Platts

Texas’ Comanche Peak-2 reactor remains shut after manual trip

Luminant’s Comanche Peak-2 nuclear power reactor in Glen Rose, Texas, remained offline Monday after operators manually tripped the 1,241-MW unit from 100% of capacity late Saturday, according to a US Nuclear Regulatory Commission event report.
Luminant told NRC the unit experienced a loss of main feedwater.
“Operators observed [that] both main feed pumps tripped and [steam generator] levels decreasing,” prompting the manual trip at 8:25 pm CST Saturday (0225 GMT), Luminant said.

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November 16, 2017

Green Tech Media

South Carolina Electric & Gas Has a Plan to Replace Its Abandoned Nuclear Project

A $4.8 billion plan released Thursday from South Carolina Electric & Gas Company would put money back in the wallets of the state’s ratepayers and use solar power and natural gas to make up for the cancellation of the V.C. Summer nuclear plant. …

Much of the angst surrounding the V.C. cancellation centers on who will pay for a project that will no longer bring any return on investment. Three customers have already filed a class-action racketeering lawsuit against the company, alleging it overcharged for “nuclear reactors (it) did not need and could not construct for the price or time as set forth.” In its announcement, SCE&G said SCANA shareholders would eat $2.9 billion of the approximately $9 billion in construction costs through lower earnings over the next 50 years.

To make up for the 2,234 megawatts of power that would have come from the V.C. Summer expansion, SCE&G will spend $680 million on a 540-megawatt natural gas plant and 100 megawatts of utility-scale solar, about a 50 percent increase in the utility’s non-residential solar capacity.

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November 24, 2017

Fox News

Stockton: Trump is right — diverse energy sources means America’s grid is less vulnerable

When Energy Secretary Rick Perry directed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to create a rule aimed at improving the reliability and resilience of our nation’s electricity grid, he said he want to spark a conversation.  It turns out that he touched a live wire.

Proponents of the rule say it will fix the failure of wholesale electricity markets to ensure a resilient electric grid.  In particular, they say that under current pricing rule, markets do not adequately compensate for power generators – including nuclear generators — that help make the grid resilient.  Opponents call the rule an attempt to distort the market.

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ALTERNATIVES AND RENEWABLES STORIES

 

November 18, 2017

Forbes

Berboucha: Scientists Have Printed Bio-Solar Cells Onto Paper With An Inkjet Printer

Yes, you read that title correctly. A team of scientists from Imperial College London, University of Cambridge and Central Saint Martins have created a two-in-one solar bio-battery and solar panel by printing circuitry and living cyanobateria onto paper.

Cyanobacteria are micro-organisms that gain their energy from photosynthesis. These micro-organisms have been on Earth for billions of years and produce oxygen via photosynthesis. It is thought that cyanobacteria contributed to the Great Oxygenation Event where the Earth’s atmosphere was converted from an oxygen-deficient atmosphere to the oxygen-rich one we have today.

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November 22, 2017

Green Tech Media

Tesla Battery Supply Constraints Weigh on a Young Storage Industry

When Tesla unveiled its stationarystorageproducts for homeowners and utilities in 2015, it immediately sparked new demand for batteries.

But in the two years since, the company’s track record for delivery has been mixed.

While pursuing high-profile projects like the 100-megawatt battery for South Australia’s grid and a microgrid for a hospital in hurricane-damaged Puerto Rico, Tesla has struggled to maintain steady and timely deliveries to behind-the-meter installers who count on the sought-after Powerwall and Powerpack batteries.

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November 17, 2017

Inverse

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced this week that they have developed a new battery-like system can store the the sun’s energy and release heat when needed at a later time.

In the near-term, the technology could provide a new energy source for communities in the developing world that don’t depend on the grid, or create a power system for people who live in cities who want to limit the amount of electricity they use.

The MIT scientists have developed a chemical composite that only releases stored energy when it reacts to light, a system that could take wasted energy from heavy machinery and use it later for cooking or heating a room.

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November 17, 2017

HydroWorld

Study: Greater variable renewables challenge flexibility of power systems

The net result of the increase in renewables expected over the next decade and more is “much greater volatility in the power system,” increasing the need for flexible resources, including energy storage.

This is a key finding of an economic study released earlier this week by Bloomberg New Energy Finance and commissioned by Eaton in partnership with the Renewable Energy Association. The study is titled Beyond the Tipping Point: Flexibility Gaps in Future High-Renewable Energy Systems in the UK, Germany and the Nordics.

Economic tipping points mean renewable energy will account for more than half of electricity generation by the mid-2020s in the UK and Germany, according to BNEF. At the same time, the cost of generating energy from wind and solar is expected to more than half from today’s levels by 2040.

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REGULATORY STORIES

 

November 22, 2017

Texas Observer

TCEQ Punts on Water Rights Fight on the San Saba River

In the latest volley in a decade-long fight over water rights on the San Saba River in Central Texas, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has delayed implementing a permanent solution to ensure the river flows year round.

As the Observer reported in October, a 40-mile stretch of the river has repeatedly dried up between Menard and Brady. Landowners who live downstream charge that their neighbors upstream are to blame for illegally pumping more water than their permits allow, and TCEQ hasn’t settled the fight. As a result, downstream landowners have been calling on the agency to appoint a watermaster — a referee who can manage and enforce water rights on a local and day-to-day basis — to police the river.

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November 23, 2017

Houston Chronicle

As Senate considers ANWR, oil companies’ interest in question

More than a decade after former president George W. Bush tried but failed to open up drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, oil companies are now poised to gain access to what is one of the country’s largest and most remote wilderness areas.

Under legislation designed to help pay for an historic corporate tax cut, the U.S. government would begin leasing a 1.5 million acre section of ANWR, where one of the largest oil fields is believed to lie. But with oil prices below $60 a barrel, and environmental groups poised to go to court to block any development within the refuge, the question remains whether enough oil companies would be interested in drilling in one of the harshest and most remote corners of the world to produce the kind of revenues Republicans in Congress are promising to offset the costs of the tax cuts and their impact on the deficit.

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November 26, 2017

Casper Star Tribune (WY)

Regional EPA leader says priorities have changed at the agency

Wyoming disliked the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, a 2015 proposed regulation on utilities that aimed to cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 30 percent.

State economists said the plan would take a painful bite out of Wyoming’s coal production. At worst, production could see a 50 percent cut as states turned away from coal-fired power, some estimated.

But the last couple years were unkind to coal, anyway. Wyoming coal production shrank by about one-quarter in a tumultuous market, while the CPP bounced through courts with years to go before its implementation.

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips November 27, 2017
LEAD STORIES

 

November 24, 2017

Bloomberg

Russia-OPEC Agree on Framework to Extend Oil Cuts

OPEC and Russia have crafted the outline of a deal to extend their oil production cuts to the end of next year, although both sides are still hammering out crucial details, according to people involved in the conversations.

 The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries and several non-OPEC nations led by Russia will meet next week in Vienna to discuss prolonging their output curbs. Moscow had been hesitating over the need for an extension now because the current deal doesn’t expire until the end of March.

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November 24, 2017

Washington Post

Oil and gas industry is causing Texas earthquakes, a ‘landmark’ study suggests

An unnatural number of earthquakes hit Texas in the past decade, and the region’s seismic activity is increasing. In 2008, two earthquakes stronger than magnitude 3 struck the state. Eight years later, 12 did.

Natural forces trigger most earthquakes. But humans are causing earthquakes, too, with mining and dam construction the most frequent suspects. There has been a recent increase in natural gas extraction — including fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, but other techniques as well — which produces a lot of wastewater. To get rid of it, the water is injected deep into the ground. When wastewater works its way into dormant faults, the thinking goes, the water’s pressure nudges the ancient cracks. Pent-up tectonic stress releases and the ground shakes.

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November 20, 2017

National Geographic

Massive Infrastructure Projects Are Failing at Unprecedented Rates

Big fossil-fuel, mining, hydroelectric, and other “mega projects” are struggling thanks to competition from newer, cleaner technologies and a firestorm of market and civil forces.

Though few recognized it at the time, 2011 may mark a turning point for the era of building mega energy and mining projects around the world, according to experts. That year, a series of natural disasters energized civic resistance to giant projects. At the same time, alternative and renewable energy technologies have evolved as cheaper, safer options. And more traditional industrial projects that have moved forward have tended to be smaller scale.

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November 16, 2017

Elektrek

Cheapest electricity on the planet is Mexican solar power at 1.77¢/kWh – record 1¢/kWh coming in 2019, sooner

Per a press release from the Centro Nacional de Control de Energía (Cenace) of Mexico, the department received bids for 3TWh of solar electricity, with the lowest bids being 1.77¢/kWh coming from Italian multinational ENEL Green Power.

This record low price of electricity on earth, just beats out the 1.79¢/kWh from Saudi Arabia, and is part of a pattern marching toward 1¢/kWh bids that are coming in 2019 (or sooner).

Mexico’s Department of Energy along with Cenace announced the results of the country’s ‘Third Long Term Auction.’ Fifteen bids were accepted from eight wind and solar power companies. ENGIE bid as Solar and Wind companies, Mitsui alongside Trina, ENEL and Canadian Solar were some of the better known names.

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OIL AND GAS STORIES

 

November 22, 2017

US News

US Rig Count up by 8 This Week to 923; Wyoming up 4

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. increased by eight this week to 923.

That’s up from the 593 rigs that were active a year ago.

Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes said Wednesday that 747 rigs sought oil and 176 explored for natural gas this week.

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November 22, 2017

San Antonio Express News

Uresti witness arrested for alleged armed robbery

Harlingen police have arrested Denise Gina Cantu, the star witness in the upcoming criminal fraud trial of state Sen. Carlos Uresti, for alleged involvement in an armed robbery Monday.

Cantu, 38, was arrested at her home Tuesday after a warrant was issued charging her with aggravated robbery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, both felonies, according to a news release issued by the Harlingen Police Department. …

Cantu is slated to testify against Uresti and two others in January in connection with a now-defunct oil field services company that prosecutors allege was a Ponzi scheme. Uresti, who provided legal services to FourWinds Logistics, recommended Cantu invest with the company and later collected a $27,000 commission on her investment in 2013.

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November 22, 2017

Austin American Statesman

Report: 74,000 gallons of crude oil unrecovered in Bastrop spill

More than 74,000 gallons of spilled crude oil were not recovered from an 87,000-gallon oil spill in Bastrop in July, according to a product loss report submitted by Magellan Pipeline Co., the pipeline’s owner and operator, to the Texas Railroad Commission.

“The Crude Oil, Gas Well Liquids or Associated Product Loss Report,” obtained by the Bastrop Advertiser, states that of 2,084 barrels (87,528 gallons) of crude oil spilled July 13 along FM 20, just south of Shiloh Road in Bastrop County, only 314 barrels (13,188 gallons) were recaptured.
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November 26, 2017

Wall St. Journal

Venezuelan General With No Oil-Industry Experience to Lead State Sector

President Nicolás Maduro named an active general to lead the state oil industry, the nation’s last major economic sector that had been outside the military’s control.

National Guard Maj. Gen. Manuel Quevedo will be the new energy minister and president of state-run Petróleos de Venezuela SA, known as PdVSA, which accounts for almost all the country’s foreign-currency income.

Gen. Quevedo, who has no oil-sector experience, takes the reins at PdVSA from Nelson Martinez, a U.S.-educated company veteran who was undermined by last week’s arrests of his associates at the firm’s U.S. arm, Citgo Petroleum Corp. Another U.S.-educated veteran oilman, Eulogio Del Pino, was fired as the oil minister.

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November 23, 2017

Oil Price

Patterson: Is Texas Poised For A Sharp Rise In Output?

Dean Fantazzini has provided his latest estimates of Texas oil and natural gas output.

His analysis is based on RRC data only. Each RRC data set from Jan 2014 to Sept 2017 for crude and from April 2014 to Sept 2017 for condensate and natural gas are used in the “all data” estimate, the most recent 49 months of data are collected for each individual data set.

After March 2016 there was a shift in the data for crude and condensate so for the C+C estimate, I include an estimate which uses all data from April 2016 to the most recent data point (“Corrected 18 month vintage”). Dean prefers to present an “all vintage data” estimate and an estimate using only the most recent 3 months “correction factors”. For Sept 2017 the all vintage data estimate is 3174 kb/d, the last 3 month vintage estimate is 2957 kb/d, and the last 18 month vintage estimate is 3039 kb/d with falls of 68, 96, and 80 kb/d respectively from the previous month.

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November 22, 2017

Texas Monthly

Debating the Permian Basin

One of the most significant recent developments in the global oil and gas industry has been the rebirth of the Permian Basin, an approximately 90,000-square-mile, 300-mile-wide sedimentary basin spanning dozens of counties in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico, including the cities of Midland, Odessa, and Fort Stockton. Oil was first discovered here in the twenties and the area quickly became one of the country’s greatest oil-producing regions. By the last decades of the twentieth century, however, the Permian appeared to be in decline, with many oil companies selling their land and moving on to presumably richer fields.

But with the advent of hydrofracking and horizontal drilling technology earlier this decade, oil experts quickly realized that there was more oil left to extract—much more.

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November 22, 2017

Longview News Journal

Judge: Keystone lawsuit can continue

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge Wednesday rejected a bid by the Donald Trump administration to dismiss a lawsuit that challenges a presidential permit for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris dismissed U.S. Justice Department arguments that the court had no authority to second-guess the cross-border permit issued by the State Department.

Morris also rejected motions by TransCanada Corp., the company behind the project, to dismiss the suit.

Conservation groups and Native American organizations contend in the lawsuit that an environmental review of the project completed in 2014 was inadequate.

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November 26, 2017

Houston Chronicle

HC: A win for Big Oil — The Keystone XL pipeline remains key infrastructure for our state

Our nation’s energy industry got some good news during Thanksgiving week.

The long delayed Keystone XL pipeline, stalled by years of politically motivated setbacks, finally got the green light it has badly needed. Unfortunately, it still isn’t clear whether the project will finally be completed. And at the same time, an oil spill pointedly highlighted precisely the kind of accident the developers of this pipeline must now scrupulously avoid.

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November 24, 2017

Fox News

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince calls Iran’s supreme leader ‘new Hitler’ of the Middle East

Amid his sweeping cultural reforms and systematic purges from the royal family, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince this week called Iran’s supreme leader the “new Hitler of the Middle East,” comments that are sure to ratchet up the conflict between the two rival Muslim powers.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made the statements about Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in an interview with The New York Times that was published Thursday. Salman told The Times that Iran’s efforts to expand “needed to be confronted.”

The prince, 32, who is expected to succeed his father, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, 81, compared Iran and Saudi Arabia’s power struggle in the region to those fighting for Europe in World War II.

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November 23, 2017

New York Times

Friedman: Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, at Last

I never thought I’d live long enough to write this sentence: The most significant reform process underway anywhere in the Middle East today is in Saudi Arabia. Yes, you read that right. Though I came here at the start of Saudi winter, I found the country going through its own Arab Spring, Saudi style.

Unlike the other Arab Springs — all of which emerged bottom up and failed miserably, except in Tunisia — this one is led from the top down by the country’s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and, if it succeeds, it will not only change the character of Saudi Arabia but the tone and tenor of Islam across the globe. Only a fool would predict its success — but only a fool would not root for it.

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November 21, 2017

Dallas Morning News

Dallas billionaire Kelcy Warren’s new nemesis is a 30-year-old who disrupted the pipeline world once before

Kevin Kaiser was on an airplane this summer, staring into his laptop, when he came up with the idea for taking on Dallas billionaire pipeline magnate Kelcy Warren.

He was scrutinizing a nearly year-old prospectus for Sunoco Logistics Partners LP’s acquisition of Energy Transfer Partners LP, an agreement that merged two parts of Warren’s energy empire. For months, the 30-year-old Hedgeye Risk Management LLC analyst had heard clients complain that the deal — along with a host of other Energy Transfer moves — enriched Warren but did little to benefit Energy Transfer Partners unit holders, Kaiser said in an interview.

Reading the prospectus, Kaiser realized that Energy Transfer Partners investors could band together and overthrow Warren’s control of their company.

“The hurdle is high, but there is something that can be done,” Kaiser said.

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November 25, 2017

Wall St. Journal

Oil Investors’ Surprise New Worry: An Over-Achieving OPEC

After years of doing too little, OPEC could suddenly be doing too much.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ 14 members and other major producers like Russia are widely expected to strike an agreement this week to continue withholding about 2% of global oil supply from the market. The national energy ministers of about two dozen countries are set to meet Thursday at the oil cartel’s headquarters in Vienna.

But OPEC is beset by doubts that renewing its production agreement for another several months will help its members, say OPEC representatives and independent market watchers. Some members, along with outside analysts, say that OPEC could overstimulate the market and send prices too high next year. That, in turn, risks depressing demand for crude.

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November 24, 2017

The Hill

Five things to watch in the new Keystone fight

Developers need more permits — Nebraska’s decision Monday to approve the pipeline route was a landmark moment in the Keystone saga, but it’s not the final time regulators will decide the pipeline’s fate.

The Bureau of Land Management needs to issue a permit allowing pipeline construction on a small swatch of federal land along its path, said Sierra Club senior attorney Doug Hayes. The Army Corps of Engineers also has to authorize its construction over waterways along the route.

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November 24, 2017

Houston Chronicle

U.S. demands visits with oil executives jailed in Venezuela

U.S. diplomats are demanding that Venezuela give them immediate access to jailed oil executives who hold American passports.

The State Department said in a statement Friday that the U.S. Embassy in Caracas made the request to the government under international law.

It follows this week’s arrest of six high-ranking executives from Citgo, a Houston-based subsidiary of Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA. Venezuela accuses them of embezzlement stemming from a $4 billion deal to refinance bonds.

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UTILITIES STORIES

 

November 24, 2017

Victoria Advocate

Nuclear plant strives to replace retiring workforce

Years ago, a Palacios High School student told a packed auditorium about how science, technology, engineering and math piqued her interest.

Then-Gov. Rick Perry was in the audience to present the school with a check to encourage other students’ interest in the subjects.

Today, Perry is the U.S. Secretary of Energy and that student, Elizabeth Castanon, is a mechanical design engineer at South Texas Project (STP) Nuclear Operating Company, a few miles from her childhood home.

STP’s yearslong effort to draw a diverse workforce from Matagorda County is being put to the test now that nearly half its workforce can retire.

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November 24, 2017

Austin Chronicle

Austin Energy’s Quest to Bring Solar Power to Renters and the Less Wealthy

From the top of a Downtown skyscraper, looking west, there’s a better chance of catching the twinkling reflection of a rooftop solar panel than if you set your gaze to the east. Austin Energy’s solar incentive program has made great strides recruiting affluent residents to its zero carbon emission agenda, but it has historically been less successful at straddling the city’s economic divide. In an effort to reach underserved markets, the public utility is currently considering a drop in its rebate on solar panel installations for residential to a flat rate as a means of pivoting its demographic focus from homeowners to renters. Senior officials at Austin Energy say this transition is an anticipated step in a greater strategic timeline for the solar program, but unaffiliated experts and activists both point to the uncertainty of a precarious solar market and the challenges statewide of reaching low-income energy users.

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November 14, 2017

USGS

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates a mean of 40 million pounds of in-place uranium oxide remaining as potential undiscovered resources in the Southern High Plains region of Texas, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

The uranium occurs in a type of rock formation called “calcrete,” which has been well-documented in noted uranium-producing countries like Australia and Namibia. The calcrete formations described in this assessment are the first uranium-bearing calcrete deposits reported in the United States. …

“Texas is well-known for its energy potential, from petroleum to wind to uranium,” said Walter Guidroz, program coordinator of the USGS Energy Resources Program. “In fact, in 2015, we released another assessment of uranium in South Texas, where we estimated a mean of about 5 years of U.S. uranium needs.”

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ALTERNATIVE AND RENEWABLES STORIES

 

November 20, 2017

Truro Daily News (Canada)

Texas mayor no fan of Trump

The Republican mayor of Georgetown, Texas, is no fan of the Trump administration’s take on climate change.

“Folks think that since I’m a Republican that me and (Donald) Trump agree on all environmental and energy issues,” Mayor Dale Ross, a self-professed right-wing Republican, said during a panel discussion on climate change Sunday that wrapped up the three-day Halifax International Security Forum.

“We rarely agree in those areas. During the campaign, he said there is clean coal. There is no such thing as clean coal.

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November 20, 2017

Solar Power World

What is the resource value of solar?

Utilities typically think solar is a cost to them because solar customers aren’t paying as much as traditional customers are for grid maintenance. Solar customers think it should be seen as a benefit to utilities because they’re using less of the grid’s power and even feeding energy into the grid in some cases. So who’s right?

One way states have tried to answer that question is by finding a resource value of solar, or RVOS.

The resource value of solar, or RVOS, is a number value that can help states determine the net cost or benefit of solar on a utility-by-utility basis. They can use that number to see if the net metering policies in place accurately reflect the value of solar they’ve found, or create a new value of solar tariff.

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November 17, 2017

Phys Org

Research suggests vertical axis turbines could increase public support for new wind energy installations

Vertical axis turbines have been around for decades but have been less popular options for large wind farms because of concerns that current models are less reliable and produce less energy per unit. But the tide could turn with public concern over the impacts that wind energy has on people as well as birds and other wildlife. “Because vertical axis turbines operate at lower speeds, lower height, and have a different visual signature than conventional wind turbines, we anticipated that they would have less impact on birds and wildlife,” said John Dabiri, professor of civil and environmental engineering and of mechanical engineering, and a co-author on the paper.
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November 17, 2017

Green Tech Media

China Faces an Uphill Renewable Energy Curtailment Challenge

China, with the world’s largest power system, faces an uphill struggle in trying to contain double-digit rates of renewable curtailment.

Even though power shedding dropped 1.4 percent in the third quarter, compared to the first half of this year, “whether the curtailment rate will go back up again after new projects start commissioning remains a concern,” said Xiaoyang Li, market analyst at MAKE Consulting.

Oversupply, system inflexibility and transmission bottlenecks mean power generated in China’s northern provinces regularly fails to make it to the load centers near the coast.

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November 12, 2017

Engadget

Daimler and HPE want to power green data centers with hydrogen

Hydrogen fuel cells have mainly been used to power vehicles so far, but they could soon find another use: the server farms powering your internet services. Daimler, HPE, Power Innovations and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are expanding fuel cell use to “micro-grids” inside data centers. Solar and wind power would provide the bulk of the energy, but fuel cells would fill in the gap when power demand is too high or an outage leaves no other choice. Companies wouldn’t have to rely quite so heavily on diesel generators or other not-so-eco-friendly backups to cope with demand. And unlike battery backups, there’s no limit — the fuel cell can keep running as long as there’s hydrogen.

Work is starting on prototypes this year, though it’s safe to say that it will take a while before you see this in the field.

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REGULATORY STORIES

 

November 24, 2017

Texas Tribune

New state-funded sensors are tracking earthquakes across Texas

Three years ago, a series of quakes rattled North Texas — and some residents’ nerves.

Larry Walden, a Parker County commissioner, remembers a public meeting at the time in which residents complained about cracked houses, damaged foundations and even a hen that had stopped laying eggs.

“They were minor earthquakes unless you’re in an area affected by it,” Walden said. “Then it’s not minor.”

So when a state-funded research team approached the county a year and a half ago about installing a sensor to track seismic activity on a piece of farmland, “we were more than happy,” Walden said. Local officials were eager for “some outside agency to … hopefully give us some feedback as to what was going on.”

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November 23, 2017

San Antonio Express News

EPA taking its time on whether San Antonio meets air quality standards

The Environmental Protection Agency did not include the San Antonio metro area in its list of places that meet federal health standards for ozone, a sign that the agency is considering pollution that wafts in from other places. Bexar County and its neighbors — Atascosa, Bandera, Comal, Guadalupe, Kendall, Medina and Wilson counties — were not among the 2,646 counties designated as meeting the air quality standard in a rule the EPA issued this month.

“I think it’s very encouraging because I think it does indicate that EPA is taking time and really studying the data and the circumstances that we have that particularly make us unique,” said Diane Rath, director of the Alamo Area Council of Governments, a coalition of county and municipal governments whose staff studies ozone in the region.

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November 22, 2017

Houston Chronicle

How dangerous the chemicals at Arkema really were

Prior to the chemical fire at its Crosby plant, Arkema underestimated the potential for storm damage and failed to keep essential backup power protected from rising floodwaters, documents obtained by the Houston Chronicle show. One of the new revelations solves a minor mystery surrounding surrounding the plant’s post-Harvey struggles: Who detonated those last six chemical trailers? It was Houston police.

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November 24, 2017

Washington Times

Pruitt kicks out professors, researchers under federal grant money rule

Charles Werth was nearing the end of his first three-year term as an adviser to the Environmental Protection Agency, and had hopes of being kept on for another stint under President Trump.

But the University of Texas professor also recently used federal grant money to study drinking water treatment. That, he said, seemed to be enough to sink his chances at another term on the Scientific Advisory Board, after EPAAdministrator Scott Pruitt said anyone taking agency money couldn’t also be advising.

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November 22, 2017

Texas Tribune

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton apologizes for graphic online photo

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, released a statement on Wednesday apologizing for a graphic nude photo of him that circulated on social media earlier this week.

“While separated from my second wife, prior to the divorce, I had sexual relationships with other mature adult women,” he said. “Each was consensual. Those relationships have ended. I am sorry I did not use better judgment during those days. I am sorry that I let my constituents down.”

It is still unclear how the photo got onto social media, who put it there, or whether its posting would constitute revenge porn, which is illegal under Texas law.

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips November 22, 2017
LEAD STORIES

 

November 21, 2017

Clean Technica

Ayre: US Petroleum Demand During October 2017 Highest Since 2007

Total petroleum deliveries in the US during October 2017 hit their highest mark since 2007 (pre financial crisis) — rising 1.1% on October 2016 figures, to an average of 19.9 million barrels a day — going on the most recent figures from API.

Year to date (the first 10 months of 2017), total domestic petroleum deliveries are now up 1.2% over the same period last year (as compared to the first 10 months of 2016).

The relatively low gas prices of recent times is no doubt one of the primary drivers of increasing demand — with sales of fuel-hungry pickup trucks and SUVs surging in recent years, and semi truck freight shipping now at high levels.

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November 21, 2017

Reuters

Venezuela arrests head of U.S. refiner Citgo in graft sweep

Venezuelan authorities arrested the acting president of its U.S.-based refiner Citgo and five of the subsidiary’s top executives on Tuesday as part of a spiraling corruption purge in the OPEC country’s oil industry.

Military intelligence agents detained Jose Pereira during an event at state oil company PDVSA’s headquarters in Caracas, two sources told Reuters, in the latest of dozens of high-level arrests in the last few months.

State Prosecutor Tarek Saab has declared a “crusade” against “organized crime” within PDVSA, and has now arrested around 50 oil managers since taking office in August.

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November 21, 2017

The Hill

Five new revelations in the Russian uranium case

Russia saw its purchase of Uranium One as part of a strategy to dominate global uranium markets, including making the United States more dependent on Moscow’s nuclear fuel.

Documents the informant gave the FBI clearly show that the purchase of Uranium One was seen by Russia and its American consultants as one tool in a strategy to “control” the uranium market worldwide. In the United States, that strategy focused on securing billions of new uranium contracts to create a new reliance on Russian nuclear fuel just as the Cold War-era Megatons to Megawatts program, which recylced Soviet nuclear weapons into fuel for American nuclear power plants, was ending.

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November 21, 2017

Phys Org

Team detects pathogenic bacteria in Texas groundwater near natural gas extraction sites

Three new research studies from the University of Texas at Arlington have found harmful pathogenic bacteria in Texas groundwater near unconventional natural gas extraction sites.

“Our latest published research has revealed that harmful  can be quite prevalent in Texas , especially waters that contain various chemical contaminants” said Kevin Schug, Shimadzu Distinguished Professor of Analytical Chemistry and Director of UTA’s Collaborative Laboratories for Environmental Analysis and Remediation, or CLEAR, Lab.

“The next phase is to evaluate novel treatments against these dangerous pathogens and to develop safe strategies for the remediation of biologically-impaired sources of fresh water.”

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OIL AND GAS STORIES

 

November 22, 2017

CNBC

Oil prices firm on expected OPEC cut extension

Oil prices firmed on Wednesday after a reported fall in U.S. crude inventories and on expectations that an OPEC-led production cut aimed at tightening the market will be extended beyond March 2018.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $62.81 per barrel at 0112 GMT, up 24 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $57.31 a barrel, up 48 cents, or 0.8 percent.

 Traders said markets were generally well supported by an effort led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and a group of non-OPEC producers led by Russia to restrain output in a bid to end a global supply overhang.
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November 21, 2017

Houston Chronicle

Houston’s Talos Energy acquiring Stone Energy in nearly $2B merger

Houston offshore oil and gas company Talos Energy said Tuesday it will acquire Louisiana-based Stone Energy in a nearly $2 billion merger.

Private equity-backed Talos will go public on the New York Stock Exchange through the merger with the publicly traded Stone.

Talos was founded five years ago to focus on exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico with the financial backing of major private equity firms Apollo Global Management and Riverstone Holdings. The idea was to take Talos public through an initial public offering in 2014 or 2015, but the oil bust sunk those plans until now.

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November 21, 2017

Houston Chronicle

110 jobs hang in the balance amid contractor change at Texas City refinery

About 110 maintenance workers at a Texas City refinery may lose their jobs after Marathon Oil terminates its contract with Aptim Maintenance.

The Woodlands-based maintenance firm notified the Texas Workforce Commission of the pending layoffs and contract termination, effective Dec. 3.

“We did not foresee the end of this contract,” Jeffrey Dorf, Aptim spokesman, said.

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November 21, 2017

Think Progress

Oil and gas group says African American ‘genetics’ are to blame for health problems, not pollution

The American Petroleum Institute cast shady aspersions on a recent study that warned of increased risks to African Americans who live near oil and gas refineries, citing the discredited and racist argument that “genetics” could be to blame for the health disparities. … But Uni Blake, a scientific adviser in regulatory and scientific affairs at API, defended the oil and gas industry in a blog post.

“I’ve read an NAACP paper released this week that accuses the natural gas and oil industry of emissions that disproportionately burden African American communities,” Blake wrote for Energy Tomorrow, an online publication of the behemoth oil and gas trade association.

“As a scientist, my overall observation is that the paper fails to demonstrate a causal relationship between natural gas activity and the health disparities, reported or predicted, within the African American community.”

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November 20, 2017

Texas Standard

Water: A new export for Corpus Christi?

When you think about exports and Corpus Christi, fossil fuels typically come to mind. Since Congress lifted the U.S. ban on crude oil exports in 2015, billions of dollars worth of oil has been shipped out of the port there.

Some in Corpus Christi have an idea to diversify the city’s export portfolio with a resource that’s available in abundance around the coastal city. Officials are investigating the viability of large-scale desalination, with a view toward selling water from the Gulf of Mexico to those who need it.

Joe McComb, the mayor of Corpus Christi, says though he is uncertain when exactly a desalination plan might come to fruition, he is confident that his city has the resources and motivation to begin exporting water in the near future.

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November 21, 2017

Oil & Gas Investor

Experts: Even Mighty Permian Can’t Go On Forever

The Permian Basin, that legendary gift to the oil industry that has kept on giving for more than a century, may be facing sustainability challenges that curtail producers’ optimistic expectations.

To determine the Permian’s outlook, merchant bank Parkman Whaling LLC first examined statements by the 26 public producers that are active in the basin. Those companies are responsible for the overwhelming bulk of production, and they saw a promising future.

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November 21, 2017

San Antonio Express News

The OPEC-shale showdown continues

The oil industry is in an increasingly bullish mood, but the ongoing push-pull between U.S. oil producers and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries isn’t over yet.

Jeff Quigley, director of energy markets for the consulting and research firm Stratas Advisors, said that the outlook for the U.S. oil industry is upbeat, but noted that OPEC members are well positioned for 2018, too — as long as they can keep shale drillers in the U.S. a little off balance. Quigley, who spoke at last week’s Hart Energy DUG Eagle Ford Conference in San Antonio, said he expects some volatility on the horizon.

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November 20, 2017

Rare

Environmentalists worry when oil and gas companies flare up, but what’s the alternative?

It’s called ‘flaring,’ the process when oil and gas companies burn off excess natural gas instead of storing it.

According to the EDF report on flaring, Texas companies in the Permian basin are burning off close to 10 percent of their total natural gas output.

Despite the crudely high amount of oil being produced in the West Texas region, conservationists maintain even this 10 percent is a concerning amount of wasted energy and include threats to the environment, such as carbon dioxide, particulate pollution and methane.

Contextualizing their claims, the EDF studies found other states flare on average less than one percent of their natural gas output; in 2015, 45.5 billion cubic feet of gas went up in smoke, enough to power thousands of homes for years, according to the fund.

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November 21, 2017

Associated Press

TransCanada: Keystone oil leak a sudden, ‘immediate’ event

A TransCanada Corp. official says he believes an estimated 210,000-gallon oil leak discovered last week in South Dakota from the Keystone pipeline was a sudden and “immediate” event.

The American News reports that Erik Tatarchuk, a TransCanada vice president, said at a Marshall County Commission meeting Tuesday that it is unlikely oil leaked long enough to soak into the soil.

TransCanada spokeswoman Jacquelynn Benson says the cause of the leak won’t be known until further investigation.

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle

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November 21, 2017

Financial Ppst

One thing Keystone XL can’t do for Canada? Wean it off the U.S.

Here is one thing Keystone XL won’t do for Canada: wean the country’s oil industry off its dependence on the U.S.

While approval of the project in Nebraska was welcomed by Alberta and its producers, it came also as a reminder that Canada hasn’t been able to clear two crucial projects within its own soil, to ship crude to other markets from its own ports. Meanwhile, TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL ties the country’s industry even more to its southern neighbour.

As Nebraska’s Public Service Commission voted to approve Keystone XL’s route through the state early Monday, Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Trans Mountain expansion to British Columbia’s Pacific Coast remained mired in regulatory delays and legal challenges even after gaining federal approval last year.

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November 21, 2017

North American Shale Magazine

Pipeline drag reduction agent maker expanding in Texas

In Bryan, Texas, it is clear how important pipelines are to the hydrocarbon industry. LiquidPower Specialty Products Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway Co., has announced plans to build a second manufacturing facility capable of producing friction reducers and throughput enhancers used in hydrocarbon pipelines.

LPSI intends to build a second manufacturing facility for its drag reducing agents. When hydrocarbons are placed in a pipeline they naturally create friction and drag on the walls of the pipeline. The drag and friction increases the pressure in the lines and reduces the throughput rate of the pipeline. The injection of DRA’s helps to maintain better throughput rates.
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UTILITIES STORIES

 

November 21, 2017

Five Thirty Eight

The Contract Scandal In Puerto Rico May Say More About The Utility Than It Says About Trump

In the mainland U.S., this story has primarily been framed as the result of conflicts of interest between the administration and corporate entities. But there’s another context worth considering: Puerto Rico’s public electric utility has a long history of sloppy management. Ricardo Ramos had been executive director of the Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica (also known as the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA) only since March. Few of his predecessors lasted very long in the job, either.

Since 2009, there have been seven executive directors of AEE, Ramos included, and he’s not the only one who lost the job under a cloud of scandal. One, Alberto Escudero, left after four days.

From that perspective, the contract with Whitefish — arranged hastily with little evidence of a bidding process and in disregard for normal channels of arranging emergency-response labor contracts — isn’t an aberration at all.
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November 20, 2017

World Nuclear News

US Q3 uranium production falls by 17%

Seven US facilities produced a total of 643,212 pounds U3O8 (247 tU) during the third quarter of 2017. These facilities included one conventional uranium mill – the White Mesa mill, in Utah – and six in-situ leach facilities: Crow Butte, in Nebraska; and Lost Creek, Nichols Ranch, Ross, Smith Ranch-Highland and Willow Creek, all in Wyoming. Production was 11% less than in the second quarter of 2017 and 21% less than for the third quarter of 2016.

Total uranium production for the first three-quarters of 2017 was 1.82 million pounds U3O8, down 17% from the 2.19 million pounds produced in the first three-quarters of 2016.

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ALTERNATIVES AND RENEWABLES STORIES

 

November 21, 2017

Bloomberg

Tesla’s Burning Through Nearly Half a Million Dollars Every Hour

Elon Musk said last week that Tesla Inc. is designing a new sports car that could go from zero to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds. Not bad, but here’s a speed number that investors might want to focus on instead:

 Over the past 12 months, the electric-car maker has been burning money at a clip of about $8,000 a minute (or $480,000 an hour), Bloomberg data show. At this pace, the company is on track to exhaust its current cash pile on Monday, Aug. 6. (At 2:17 a.m. New York time, if you really want to be precise.)
 To be fair, few Tesla watchers expect the cash burn to continue at quite such a breakneck pace, and the company itself says it’s ramping up output of its all-important Model 3, which will bring money in the door.

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November 21, 2017

Texas Monthly

Williams, Bonner: West Texas: The Future of Texas Energy Resilience

The Scurry County wind farm is Amazon’s largest renewable energy investment to date at 253 MW. Amazon has also pledged to give $50,000 to schools in Snyder for STEM education, which could spark more investments throughout the region. … The Texas Public Utility Commission laid the groundwork for such investments when it set upcompetitive renewable energy zones (CREZ) power lines that transfer renewable electricity from energy-producing regions to energy-consuming regions. Construction on the lines was completed in January 2014. Barry Smitherman, the former chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, told us: “Amazon, like all wind developers in Texas, benefits from the investment Texas ratepayers have made in the CREZ transmission project. Without adequate transmission, West Texas and the Panhandle wind doesn’t get to Dallas, San Antonio, or Houston.”

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November 21, 2017

Vox

New global survey reveals that everyone loves green energy — especially the Chinese

Long story short: The whole world wants more green energy (and less coal).

This was the main question on the survey: “How important do you think it is to create a world fully powered by renewable energy (by this we mean energy is produced in a way where there is limited or no impact on the climate)?”

Across 13 of the world’s wealthiest countries, 82 percent of respondents deemed that goal important.

Strikingly, support for green energy held up across demographic categories. While results were mildly divided by ideology, they were fairly close even there.

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November 21, 2017

Houston Chronicle

Tomlinson: Self-driving taxis, electric trucks arrive in 2019

The self-driving taxi and the electric long-haul truck will arrive in 2019, marking a turning point in the transportation revolution.

Walmart and J.B. Hunt, two of the biggest shipping companies in the country, have placed orders for Tesla’s new electric semi-truck. CEO Elon Musk promises it will go 500 miles hauling 80,000 pounds on a single charge.

The new truck stole headlines from Musk’s new sports car, mostly because trucking is potentially a more lucrative sector for electric vehicle manufacturers. Big rigs are expensive to maintain and operate, and an affordable electric-powered replacement would slash costs.

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REGULATORY STORIES

 

November 21, 2017

E&E News

Can Trump nudge Texas to dip into its rainy day fund?

The Trump administration is trying to get Gov. Greg Abbott and the rest of Texas’ GOP leadership to do something they’ve tried to avoid: tap into a $10 billion stockpile known as the rainy day fund.

“We feel strongly that they should step up and play a role and work with the federal government in this process,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last week.

Sanders was defending a $44 billion aid proposal aimed at helping Texas and other areas in the aftermath of 2017 disasters.

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November 21, 2017

World Pipelines

Rover Pipeline wins approval for HDD at four sites

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has given Rover Pipeline LLC approval to conduct horizontal directional drilling (HDD) under streams and highways at four more locations along the route of the natural gas pipeline across northern Ohio.

The action came after Texas based Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company developing the US$4.2 billion pipeline, adopted specific recommendations on HDD from the J.D. Hair & Associates consulting firm.

The approved HDD sites were Interstate 77, Honey Creek, the Ohio River at Majorsville and a Norfolk Southern Railroad crossing. The company said HDD is under way or completed at 23 sites along the pipeline route.

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November 21, 2017

San Antonio Current

San Antonio’s Ozone Levels Are Too High — but the EPA isn’t Paying Attention. Now What? 

San Antonio was already the biggest metro region in the state with the lowest ozone levels — well below both Dallas-Fort Worth at 80 ppb and Houston at 79 ppb. Still, by June 2017, Bexar County’s air quality monitors were stuck around 73 ppb.

On October 1, city and county officials braced themselves for an EPA-sized smackdown (in the form of stringent regulations and costly permits) for not meeting the 70 ppb standard.  Nothing came. November 1 — still not a peep. As almost an afterthought, the EPA casually released a list of counties that met the 2015 standards on November 6, 2017.  “The letter came out, and we were all very excited,” says Doug Melnick, San Antonio’s chief sustainability officer. “We all started looking at it, and didn’t see us.”

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November 21, 2017

Washington Post

The Energy 202: Keystone XL pipeline seems like a done deal for Trump. But it’s not.

There are still unresolved legal issues revolving around the pipeline. The route the Nebraska commission approved is not the one preferred by TransCanada, requiring the company to get new right of way contracts with landowners. Given the pipeline’s new path, environmental organizations vowed a new round of lawsuits, too.

But the ultimate fate of the pipeline probably won’t rest on the vagaries of the next presidential election or courtroom decision. To paraphrase yet a third commander in chief: It’s the economy, stupid.

The energy business in the United States has changed significantly since the Keystone XL was first proposed nine years ago, taking a back seat to the political battles surrounding the pipeline and making them  ultimately less relevant.

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November 21, 2017

The Hill

Ukraine enlists firm to lobby against Russian gas pipeline

Ukraine’s state-owned oil and natural gas company has hired a Washington, D.C., firm to lobby against a natural gas pipeline Russia has proposed to build.

Naftogaz is paying $37,000 to retain Yorktown Solutions through the end of the year, according to paperwork Yorktown filed with the Justice Department that was disclosed Tuesday.

Yorktown’s Daniel Vajdich and Jonathan Gregory are on the contract. Vajdich’s credentials include working for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and as a foreign policy adviser on the 2016 Republican presidential campaigns of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Ted Cruz(Texas).

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips November 21, 2017

 

LEAD STORIES

November 20, 2017

Wall St. Journal

Growing Gas Glut Threatens West Texas Oil Boom

Natural gas is gushing out of West Texas, a byproduct of frenzied drilling for oil. That is a problem for energy producers, who are running out of places to send it all.

Pipelines running from the region’s Permian Basin to the Gulf Coast’s chemical plants, cities and export terminals are essentially full. Drillers in the Rockies and Canada already supply markets in the north and west.

There is plenty of room on pipelines running south to Mexico, which has emerged as a major market for U.S. producers, but there is a catch: much of the gas distribution infrastructure and power plants there that would buy the fuel haven’t been built yet.

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November 20, 2017

Journal of Petroleum Technology

FBI Expert: Companies are Cyber-Threat Targets Whether They Think So or Not

A cyber-threats expert from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) told an audience at the recent American Petroleum Institute Cybersecurity Conference in The Woodlands, Texas, that oil and gas companies are at risk from potential cyberattacks and must do more to protect themselves.

Speaking on 7 November at a conference session on cyberattacks and emerging threats, FBI Computer Scientist James Morrison said that all companies need to be prepared to defend their enterprise and operating systems against such attacks of all kinds. Based in Houston, Morrison is a technical expert on information technology (IT) who works on cases that come into the bureau. … During 2016, 75% of oil and gas companies had at least one cyberattack incident, according to Morrison. Attacks are on the rise to the point where “we’re actually getting a little numb about too many attacks,” he said.

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November 20, 2017

Houston Chronicle

Layoffs on way as grid operator approves coal plant closures

The state’s biggest power company is moving ahead with layoffs of more than 800 workers after the Texas’ electric grid operator recently approved the shutdown of three coal-fired power plants and an associated coal mine.

In October, the state’s largest power generator, Dallas-based Vistra Energy, announced plans to shutter three power plants pending the approval of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state’s grid manager. ERCOT determined that the loss of more than 4,000 megawatts of energy – enough to power hundreds of thousands of homes on a hot Texas day – would not affect the reliability of the electrical system in the areas where the plants

operate.
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November 20, 2017

Bloomberg

Keystone XL Foes Want to Turn Nebraska Win Into a Court Loss

When is a win not a win?

 When it promises to open up fertile new areas of potential litigation. That’s the view of Keystone XL’s opponents after Nebraska regulators approved the project’s construction there, but mandated that it follow an alternative route to TransCanada Corp.’s preferred path.

Because the new route wasn’t vetted at the same level as the original, foes believe it will let them challenge the project in ways they couldn’t before, further delaying construction that’s been on the drawing boards since 2008.

 It is “an incredible victory,” said Brian Jorde, an attorney for landowners who have opposed the project for seven years, in a telephone interview.
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OIL AND GAS STORIES

 

November 21, 2017

CNBC

Oil steady as rising US output undermines OPEC cuts

Oil prices were little changed on Tuesday as the impact from expectations of an extended OPEC-led production cut was cancelled out by rising output in the United States.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $62.20 per barrel at 0301 GMT, 8 cents above their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $56.50 a barrel, also up 8 cent from their last settlement.

 Traders said they were avoiding taking on large new positions due to uncertainty in markets.
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November 20, 2017

Seeking Alpha

Forge River Research: WTI Oil Price To Surge On Correction To Overstatement Of EIA Production Estimates Per DEPA?

At an EIA Webinar November 16th, industry group DEPA claims the EIA is overstating America shale oil producer’s production by at least 6.6MM barrels of oil per month.

DEPA claims the EIA’s overstatement of U.S. shale oil production is depressing the WTI (versus Brent) oil prices and costing U.S. producers $4B in 2017 revenues.

DEPA claims WTI oil prices would be $4.00 to $5.00 per barrel higher (vis-à-vis Brent) if EIA’s estimates accurately reflected current U.S. shale oil production.

With America’s energy resurgence, the EIA’s forecasts have significant market impact and need to be more timely and sophisticated in response to industry dynamics.

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November 20, 2017

Houston Chronicle

Fuel prices dip ahead of Thanksgiving travel

Prices at the pump are falling slightly in advance of the busy Thanksgiving travel week.

The small declines of nearly 2 cents a gallon in the last week come after gasoline costs rose during the first half of November. That represented an unusual seasonal anomaly when fuel prices typically fall late in the year because of cheaper winter-grade fuels.

However, rising oil prices and Middle Eastern instability unexpectedly drove up pricing. That’s now starting to change a bit, according to GasBuddy, which tracks fuel costs nationwide.

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November 20, 2017

Oil and Gas Investor

Earthstone Energy Agrees To Sell Bakken Assets For $27 Million

Earthstone Energy Inc. (NYSE: ESTE) is ditching its nonop position in the Bakken Shale as the company continues to narrow its focus on the “highly economic” Midland Basin, Earthstone said Nov. 20.

The Woodlands, Texas-based company agreed to sell the Bakken assets for about $27 million in cash to an unaffiliated party. Earthstone did not disclose the buyer or specify other details of the transaction.

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November 20, 2017

Platts

Chevron Phillips restarting cracker at Sweeny complex: filing

Chevron Phillips Chemical has begun a restart of the last remaining offline cracker at the Sweeny site after shutting it as Hurricane Harvey pummeled the Texas coast in late August, a filing with state regulators showed Monday.
The 250,000 mt/year Ethylene Unit 22 began restart operations on Monday, with emissions associated with the startup expected to run through November 24, the filing with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality showed.
The Sweeny site includes three steam crackers: ethylene units 22, 24 and 33.

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November 20, 2017

Associated Press

Alternative Keystone XL route gets approved in Nebraska

Nebraska regulators approved an alternative route Monday for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. It was the last major regulatory hurdle facing project operator TransCanada Corp., though opponents say another round of federal approval may now be needed.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission’s ruling was on the Nebraska route TransCanada has proposed to complete the $8 billion, 1,179-mile (1,897-kilometer) pipeline to deliver oil from Alberta, Canada, to Texas Gulf Coast refineries. The proposed Keystone XL route would cross parts of Montana, South Dakota and most of Nebraska to Steele City, Nebraska.

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November 20. 2017

Hydrocarbons Technology

Energy Hunter Resources to sell mineral rights in Texas, US

Exploration and production company Energy Hunter Resources has signed an agreement to sell its ownership interest in certain mineral rights located in Howard County, Texas, US, to an undisclosed buyer.

Horizontal targets on these mineral rights include the lower Sprayberry and Wolfcamp A, with potential scope for horizontal development in the Wolfcamp B and Wolfcamp C benches.

As per the agreement, Energy Hunter divested 100% of its ownership interest in the mineral rights for $750,000.

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November 20, 2017

San Antonio Express News

The Eagle Ford Shale is back, kind of

It isn’t the boom days when oil trucks created big-city traffic jams on gravel roads and a night at a mediocre hotel cost $300. But the Eagle Ford Shale is back from the bust – sort of – at a level that’s admittedly more middle-aged, less teenager.

The 400-mile South Texas oil field, which sweeps from Laredo to College Station, has produced around 2.5 billion to 2.6 billion barrels since the first wells were drilled in late 2008, said Allen Gilmer, founder of the research firm Drillinginfo, who spoke Thursday at Hart Energy’s DUG Eagle Ford Conference, held last week at the Convention Center.

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November 20, 2017

CNBC

Climate skeptics and coal boosters gather to cheer Trump’s energy agenda — and hold his feet to the fire

Conservatives gathered at the Heartland Institute’s America First Energy Conference to celebrate President Trump’s deregulation agenda.

The event was also intended to take stock of Trump’s progress and plot a course to further scale back climate change programs and shrink the EPA.

The organized and highly dedicated corner of conservatism is prepared to push back on Trump in the coming years if they sense he is faltering.

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November 20. 2017

Phys Org

Physics forecasts for fracking and fuels

Society’s demand for energy relies mainly on oil and gas, which are finite resources. Future technologies could reduce the consumption of energy, but until then, existing resources must be carefully managed. Director of the Ali I. Al-Naimi Petroleum Engineering Research Center at KAUST Tadeusz Patzek is using physics to tackle this challenge by modeling the production of gas from fracking.

Patzek and his coworkers describe two visions of global energy consumption. Optimists believe that human population, energy use and economies can continue to grow exponentially because humans will keep inventing innovative ways to survive. Others, however, note that the Earth imposes clear limits on growth, meaning that energy production will peak before tailing off.

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November 16, 2017

Associated Press

Tribes make renewed push for pipeline protections

Two American Indian tribes in the Dakotas are making a renewed push to bolster protections for their water supply while federal officials further study the potential impact of the recently completed Dakota Access oil pipeline.

Lawyers for the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes on Wednesday filed court documents urging a federal judge to reject the recent arguments of federal officials and the pipeline developer that the tribes’ proposals are unnecessary or unwarranted.

This article appeared in the Brownsville Herald

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November 20, 2017

Energy Business Review

Ecopetrol wins four deepwater blocks in US Gulf of Mexico

Colombian oil company Ecopetrol through its subsidiary Ecopetrol America has won rights to explore hydrocarbon resources in four deepwater blocks located in the US Gulf of Mexico. Ecopetrol will develop the blocks in partnership with Spanish energy company Repsol which will have a 50% stake through its subsidiary Repsol E & P USA. The Repsol subsidiary will be the operator of the four deepwater blocks. … Lease Sale 249 featured close to 76 million acres offshore oil and gas exploration and development across Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida portions of the Gulf of Mexico.

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November 17, 2017

Reuters

Middle East, U.S. crude oil curbs Indian appetite for African supplies

India’s imports of African crude oil in October plunged to their lowest in over four years, with the world’s No.3 oil consumer increasingly turning to cheaper supplies from the United States and heavier Middle Eastern grades, ship tracking data showed.

U.S. crude production has soared more than 14 percent since mid-2016 to 9.65 million barrels per day (bpd), altering trade routes as its relatively cheap and light grades become a viable import option for Asian refiners.

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November 20. 2017

Texas Monthly

Houston Museum of Natural Science Opens High-Tech New Energy Hall

The new hall opens to the public today, and visitors will have no trouble seeing where all that money has gone. At 30,000 square feet, Wiess 3.0 is more than three times larger than the original hall and features a dizzying array of high-tech installations devoted to all aspects of the modern-day energy industry, from hydrofracking to deep-sea drilling to alternative energies. The drill bits from the museum’s early display are still on view in a corner of the hall, but they’re overwhelmed by a cacophony of flashing, beeping, and rumbling machines.

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UTILITIES STORIES

November

Power Magazine

More U.S. Coal Units Closing Despite Possible Market Pricing Change

U.S. utilities continue to announce closures of financially troubled and older coal-fired power plants even as government officials work on a bailout plan to keep them operating.

Owners of a coal plant in Montana that has only been online since 2006 informed the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) last week of plans to shutter the facility early next year if they can’t find a buyer. The news comes at the same time Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities (LG&E-KU) said it would close two long-running coal-fired units at the E.W. Brown Generating Station near Harrodsburg, Kentucky, in February 2019.

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November 20, 2017

Wall St. Journal

Puerto Rico Grid Contractor Suspends Work Over Missed Payments

The company hired to repair Puerto Rico’s electrical grid stopped working Monday over $83 million in unpaid bills while some utility crews from the mainland U.S. quit the half-finished reconstruction job altogether.

A Whitefish Energy Holdings LLC spokesman said the company suspended its work after Puerto Rico’s public power company delayed making payments under a controversial $300 million contract to rebuild power lines damaged by Hurricane Maria.

Puerto Rico canceled the deal with Whitefish last month on orders from Gov. Ricardo Rosselló amid a political furor over how the contract was awarded and priced. But Whitefish had been scheduled to remain working until Nov. 30 when its contract terminated.

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November 17, 2017

Salt Lake Tribune

In the past 10 days, twice as many Utahns signed up for solar panels every day than usually do in a month

More than 4,000 Utahns signed up to install solar panels in the 10 days before Tuesday’s deadline, becoming the last residents who will get credit under Rocky Mountain Power’s current — and more generous — terms for excess electricity delivered to its grid.

More than 3,000 of the roughly 4,300 applications were filed in the final four days.

The utility’s net metering program reduces residents’ power bills by one kilowatt hour for each kilowatt hour they generate. For customers who missed this week’s deadline and sign up in coming years, it’s moving to a new paradigm in which credits will be offered in dollar amounts — 9.2 cents per kilowatt hour through 2032.

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November 17, 2017

Texas Public Radio

Chief Of Puerto Rico’s Power Authority Resigns Under Fire

The head of Puerto Rico’s power authority stepped down Friday amid controversy over his handling of a system that still can’t deliver electricity to that island two months after Hurricane Maria destroyed the power grid.

Ricardo Ramos, executive director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, resigned as he was unable to shake off questions about a $300 million contract that he had awarded to Whitefish, a small Montana-based energy firm, that was supposed to restore power on the island.

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ALTERNATIVE AND RENEWABLE STORIES

 

November 16, 2017

Wall St. Journal

Germany’s Siemens to Slash 6,900 Jobs Amid Shift to Renewable Energy

BERLIN—German electrical engineering giant Siemens AG on Thursday became the latest corporate behemoth to bow before sweeping changes to the way electricity is made the world over, as it unveiled a restructuring plan to tackle overcapacity in its core businesses.

The German conglomerate said it would cut 6,900 jobs world-wide, or 2% of its total workforce. The cuts affect three of its oldest units that provide clients that range from electrical utilities to commodities companies to the oil-and-gas industry with gigantic turbines, industrial motors and other heavy equipment.

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November 20. 2017

Los Angeles Times

Volvo to supply Uber with up to 24,000 self-driving SUVs for taxi fleet

A fleet of self-driving Volvo vehicles operated by Uber Technologies Inc. could be ready for the road as early as 2019, marking the ride-hailing firm’s biggest push yet to roll out autonomous cars.

Volvo said Monday that it would sell Uber tens of thousands of luxury sport utility vehicles between 2019 and 2021 outfitted with the Swedish automaker’s safety, redundancy and core autonomous driving technologies. Uber will then add its own self-driving technology to the autonomous taxi fleet.

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November 16, 2017

KVUE

Georgetown brewery makes wind-powered beer

GEORGETOWN, TEXAS – Georgetown has gained international spotlight for choosing to move to 100 percent renewable energy, and a local brewery is choosing to join in on the efforts.

“We make our beer with 100 percent renewable energy,” said Rentsch brewmaster and chief operating officer Andrew Rentschler. “We’re one of the most sustainable breweries out there, and we’re one of the few that use 100-percent renewable energy in our process.”

It’s part of a movement in Georgetown.

As the City of Georgetown moves toward 100 percent renewable energy, right now much of that comes from a Wind Farm west of Amarillo. But starting next year, that transition will be complete when they add a solar contract.

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November 21, 2017

Bloomberg

London’s Iconic Red Buses to Run on Biofuel Made From Old Coffee

London’s iconic red double-decker buses will soon run on a biofuel partially made from old coffee grounds.

The fuel will be supplied by a demonstration project set up by Bio-bean Ltd., a London-based company that joined with Royal Dutch Shell Plc on the initiative. It will produce 6,000 liters (1,583 gallons) a year of the fuel.

“It’s got a high oil content, 20 percent oil by weight in the waste coffee grounds, so it’s a really great thing to make biodiesel out of,” said Arthur Kay, founder of Bio-bean, in a phone interview.

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REGULATORY STORIES

 

November 15, 2017

Daily Energy Insider

EIA report shows CO2 emissions had record decrease in 2015

A new data set from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reveals that coal-related CO2 emissions saw a record drop in 2015, driven by a more than 60 percent annual decrease across 10 states.

Nearly every state boasted a decline in that period, though. Only four states saw increases related to coal and three others plus the District of Columbia maintained the zero or nearly zero coal emissions they had already managed in 2014. Texas and a collection of Midwestern states were leading the pack for change, though, with the electric power sector dramatically reducing coal-fired electricity generation in favor of natural gas. Illinois has the biggest decline in coal consumption over all, with Alabama and Indiana following.

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November 17, 2017

Salon

Holthaus: Democrats don’t have a national climate policy. So what?

More than a year after the election of Donald Trump, the opposition Democratic Party still hasn’t found its voice on climate change.

That’s according to an essential overview of the situation from the Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer. Taken at face value, it’s not good news: Despite consistent rhetoric that climate change is among the most important challenges of the century, the Democratic Party has no large-scale cohesive plan to tackle it.

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November 19, 2017

NPR

Senate May Approve Drilling In Alaskan Wilderness With Tax Bill

For all the negative headlines that 2017 have generated, Republicans are on the cusp of accomplishing two major policy goals that have eluded them for decades, at the same time.

The Senate could soon approve oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge with its bill to overhaul the nation’s tax code.

ANWR has long held an outsized symbolic role in the tug-of-war between environmental protection and the desire to increase domestic oil and gas drilling. In that regard, you could argue, it was the original Keystone XL Pipeline — an issue activists on both sides could rally, fundraise and organize around.

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November 20, 2017

Bloomberg

Texas Businesses Tell Congress They Want to Keep Nafta Largely Intact

At the border of Mexico, heads of Texas industries ranging from energy to farming are saying they’d like to keep Nafta largely intact with minor modifications.

 Key business leaders talked up the economic benefits of the 23-year-old accord at a U.S. Senate committee field hearing in San Antonio, countering the message of U.S. President Donald Trump who called the pact a “disaster.” Trump has threatened to exit Nafta if current talks to update the deal don’t yield more benefits for American workers and companies.
 “We believe in Nafta, it makes sense and we ask for your help in continuing to go forward,” Richard Perez, chief executive of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, said at the hearing on Monday, led by Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican.
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November 16, 2017

Wall St. Journal

How Companies Are Pushing Ahead on Climate-Change Targets

More of the world’s biggest corporations are taking the fight against climate change into their own hands, aiming to cut their energy costs, pre-empt regulation or burnish their reputations with investors and customers.

Apple Inc. has draped its new California campus with solar panels. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.cut the energy consumption of its refrigerators. Steelmaker Thyssenkrupp AGstreamlined trucking routes, Dell Inc. made its servers less power-hungry and MicrosoftCorp. pledged Tuesday to slash its carbon output.

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November 19, 2017

Fox News

Devore: Does your gas and electricity cost too much? You can thank liberals for that

Every year, Americans spend about $750 billion dollars for gasoline and electricity—about 4 percent of the economy—with roughly equal amounts spent to fuel vehicles vs. keeping the lights on and running our factories.

Where you live significantly affects how much you pay for these basic energy commodities.

Excepting Alaska and Hawaii due to their unique supply challenges, the highest gasoline prices in the nation this week were found in California—$3.23 per gallon. California also has the nation’s highest gas tax at $0.53 per gallon. The least expensive gasoline in the nation is found in Alabama at $2.27 per gallon. Alabama’s gas tax ranks 38th in the nation at $0.21 per gallon.

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips November 20, 2017

 

LEAD STORIES

 

November 17, 2017
The Hill

US crude oil setting sail for China in record numbers

United States crude oil exports are soaring this year, and China is its single largest buyer for waterborne sales. This is likely to continue but it is important to separate temporary factors from longer term trends.

The U.S. industry was hard hit by Hurricane Harvey, which cut refinery runs much more than production. That led to a backlog of crude inventory. Some of that is currently being exported and is likely to continue to support strong exports over the next few months until the U.S. rebalances.

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January 17, 2017
Associated Press

Keystone pipeline leak won’t affect last regulatory hurdle

Discovery of a 210,000-gallon oil leak from the Keystone pipeline would seem to be poor timing four days before regulators in Nebraska decide whether to allow a major expansion of the system, but officials say state law does not allow pipeline safety to be a factor in their decision.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission was scheduled to rule Monday if a Keystone XL expansion pipeline proposed by TransCanada Corp. can cross the state. The commission’s decision is the last major regulatory hurdle for a project that has faced numerous local, state and federal reviews and lawsuits since it was announced in 2008.

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle

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November 17., 2017
Houston Chronicle

Recovering oil patch still littered with slow-to-pay companies

Greg Sharpe, president and CEO of RSD Supply, sells pipes, valves and fittings to the people who assemble wells around the world. When the price of oil dropped, he watched his customers cancel hundreds of orders. When many of his customers went bankrupt, he hired attorneys hoping to recover at least a few pennies of what he was owed.

Now many of his customers are unilaterally changing their terms of payment, waiting up to 180 days to pay their bills. Sharpe is left paying the carrying costs for corporations 100 times his size.This is what it means to be a small fish in the big energy industry ocean.

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OIL & GAS

 

November 17, 2017
Houston Chronicle

Rig count jumps up, but only for natural gas

The number of active drilling rigs jumped up for the second straight week, but the increase of eight rigs is exclusive to those seeking natural gas.

That contrasts sharply with last week when nine rigs were added back to shale fields and they were all drilling for crude oil.

Regardless, the rig count is showing small signs of growth after seemingly plateauing in August and falling throughout most of the fall, according to data collected by Baker Hughes, a GE company.

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November 17, 2017
Houston Chronicle

Energy company bankruptcies plunge as oil prices rise

Twenty North American oil producers have gone bankrupt so far this year, less than a third of the number that went under last year, a new report shows.

… This year, the amount of debt involved in oil-producer bankruptcies reached $5.6 billion, compared to $56.8 billion in 2016, the worst year of the downturn, according to Haynes and Boone, a Dallas law firm that has tracked the oil industry’s flurry of bankruptcies since early 2015.

Four oil companies, including Houston-based Castex Energy Partners, filed for bankruptcy last month.

Forty-three North American oil field service companies, with some $24.7 billion in debt, have filed for bankruptcy this year, compared to 71 with a combined $13.5 billion in debt last year.

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November 19, 2017
San Antonio Express News

TransCanada sends more crews to Keystone pipeline leak

TransCanada Corp. says the company has sent additional crews and equipment to the site of a 210,000-gallon oil spill in South Dakota from its Keystone pipeline.

TransCanada said Saturday it is making progress in its investigation into the spill cause on farmland in Marshall County, near the North Dakota border, about 250 miles (402 kilometers) west of Minneapolis. But the company did not elaborate on the cause. The company says additional equipment and workers continue to be dispatched to the site.

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November 17, 2017
Financial Post

Tertzakian: The fear is back: Oil anxiety surcharge returns as tensions mount in the Middle East again

Barrel traders recently pushed the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil above US$55 — the first time in over two years.

Scarcity doesn’t really justify the upward price movement. There isn’t a shortage of oil in the world. But there could be, in the worst case, if missiles start flying between two of the world’s largest oil players: Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Maybe it won’t happen. But maybe it will. And that’s what the “geopolitical risk premium” is all about. It’s an anxiety surcharge that’s tacked onto every barrel of oil, in fear of supply disruption on a moment’s notice. And the fear is back.

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November 19, 2017
Forbes

Clemente: Natural Gas Prices Have Finally Started To Rise

After months of being stuck in the $2.75 to $3.10 range, natural gas prices have finally started to rise, with the December contract hitting $3.21 per MMBtu on November 10. Although November gas contract expired at $2.75 at the end of October, easily the lowest expiration since March ($2.63), prices closed on Friday at $3.10. The gas-based heating season is in full swing, and residential usage surges to being over 30% in winter for all gas demand, versus around 5% in summer. Gas demand in winter can double from summer to up over 140 Bcf/d. Prices for January, at the peak winter heating season, are now 25 cents higher than for May.

 

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November 18. 2017
Midland Reporter Telegram

Permian’s oil and gas recovery turns a year old

Expansion in the Permian Basin’s oil and gas economy celebrated its first birthday, with the September Texas Permian Basin Petroleum Index marking 12 consecutive months of increase.

Boosted by strengthening prices and a rig count sharply higher than a year ago, the index came in 25.7 percent higher than September 2016.

And there could be more good news in the future, according to Karr Ingham, the Amarillo economist who prepares the index. He said the rig count had flattened in recent months and even declined in recent weeks as stalled crude oil prices failed to stimulate growth in the rig count. Also a victim of stalled oil prices was the number drilling permits issued by the Railroad Commission, which declined in September.

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November 18, 2017
San Antonio Express News

Pipeline rupture shatters couple’s dreams

CHARLOTTE — Meghan Arnold and Steve Woytasczyk were startled awake in their bed to a deafening roar. It sounded like a jet plane taking off in their living room.

It was shortly after 5 a.m. on March 1, 2016, and Woytasczyk went to find the source of the noise. Arnold gathered the couple’s children: Kali, 4, Reese, 2, and Stevie, 1, at the time.

As Woytasczyk opened their front door, a powerful sulfur smell smacked him in the face. He looked around and saw a strange substance raining down from the sky.

 “It literally looked like someone was holding the world’s biggest can of WD-40,” Woytasczyk said recently. “Just a solid mist … a solid fog.”

A diesel mechanic who has worked on oil field trucks and equipment, Woytasczyk knew what the smell and the mist meant: An Energy Transfer Partners natural gas pipeline running through their property had burst, spraying deadly hydrogen sulfide gas and raining condensate upon the couple’s home.

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November 17, 2017
KOSA (Permian Basin)

Historic oil refinery breaks ground in Pecos County

The first oil refinery in the state of Texas to open in 40 years broke ground in Pecos County Friday.

The 126-acre refinery will be able to process 10,000 barrels of crude oil each day. MMEX Resources Corporation poured $50 million into the first phase of the project, which is expected to benefit the economy.

“It’s important to our community and our county. We have a great need to diversify our economy,” Fort Stockton Mayor Chris Alexander said.

MMEX Resources Corporation chose the Trans Pecos area because of the crude oil supply, the land availability and the railroad access.

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November 17, 2017
Dallas Morning News

Here’s where Keystone XL’s giant oil spill ranks among the 20 biggest leaks this decade

The spill of an estimated 210,000 gallons of crude oil in South Dakota on Thursday from TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline is one of the 20 largest onshore oil or petroleum product spills since 2010.

Here are the top 20 spills during that period as reported to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The list ranks them by size and includes the date, gallons spilled, commodity, company name, city or county and state of spill and estimated costs including property and environmental damages. Texas spills are in bold.

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November 18, 2017
Midland Reporter Telegram

Delta Perform sees growth in first year in Midland

Having gained a foothold in the Permian Basin oil fields with its cloud-based software, Delta Perform is looking to expand its footprint.

Since moving the company from El Paso to Midland early this year, Travis Laman, president and founder, said his company has been experiencing growth and he has been hiring, including locally.

“We have the product on the ground and in the field. I’ve contracted with business development professionals in Dallas and Houston, and I’m looking in Midland,” he said.

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November 18, 2017
Fox News

Venezuela default could help for US investors, expert says

As Venezuela faces the looming threat of a default following another major downgrade in its credit rating, some observers say that a default – while catastrophic for the South American nation – could benefit foreign investors looking to take full control of the world’s largest proven oil reserves.

“If Venezuela goes into full default then investors and creditors will have the opportunity to take full control of the [oil] industry,” Sonia Schott, the former Washington D.C., correspondent for Venezuelan news network Globovisión, told Fox News. “I have no doubt that that is their dream.”

While Venezuela has yet to fully default on the billions of dollars it owes to global creditors, two of the world’s most prominent credit ratings agencies almost simultaneously downgraded Venezuela’s sovereign debt earlier this week.

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November 17, 2017
Austin American Statesman

Steve Bannon steps aside, but Ted Cruz picks up 2 primary rivals

In October, Steve Bannon, who had left his post as President Donald Trump’s chief strategist to return to the command of Breitbart News, announced that he was declaring war on all Republicans in the Senate who are up for re-election in 2018, with the exception of Ted Cruz, to create a Senate more amenable to Trump’s agenda.

But, Bannon’s grace notwithstanding, Cruz not only will have a primary in March but will face two challengers, and Bannon himself might become a campaign issue.

“I’ve taken to calling everyone that Bannon is backing ‘Bannon’s barbarians,’ ” said Stefano de Stefano, a Houston energy attorney who in July announced that he was going to leave his job with Diamond Offshore Drilling to challenge Cruz for re-election.

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November 18. 2017
Wall St. Journal

Big Oil and Auto Makers Throw a Lifeline to the Combustion Engine

Big oil companies and giant auto makers are teaming up to preserve the internal combustion engine, as tough regulation and electric vehicles put the car industry’s century-old technology at risk. Their secret weapon: high-tech engine oil.

Exxon Mobil Corp., BP PLC, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and other oil companies are spending millions of dollars a year in concert with auto makers like Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV to create the next generation of super-slick engine lubricants. They’re betting the new, thinner oils will help them squeeze even more efficiency out of traditional car engines, allowing them to comply with stricter environmental rules and remain relevant as new technologies like zero-emission electric vehicles gain traction.

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November 17, 2017
Dallas Morning News

Texas’ October unemployment rate of 3.9 percent is lowest in four decades

The Texas unemployment rate was on the rise early this year when it hit 5 percent. Now, at 3.9 percent, unemployment has reached its lowest level in four decades, according to Texas Workforce Commission. This sixth-consecutive monthly drop was fueled by the Lone Star State economy adding 71,500 seasonally-adjusted jobs in October. That’s also the largest number in recent years and comes just after job losses attributed to Hurricane Harvey. The leisure and hospitality sector lost 21,300 jobs in September. But the sector bounced back in October with a gain of 34,700 jobs, nearly half the state’s total.

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November 17, 2017
Rio Grande Guardian

Port of Brownsville has added 847 jobs this year

The Port of Brownsville has added 847 jobs this year, Brownsville Navigation District Commissioner Ralph Cowen has announced.

The uptick in economic activity coincides with a report from the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Board to Congress which showed that Foreign Trade Zone No. 62 at the Port of Brownsville ranks second in the nation for the value of exports during 2016.

“I just got the numbers last week and we are up 847 jobs for the year. That is great. It has been a long road to get there,” said Cowen, the immediate past chairman of BND.

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UTILITIES

 

November 16, 2017
Wall St. Journal

Krupp: How Local Utilities Gamed the Natural-Gas Market

Innovators and entrepreneurs are transforming the energy industry. From shale gas to electric vehicles to low-cost wind and solar, so much about the way Americans make and use energy is changing for the better. Yet regulations haven’t kept pace. Today a thicket of rules too often stymies innovation and damages the economy.

For example, about a third of the natural gas in the U.S. is used to make electricity, up from 20% in 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But regulations preclude efficient transactions for the fluctuating gas supplies electric generators need to match the daily ebb and flow of demand. This disconnect keeps most power generators from contracting directly with pipelines for gas deliveries, which they instead obtain in secondary markets.

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November 15, 2017
Philadelphia Inquirer

Electrical-grid operator moves to prop up nuclear and coal generators

Regional grid operator PJM Interconnection on Wednesday proposed to revise its wholesale electricity markets to prop up prices for beleaguered “baseload” generators such as coal and nuclear plants, which are being forced into retirement by low natural-gas prices.

   The proposal aims to send stronger price signals to power generators, PJM said, and also to send a political signal to the Trump administration, which in September launched a much-maligned plan to guarantee profits for coal and nuclear plants.

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November 15, 2017
Reuters

U.S. grid regulator: interim plan could aid nuke, coal plants for years

The top U.S. electricity regulator wants to prop up ailing coal and nuclear plants for as long as it takes to determine whether they provide vital services to the grid – a process that could take two years or longer, he said in an interview late on Wednesday.

Neil Chatterjee, the acting head of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said his interim plan to keep the plants open would likely require regional grid operators to evaluate which power plants should be helped, so they could recoup costs through regulated pricing.

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November 16, 2017
The Wall St. Journal

Germany’s Siemens to Slash 6,900 Jobs Amid Shift to Renewable Energy

German electrical engineering giant Siemens AG on Thursday became the latest corporate behemoth to bow before sweeping changes to the way electricity is made the world over, as it unveiled a restructuring plan to tackle overcapacity in its core businesses.

The German conglomerate said it would cut 6,900 jobs world-wide, or 2% of its total workforce. The cuts affect three of its oldest units that provide clients that range from electrical utilities to commodities companies to the oil-and-gas industry with gigantic turbines, industrial motors and other heavy equipment.

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ALTERNATIVES AND RENEWABLES

 

November 17, 2017
News.com.au (Australia)

US biofuels add to global warming: study

US renewable fuel mandates are contributing to global warming, boosting carbon emissions as farmers turn carbon-rich areas like wetlands and forests into cropland to grow corn, soy and wheat for biofuels production, a study said.

Three scientists from the University of Wisconsin presented their findings in Fort Worth, Texas, at a conference hosted by the National Wildlife Federation, an environmental group that opposes US biofuels mandates in their current form.

The scientists said it could take 50 years for biofuels to reduce carbon emissions as they were designed to do, since any reduction stemming from blending them into petroleum products is offset by more carbon emissions from clearing new farmland.

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November 17, 2017
San Antonio Express News

Tesla wants to electrify big trucks, adding to its ambitions

After more than a decade of making cars and SUVs — and, more recently, solar panels — Tesla Inc. wants to electrify a new type of vehicle: big trucks.

The company unveiled its new electric semitractor-trailer Thursday night near its design center in Hawthorne, California.

CEO Elon Musk said the semi is capable of traveling 500 miles (804 kilometers) on an electric charge — even with a full 80,000-pound (36,287-kilogram) load — and will cost less than a diesel semi considering fuel savings, lower maintenance and other factors. Musk said customers can put down a $5,000 deposit for the semi now and production will begin in 2019.

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REGULATORY

 

November 17
Texas Monthly

Texas a Testbed for Carbon Capture and Sequestration Technology

A much commented-upon legal and academic dispute raises important questions about the future role of dispatchable power generation and makes now a good a time to reevaluate the potential for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) as a strategy for generating low-carbon electricity.

Stanford University’s Mark Jacobson has proposed plans for the U.S. to be powered on only wind, water, and solar (WWS), with some energy storage in the form of pumped hydro, batteries, and hydrogen to serve as dispatchable generation. The term “dispatchable” refers to a power plant’s ability to be scheduled in advance and to adjust to fluctuations in demand. Conventional natural gas, coal, and nuclear power plants are all dispatchable.

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November 16, 2017
Houston Chronicle

Chemical safety board scraps recommendation on offshore safety

Offshore oil rig workers will remain without broad whistleblower protections after a federal agency this week opted to withdraw recommendations made in the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board opted to pull its worker participation and whistleblower protection recommendations after the federal agency that regulates offshore drilling, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, refused to enact the protections. Under President Donald Trump, the bureau has shifted its focus to reducing what it calls unnecessary regulations.

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November 17, 2017
Austin American Statesman

Wear: Why plans for Texas bullet trains are still mostly a dream

Not yet.

Almost four years ago in this column, I raised the question of whether it was time to take seriously the prospects of a high-speed passenger rail line being built in this state. My conclusion at the time: No.

Still is.

Even with the Texas Department of Transportation’s release this month of a first-level environmental study on rail in the 550-mile corridor from the Red River to the Rio Grande Valley — and the ongoing privately funded study of a 240-mile Houston-to-Dallas line — I remain skeptical. And I am far from alone, at least in the case of that north-south connection between Oklahoma and Mexico.

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November 17, 2017
Austin American Statesman

Susan Combs hits another roadblock on her way to Washington

Former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs has hit yet another roadblock on the way to a U.S. Senate vote for a top position at the Interior Department.

Her expected confirmation to be assistant secretary for policy, management and budget was already delayed by a logjam involving GOP senators over Environmental Protection Agency nominees. Previously, her approval by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee had been held up by a separate dispute involving Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke over failed GOP efforts to repeal the health care law.

Now a new hurdle has come up involving Democratic senators.

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November 17, 2017
The Hill

Countries, states, provinces vow to phase out coal use

A group of 19 countries and a handful of provinces and states, including Washington, is vowing to phase out their use of coal for electricity generation as part of the United Nations climate conference.

Officials announced the new coalition, called the Powering Past Coal Alliance, on Thursday at the annual U.N. climate change conference in Bonn, Germany. They said they will look to more than double their membership by next year’s meeting.

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November 19, 2017
Cedar Rapids Gazette ( IA)

Reynolds, Cruz exchange fierce slogans

A political battle is breaking out with Iowa corn on one side, and Texas oil on the other.

Gov. Kim Reynolds reportedly brought a “Free Bill” T-shirt along to the Republican Governors Association meeting in Texas last week, a reference to Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey’s federal job appointment being held up in the Senate. In response, a small group of demonstrators showed up at the governors meeting, picketing against “corn-y capitalism.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, acknowledged last week he is the one blocking Northey’s confirmation process. Cruz is using the vote as leverage to criticize parts of the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, which he says puts the oil industry at an unfair disadvantage.

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips November 17, 2017
Lead Stories

Texas Standard

November 15, 2017

Untapped — The New West Texas

The Permian Basin in west Texas leads the nation in oil and gas production. Midland and Odessa have long been the heart of this industrialized desert. But oil and gas development is expanding outward. In the past year, drilling operations have moved south and west into a region long written off as undevelopable. That’s where we begin a series of reports examining what all this means for the region and the state. Untapped: The New West Texas explores the impact of new energy exploration on the economy, the water table and the environment.

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KUT

November 16, 2017

New Demand, Same Old Story: West Texans And Their Water

Jeff Williams manages his family’s 18,000-acre farm outside Fort Stockton. Their land sits on top of five different prolific aquifers on the southeastern edge of the Permian Basin. Standing by an irrigation ditch, shooting water to a fish pond, he acknowledges that his family isn’t the most popular in the neighborhood. They’re the biggest consumers of water in Pecos County. His grandfather, Clayton Williams Sr., is notorious for pumping nearby Comanche Springs dry in the ’50s. In Texas, according to the long-standing rule of capture, the water beneath your land is yours to do with as you please. “If you’re property owner in Texas, you hold that right very near and dear to your heart,” Williams says. “That goes up there with god, country, family, and your property.” Just last summer, after another drawn-out legal battle, Jeff Williams and his father secured a controversial permit to pump and export up to 25 million gallons of water a day. Eventually that water may go to the city of Odessa but for now,they’re selling to an oil and gas company in the Permian Basin.

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San Francisco Chronicle

November 16, 2017

Ex-Oklahoma seismologist felt pressured in earthquake work

Oklahoma’s former lead seismologist says he felt pressured by a University of Oklahoma official to not link the state’s surge in earthquakes to oil and gas production. Austin Holland’s sworn testimony came last month as part of a lawsuit filed in 2015 by Prague resident Jennifer Cooper against two oil companies for damages sustained during an earthquake in 2011, the Tulsa World reported . The 5.7 magnitude quake that hit the Prague area, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Oklahoma City, was the largest in state history. University President David Boren disputed Holland was ever pressured by the school.

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The Hill

November 16, 2017

Keystone pipeline shut down after spilling 5,000 barrels of oil in South Dakota

The Keystone oil pipeline spilled more than 5,000 barrels of oil on Thursday before workers took it offline, a large spill that comes days before operators hope to secure a key permit for a sister project. A TransCanada crew shut down the Keystone pipeline at 6 a.m. Thursday morning after detecting an oil leak along the line, the company said in a statement. The leak was detected along a stretch of pipeline about 35 miles south of a pumping station in Marshall County, South Dakota.

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San Antonio Express-News

November 16, 2017

Dallas Fed says U.S. crude oil exports hit record in October

U.S. crude oil exports reached record levels in October almost two years after a crude oil export ban was lifted, according to a new report. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported in its November Energy Indicators report that crude oil exports had reached 1.8 million barrels a day in October, an all-time high and a significant increase from 1.3 million barrels a day in September. The increase in crude exports is making the U.S. an “up and comer” in the international energy market, said Kunal Patel, a senior research analysts at the Dallas Fed.

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CNBC

November 16, 2017

Geopolitics is the wildcard for oil right now, says Energy Aspects’ chief oil analyst

Iran-Saudi Arabia tensions, a potential debt default in Venezuela and a territorial dispute in Iraq — those are just some of the reasons that geopolitics matters to the price of oil right now, according to the chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects. Speaking to CNBC on Thursday, Amrita Sen said that there were a number of issues that could affect the oil price, with a particular concern being the lack of “inventory buffer” — a cushion of oil supply — if production was to fall from major oil producers for economic or political reasons.

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Oil & Gas Stories

Bloomberg

November 16, 2017

The U.S. Flooded One of Houston’s Richest Neighborhoods to Save Everyone Else

“Next contestant, come on down.” On Oct. 6, in a bright courtroom in downtown Houston, Susan Braden, chief justice of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, opens a preliminary hearing with a joke, beckoning a lawyer forward. Braden has flown in from Washington to oversee disputes involving the homes and businesses flooded in West Houston after Hurricane Harvey made landfall over Texas in late August. She has summoned attorneys interested in suing, to get their thoughts on how the proceedings should unfold. Almost 100 lawyers are present, combed and buzzing in anticipation of what promises to be some of the most complex and expensive litigation ever brought against the federal government. Observers speculate that thousands of plaintiffs could eventually join in, and that the total damages claimed could reach $10 billion or more, especially if the big energy and oil companies—whose presence in one section of West Houston gave it the nickname the Energy Corridor—sue over their flooded headquarters.

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Reuters

November 16, 2017

Anadarko Petroleum sees 11 percent rise in 2018 sales volumes

Anadarko Petroleum Corp on Thursday forecast an 11 percent rise in sales volumes for 2018, as shale producers boost oil output aggressively, taking advantage of recovering oil prices. The Woodlands, Texas-based oil and gas producer said it expects to sell 245-255 million barrels of oil equivalent (MMBOE) in 2018, higher than the 224-228 MMBOE it forecast for 2017. The company expects to spend $4.2 billion to $4.6 billion in 2018, with about 80 percent for the Delaware and DJ basins, including its midstream and deepwater assets in the Gulf of Mexico. That will result in about 14 percent oil growth year-over-year.

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Houston Chronicle

November 16, 2017

Q&A: Banker sees oil lending thaw as industry prospects improve

Paul Murphy’s $10 billion bank, with a footprint in Houston and a hand in energy lending for the past few years, didn’t come out of the oil bust unscathed. Houston’s Cadence Bancorporation lost money on some of its oil company borrowers and for the bulk of the downturn stopped issuing new loans to oil explorers. But it didn’t face anything like the losses that put hundreds of Texas lenders out of business in the 1980s bust. And as crude prices stabilize, more than eight out of 10 oil companies with loans considered nonperforming are paying the bank back on time.  Now, Murphy says, the bank has begun lending to oil producers again – but there are higher standards that borrowers must meet.

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Reuters

November 15, 2017

BHP eyes two-year exit from shale; also selling nickel

BHP Billiton said on Thursday it hopes to fully divest its troubled U.S. onshore shale business in around two years and is also seeking a buyer for its nickel business in Australia. The renewed push to unload both sets of assets, which the world’s biggest mining company no longer deems strategic, comes as prices for oil and nickel enjoy a price resurgence. “Nickel West is non-core, shale is non-core,” Mackenzie told reporters following the company’s annual general meeting in Melbourne. Nickel prices are up around 16 percent from January percent this year, while oil has risen about 9 percent.

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Houston Chronicle

November 16, 2017

Tenaris’ new Bay City mill starts rolling pipe for oil wells

Global steel pipe giant Tenaris commenced full operations Wednesday at its new $1.8 billion mill southwest of Houston in Bay City to start churning out piping for shale oil and gas wells in Texas, Oklahoma and beyond. The state-of-the-art mill is designed to bring pipe manufacturing close to the oil and gas wells and compete with Asian imports. Tenaris, an Argentinian company with its roots in Italy, opted to build its most modern and robotically automated mill in Texas to serve the ongoing shale boom in West Texas’ Permian Basin and other regions.

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Kallanish Energy

November 16, 2017

Texas drilling permits up 16.6% in October

The Railroad Commission of Texas issued 997 original drilling permits in October, up 16.6% from the 855 permits approved in October 2016, Kallanish Energy reports. The October total included 885 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, five to re-enter plugged well bores and 107 for re-completions of existing well bores, the state agency said. The breakdown of well types for those permits issued in October 2017 included 236 for oil, 46 for natural gas, 646 for oil or gas, 48 injection wells, and 21 other permits.

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

November 15, 2017

Baker: Texas oil patch ‘bloodbath’ is over as jobs and rigs return

Hiring in Texas oil and gas fields is rising sharply as the industry steadily recovers from its most recent downturn. The number of workers exploring for oil and gas in Texas hit more than 222,000 in September, nearly 31,000 more than a year ago, according to the Texas Petroleum Index, a measure of oil and gas drilling activity. It marked the 10th straight month that employment has improved, the report said. “After a two-year oil bloodbath where prices dropped 80 percent, rig count was down 75 percent, drilling permits were down 70 percent and 300,000 plus jobs were lost, this is a much brighter day,” said Karr Ingham, an Amarillo-based economist who compiles the report for the Texas Alliance of Energy producers.

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Daily Mail (UK)

November 16, 2017

Saudi Arabia king to step down and hand over the crown to his 32-year-old son

The King of Saudi Arabia plans to step down and announce his son as his successor next week, a source close to the country’s royal family has exclusively told DailyMail.com. The move is seen as the final step in 32-year-old Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s power grab, which began earlier this month with the arrests of more than 40 princes and government ministers in a corruption probe. The source said King Salman will continue only as a ceremonial figurehead, handing over official leadership of the country to his son – often referred to as MBS. ‘Unless something dramatic happens, King Salman will announce the appointment of MBS as King of Saudi Arabia next week,’ said the source.

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The Guardian (UK)

November 16, 2017

Saudi offer in corruption crackdown: ‘cough up the cash and go home’

Authorities in Saudi Arabia are offering businessmen and members of the royal family detained on allegations of corruption an opportunity to pay for their freedom, according to media reports. Around 200 princes, ministers, senior military officers and wealthy businessmen have been held in five-star hotels across the country since last week, many of them at the opulent Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh. Quoting “people briefed on the discussions”, the Financial Times reported that the Saudi government was demanding up to 70% of the individuals’ wealth in return for their freedom.

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KRIS

November 15, 2017

Construction begins on 650-mile long natural gas pipeline

Construction has begun for what’s being called the “natural gas super-highway.” The 650-mile long pipeline called the EPIC NGL Pipeline spans from New Mexico through Texas to Corpus Christi. The natural gas pipeline is expected to produce 375,000 barrels per day and will be run by EPIC Y Grade Pipeline in connection with BP Energy.

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Platts

November 16, 2017

New US gas pipelines fall short of ‘last mile’ to LNG demand

The Southeast natural gas market has a problem. Gas demand from LNG exports is expected to grow 10 Bcf/d the next five years, and in a high case, as much as 15 Bcf/d. To supply that growing demand, a massive buildout of pipeline capacity has been undertaken recently to move Northeast gas to the Southeast, with further capacity planned through 2019. However, the actual new capacity from the Northeast that reaches these demand centers, specifically in Louisiana and East Texas, falls well short of the new demand.

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Rigzone

November 15, 2017

Robotics and Automation: The Oil, Gas Skillsets of the Future

“We’ve been working on a strategy for four to five years on adopting a much higher degree of automation in the rigs and automating surface equipment, developing a manless floor and automating directional drilling,” Dennis Smith, vice president of corporate development and investor relations for Nabors Industries Ltd., told Rigzone. Nabors acquired Robotic Drilling System AS (RDS) Sept. 5, in a move that Smith called “strategically valuable.” “We’ve been working with RBS for several years on developing a system for some of our rigs,” said Smith. “If you look back 40 years ago in the automotive industry, the first robots were doing welding on cars … the majority of the employees at RBS come from the automotive industry.”

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Bloomberg

November 16, 2017

Shale King Hamm Wants to Give Oil Forecasters a Reality Check

The boom in U.S. shale-oil production requires “more sophisticated” forecasting than ever, billionaire oilman Harold Hamm said in an interview. Hamm, who is set to speak Thursday during a U.S. Energy Information Administration event, blames overly optimistic government production predictions for depressing U.S. oil prices. “It just disadvantages the U.S. market,” said Hamm, the founder and chairman of Continental Resources Inc. The EIA is “a very powerful market mover, and so it’s necessary they understand all of these things.”

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Reuters

November 16, 2017

Ecuador drops plan to request exemption from OPEC cut – oil minister

Ecuador has abandoned for now a plan to ask OPEC for an exemption from its share of the organisation’s oil production cut as crude prices are reacting positively to the group’s measures, the country’s oil minister said on Thursday. Ecuador, one of the smallest producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, said last month that it would request an exemption from the joint output cut when the group meets in Vienna later this month. It said then that it could even consider leaving the cartel for two years to avoid reducing its production. “For now we are not going to submit the request. We’ll analyse along with OPEC’s members which alternatives they can offer. To sustain prices, we have to support OPEC’s measures, which are so far succeeding,” minister Carlos Perez said during a press conference.

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Associated Press

November 16, 2017

Lawsuit filed by Dakota Access protesters to proceed

An appeals court ruled Tuesday that a federal judge in North Dakota was correct in not barring police from using harsh methods against Dakota Access pipeline protesters. There have been no protests since February, but the decision will allow a lawsuit to proceed in which pipeline opponents allege they were subjected to police brutality and their civil rights were violated. The plaintiffs sued last November seeking to stop police from using tactics against protesters such as chemical agents and water cannons. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland refused the request and they appealed, putting on hold the rest of their lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages for alleged police brutality and rights violations.

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle

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San Francisco Chronicle

November 15, 2017

Kelly: Why meeting the Paris climate goals is an existential threat to fossil fuel industries

Attacks on climate policies are not really about the science. They’re about the future of fossil fuels. Any program with a reasonable chance of meeting the goals embraced by the 2016 Paris accords (holding global temperature increases below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius compared to preindustrial levels) is likely to mean drastic changes in fossil energy markets. And the task is only getting harder. After three years of leveling off, global greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels are projected to grow 2 percent in 2017 to a new record high.

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Bloomberg

November 16, 2017

Mexico Seeks Diesel Around the World Before Price Limits End

Mexico is scouring the earth to stock up on diesel fuel before market-liberalization measures take effect. Petroleos Mexicanos, the country’s state-run oil company, has been on a buying spree of about a tanker load of diesel a day from the U.S. alone this year and recently purchased it as far afield as the United Arab Emirates and China. Mexico is set to lift price limits on the fuel, used to run heavy trucks and generate electricity, making 2018 prices uncertain.

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Oil Price

November 15, 2017

Brew: Why Saudi Arabia Should Fear U.S. Oil Dominance

One of the more important recent developments in global energy is the resurgence of U.S. energy production, thanks in large part to the shale revolution. Now, after half a century as a net importer, the U.S. is poised in the coming decade to become a net exporter, as imports from historic sources decline and demand for U.S. energy products abroad grows. According to the IEA’s World Energy Outlook, the U.S. is set to be a dominant force in energy production for the foreseeable future, as the surge from shale triggers the biggest boom in production in more than 50 years.

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New York Times

November 16, 2017

Norway’s Wealth Fund Considers Divesting From Oil Shares

Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund is considering a divestment of holdings in international petroleum companies, a sign that even Europe’s dominant producer does not have full confidence in oil’s future. The recommendation on Thursday by the Norwegian Central Bank, which manages the fund, is potentially the biggest advance yet for a global fossil-fuel divestment campaign that has been promoted on college campuses and by environmental activists. It could also be a setback for the proposed initial public offering of the Saudi national oil company, known as Aramco, since the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, would be a potentially large investor.

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Utilities Stories

Fox News

November 16, 2017

California government mandates send electricity prices skyrocketing, but Texas free market policies keep prices low

California’s rush to impose harsh government mandates cutting carbon dioxide emissions in the generation of electricity is raising the electricity bills of families and businesses across the state. Poor families are suffering the most. In sharp contrast, Texas is successfully taking a free-market approach that is increasing the use of clean renewable energy and lowering electricity bills in the state. The far-left Democrats who control state government in California have doubled down on their extremist campaign to cut carbon dioxide emissions – regardless of the cost and the pain they inflict on Californians, who are already struggling to pay some of the highest electricity bills in the nation.

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Futurism

November 14, 2017

A Helium-Resistant Material Could Finally Usher in The Age of Nuclear Fusion

A collaboration of engineers and researchers has found a way to prevent helium, a byproduct of the fusion reaction, from weakening nuclear fusion reactors. The secret is in building the reactors using nanocomposite solids that create channels through which the helium can escape. Researchers from Texas A&M University, working with a team from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, have tested a new method for creating the materials used in nuclear fusion reactors and found that it could eliminate one of the obstacles preventing humanity from harnessing the power of fusion energy.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

KUT

November 16, 2017

Talk Of Tariffs Is Already Costing Solar Jobs In Texas

Scott Canada says his company had big plans this year for a 100-megawatt solar farm outside Fort Stockton, Texas. “It would have been built over the next 18 months,” says Canada, senior vice president of renewable energy for McCarthy Building Companies. “It generally would have probably employed 300 to 400 people at its peak, depending on how tight the schedule was being compressed.” That project has been put on hold, and will likely be canceled, if the Trump administration decides to impose tariffs on cheaper panels made in China.

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Regulatory Stories

San Antonio Express-News

November 15, 2017

Chasnoff: #MeToo descends on state Capitol

As more harassed men and women speak out across the country, exposing sexual predators from Hollywood to Capitol Hill, the state Legislature is finally having its own overdue “#MeToo” moment — and the reckoning has snared at least one local lawmaker. On Tuesday, both Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called for a review of sexual harassment policies at the state Capitol. The move followed a report by the Texas Tribune that found “pervasive” and “unchecked” sexual harassment under the Pink Dome, as well as a report last week in the Daily Beast that revealed the existence of an anonymous, crowdsourced spreadsheet that has circulated among women at the state Capitol for the past year and warns of alleged transgressions by male lawmakers, campaign workers and legislative staffers. The document, titled “Burn Book of Bad Men in progressive spaces,” includes two entries on embattled Democratic state Sen. Carlos Uresti — not the first time the San Antonio lawmaker has been accused of sexual misdeeds.

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Texas Monthly

November 15, 2017

Important Offshore Safety Measure May Be Lost in Zeal to Repeal Regulations

Offshore drilling doesn’t get a lot of attention these days. With weaker oil prices, the more expensive deepwater projects have slowed. Last week, only 18 rigs were active in the Gulf of Mexico, compared with 48 just five years ago. The Trump administration has vowed to change that, despite the economic limitations of oil prices, and it’s targeted one of its favorite villains: Obama-era regulations. Specifically, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), which oversees offshore drilling regulations, wants to re-examine the so-called well-control rule. That rule set new requirements in the wake of BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed eleven men and unleashed the worst offshore oil disaster in U.S. history.

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Reuters

November 15, 2017

U.S. biofuels policy contributes to global warming: study

U.S. renewable fuel mandates are contributing to global warming, boosting carbon emissions as farmers turn carbon-rich areas like wetlands and forests into cropland to grow corn, soy and wheat for biofuels production, a study presented on Wednesday said. Three scientists from the University of Wisconsin presented their findings in Fort Worth, Texas, at a conference hosted by the National Wildlife Federation, an environmental group that opposes U.S. biofuels mandates in their current form.

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E&E News

November 14, 2017

DOE’s resilience proposal: The looming legal assault

Troves of recent comments from supporters and critics of a Trump administration plan to support coal and nuclear power generation are just the beginning of what promises to be a bitter battle over the future of electricity markets. As the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission sifts through arguments over a Department of Energy proposal to prop up “fuel-secure” generators to boost the grid’s resilience, one thing is clear: The embrace of any approach that appears to favor coal and nuclear over other fuel sources will spark a mad dash to the courtroom. Critics of the plan are ready to file challenges if FERC adopts anything close to Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s vision. For now, it’s a waiting game to see exactly how the commission moves forward.

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Houston Chronicle

November 16, 2017

After Arkema plans, safety board urges industry to rethink emergency plans

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, concerned about the increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters, is warning the chemical industry to rethink its emergency plans in light of the Arkema fires in Crosby. Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 6 feet of water on the Arkema plant. Floodwaters caused the site to lose the ability to keep volatile organic peroxides cool, leading to massive fires over multiple days.

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Agri-Pulse

November 16, 2017

Cruz wants a meeting on the RFS, but will it happen?

Senator Ted Cruz has gotten headlines for placing a hold on Bill Northey’s USDA undersecretary nomination, but the Texas Republican hasn’t gotten what he really wants: a meeting at the White House and substantive changes in renewable fuel policy. The hold was placed after EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt offered a list of assurances – including rejecting a proposed RFS point of obligation change and a pledge to increase biofuel blending requirements – to Midwestern senators that allowed for the nomination of Bill Wehrum as an EPA official to move forward. Sen. Joni Ernst had held up Wehrum at the committee level after the Iowa Republican said she wasn’t satisfied with his responses to questions related to governance of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

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The Atlantic

November 16, 2017

Meyer: Democrats Are Shockingly Unprepared to Fight Climate Change

There’s a wrinkle in how the United States talks about climate change in 2017, a tension fundamental to the issue’s politics but widely ignored. On the one hand, Democrats are the party of climate change. Since the 1990s, as public belief in global warming has become strongly polarized, the Democratic Party has emerged as the advocate of more aggressive climate action. The most recent Democratic president made climate policy a centerpiece of his second term, and the party’s national politicians now lament and oppose the undoing of his work. Concern for the climate isn’t just an elite issue, either: Rank-and-file Democrats are more likely to worry about global warming than the median voter. On the other hand, the Democratic Party does not have a plan to address climate change.

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips November 16, 2017
Lead Stories

Houston Chronicle

November 15, 2017

Baker Hughes future in doubt as GE seeks exit options

The future of Houston’s Baker Hughes is again uncertain now that financially struggling General Electric is considering selling its majority stake in the energy services giant. Baker Hughes just completed its merger into the GE family in July, but now Boston-based GE is under new leadership and going through its worst financial performance in almost a decade. A GE strategic review this week indicated it is seeking possible exit options for Baker Hughes with new GE CEO John Flannery using the phrase “exit optionality.”

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The Street

November 14, 2017

General Electric’s Stock Has Been Smoked Yet Here Come New Wind Farms

General Electric Co. is beefing up its presence in Nordic countries. GE Power, the company’s power generation arm, will build new wind farms in Finland and Sweden. “We are in discussions with several customers and partners,” GE Power Finland CEO Markus Alholm told Reuters on the sidelines of an energy conference. “We are very active in wind in the Nordic countries,” Alholm said. In Finland, the company is planning new farms with about 80 to 100 megawatts per farm. GE Power has similar plans for Sweden. GE recently announced that it reached a deal to build a 650-megawatt wind farm in Sweden with Green Investment Group.

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Dallas Morning News

November 15, 2017

Texas wind energy projects worth about $11 billion threatened by U.S. House tax vote Thursday

The wind energy industry is warning that $10.9 billion worth of Texas projects could be threatened by a U.S. House vote Thursday. The House is scheduled to decide on tax reform that includes retroactively slashing the wind energy production tax credit. And, that’s worrying industry leaders in Texas, which has lead the U.S. in electricity produced by wind farms and has a large percentage of the nation’s wind projects currently in the pipeline.

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Financial Tribune

November 15, 2017

Saudi Arabia’s Oil Export to US Plunges to 30-Year Low

For a generation, the huge, whitewashed storage tanks at America’s largest oil refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, have stored almost nothing but Saudi crude. All of a sudden, there are very few Saudi ships arriving in Texas. Since July, Saudi Arabia’s state-run oil company, Aramco, has constricted supply, attempting to drain the US crude storage tanks, as part of a plan to lift oil prices, even at the cost of sacrificing its once prized US market, Bloomberg reported. While its Motiva Refinery in Texas is most affected, the rest of the US oil refining system, from El Segundo in California to Lake Charles in Louisiana, has also taken a hit. The result: Saudi crude exports into America fell to a 30-year low last month.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

November 16, 2017

Oil stable as OPEC cuts counter rising US supplies

Oil markets were stable on Thursday as rising U.S. crude production and inventories were countered by expectations that OPEC will extend an ongoing production cut during a meeting at the end of this month. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices,were at $61.98 per barrel at 0438 GMT, 11 cents above their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $55.37 a barrel, 4 cents up from their last settlement. “Oil shrugged off an unexpected rise in the U.S. crude inventory data…Both contracts eked out small gains,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at futures brokerage OANDA in Singapore.

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Dallas Morning News

November 15, 2017

Natural gas wasted by Permian Basin drillers could fuel a few Texas counties for over 2 years

The Permian Basin’s largest oil drillers have been releasing or burning up as much as 9 percent of the natural gas they produced as a byproduct, according to a new report from the Environmental Defense Fund. The result has been greater air pollution, destruction of usable natural gas and more of the powerful greenhouse gas methane vented into the atmosphere. The fund, an advocacy group, and others have also warned that “flaring” — industry jargon for burning off natural gas — could threaten the McDonald Observatory in West Texas, which relies on having one of the nation’s darkest night skies.

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KUHF (Houston NPR)

November 15, 2017

Despite A ‘Downturn,’ West Texas Oil Production Expected To Hit A Record High

It was almost three years ago when the oil industry took a nosedive. The headlines told stories of lost jobs and struggling towns, but now, despite the continued downturn, things seem better. At least in the Permian Basin of West Texas. There’s a sound common to much of the region: the slow, steady creak of a pumpjack. It’s a seemingly mundane, yet tangible, sign that the state’s oil economy is humming along. With oil prices stabilizing, the Energy Information Administration expects oil pumped from West Texas to lead the way to record-high production next year, passing a peak set back in 1970.

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Wall St. Journal

November 14, 2017

SandRidge Energy Nears Deal to Buy Bonanza Creek Energy

SandRidge Energy Inc. is nearing an agreement to buy Bonanza Creek Energy Inc. for about $750 million, according to people familiar with the matter. A cash-and-stock deal between the oil and gas producers could be announced Wednesday, the people said. Bonanza Creek and SandRidge were among the largest of more than 120 North American oil and gas producers bankrupted in recent years by plunging oil prices.

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Houston Chronicle

November 13, 2017

Houston energy private equity firm closes $600 million fund

Post Oak Energy Capital has closed a $600 million fund it plans to pour into North American oil producers, service companies and midstream companies, it said Monday. The Houston private equity firm, a company with investments in more than two dozen oil companies, said its fourth fund closed last week and expects to begin pumping money into companies early next year.

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Offshore Engineer

November 15, 2017

Energy ministers meet in Houston

Trilateral cooperation between the US, Canada, and Mexico is needed, says US Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Perry was speaking at the University of Houston’s Hilton Hotel at a North American Ministerial event on 14 November, which included Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr, and Mexican Energy Secretary Pedro Joaquín Coldwell. Perry identified three areas of possible collaboration such as infrastructure, technology and security of energy assets. Cyber security was called out specifically as a huge topic of interest between the three countries.

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Oil Price

November 13, 2017

Cunningham: Don’t Back U.S. Shale To Keep Oil Prices Down

WTI is back in the upper-$50s per barrel, and OPEC is on the verge of extending its production limits well into next year. The fear for OPEC, and other oil bulls, is that this risks sparking another wave of U.S. shale supply, sending oil prices right back down to where they came from. But what if U.S. shale fails to keep up with soaring demand? That’s the conclusion from Morgan Stanley—a prediction that flies in the face of conventional wisdom. When OPEC signed its deal a year ago to limit production, oil prices moved up into the $50s per barrel, and over the next 12 months, the U.S. brought about 1 million barrels per day (mb/d) back online. With crude prices back at similar heights, shouldn’t another dose of shale production be a sure thing?

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New York Times

November 14, 2017

The Upstart Saudi Prince Who’s Throwing Caution to the Winds

The crown prince has moved so quickly that American officials and others worry that he is destabilizing the region. Signs of potential blowback are growing. Investors, nervous about his plans, have been moving money out of the kingdom. Prince Mohammed has sought to counter the capital flight by squeezing detainees and others to surrender assets. He has presented the arrests as a campaign against corruption, but his targets call it a shakedown, and he has turned for advice to a former Egyptian security chief who has been pilloried at home for brutality and graft.

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Texas Tribune

November 13, 2017

Erickson: Texas oil subsidies, at a crossroads

In August, two Harvard researchers concluded that Exxon Mobil misled the public about climate change. In very public, paid advertorials and elsewhere, the company sowed doubt about the reality, seriousness and solvability of global warming. But climate may not be the only issue the oil industry has been less than forthcoming about. Oil executives — notably including former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, at his confirmation hearing to be Secretary of State in January — have repeatedly denied receiving subsidies from the U.S. government. A new peer-reviewed study, published last month in Nature Energy, chronicles a dozen subsidies to the oil industry.

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Wall St. Journal

November 15, 2017

Mexico’s Pemex to Revamp Gas Stations as Competition Steps Up

State oil company Petróleos Mexicanos, facing competition in the retail fuel market for the first time since its foundation eight decades ago, is revamping its network of franchised service stations and will use its advantages to offer competitive prices, officials said Wednesday. “The energy reform has changed the situation in the energy sector,” Pemex Chief Executive José Antonio González Anaya told a gathering of several thousand owners and operators of Pemex brand service stations. “We’re no longer the only ones, so we need to renovate ourselves.”

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Utilities Stories

KUT

November 15, 2017

Despite Presidential Promises, A Texas Town Looks At Life After Coal

News that the Sandow Power Plant outside Rockdale was closing broke on Friday the 13th. “You would think you could put off till Monday to make that announcement,” Steven Garza chuckles. “But that’s how it went down.” Garza has worked as an electrician at the plant for four years. He and his wife were driving their son to school when he got the call and had to tell her he would be out of a job. Michael Morgan worked logistics for a subcontractor at the plant. When a friend told him Sandow was closing, he thought it was a joke.

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Odessa American

November 15, 2017

Summit bankruptcy frees land, city funds

The company behind the Texas Clean Energy Project has filed for bankruptcy, underscoring the difficulty in developing new coal plants that capture carbon emissions while ending a roughly eight-year effort by local officials to land the project. … Now, the city’s Odessa Development Corporation will stop reserving about $5 million for incentives the city would have awarded if the Texas Clean Energy Project materialized. And about 600 acres of land near Penwell where the plant was intended to go will become available for other projects. Summit Texas Clean Energy, LLC filed the Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a form that calls for liquidation, on Oct. 13. The filing reported total liabilities of about $46.8 million and more than $175,000 in assets.

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Torrington Register Citizen (CT)

November 10, 2017

New England electric grid operator predicts declining demand for electricity

Demand for electricity in New England is expected to decline over the next 10 years, even in peak summer demand periods, the region’s power grid operator reports in a new study. Holyoke, Massachusetts-based ISO-New England released its 2017 Regional System Plan, which details needs of the grid through 2026. The energy forecast contained in the plan predicts total annual use of electricity will decline by 0.6 percent per year, with the summer peak needs declining 0.1 percent annually by 2026 under normal weather conditions.

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Clean Technica

November 13, 2017

Pittsburgh Becoming Laboratory For Microgrid Technology

There is a lot of talk about grid resiliency in the US these days. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has declared that coal and nuclear are essential to the resiliency of the American power grid, but as Hurricane Maria proved beyond a reasonable doubt when it ripped through Puerto Rico last month, a grid whose main transmission lines have been destroyed has no resiliency at all. Following in Maria’s wake, microgrid technology has suddenly become a hot topic of discussion, most of all in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. microgrid technologyOnce the standard bearer for America’s steel industry when its blast furnaces were visible for miles around at night, Pittsburgh has fallen on hard times in recent decades. Until recently, it had become the center of what has come to be called the Rust Belt, but no more. Pittsburgh is rapidly becoming Silicon Valley East. Apple, Google, and Uber have opened technology centers there.

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KOTA

November 15, 2017

Blackout hits Puerto Rico as power company reached goal

A major blackout hit Puerto Rico’s most populated region on Wednesday just as the government announced it had met its goal of 50 percent power generation nearly two months after Hurricane Maria struck as a Category 4 storm. The Electric Power Authority said it dispatched crews to investigate why a key 230 kilovolt line that connects the island’s northern and southern regions had failed for the second time in a week.

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Reuters

November 13, 2017

A year after Trump’s election, coal’s future remains bleak

A year after Donald Trump was elected president on a promise to revive the ailing U.S. coal industry, the sector’s long-term prospects for growth and hiring remain as bleak as ever. A Reuters review of mining data shows an industry that has seen only modest gains in jobs and production this year – much of it from a temporary uptick in foreign demand for U.S. coal rather than presidential policy changes. U.S. utilities are shutting coal-fired power plants at a rapid pace and shifting to cheap natural gas, along with wind and solar power. And domestic demand makes up about 90 percent of the market for U.S. coal.

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New York Times

November 14, 2017

Why China Wants to Lead on Climate, but Clings to Coal (for Now)

Barely a month ago, in a landmark speech to the Communist Party congress, President Xi Jinping of China promised that his country would take a “driving seat in international cooperation to respond to climate change.” But can China really be in the “driving seat” when it is burning so much coal that its carbon emissions are forecast to rise this year? It may depend on how the country manages a climate agenda laden with contradictions. For one thing, China, the world’s most populous country and the largest carbon polluter, is well on track to meet the commitments it made under the Paris climate accord — the global agreement designed to curb the worst effects of climate change — which the United States has said it is leaving.

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Corpus Christi Caller-Times

November 13, 2017

Messbarger: Nuclear — the forgotten energy source

“What this country needs is a good energy policy” and “Energy is the key to economic development” were the two gems I garnered from a speech I heard recently by Lonnie Johnson, former NASA engineer and inventor of the Super Soaker and Nerf Projectile toys. Mr. Johnson said he went the invention route after a career at NASA “to generate the money to fund the cost of other things I wanted to do,” and the funding was astounding — more than a billion dollars in sales for his main invention, the Super Soaker. … Today, government regulations have shut down almost all of the domestic uranium mining operation, resulting in 98 percent of the feedstock for the 90-plus U.S. nuclear plants to be imported. And the cost to construct new nuclear plants here, due to over-regulating, is a major discriminator while India and China are building 62 new nuclear plants, with many more on the way.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Texas Public Radio

November 13, 2017

‘World’s First’ Solar Panel Mural Revealed

A solar panel went up in downtown San Antonio on Friday, and it’s one that’s unlike any other. “This is an excellent example of combining art and technology, art and science,” said Penny Boyer of the Land Heritage Institute, a 1,200-acre nature preserve that promotes land stewardship and renewable energy. “This is the world’s first solar mural installation.” The mural is actually comprised of four panels combined to form a 6 and one-half feet by 13-foot solar panel mural. Artist Cruz Ortiz created a Monarch Butterfly, labeling it La Monarca — Spanish for the monarch — and appearing much like a large Loteria card. There’s also a 24 in the upper left.

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The Hill

November 13, 2017

Blackwell: Fuel cell technology proves value in hurricane relief efforts

Congress, like most Americans, may not be fully aware of a growing energy source powering industry today, which explains why fuel cell technology isn’t being treated fairly. While it’s largely out of public view, it was one of the unsung heroes in this year’s hurricane disasters. When Hurricane Irma struck Florida in September, one of Walmart’s distribution centers lost its supply of electricity. Fortunately, its fleet of warehouse forklifts were powered by hydrogen fuel cells. If these trucks had run on traditional lead-acid battery power, the generators would not have been able keep up with the needs, and the fleet would have quickly run out of power.

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Kallanish Energy

November 14, 2017

Few satisfied with new Vermont wind power sound rules

Vermont utility regulators’ efforts to settle the issue of how much noise neighbors of industrial wind projects should put up with ended up upsetting both proponents and opponents of wind power. Proponents of using industrial wind projects as part of Vermont’s long-term goal of getting 90% of its power from renewable sources by 2050, say the new wind rules will make achieving that goal more difficult, if not impossible, The Associated Press reported. “These rules will certainly have a chilling effect on wind energy in Vermont,” Austin Davis, a spokesman for the renewable energy trade group Renewable Energy Vermont, told the AP. “However, that doesn’t do away with the fact that wind energy currently is the cheapest renewable energy available to New England.”

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Oil Price

November 9, 2017

Moors: Can Solar Survive Without Subsidies?

In an increasing number of regions in the U.S., solar (and wind) power can produce electricity at the same cost – or lower – than more traditional fuels, like coal or natural gas. We call it reaching “grid parity” here in the business. The catch, however, is what happens when government subsidies are removed from the calculation. That’s why what happened at the end of September in the UK may be a sign of things to come across the pond here in the U.S. See, the British just brought a new solar power project online without relying on subsidies. Only the market will dictate what this power plant gets paid.

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Treehugger

November 8, 2017

Bio-solar wallpaper made with cyanobacteria can be printed with an inkjet

A breakthrough in creating simple paper-based bio-solar panels could lead to a greener way to power air quality sensors and other small devices, as these microbial biophotoltaics (BPV) are completely biodegradable. Although bacterial batteries, such as in the form of a microbial fuel cell, are showing promise, others are working toward biological solar cells, which harvest the electricity produced by cyanobacteria during photosynthesis. Cyanobacteria, which are thought to have been instrumental in the oxygenation of the Earth due to oxygen production by photosynthesis, are found in almost every habitat, and are nitrogen-fixers (and now ethanol-producers), along with fulfilling vital functions in the ecology of the oceans.

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Regulatory Stories

Texas Public Radio

November 13, 2017

Slow And Upbeat EPA Response To Hurricane Harvey Pollution Angers Residents

Juan Flores and his family live in Galena Park, Texas, which is bordered on three sides by pipeline terminals, oil refineries, fertilizer plants and rail yards. Flores has lived in the town of about 11,000 people just east of downtown Houston since he was 4 years old. For a while, he even served on the City Council. After all these years, he is accustomed to the rhythms of life among the industrial plants. Strange smells and occasional warnings to shelter in place don’t bother him too much. “I live so close to [one] company that I can hear their alarms,” he says. “The thing is, you hear it so much you get immune to it, and it’s like background noise.” But there are also times when he takes notice. “If I smell something out here, it’s bad,” he says, “and I can tell you during Harvey, it smelled real bad.”

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Houston Chronicle

November 15, 2017

Perry says renegotiating NAFTA needed because of U.S. energy bounty

At appearances in Houston this week, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said it makes sense for the United States, Canada and Mexico to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, in part because of the enormous new supply of U.S. oil and gas locked in once-inaccessible shale rocks. Asked whether renegotiating NAFTA – a thorny and potentially yearlong process that the Trump Administration began this summer – would affect energy trade between the three countries, Perry said the renegotiation was a “good process; it’s a healthy process.”

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Houston Chronicle

November 15, 2017

Arkema documents: Planning, mechanical failures led to Harvey chemical fires

Prior to the chemical fire at its Crosby plant, Arkema underestimated the potential for storm damage and failed to keep essential backup power protected from rising floodwaters, documents obtained by the Houston Chronicle show. Poor planning and a series of cascading equipment failures led to dangerous chemicals erupting into flames in late August during the height of Hurricane Harvey. The miscalculations indicate the company’s lack of preparation for more than 3 feet of flooding, reflected by an emergency management plan that barely addressed how to handle such a storm.

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The Hill

November 14, 2017

Clark: Senate may ditch Roosevelt’s conservation legacy for oil

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is America’s last great wildland and a world-renowned wildlife reserve. Why would we ever consider sacrificing this irreplaceable landscape to oil drilling? Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is intent on using the pending tax bill to authorize oil development on the Coastal Plain, the biological heart of the refuge that supports a full complement of Arctic wildlife, from polar bears, wolves and Arctic foxes, to snow geese and the diminutive singing vole. The proposal would effectively turn over management of this incredible expanse to the Bureau of Land Management with direction to industrialize the area. Most immediately, it is a shock wave to wildlife protection nationwide.

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The Hill

November 14, 2017

Puerto Rico officials defend Whitefish contract before Congress

Top Puerto Rico officials defended the territory’s response to Hurricane Maria, telling a Senate committee on Tuesday that they worked quickly to try and repair the island’s electric grid. The head of the island’s state-run energy utility said their original decision to grant a large grid repair contract to a small Montana energy firm was the right one, given the promises the company made to the island.

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San Antonio Express-News

November 15, 2017

SAEN: Trump ignoring feds’ own science

By now, the warnings are all too familiar. A rapidly warming planet. The cause almost certainly human activity. Rising sea levels and coastal flooding. Extreme weather leading to drought, famine and wildfires. A foreboding sense that in failing to curb carbon emissions, we are flirting with calamity. But amid the steady beat of climate warnings, the National Climate Assessment stands out for a variety of reasons. First, it is the gold standard for such reports. The National Climate Assessment is mandated every four years and is the product of contributions from scientists across 13 federal agencies.

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Politico

November 12, 2017

Top Democrats stage anti-Trump revolt at Bonn climate summit

BONN, Germany — A handful of Democratic governors and scores of other lawmakers and mayors are mounting an insurgency at the United Nations climate conference here, orchestrating a highly choreographed campaign to persuade world leaders that President Donald Trump doesn’t speak for the United States on climate change. Several Democratic U.S. senators began meeting last week with officials from other countries, seeking to minimize Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. Meanwhile, the governors of California, Virginia, Oregon and Washington — along with mayors from throughout the nation — were expected to touch off a blitz of public appearances at the conference as the meeting enters its final week.

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The Hill

November 14, 2017

Zilian: We are paving the way for Chinese dominance in clean energy

For early baby-boomers, the federal government’s release on Nov. 3 of the comprehensive science report on climate contained few surprises. It simply confirmed what we have been experiencing for six decades. The central question is whether the U.S. will surrender to Chinese leadership in this key strategic area of clean energy systems while we plod along relying heavily on carbon-based, dirty fuels.

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips November 15, 2017
Lead Stories

Wall St. Journal

November 14, 2017

Oil-Price Recovery Threatened by Weak Demand, Says IEA

The crude oil price rally could be short-lived and global oil demand will be weaker than expected this year and next, the International Energy Agency said Tuesday. In its closely watched monthly oil report, the IEA cut its crude demand growth outlook by 100,000 barrels a day for 2017 and 2018. The agency now expects demand to grow by 1.5 million barrels a day this year and 1.3 million barrels a day next year. The IEA noted that oil prices have risen roughly 20% since early September—with Brent crude sustaining gains above $60 a barrel in recent weeks—on the back of supply disruptions and geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. But if those problems prove temporary, a “fresh look at the fundamentals” would likely show the “market balance in 2018 does not look as tight as some would like and there is not in fact a ‘new normal.’”

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Houston Chronicle

November 14, 2017

Report predicts oil industry may lose grip on auto market by 2040

The oil industry could lose its century-old grip on the transportation market by 2040 as consumers turn to electric cars, ride-hailing apps and other technologies that could transform the way people get around, researchers predict. Within 25 years, 1 out of every 3 vehicles sold in major markets like the United States will run on electricity; increasingly stringent fuel economy standards will force global oil demand to plateau; and new mobility options, including car-sharing and ride-hailing, will mean people can travel a greater number of miles even as vehicle sales fall, the research firm IHS Markit said in a new report on Tuesday.

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Hellenic News of America

November 9, 2017

Who should pay for electric vehicle chargers? Who should profit?

Electric vehicles are unlikely to win broad market acceptance unless they can be charged quickly and easily anywhere in America. Chargers are critical in getting rid of “range anxiety,” the fear of running out of charge with no station in sight. There is a debate amongst states as to whether utilities should be allowed to own and operate charging infrastructure for electric cars. Missouri, Michigan and Kansas all have turned down utilities’ requests to build charging stations with customers’ money. Utilities have been experiencing sluggish growth for several years due to stagnant demand and the requirement to integrate new energy sources. Thus, some utilities want to own and operate electric car chargers to increase profit.

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American Journal of Transportation

November 13, 2017

CO2 emissions from coal fell by record amount in 2015, led by Texas and Midwest

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with coal consumption in the United States fell by a record 231 million metric tons in 2015. More than 60% of the annual decrease occurred in 10 states, led by Texas, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, according to EIA’s state-level carbon dioxide emissions data. Most of the decline in 2015 U.S. coal consumption occurred in the electric power sector, where reduced coal-fired electricity generation was largely offset by higher natural gas-fired electricity generation. In 2015, a decline in coal emissions occurred in nearly every state.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

November 15, 2017

Oil prices slide after IEA casts doubt over demand outlook

Oil prices fell more than 1 percent on Wednesday, continuing Tuesday’s slide after the International Energy Agency cast doubts over the past few months’ narrative of tightening fuel markets. Brent crude futures were at $61.33 per barrel at 0515 GMT, down 88 cents, or 1.4 percent from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $55 per barrel, down 70 cents, or 1.3 percent. The price falls mean that crude prices are now down by around 5 percent since hitting 2015 highs last week, ending a 40-percent rally between June and early November.

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24/7 Wall St.

November 14, 2017

EIA: Crude Oil Production to Rise 80,000 Barrels a Day in December

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Monday released its November report on drilling productivity in seven key oil and gas producing regions of the United States. Overall, oil production is projected to rise by 80,000 barrels a day in December to 6.174 million barrels per day. Total production in November is forecast to reach 6.094 million barrels a day, an increase of 55,000 barrels a day compared with October production. In August the drilling productivity report added production from the Anadarko basin of Oklahoma and Texas and combined the Marcellus and Utica basis into a single Appalachia region.

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Business News Network

November 14, 2017

Global oil demand to withstand rise of electric vehicles: IEA

Global oil demand will fall only modestly alongside the expected rise in electric vehicles over the next two decades, with consumption in petrochemicals and other transportation still growing, the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday. Oil is already facing stiff competition from ever-cheaper and more environmentally friendly energy sources as traditional fossil fuel users switch to cleaner, low-carbon alternatives. In its World Energy Outlook 2018, the Paris-based IEA said it had cut its longer-term oil price projections from last year, partly because of the falling cost of both renewable and conventional sources of energy, the worldwide push to tackle climate change and improve air quality and the boom in U.S. shale oil and gas output.

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Inside Climate News

November 14, 2017

‘This Is an Emergency’: 1 Million African Americans Live Near Oil, Gas Facilities

A new analysis concludes what many in African-American communities have long experienced: Low-income, black Americans are disproportionately exposed to toxic air pollution from the fossil fuel industry. More than 1 million African Americans live within a half-mile of oil and natural gas wells, processing, transmission and storage facilities (not including oil refineries), and 6.7 million live in counties with refineries, potentially exposing them to an elevated risk of cancer due to toxic air emissions, according to the study.

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San Antonio Express-News

November 14, 2017

A West Texas oil boom brings an increase in natural gas flaring

An oil boom is in full swing in the Permian Basin in West Texas along with one of its expected but more unwelcome sidekicks — natural gas flaring, according to a new report. Permian Basin producers were burning off between 3 and 4 percent of their natural gas, higher than the state average, in 2014 and 2015, according to a report being released today by the Environmental Defense Fund. The report looked at gas flaring and venting data collected by the state’s oil and gas regulator, the Railroad Commission of Texas, for the 15 biggest operators in the nation’s busiest oil field. Overall, companies working in the West Texas portion of the Permian Basin, which also extends into New Mexico, burned off around 80 billion cubic feet of natural gas in two years.

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KRIS

November 14, 2017

$10-billion plant in San Patricio County hires several local businesses for construction project

A multi-billion dollar project is underway in San Patricio County and the folks behind this project offered local companies the chance to take part in its construction. So far, “Gulf Coast Growth Ventures” — which is the joint project between Exxon Mobil and Sabic — has already awarded 13 contracts. Of those 13, 12 were awarded to local businesses. … The $10-million plant will be the World’s largest ethane steam cracker plant and aside from the jobs it’s already created for companies like Turner and Ramirez Architects, once built it’ll employ more than 600 people and will range in experience from high school diploma to executive positions.

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Barron’s

November 14, 2017

Baker Hughes: It’s Still a GE Company…But That’s Not the Only Problem

Merger creates potential risks and operating disruptions as well as well-publicized consolidation benefits. Management has quantified significant cost savings and revenue synergies, although realization of the revenue synergies has been pushed to the right since the merger was announced. We are concerned about the potential for institutional memory loss, which could hamper the company during a recovery, particularly in North America. All BHI employees vested in their incentive comp shares and options, and received the $17.50/share payout when the merger closed. Those who have experience in North America are likely to be in high demand, and we have heard anecdotes in Houston of a wave of “retirements” at BHGE since the merger closed.

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Dallas Morning News

November 14, 2017

New Mexico’s geological back door to Permian attracts Exxon Mobil, other oil majors

Oil producers discouraged by the rising cost of accessing the vast deposits of the Permian Basin in Texas are sneaking into a geological back door, through neighboring New Mexico. The state, which covers a smaller part of the oil-soaked shale formation, is the fourth-largest U.S. producer and luring industry giants including Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., EOG Resources Inc. and Occidental Petroleum Corp. Their investments — while small compared with Texas — are increasing as activity in the rest of the Permian starts to slow down.

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Bloomberg

November 14, 2017

Buying Texas Oil at New Mexico Prices: Majors Go West for Shale

Oil producers discouraged by the rising cost of accessing the vast deposits of the Permian Basin in Texas are sneaking into a geological back door, through neighboring New Mexico. The state, which covers a smaller part of the oil-soaked shale formation, is the fourth-largest U.S. producer and luring industry giants including Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., EOG Resources Inc. and Occidental Petroleum Corp. Their investments — while small compared with Texas — are increasing as activity in the rest of the Permian starts to slow down. In just the past five months, drilling on the New Mexico side of the Permian expanded 25 percent to 75 rigs, while Texas contracted by 2 percent to 490, according to data compiled by Drilling Info Inc., an Austin-Texas based industry consultant.

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Corpus Christi Caller-Times

November 14, 2017

More natural gas will flow between Corpus Christi, Permian Basin

Call it the natural gas superhighway. The company behind an ambitious pipeline that would link Corpus Christi and the Permian Basin is already planning to move more natural gas than it said it would just two months ago. Construction began Tuesday on the first phase of what’s being called the EPIC NGL Pipeline project. The 650-mile pipeline is expected to be finished in early 2019, and would serve multiple points in the Delaware and Midland basins. “The … pipeline provides an efficient solution to shippers’ NGL marketing and transportation needs,” said Justin Gordon, EPIC’S senior vice president of engineering and operations.

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Natural Gas Intelligence

November 14, 2017

Energy Transfer Says Waha-to-Mexico Ramping Up ‘Some Time Down the Road’

Basis differentials at the Waha Hub, situated at the heart of the Permian Basin, could “blow out materially” over the next year or two, and Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP) is poised to take advantage, management said. During a conference call last week to discuss 3Q2017 results, COO Marshall McCrea said the Dallas-based midstreamer sees opportunities to capture value as all signs point to a continued increase in associated natural gas volumes from the Permian and potential constraints at Waha, which is in Pecos County, TX. “We’re probably more well-positioned than anybody,” McCrea said. “There’s not a lot of capacity out of West Texas. Really, the only way out other than west is through our pipe to Mexico, which we still believe will be some time down the road before they’re fully ramping up. So, getting volume growth out of there is going to depend on either a new project or existing capacity, of which we have.

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Bloomberg

November 10, 2017

Why $84 Billion From China Can’t Buy a U.S. East Gas Hub

During President Donald Trump’s visit to Asia this week, a Chinese energy company pledged to spend almost $84 billion helping West Virginia build an entire supply chain that would bring the benefits of America’s shale gas boom to bear. Much of it will probably never materialize. Here are the reasons why. The Returns — China Energy Investment Corp. and West Virginia have grand — albeit non-binding — plans to build new gas-fired power plants, along with complexes to store the fuel and chemical plants to help turn it into plastics. Based on a statement from West Virginia’s Department of Commerce, China Energy Investment would spend $83.7 billion over 20 years, or more than $4 billion annually.

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Utilities Stories

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

November 14, 2017

Hall: Even with Trump’s efforts, the math doesn’t add up for more coal in Texas

President Trump, with steady and consistent support from Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, has launched a national campaign to prop up uneconomic coal plants on the backs of the American people. Two recent actions highlight this unfortunate fact. First, Perry threw the coal industry a lifeline through a directive to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which would undermine functioning electricity markets and substantially increase Americans’ electricity bills. Then Pruitt announced plans to withdraw the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever nationwide limits on carbon pollution from power plants. The commonsense plan is expected to prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths every year.

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Environmental Defense Fund

November 14, 2017

3 ways Dynegy is trying to make Illinoisans bail out its aging coal fleet

Dynegy, a Texas-based energy giant, is pulling out all the stops in Illinois to keep uneconomic and dirty coal plants running. Dynegy is Illinois’ largest producer of coal-fired electricity, but the falling prices of other power sources, including renewable energy, have hurt the company’s bottom line. Last year, Dynegy tried to ramrod customer-funded coal subsidies into the Future Energy Jobs Act at the last minute, but Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and our allies successfully blocked that effort.

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Utility Dive

November 14, 2017

Industry group says more than 2k CCS plants needed to meet Paris climate goals

Renewable energy alone will not be sufficient to meet the goals of the Paris climate accord, an industry group focused on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) concluded in a report released yesterday at the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany. In order to meet the goals, the report finds that more than 2,000 CCS facilities will be needed by 2040, and that 14% of the pact’s cumulative emissions reductions will need to come from the technology. While CCS is technically feasible, there are widespread concerns in the power industry as to its cost-competitiveness. Two years ago, a University of Michigan study concluded CCS technology was far more expensive than previously believed, and both solar and wind generation could be at or below the same cost.

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National Geographic

November 13, 2017

World Carbon Emissions Had Leveled Off. Now They’re Rising Again

For a while it looked as if the world might be turning the corner. But after a three-year stall in their growth, human-caused carbon-dioxide emissions have not, in fact, peaked, an international team of scientists announced this morning. In 2017, global emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels and industry will once again rise by 2 percent, the scientists project, to a record 37 billion metric tons. Those emissions had increased by only a quarter of a percent from 2014 to 2016. Changes in land use, such as deforestation, will add around 4 billion metric tons of CO2 in 2017, bringing the global emissions total to an estimated 41 billion metric tons.

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WTOP (Washington DC)

November 14, 2017

Subsidizing coal and nuclear power could drive customers off the grid

Within the next month, energy watchers expect the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to act on an order from Energy Secretary Rick Perry that would create new pricing rules for certain power plants that can store fuel on site to support grid resilience. This initiative seeks to protect coal-fired and nuclear power plants that are struggling to compete with cheaper energy sources. Perry’s proposed rule applies to plants that operate in regions with deregulated power markets, where utilities normally compete to deliver electricity at the lowest price. To qualify, plants would have to keep a 90-day fuel supply on site. Each qualified plant would be allowed to “recover its fully allocated costs.”

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WGHP

November 14, 2017

Emails reveal Duke edited scientific reports on coal ash, coordinated with advisory board chair

Emails and documents obtained by WBTV show senior officials at Duke Energy edited reports prepared by at least one professor hired by the company to prepare independent scientific reports related to the impact of coal ash ponds on groundwater. The documents also show a second professor, Dr. John Daniels of the University of North Carolina Charlotte, advised Duke Energy staff while chairing an independent advisory board Duke was required to charter as a condition of its probation stemming from a guilty plea in a criminal case in US District Court.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Environmental Progress

November 1, 2017

Shellenberger: Stanford University Professor Mark Z. Jacobson Sues Prestigious Team of Scientists for Debunking 100% Renewables

Stanford University professor Mark Z. Jacobson has filed a lawsuit, demanding $10 million in damages, against the peer-reviewed scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and a group of eminent scientists (Clack et al.) for their study showing that Jacobson made improper assumptions in order to claim that he had demonstrated U.S. energy could be provided exclusively by renewable energy, primarily wind, water, and solar. Jacobson’s lawsuit is an appalling attack on free speech and scientific inquiry and we urge the courts to reject it as grossly unethical and without legal merit.

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Wind Power Monthly

November 10, 2017

Belgium: The wind industry is evolving in two main directions: new, and bigger turbines including new technologies and new, more extreme markets.

These trends mean wind turbines and its components need to be designed, manufactured and tested in all conditions to meet the required performance and reliability during their lifetime. Notably, wind turbines are increasingly being confronted with freezing conditions that can be found in many regions of the world. Sometimes wind turbines in those climates need to be disconnected and restarted. It is, therefore, essential to test components for a cold restart.

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Next City

November 7, 2017

A New Green Future Is Building on Lake Erie

Lorry Wagner has spent more than a decade attempting to convince the world that Cleveland has all the ingredients to be a giant in the world of renewable wind energy. The argument hasn’t always worked, but the president of the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LeedCo), by now, has mastered the math. The Great Lakes, he says, span 94,000 square miles of surface water, with Lake Erie rippling out 10,000 miles all on its own. The U.S. coastline for the Great Lakes adds up to more than 4,500 miles, more than double the span of the Atlantic coastline of 2,165 miles and more than triple the 1,293-mile-long coastline of California, Oregon and Washington. … “But almost everybody who we bring to Cleveland to learn about our project, and they see Lake Erie for the first time, they say, ‘Holy crap, that’s an ocean out there,’” he says. Ocean or not, in 2019, Lake Erie will be the proving waters for the region’s first offshore wind farm, developed by LeedCo in partnership with a new for-profit company, Icebreaker Windpower.

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New York Times

November 11, 2017

Where Self-Driving Cars Go to Learn

Three weeks into his new job as Arizona’s governor, Doug Ducey made a move that won over Silicon Valley and paved the way for his state to become a driverless car utopia. It was January 2015 and the Phoenix area was about to host the Super Bowl. Mr. Ducey learned that a local regulator was planning a sting on Lyft and Uber drivers to shut down the ride-hailing services for operating illegally. Mr. Ducey, a Republican who was the former chief executive of the ice cream chain Cold Stone Creamery, was furious.

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Regulatory Stories

Houston Chronicle

November 14, 2017

George P. Bush files for re-election

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush is gunning for a second term. As expected, Bush, a Republican, filed to run for re-election on Monday, seeking a new four-year term to lead the General Land Office, which has jurisdiction over state lands and natural resources. “In the last three years, we’ve built a conservative record of achievement at the General Land Office,” the Houston Republican said in a statement on Facebook. “We stood up and defeated the Obama land grab, reduced the size of our agency, promoted oil and gas drilling, fought for school choice and worked to improve our services to our veterans.”

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CTV

November 14, 2017

More than 15,000 scientists issue ‘warning to humanity’

More than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries are warning that ongoing destruction of the Earth’s ecosystems is jeopardizing the future of humankind. “To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual,” the Alliance of World Scientists says. The dire warning comes 25 years after the first such caution was signed by just 1,500 scientists from around the world.

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Investor’s Business Daily

November 14, 2017

Investor’s Business Daily: Scientists Say Earth Is Doomed Without ‘Urgent’ Action — Just Like They Did 25 Years Ago

The article is meant to be an update on a 1992 notice — ominously titled “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” and signed by 1,700 leading scientists — that predicted environmental catastrophes to come if humans remained on the current course. But the 1992 statement was wildly off the mark in its dire predictions. Back then, the world’s leading scientists said that, if current trends continued, air pollution would get worse, water supplies would run short, the world’s supply of fish would sharply decline because of dying oceans, land would become less productive, vast acres of forests would be “gone in a few years,” mass extinctions would limit the ability to develop new medicines, and unchecked population growth would cause more to live in poverty and suffer malnutrition.

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Dallas Morning News

November 14, 2017

Business group to Texas lawmakers: Stop focusing on issues like the ‘bathroom bill’

Texas lawmakers spent too much time this year debating bathrooms and immigration, and took their eyes off some matters vital to economic growth, such as phasing out the business-franchise tax and easing road congestion, the head of the state’s top business lobbying group said Tuesday. Texas Association of Business chief executive Jeff Moseley, releasing a scorecard that rates each lawmaker based on selected votes, said his group was pleased to help block a bill that would require transgender Texans to use restrooms that match their gender at birth. It was sorry lawmakers went too far in adding a “show me your papers” provision to a new law banning sanctuary city policies that prohibit police and sheriff’s deputies from asking people about their immigration status.

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Omaha World Herald

November 14, 2017

Nebraska Public Service Commission will deliver decision on Keystone XL pipeline next Monday

The long-awaited verdict on the route of the Keystone XL pipeline across Nebraska will be delivered on Monday. But even if the route receives the green light, it could be months before construction begins because of promised lawsuits and uncertainty over the economic viability of the $8 billion project. The Nebraska Public Service Commission has been reviewing the proposed 275-mile route of the crude oil pipeline since February.

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Bloomberg

November 6, 2017

How China and Environmentalists Became Unlikely Bedfellows

If politics make strange bedfellows, few are more unlikely than the growing link between China and the environmentalists seeking to rein in climate change. The nation that spews the most pollution and is building dozens of coal-fired power plants is also winning accolades from the likes of Greenpeace and WWF for its efforts to fight global warming and steer an eventual path away from fossil fuels. “Air quality kills competitiveness, kills people — that’s a big driver for China,” said Rachel Kyte, a United Nations special representative who leads the Sustainable Energy for All program. “How that translates into their leadership beyond the way they’re already leading is something that will be important to watch.”

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips November 14, 2017
Lead Stories

Bloomberg

November 13, 2017

The GE-Baker Hughes Romance May Be Ending After a 4-Month Run

Little more than four months after General Electric Co. married its oil and natural gas unit to Baker Hughes’s technical services business, GE’s eyes are wandering. Like a divorce attorney seeking to cloak the sordid details of an ugly breakup in elegant legalese, CFO Jamie Miller told reporters on Monday that the Boston-based industrial behemoth seeks “exit optionality.” In other words, GE may want to ditch Baker Hughes. According to a 57-page strategy presentation GE distributed to analysts and investors, Baker’s old-fashioned reliance on volatile commodity cycles and the near-term improbability of any meaningful recovery in demand for its services is cramping GE’s style. GE CEO John Flannery announced plans Monday to drastically shrink the company founded by Thomas Edison by selling multiple business lines, downsizing the board of directors and slashing the dividend for only the second time since the Great Depression.

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KERA (NPR Dallas)

November 13, 2017

In New Study, SMU Seismologist Gets To The Bottom Of North Texas’ Strongest Earthquake

The same fault that produced the 4 magnitude earthquake in May 2015 in Johnson County — the strongest ever recorded in North Texas — could create an even larger one in the future, a recent study has found. Heather DeShon, a seismologist at Southern Methodist University, led the study that focuses on the quake that struck near the town of Venus. The quake in the Bend Arch-Fort Worth Basin was triggered by the underground disposal of wastewater from oil and gas operations, the report concluded. And it wasn’t the first earthquake on that fault, which is a weakness in the earth’s crust. Earthquakes have been happening in the area since 2008, DeShon said. Her team has also studied the slew of earthquakes in Azle, Reno and Irving.

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Cedar Rapids Gazette (IA)

November 10, 2017

America’s coal miners are profiting — and looking for investors

Boosted by higher global prices, U.S. coal miners are showing they can make money again. Now, for the hard part — winning back investors. Five of America’s largest coal producers — Alliance Resource Partners, Arch Coal, Cloud Peak Energy, Peabody Energy and Warrior Met Coal — reported a combined $801 million in third-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. That’s up from $454 million from the year-ago period, company filings show, and Peabody’s highest tally since 2012. And it’s helping management teams carry out shareholder-friendly tactics including stock buybacks and dividends.

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Oil Price

November 12, 2017

Are Electric Cars As Clean As They Seem?

Tesla’s unveiling of its mass market Model 3 sparked a global interest in making electric vehicles the next big thing in automobile manufacturing. But can the category’s green agenda keep up with its metal and recycling needs? The concept of bunking the traditional engine for a non-gas guzzling counterpart has been here for decades, but creating an ecosystem for battery charging and bringing vehicle costs down was a challenge for decades. The sheer force of Elon Musk’s vision is building the infrastructure needed to sustain millions of electric cars in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere. Most major manufacturers have joined the enthusiasm to ditch old-school engines to construct the international fleet of tomorrow.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

November 14, 2017

Oil markets cautious as OPEC cuts are met by rising US output

Oil prices fell on Tuesday as the cautious sentiment of the past week prevailed, despite ongoing OPEC-led production cuts and Middle East tensions. Brent crude futures were at $62.94 per barrel at 0324 GMT, down 22 cents, or 0.35 percent, from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $56.62 per barrel, down 14 cents, or 0.25 percent. The falls came after both crude benchmarks early last week hit highs last seen in 2015, but traders said the market had lost some momentum since then.

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Houston Chronicle

November 13, 2017

Fuel prices continue unusual seasonal rise

Gasoline costs are continuing to rise nationwide, including Houston, courtesy of higher crude oil and lower fuel stockpiles sitting storage. Fuel prices jumped by more than 2 cents in the last week in the Houston area up to an average of $2.22 for a gallon of regular unleaded, while the national average rose nearly 2 cents up to $2.55, according to GasBuddy, which tracks fuel pricing. Crude oil prices have surged of late, thanks to rising turmoil in the Middle East and balancing supply-and-demand levels worldwide.

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Dallas Morning News

November 13, 2017

Abbott plunges into Texas House primaries, opposing a key ally of Speaker Joe Straus

Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday made good on a summertime vow to actively push for a more conservative Texas House, endorsing the GOP primary opponent of a top ally to outgoing Speaker Joe Straus. Abbott said he’s supporting former assistant Texas solicitor general Susanna Dokupil against West University Place Rep. Sarah Davis, a four-term incumbent from a posh Houston district who has been a key House budget writer and an outspoken social-issues moderate. … She predicted they’d reject Dokupil, whom she described as “a wholly owned subsidiary of the extremist group Empower Texans.” Empower Texans is a group led by Michael Quinn Sullivan and largely bankrolled by Midland oilman Tim Dunn.

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Houston Chronicle

November 13, 2017

Gene Green stepping aside after more than two decades in Congress

One of the two longest serving Democrats from Texas in the U.S. Congress won’t seek re-election. U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, announced Monday that he will not seek re-election in 2018. Green was first elected to Congress in 1992 and represents a district that includes South Houston, Pasadena and loops up to pick up Aldine. … Green, who turned 70 last month, is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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The Guardian (UK)

November 14, 2017

US will become a net oil exporter within 10 years, says IEA

The shale revolution in north America means the US is destined to become a net oil exporter within 10 years, for the first time since the 1950s. The International Energy Agency said it expected that American oil production between 2010 and 2025 would grow at a rate unparalleled by any country in history, with far-reaching consequences for the US and the world. The last time the US exported more oil than it imported was 1953, and a ban on oil exports was lifted only in 2015.

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Phys Org

November 13, 2017

Study finds Texas’s annual risk of extreme rainfall will rise from 1 to 18 percent

As the city of Houston continues to recover and rebuild following the historic flooding unleashed by Hurricane Harvey, the region will also have to prepare for a future in which storms of Harvey’s magnitude are more likely to occur. As the city of Houston continues to recover and rebuild following the historic flooding unleashed by Hurricane Harvey, the region will also have to prepare for a future in which storms of Harvey’s magnitude are more likely to occur.

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Kallanish Energy

November 10, 2017

CNPC, Cheniere sign long-term LNG deal

China’s state-owned oil company, CNPC, and U.S. independent energy company Cheniere Energy have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for long-term sales and purchases of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The agreement announced by the U.S. State Department Thursday is part of U.S. President Trump’s visit to China this week, in which a number of deals are expected to be aqnnounced.

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Des Moines Register

November 8, 2017

Why Dakota Access is giving away hundreds of thousands in Iowa

OTTUMWA, Ia. — Emergency management officials from across southeast Iowa took turns last week posing with giant $20,000 checks inside a windowless room at Wapello County’s Joint Law Enforcement Center. Energy Transfer Partners, the builder of the four-state Dakota Access pipeline, just wrapped up a $360,0000 giving spree to Iowa counties and nonprofits. “Dakota Access is committed to being a good neighbor and a good business partner and a valued member of the community,” said Chuck Frey, vice president of liquids engineering for Energy Transfer. The company announced plans in October to donate $1 million to emergency management officials in the 50 counties in Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota that its controversial pipeline crosses.

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Montreal Gazette

November 13, 2017

Study: Benzene byproducts found in pregnant women near fracking sites

A Montreal study of exposure to high levels of benzene during pregnancy raises concerns about the risks for childhood leukemia. A team of Université de Montréal researchers looking at a small sample of 29 women living near major natural-gas well sites found high levels of toxins in their urine. Researchers found they had 3.5 times more benzene byproducts in their urine than the average person in Canada. But in nearly half the participants, 14 of them Indigenous women, the levels were six times higher. Benzene is identified as a cancer-causing volatile solvent, and its health impacts have been well-documented. Exposure to benzene may increase the risk of developing leukemia and other blood disorders.

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The Oklahoman

November 10, 2017

Pipeline project to boost Oklahoma production

Houston-based natural gas giant Cheniere Energy this week continued its effort to gain support for its $1 billion Midship Pipeline, one of several planned projects designed to transport production from the state’s booming fields to market. Midship is expected to move Oklahoma natural gas to a liquefied natural gas terminal in south Louisiana, where it will be exported to Asia and other markets worldwide.

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Wall St. Journal

November 13, 2017

OPEC Defends Oil Policy Ahead of Crucial Meeting

OPEC on Monday delivered a defense of its oil-production policies, signaling its members are prepared to continue trying to support crude prices by withholding supplies through next year. In its closely watched monthly market report, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said global oil supplies were falling as consumption rises on the back of a strong global economy. That combination is helping balance an oil market that has suffered from a supply glut for over three years, according to OPEC, which controls about 40% of global oil production.

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Bloomberg

November 13, 2017

Denning: Forgot About Keystone? Canada’s Oil Majors Haven’t

Canada’s oil means no disrespect — it is Canadian — but it would just like to get the hell out of Canada.The question is: Can it?I wrote here last week about logistical bottlenecks playing havoc with U.S. oil pricing. But Canada takes this to a new level.Most of the country’s oil comes from Alberta. Heavier, higher in sulfur and far from the American refineries on the Gulf Coast optimized to take it, Western Canada Select crude oil tends to trade at a discount to West Texas Intermediate.

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Washington Examiner

November 11, 2017

Energy groups tout high percentages of veterans working in their industries

An Energy Department report released this year backs up the industry’s claims. The report showed that 18.9 percent of corn ethanol workers are veterans. It’s one of the highest percentages of veterans employed by any subset of the renewable energy or fuel refining industries. “By comparison, vets account for 10 percent of the oil and gas industry workforce, and just 7 percent of the entire U.S. labor force across all sectors of the economy,” according to the industry group. Altogether, corn ethanol employs about 3 percent of the nation’s liquid-fuels manufacturing workforce, accounting for 28,613 jobs, according to the Energy Department.

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Utilities Stories

Houston Chronicle

November 10, 2017

Q&A: Do coal plant closures spell disaster for the power grid?

For those looking for evidence of coal’s demise, look no further than East Texas, where Vistra Energy is shutting down its more than 40-year-old Monticello coal plant. At 1,800 megawatts, it is one the state’s largest power plants, and with other utilities eyeing their own coal operations, many more megawatts could be coming offline in the years ahead. Just a few years ago such developments might have set off fears of rolling blackouts in the summers ahead, when power demand skyrockets. But not this time around, explains Josh Rhodes, a research fellow at the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Platts

November 10, 2017

Likely low ERCOT reserve margins prompt ‘hand-wringing’ at meeting

Electric Reliability Council of Texas stakeholders’ concern that ERCOT’s next capacity and demand report might show a reserve margin below its 13.75% target prompted “hand-wringing” Friday about possible consequences from the North American Electric Reliability Corp. ERCOT’s next Capacity, Demand and Reserves Report “is going to look really bad,” said Clayton Greer, Morgan Stanley vice president for commodities, during the council’s Supply Analysis Working Group meeting. ERCOT has since late September approved the retirement of 4,618 MW of generation by mid-February.

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CNBC

November 13, 2017

GE shares plunge 7% for biggest decline since housing recession after turnaround plan unveiled

General Electric set forth a new agenda on Monday as it tries to restructure its way back to stronger growth, with earnings estimates lower than Wall Street forecasts, a reduced dividend and an aggressive corporate restructuring. The Boston-based 125-year-old industrial conglomerate also said it was cutting the number of seats on its board as part of what its chief executive called “a reset year” in 2018. GE also will be slicing 25 percent of staff from the home office.

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Solar World Online

November 13, 2017

Electric cooperatives light the way toward more community solar

When discussing areas of utility-scale solar growth during a panel at Solar Power International, Mathew Ricci with national utility contractor Arraycon mentioned the Midwest getting a boost in construction thanks to electric cooperatives. According to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the service organization for America’s electric cooperatives, ratepayers that belong to cooperatives are voting to add solar to the mix, and it seems like this type of utility is growing community solar in a big way. There are around 900 co-ops in 47 states serving around 42 million customers, according to NRECA. Co-ops are established in rural areas that don’t have an investor-owned or municipal utility nearby to supply electric power. A number of them are based in rural Texas and Alaska.

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Reuters

November 12, 2017

Membership revoked? Veteran GE’s spot in exclusive Dow may be shaky

It is hard to imagine the Dow Jones Industrial Average without General Electric Co. The U.S. industrial conglomerate’s stock is the lone original component of the venerable blue-chip index that debuted in 1896. But GE’s dwindling share price and the likelihood that its new chief executive will dramatically slim down its sprawling operations is leading some index-watchers to consider the possibility of the company losing its membership in the elite 30-stock Dow. “Since it is trading at a low share price and has a small weighting in the index, that does put it at an increased risk of getting removed,” said Alex Bryan, director of passive strategies research at Morningstar in Chicago. “I don’t think it’s obvious that it is going to be removed from the index, but it certainly is at risk.”

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Wall St. Journal

November 13, 2017

Does Nuclear Power Have a Robust Future in the U.S.?

Here’s one sign that nuclear energy has been struggling: Operators shut down six reactors in recent years before their licenses expired, and announced plans for several other early closings, according to the Energy Department. Reasons given include competition from natural gas, burdensome regulation and market structures. Only new state subsidies can prevent more closings, plant operators have said. Still, nuclear plants produced almost 20% of total U.S. electrical output in 2016, and 63% of carbon-free electricity.

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New York Times

November 12, 2017

The Lineman Got $63 an Hour. The Utility Was Billed $319 an Hour.

The small energy outfit from Montana that won a $300 million contract to help rebuild Puerto Rico’s tattered power grid had few employees of its own, so it did what the Puerto Rican authorities could have done: It turned to Florida for workers. For their trouble, the six electrical workers from Kissimmee are earning $42 an hour, plus overtime. The senior power linemen from Lakeland are earning $63 an hour working in Puerto Rico, the Florida utility said. Their 40 co-workers from Jacksonville, also linemen, are making up to $100 earning double time, public records show.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

KCEN (Waco)

November 12, 2017

Veteran Owned Business: Solar CenTex

HARKER HEIGHTS – At Solar CenTex, turning sunlight into dollar bills is a business model. The company designs and installs solar systems for homes and businesses all over Texas in an effort to preserve the state’s energy grid. “The state goes through pretty tremendous growth and I figured every person who has solar on their rooftop is contributing to the reliability of our grid,” says Scot Arey who opened Solar CenTex in 2012. Commissioned as a Lieutenant at West Point in 1988, Arey spent 25 years serving in the U.S. Army all around the world. He spent 9 of those years at Ft. Hood.

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Seeking Alpha

November 10, 2017

Petersen: The Long Tailpipe: Why All Teslas Are Natural Gas-Powered Vehicles

Ten years ago, politically compelling arguments for vehicle electrification included increased national security from energy diversification, reduced CO2 emissions, and sanctuary from the tyranny of imported oil. Today, the US is the world’s top oil producer, CO2 emissions have fallen by 15%, oil prices have fallen by 50%, and none of the gains were EV related. These days the only plausible justification for electric drive is lower CO2 emissions, but that’s more smoke and mirrors than substance. Since politicians and investors are starting to eschew the three monkeys approach to analyzing Tesla, I believe a dispassionate view of what really happens to the environment is essential. While cradle to grave CO2 emissions for Tesla’s Model S100D are 17.3% lower than a conventional vehicle, the payback period for Tesla’s front-loaded CO2 emissions is over six years.

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Bloomberg

November 13, 2017

Tesla Is a ‘Hotbed for Racist Behavior,’ Worker Claims in Suit

Tesla Inc.’s production floor is a “hotbed for racist behavior,” an African-American employee claimed in a lawsuit in which he alleged black workers at the electric carmaker suffer severe and pervasive harassment. The employee says he’s one of more than 100 African-American Tesla workers affected and is seeking permission from a judge to sue on behalf of the group. He’s seeking unspecified general and punitive monetary damages as well as an order for Tesla to implement policies to prevent and correct harassment.

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Time

November 13, 2017

How China Could Shape the Future of Energy

Changes to China’s energy mix amid President Xi Jinping’s push for an “energy revolution” have the potential to accelerate the global transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy sources, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. The country has sought to move away from coal and other fossil fuels to address a pollution problem that leads to millions of premature deaths and foster economic development outside of heavy industry. China has also sought to position itself as the global leader in the fight against climate change.

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Quartz

November 11, 2017

The UK’s biggest-ever solar farm will be built without government help

Cleve Hill is set to become the UK’s biggest solar farm when it is built in 2020. At a capacity of 350 MW, it will be able to produce more than five times the power as the country’s current leader. And all this could happen without government help. … But as solar power becomes cheaper, government assistance is likely to be cut back. The UK, for instance, cut its subsidies for clean energy in 2016. Will the rapid growth in solar power be able to continue? Though Cleve Hill is not huge by global standards—China’s biggest will be nearly 10 times the size—it is a new kind of solar farm. Its 365 hectares of solar panels (about the same as 400 soccer fields) will receive no government assistance. The companies building it, Hive Energy and Wirsol Energy, are confident that falling costs of solar panels will make the project economical.

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Regulatory Stories

Energy Collective

November 13, 2017

Wamsted: Latest Department of Energy LED Report Illustrates Transition In Electric Power Sector

Two things are notable about the expanding corporate renewables drive. First, it is not just the business titans that are jumping into the game, increasingly it is small- to medium-size firms as well. Second, and equally important, these corporations aren’t just signing these deals for a good play on the daily news cycle, they make economic sense. On this second point, Kimberley-Clark’s September announcement that it planned to buy 245 MW of wind capacity from two projects (one in Texas, the other in Oklahoma) to help cover about 33 percent of the electricity used in its North American manufacturing facilities is illustrative. The projects, said Lisa Morden, head of sustainability at Kimberly-Clark, will provide “significant multimillion-dollar costs savings from energy….by 2022.” And you don’t have to be big to benefit from these deals. Last month, Akamai Technologies, a mid-sized server company, signed a deal with Infinity Renewables for just a 7 MW slice of a new 80 MW wind farm the developer is building in Texas.

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Wall St. Journal

November 13, 2017

Should the U.S. Limit Exports of Natural Gas?

President Donald Trump in June announced to the world an age of “energy dominance” by the U.S. More drilling for oil and gas and new incentives for nuclear energy are part of the Trump administration’s plans to enlarge the already huge U.S. footprint in increasingly competitive global energy markets. Another part of the plan: more exports of natural gas. The U.S. has become a major player in international natural-gas markets in recent years. Improved drilling techniques, including hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, along with technological developments that have boosted the industry’s ability to liquefy natural gas for shipping have fueled both a global boom and a glut in natural gas.

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Wall St. Journal

November 10, 2017

WSJ: Big Wind and Tax Reform

Conservatives make fun of indulgent liberal parents whose offspring remain dependents well into their 20s. But Republicans rewriting the tax code in Washington are coddling a millennial of their own: the wind lobby. In the 1980s wind power was dubbed an “infant industry” that needed federal help to grow. More than three decades and tens of billions of dollars in subsidies later, the business of making electricity from spinning turbines remains inefficient and heavily dependent on federal aid—i.e., the American taxpayer. Tax reform is a chance to tell the wind racket to get off the dole but it isn’t clear Republicans are up to the task.

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips November 13, 2017
Lead Stories

Bloomberg

November 10, 2017

Tax Breaks for Oil, Wind, Electric Cars Survive in Senate Bill

Tax breaks cherished by both the fossil fuel and renewable energy industries emerged unscathed in a tax plan unveiled in the U.S. Senate, according to details of the bill released Thursday evening by the chamber’s main tax writing committee. Republicans opted to leave tax subsidies for the energy industry almost entirely in place in their broad re-write of the tax code which the Senate Finance Committee expects to start considering amendments to on Monday. That means drillers would still be allowed to take accelerated deduction of “intangible drilling costs” for expenses such as supplies and repairs.

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Forbes

November 12, 2017

Author Of DOE Grid Reliability Study Describes Being Pressured To Fault Regulations

When Energy Secretary Rick Perry set out this year to prove that Obama-era regulations were killing coal plants and undermining grid reliability, he turned to a veteran energy consultant from his home state of Texas to write the report. Alison Silverstein was known to be proficient in energy efficiency and the effects of renewables, and she had worked in Washington as a senior advisor to a George W. Bush appointee. When Perry brought Silverstein back to Washington in May, she reviewed data for several weeks and began to outline the “Staff Report on Electricity Markets and Reliability.”

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Midland Reporter-Telegram

November 11, 2017

Land office turns to private sector to develop water as new revenue stream

Revenues from the crude and natural gas found in the Delaware Basin are flowing into state coffers, benefiting the state’s general fund, transportation funding and the state’s public schools and universities, among others. Now, water is about to be added to the resource riches found in the Delaware that will benefit the state’s residents. The Texas General Land Office has signed a long-term agreement with Layne Christenson Co. to develop non-potable water resources owned by the office in Reeves and Culberson counties. “Part of this emanated with (Land Commissioner) George P. Bush, who wanted to create more revenue streams,” J. Michael Anderson, chief financial officer and president of Layne Water Midstream, said in a phone interview from his office in The Woodlands.

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Houston Chronicle

November 12, 2017

For coal magnate tied to Trump and Perry, accusations of government ‘bailout’

The Ohio coal magnate Robert Murray had a problem. Coal prices were near historic lows, and the prognosis for coal mining companies, including Murray Energy, was only going to get worse as their best customers, coal-fired power plants, closed across the country. Murray, a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump, turned to the president, urging him to declare an emergency across the electric grid that would prevent any more coal plants from closing, according to a letter Murray sent to the White House in August. Less than two months later, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, whose failed 2012 presidential campaign received a six-figure contribution from Murray and his employees, released a controversial plan to raise electricity prices paid to coal and nuclear plants.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

November 13, 2017

Oil markets cautious on Middle East tensions, increased US drilling

Oil trading was cautious on Monday amid ongoing tensions in the Middle East and after a rising rig count in the United States suggested producers there are preparing to increase output. Brent crude futures were at $63.55 per barrel at 0614 GMT, up 3 cents from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $56.79 per barrel, up 5 cents. Traders said crude prices were generally well supported as ongoing output cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia have contributed to a significant reduction in excess supplies that have been dogging markets since 2014.

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24/7 Wall St.

November 10, 2017

US Oil Rig Count Jumps by 9, Price Up More Than 2% for the Week

In the week ended November 10, 2017, the number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States totaled 738, nine more compared with the prior week and up by 286 compared with a total of 452 a year ago. Including 169 other rigs drilling for natural gas, there are a total of 907 working rigs in the country, nine more week over week and up by 339 year over year. The data come from the latest Baker Hughes North American Rotary Rig Count released on Friday.

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Bloomberg

November 10, 2017

Exxon Is Drilling Some Extremely Long Shale Oil Wells

Exxon Mobil Corp. is drilling shale wells that stretch farther than the length of New York’s Central Park. The world’s biggest oil explorer by market value recently finished four wells in North Dakota’s Bakken region that extend sideways for 3 miles (4.8 kilometers), Barclays Plc analyst Paul Cheng said in a research note after meeting Exxon executives, and it’s closing in on the 4-mile mark. That would be “a game changer that could potentially allow the company to leap frog the competition in unit cost and return metrics,” Cheng wrote. In the Permian Basin that stretches beneath Texas and New Mexico, the company’s horizontal wells are approaching the 2 1/2-mile threshold, Cheng wrote, about the length of Central Park in Manhattan from north to south.

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Houston Chronicle

November 11, 2017

Stakes high for Houston in Saudi power struggle

Saudi Arabia is undergoing revolutionary change with the sudden arrests of the princes and top ministers, triggering uncertainty in the Middle East, global oil markets and here in Houston, where the energy industry’s ties to the kingdom are deep and long, stretching back for decades. Whether the purge by 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sparks a civil war, ignites an armed conflict with Iran or peacefully drags the conservative Islamic regime into the modern world could have huge implications for Houston and its economy, beyond its impact on oil prices. Saudi Arabia is not only a major market for some of the region’s biggest employers, including energy services companies Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes, but also a large and growing investor in the Texas Gulf Coast as it seeks to diversify the Saudi economy and holdings.

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Houston Chronicle

November 11, 2017

Big-name lawyer apparently sues wrong companies

Tony Buzbee, a personal injury lawyer who earned millions fighting oil companies, maritime operators and insurance companies, got to the courthouse fast with his latest case representing the family of a Katy man recently killed in a rig explosion near New Orleans. So fast, that he sued the wrong companies. But this is just one complication in a case that has become even more complicated over the past few days. Buzbee was fired by the widow of Tim Morrison, then sued a Morrison family friend for interfering in the case and went to court to force Morrison’s family to pay his fee.

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Politico

November 10, 2017

Pro-Trump group courts donors with Cabinet access

Energy Secretary Rick Perry will headline an intimate gathering of high-powered business executives in Texas [this] week for the pro-Trump outside group America First Policies, the first in a series of “roundtable discussions” giving donors face time with top Trump officials. The Houston event featuring Perry, detailed in an invitation sent to a Republican donor and obtained by POLITICO, will include roughly 30 people and cover topics from energy policy to the Trump administration’s broader agenda, America First spokeswoman Erin Montgomery said. Perry will not solicit donations from the attendees at the Monday event, which would be a violation of federal law — but America First officials plan to ask for contributions after Perry leaves the room.

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CNBC

November 10, 2017

Kopits: Saudi-Iran war would create this domino effect of global disaster

Events appear to be spinning out of control in the Middle East, and the threat a Saudi-Iranian war is looking increasingly credible. Make no mistake, an out and out conflict between the two nations would be an unmitigated disaster for the region and the world. … The closure of the Strait of Hormuz would not only put China into recession, but given the high degree of financialization of the economy, could create a wider societal and political crisis. The reaction of the Chinese government is difficult to anticipate, but China would certainly bring maximal pressure on the U.S. and Persian Gulf countries to end the conflict, by whatever means. The ultimate takeaway for China would be the necessity to build, at all speed, a global military and diplomatic presence capable of projecting force to influence events in the Middle East and, if necessary, to displace the U.S. in the region. Finally, given the history of cooperation between North Korea and Iran on missile programs, the threat of missile strikes from Iran could exacerbate tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.

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Industrial Minerals

November 10, 2017

Texas frac sand boom puts truckers in high demand

As frac sand demand more than doubles, trucking capacity in Texas is being squeezed to the limits. A huge boost in demand for frac sand for use in oilfields in West Texas is putting pressure on local trucking capacity, with drivers in short supply. “If you released all the convicts in Texas prisons you wouldn’t have enough drivers,” Joel Schneyer, director of minerals consultancy Headwaters, told Industrial Minerals. “I’m not aware of a way around the problem.” Frac sand usage has rebounded strongly in 2017 and is set to grow further next year, largely due to an increase in oilfield activity.

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San Antonio Express-News

November 9, 2017

Shares of San Antonio’s Andeavor tumbles after 3Q results disappoint

San Antonio-based refiner Andeavor saw its stock fall by as much as 7 percent Thursday after the company released third-quarter earnings results that showed it had more than tripled profit from a year ago. The company’s strong earnings report on Wednesday was mainly driven by fatter margins on refined fuels following Hurricane Harvey’s Aug. 25 landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast. The storm temporarily halted 20 percent of U.S. refining capacity in late August and early September and drove up gasoline prices. Andeavor changed its name from Tesoro Corp. earlier this year.

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Midland Reporter-Telegram

November 12, 2017

Weir breaks ground in Midland this past week

As Weir Oil and Gas held a groundbreaking ceremony inside a tent Thursday, earthmovers were already at work outside. The oilfield services company is building a $30 million facility on a 20-acre portion of the David Mims Business Park near Schlumberger’s Midland headquarters. Weir is consolidating its three Permian Basin service centers into a single service center in the city of Midland and will add about 100 employees in the process. “Our investment, as a whole, will benefit our company and employees, the Permian Basin and the city of Midland,” said Paul Coppinger, Weir Oil & Gas president.

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Houston Chronicle

November 10, 2017

Two oil executives plead guilty in foreign bribery case

Two former executives at a Dutch oil and gas services company pleaded guilty to conspiracy for their roles in bribing foreign government officials in Brazil, Angola and Equatorial Guinea. Anthony Mace and Robert Zubiate entered their pleas earlier this month in a case involving the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Houston. Mace, 65, of the United Kingdom, admitted that prior to becoming CEO of Oil Services Co., other employees made an agreement to pay bribes to foreign officials, including to Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, Petróleo Brasileiro S.A. (Petrobras), Angola’s state-owned oil company, Sociedade Nacional de Combustíveis de Angola, E.P. (Sonangol) and Equatorial Guinea’s state-owned oil company, Petroléos de Guinea Ecuatorial (GEPetrol).

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Reuters

November 9, 2017

Sinking feeling: Asian floating oil storage declines as crude market tightens

The amount of oil stored on tankers around Singapore has dropped sharply in the last months, the latest indication that OPEC-led supply cuts are successfully tightening crude markets even as U.S. exports have soared. Shipping data in Thomson Reuters Eikon shows around 15 super-tankers are currently filled with oil in waters off Singapore and western Malaysia, storing around 30 million barrels of crude. That is half the number of ships in June and down from 40 tankers holding surplus fuel in mid-2017.

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Financial Tribune

November 9, 2017

As Saudi Arabia Limits US Oil Shipments, Iraq Steps in

Saudi Arabia’s efforts to reduce a worldwide crude supply glut by cutting shipments to the United States means others are now filling in, most notably Iraq, in a trend that is set to accelerate in the coming months. Over the summer, normally one of the busiest periods for crude shipments, US imports of crude from Iraq rose by 41% from a year ago, while similar shipments from Saudi Arabia have dropped by 22%, Reuters reported. That trend has continued, with ClipperData showing Iraqi shipments to the nation’s largest refinery in October surpassed Saudi Arabia’s for the first time in more than 30 years.

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New York Times

November 10, 2017

Bazzi: Saudi Arabia Comes for Hezbollah

Why would Saudi leaders risk a new conflagration? They see a way to make common cause with Washington by targeting Hezbollah, one of Iran’s most effective allies. President Trump has consistently singled out Iran’s support for Hezbollah and other groups that Washington considers terrorist organizations. But Saudi Arabia is already overstretched. Its war against Houthi rebels in Yemen drags on, and the diplomatic dispute with Qatar remains in a stalemate, too. If Saudi leaders think they can score an easy victory in Lebanon against Hezbollah, it will be another misjudgment that adds to a dangerous and combustible moment in the Middle East.

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Barron’s

November 11, 2017

3 Reasons Oil Prices Are Headed Higher

But the biggest reason that crude prices could jump is likely to be President Donald Trump’s reimposing sanctions on Iranian oil, which the CIA Factbook lists as that country’s primary export. “Unlike the health-care deal, where he needed Congress to do something, he doesn’t need Congress to withdraw from the [U.S.-Iran nuclear] deal completely and reimpose nuclear sanctions,” says Joe McMonigle. He’s a Washington-based senior energy policy analyst at risk-research outfit Hedgeye and a former chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Energy. “Foreign policy elites believe Trump won’t upset the apple cart, but this is a central part of Trump’s campaign.” He expects the president to restore sanctions in January.

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Utilities Stories

Atlanta Journal Constitution

November 10, 2017

CEO of energy corporation arrested in Gwinnett

The CEO of an international energy regulatory authority was arrested Friday in Gwinnett County on a domestic violence charge, Channel 2 Action News reported. Gerald Cauley, of a Duluth address, is in the Gwinnett County jail, records show. He’s charged with battery/family violence, a misdemeanor. Cauley, 64, heads up Atlanta-based North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the station reported.

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Winter Haven News Chief (FL)

November 12, 2017

Utilities push for electric car tax credit

In a letter to House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, longtime Ford lobbyist Ziad Ojakli thanked the Texas Republican for his work to advance tax reform, especially slashing the corporate tax rate. Brady’s package, he wrote Nov. 7, will “help make our nation more competitive by supporting American investment and jobs.” Absent from the letter? Any mention of the $7,500 tax credit for purchasers of electric cars, something the tax legislation Brady is shepherding would eliminate.

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Texas Public Radio

November 12, 2017

Pittsburgh’s Microgrids Technology Could Lead The Way For Green Energy

When President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, he said he represented “Pittsburgh, not Paris.” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto disagreed. He traveled to Germany this week as part of an unofficial delegation of more than 100 Americans, American officials and business owners who say they are still committed to climate talks taking place in Bonn. One element of Pittsburgh’s climate strategy has been encouraging innovation in a technology known as microgrids. Usually, power grids rely on a far-flung network. For example, a person making toast might be drawing electricity from miles away. A microgrid is a local, independent power grid that can run without electricity from the main network.

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Wall St. Journal

November 10, 2017

Coal Company Bowie Resource Partners Pulls Debt Deal Backing Takeover

Bowie Resource Partners LLC, a Kentucky coal-mining company, pulled a $510 million debt deal Friday as investor sentiment toward high-yield debt became more cautious. The deal would have paved the way for a takeover of the company by Murray Energy Corp. and new bondholders. The proposed deal was intended to refinance Bowie debt set to mature in 2020 and would have cashed out Bowie’s current owner, commodity trading firm Trafigura PTE Ltd. The debt deal was a key condition in a new partnership Bowie planned to form with Murray Energy, to be called Canyon Consolidated Resources.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

San Antonio Express-News

November 10, 2017

SwRI auto engineers say widespread use of self-driving cars a decade away

Self-driving cars are still a decade away from widespread use, perhaps longer, two automotive engineers from San Antonio’s Southwest Research Institute said Thursday. But when self-driving cars and trucks prove themselves as safe and efficient, use will rapidly become ubiquitous in the same way smart phones quickly replaced flip telephones, they said. The comments from Ryan Lamm and Terry Alger came during a panel discussion before the four-day 2017 San Antonio Auto & Truck Show opened at the Convention Center downtown. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the show that ends Sunday, inspecting more than 300 vehicles on display from about 70 area dealerships.

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Barron’s

November 11, 2017

Will Traditional Auto Makers Steal the Future From Tesla?

While the car of the future gets ecstatic previews, the auto industry of the present elicits pity and scorn. Electric cars are widely expected to supplant vehicles powered by the internal-combustion engine, leaving traditional auto makers and their gasoline- and diesel-powered clunkers in a heap of rust. This dismissive view is especially prevalent on Wall Street, where shares of the leading auto manufacturers trade for a mere six to 11 times 2017 expected earnings, and sport dividend yields as high as 5%. Yet, even as electric cars, autonomous vehicles, and car sharing disrupt the status quo, the global auto industry could prove resilient, and reward customers and shareholders in myriad ways.

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Bloomberg

November 7, 2017

Lamborghini Unveils a Self-Healing, Electric Supercar

Lamborghini plans to develop supercapacitors that can provide the fast, intense energy needed to power a supercar—and could allow for all-electric models. The lithium-ion batteries in today’s electric cars release energy more slowly and run down over repeated charges because they depend on chemical reactions. While supercapacitors store energy physically and don’t generate the heat of lithium-ions, as of yet they don’t offer as much power. The technology is currently used in hybrid vehicles for such limited functions as getting stopped engines going again. … Lamborghini also intends to make the supercapacitors out of carbon-fiber panels that can be used to form the body of the car, so the Terzo Millennio draws energy from its own body. In other words: The car itself is the battery. Moreover, the concept promises a car that will be able to continuously monitor the condition of its own structure, detecting wear and damage. Micro-channels containing “healing chemistries” in the carbon-fiber body will automatically repair small cracks that would otherwise spread.

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Electrek

November 9, 2017

Solar inverter from Enphase to run when the grid crashes or doesn’t exist – without batteries

Enphase Energy, in their 4th quarter earnings call, made references to their upcoming ‘Ensemble’ line of solar inverters. Their Chief Product Officer, Raghu Belur, suggested that the new hardware will allow solar power to run a house – even without a power grid or batteries. This is an interesting statement because almost all residential solar power inverters are designed to shut down for safety and technical reasons in case of the grid powering down. Enphase is developing this residential on-grid/off-grid solar system out of their most cutting edge inverter technology as part of their grid-independent “Solar 2.0” technology. The ‘Ensemble’ line is included within this push and a feature in the new IQ8 line of inverters. One of the goals of Enphase as part of this push is to get the price of their inverters to a similar price as string inverters – 10¢/W.

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Regulatory Stories

New York Times

November 11, 2017

Lessons From Hurricane Harvey: Houston’s Struggle Is America’s Tale

The mayhem that Hurricane Harvey unleashed on Houston didn’t only come from the sky. On the ground, it came sweeping in from the Katy Prairie some 30 miles west of downtown. Water drains naturally in this stretch of Texas, or at least it used to. At more than 600 square miles, Houston has grown to be as big as Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Philadelphia combined, a giant spread of asphalt smothering many of the floodplains that once shuttled water from the prairies to the sea. When finished, the newest road to ring the city and propel its expansion, called the Grand Parkway, will encircle an area equivalent to all of Rhode Island.

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Vox

November 10, 2017

Conservatives probably can’t be persuaded on climate change. So now what?

For Democrats, raising intensity would mean making it a fight, staking a claim, defining the core values involved, telling vivid stories with heroes and villains and repeating them frequently. It would mean making climate change and clean energy tier-one priorities — organizing around them, talking about them at every opportunity, pushing them into the news and popular culture. It would mean, rather than begging Republicans for assent or small scraps of policy assistance, doing everything possible to publicize their intransigence and make it core to their identity. Tie it around their necks every time a microphone appears; make them own it.

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Wichita Falls Times Record

November 12, 2017

Sen. Estes recognized by oil and gas industry

State Senator Craig Estes was recently presented with the 2017 Legislative Champion Award at the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers Luncheon at the Fort Worth Petroleum Club. The award was presented on behalf of the Texas Alliance of Energy, Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association, Texas Oil & Gas Association, Permian Basin Petroleum Association, Panhandle Producers & Royalty Owners Association, Texas Royalty Owners Association, Texas Pipeline Association, and South Texas Energy & Economic Roundtable.

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Bloomberg

November 12, 2017

Big Insurers Brace for Perilous Future as Climate Risks Escalate

After one of the worst Atlantic hurricane seasons in history, the world’s biggest insurers say the industry needs to get its act together if it wants to survive climate change. Insuring against weather natural disasters could reach unaffordable levels for households and companies, while the potential damage is so unpredictable it may be impossible to model — an unacceptable risk to insurers. “Sometime in the future there will be the situation where people cannot afford any longer to buy catastrophe insurance — this is what we want to avoid,” Ernst Rauch, the head of the Corporate Climate Centre at Munich Re. The world’s largest reinsurer suffered a 1.4 billion-euro ($1.63 billion) loss after hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria sent claims soaring.

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Washington Post

November 10, 2017

EPA is taking more advice from industry — and ignoring its own scientists

When the Environmental Protection Agency this week proposed repealing tighter emissions standards for a type of freight trucks, it cited research conducted by Tennessee Tech University but underwritten by the biggest truck manufacturer challenging the rule. Fitzgerald Glider Kits — which makes new truck bodies, called gliders, that house refurbished engines — had questioned both the legality and data underpinning the Obama-era rule. Its products would have been required to meet the tougher pollution standards starting in January. The company’s recent petition to the EPA included a letter signed by Tennessee Tech’s president and the head of the school’s Center for Intelligent Mobility, soon to be housed in a new facility built by Fitzgerald. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who two months earlier had met with company officials, quickly agreed their arguments had merit.

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November 10, 2017
Lead Stories

New York Times

November 9, 2017

Saudi Arabia Orders Its Citizens Out of Lebanon, Raising Fears of War

Saudi Arabia ordered its citizens to leave Lebanon on Thursday, escalating a bewildering crisis between the two Arab nations and raising fears that it could lead to an economic crisis or even war. The order came after Saudi Arabia had stepped up its condemnations of Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Shiite militia that is the most powerful political and military force in Lebanon, and asserted that Lebanon had effectively declared war on Saudi Arabia. The developments plunged Lebanon into a state of national anxiety, with politicians, journalists and even parents picking up their children at school consumed with the question of what could come next.

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Reuters

November 8, 2017

Peak oil? Majors aren’t buying into the threat from renewables

Even as governments and environmentalists forecast a peak in oil demand within a generation – and China and India say they may eventually ban gasoline and diesel vehicles – leaders of the world’s biggest oil firms are not buying the argument that their traditional business faces any imminent threat. A Reuters analysis of clean energy investments and forecasts by oil majors, along with exclusive interviews with top oil executives, reveal mostly token investments in alternative energy. Today, renewable power projects get about 3 percent of $100 billion in combined annual spending by the five biggest oil firms, according to energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

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Bloomberg

November 9, 2017

Facebook, Twitter to Provide Data on Energy Market Manipulation

Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Google parent Alphabet Inc. agreed to turn over information to Congress on Russian entities purchasing ads that may have been used to manipulate U.S. energy markets, according to the chairman of the House Science Committee. Officials at the technology companies said in telephone conversations they will forward the material “soon,” Republican Lamar Smith of Texas, chairman of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, said Thursday. Smith sent letters on Sept. 27 to chief executive officers of the companies. He wrote that the committee was seeking information “regarding Russian entities purchasing anti-fracking or any anti-fossil fuel advertisements or promotions.”

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Dallas Morning News

November 9, 2017

$100 million Texas solar project on hold as Trump administration threatens tariff

President Donald Trump hasn’t yet decided whether to impose tariffs on cheap imported solar equipment, but the uncertainty has already killed or slowed projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars and cost Texas jobs. A 100-megawatt, $100 million solar farm near Fort Stockton has been put on “indefinite hold” awaiting Trump’s decision, said Scott Canada, senior vice president of renewable energy for McCarthy Building Companies. That project, he said, would have employed about 300 to 400 people for nine months at the peak of construction. … The company’s $990,000 solar farm at Celina High School in Collin County is also threatened by maneuvering in Washington D.C.

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Environmental Defense Fund

November 9, 2017

How clean energy is set to overtake coal in this competitive electricity market

In 2001, the Lone Star State transitioned to a competitive electricity market that (for the most part) puts the cheapest energy resources on the grid first. Since then, wind has grown from supplying less than 1 percent of the state’s electricity to over 20 percent for the first half of 2017. And as cheap natural gas remains plentiful and renewable costs keep falling, expensive coal is getting pushed out of Texas’ market. In fact, wind is expected to overtake coal as soon as next year. About 90 percent of the state is part of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which is a self-contained electricity market (many other markets are regional and span across multiple states). As an excellent Vox article by David Roberts recently put it, Texas is “probably the closest thing the country has to a ‘free market’ in electricity. Power is procured entirely through competitive bidding.” This means the market typically gives preference to the lowest-cost resources first. There are exceptions, though, for emergencies and other abnormal scenarios.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

November 10, 2017

Oil markets stable, but analysts expect high volatility ahead

Oil markets were stable on Friday, supported by ongoing supply cuts led by OPEC and Russia as well as by strong demand, although the prospect of rising U.S. shale output capped prices around recent gains. Brent crude futures were at $63.84 per barrel at 0120 GMT, down 9 cents from their last close, but still near a more than two-year high of $64.65 a barrel reached earlier this week. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $57.05 per barrel,down 12 cents but also still close to this week’s more than two-year peak of $57.92 a barrel. Analysts said that the high prices were a result of efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia to withhold supplies to tighten the market, as well as strong demand and rising political tensions.

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Houston Chronicle

November 9, 2017

Mexico’s fuel thirst sets up refiners for big year

U.S. refiners are setting up for the strongest end-of-year they’ve ever had, and it’s all thanks to Mexico. Nationwide gross oil refinery inputs will rise above 17 million barrels a day before the year ends, according to Energy Aspects, even amid a busy maintenance season and interruptions at plants in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico that were clobbered by Hurricane Harvey in the third quarter. “We’re going to hit very high runs in the next two months,” Robert Campbell, head of research at Energy Aspects, said by phone. “The balance looks quite bullish. Can the U.S. export it? Yeah. It will.”

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Hellenic Shipping News

November 9, 2017

ConocoPhillips CEO says oil producers need to gear up for volatility

A Saudi shake-up could keep oil markets volatile – and one of the world’s largest energy companies said it is getting ready. Ryan Lance, CEO of Houston, Texas-based ConocoPhillips, said his company is readying itself to make profits even if oil prices dip to $40. “We can sustain our production, pay our dividend, below $40 a barrel,” he said. “That’s part of the transformation that we’ve been through.” The company sold more than $16 billion in low-margin assets last year, Lance said, in a bid to make the company more resilient.

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Argus Media

November 7, 2017

Refiners cool to ‘scorching hot’ Permian

Permian Basin pipeline and terminal prices have become overheated, US refiner-controlled logistics companies told investors this earnings season, discouraging interest in buying more of the west Texas and New Mexico assets. The higher-price environment could lead to more joint ventures and, ultimately, smaller operations pushed into mergers or acquisitions, the companies say. “The Permian is a scorching-hot market — a lot of dollars chasing deals out there so it is going to be competitive,” HollyFrontier chief executive George Damiris said. Midstream operators have raced to install oil gathering systems across the Permian and to add pipeline capacity connecting the oil field to larger US Gulf coast markets and overseas buyers.

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Platts

November 9, 2017

US petcoke exports drop 30.8% on year in Sep due to Hurricane Harvey: Census

US calcined and non-calcined petcoke exports for September totaled 2.54 million mt, down 25.5% from August and down 30.8% from the year-ago month, Census Bureau data showed. The impact of Hurricane Harvey on Texas refineries during the month dropped US petcoke exports to their lowest levels since November 2016, when they totaled 2.4 million mt. On a year-to-date basis, petcoke exports have totaled 29 million mt through September, or 2% ahead of the same nine-month period in 2016.

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Reuters

November 9, 2017

ETP says Permian crude pipe to bring online volumes around year-end

Energy Transfer Partners LP said on Wednesday that additional volumes for its Permian Express 3 crude pipeline will come online around year-end, according to a third-quarter earnings call. The company also added that construction on the 24-inch Bayou Bridge crude pipeline project will start this quarter, with operations to begin in the second half of 2018. Previously, the company had expected to start the segment, which goes from Lake Charles to St. James, Louisiana, in the first quarter of 2018. The 30-inch (76-cm) segment running from Nederland, Texas to Lake Charles, transported an average of 147,000 barrels per day in the third quarter, the company said.

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Bloomberg

November 9, 2017

Former Oil Servicer CEO Pleads Guilty in Petrobras Scandal

A former CEO of oil-services company SBM Offshore NV pleaded guilty Thursday to charges related to the Petrobras corruption scandal in Brazil as the U.S. steps up its pursuit of individuals over corporate misdeeds. The former executive, Anthony Mace, appeared Thursday in federal court in Houston, where he admitted to conspiring to violate the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Mace’s appearance comes just days after a former sales executive of SBM, Robert Zubiate, pleaded guilty to the same charge. Mace is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 2. The pleas show that the U.S., after years of investigations on three continents into the bribery scandal known as Operation Carwash, is now moving swiftly against individuals.

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Seeking Alpha

November 8, 2017

Open Square: EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook: When Santa Delivers Oil

We’re perplexed by the EIA’s Short-term Energy Outlook (STEO) report that was released today. Admittedly that isn’t a feeling we’re unfamiliar with, but here’s why. The STEO estimates that US crude production will end the year at 9.72M barrels per day (bpd), an increase of almost 1M barrels from end-2016 to end-2017. That particular number doesn’t concern us as much as how the EIA gets to it. As of the latest Petroleum Supply Monthly report (914) (the most accurate of EIA’s reports), August data showed US production totaled 9.2M bpd. Admittedly a hurricane partially disrupted production in Texas, so let’s go back to July, which showed production at 9.23M bpd. Now going from 9.23M bpd to 9.72M bpd obviously requires close to a 500K bpd increase, and per EIA’s data, we’re seeing almost all of this coming from the Lower 48 States. If we, however, take a look at EIA’s STEO estimates as recently as June, we can see that months later when the actual PSM (914) reports are released, the EIA has been forced to adjust STEO reports, effectively admitting that STEO estimates were originally too high.

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Oil & Gas Investor

November 1, 2017

Rosehill Resources To Double Size With Delaware Basin Acquisition

Rosehill Resources Inc. (NASDAQ: ROSE) is more than doubling its position in the southern Delaware Basin with a deal to acquire up to 9,100 largely contiguous net acres, the Houston-based company said Oct. 30. As part of an agreement with an undisclosed seller, Rosehill will initially pay $77.6 million to purchase 4,565 net acres in northwestern Pecos County, Texas. The deal includes an option for Rosehill to buy an additional 4,535 net acres at the same acreage price—an estimated $16,600 per acre, according to Hart Energy analysis.

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Barron’s

November 7, 2017

Venezuela Is Teetering On Default

If Venezuela does not make a $1.12 billion payment that was due Nov. 2 tonight, default may finally happen. “Coupled with the previously missed payments on outstanding sovereign bonds that are currently within their 30-day grace periods, a default event appears highly probable,” Fitch Ratings said in a downgrade of Venezuela’s Corporacion Electrica Nacional Tuesday. The International Swaps and Derivatives Association will be asked to rule if credit default swaps (CDS), a form of insurance when debt payments aren’t made, have been triggered. More may be posted on the ISDA’s website, according to Caracas Capital’s Russ Dallen.

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Dallas Morning News

November 8, 2017

Irving energy firm grows headquarters with Las Colinas move

An Irving-based energy firm is growing its headquarters with a move to another building. Guidon Energy has leased a full floor of offices in the Summit at Las Colinas tower on U.S. Highway 114. The oil and gas company – which started out in Midland – is moving from a nearby building. … The 19-story Summit at Las Colinas is owned by Santa Fe-based Gemini Rosemont Commercial Real Estate. Other tenants in the tower include College Football Playoff, Nexstar Media Group, Highgate Hotels and LaSalle Group.

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San Antonio Express-News

November 8, 2017

Valero gives $8.4 million boost to SAISD college readiness program

The Valero Energy Foundation on Wednesday gave $8.4 million to the San Antonio Independent School District to fund college visits all over the country for hundreds of high school juniors, and to provide advisers to help students through college. With the grant funding, SAISD is creating a program called Pipeline for College Success, the biggest expansion yet of an initiative that retired Brackenridge High School teacher Walter Brown started on his own years ago. It involves a partnership with the KIPP charter school network, which is training SAISD counselors and advisers to follow the KIPP Through College model by helping the district’s graduates navigate college registration, financial aid, housing and textbook purchases.

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Barron’s

November 9, 2017

Epstein: The Oil Rally Will Fade

The bull market in crude oil of the past few months is probably over. West Texas Intermediate crude was trading at $44 a barrel in early July, when Barron’s predicted that WTI would touch $60 before the end of this year. WTI has been trading at $57-$58 over the past few days, and a run-up to $60 is still possible. But from $60, oil bulls will have to bet on supply disruption due to geopolitics (in Iran, Iraq, Libya), for price targets like $70 or $75 to look plausible.

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Utilities Stories

Bloomberg

November 10, 2017

One of the World’s Biggest Miners Is About to Go Coal-Free

Just five years ago it would have been almost unthinkable that one of the world’s biggest mining companies would not dig any coal. It’s now likely to become a reality. Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second-largest miner, has been steadily backtracking from coal to focus on better assets. It’s now looking for buyers for its remaining coal mines in Australia, and a sale will mark a complete exit from the fuel. Rio’s potential coal-free future is in stark contrast with many of its rivals. Glencore Plc, the world’s top coal shipper, this year increased its exposure by agreeing to pay $1.1 billion plus royalties for a large stake in Australian assets sold by Rio. The fuel, which generates about 40 percent of the world’s electricity, is one of BHP Billiton Ltd.’s main strategies, while Anglo American Plc has pulled back on plans to sell out of the commodity.

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Roll Call

November 9, 2017

Summer of Storms Tests Energy Resilience

While the Trump administration proposes to make the nation’s electric grid more “resilient” by propping up nuclear and coal-fired power plants, a wide range of energy advocates say there are better — and greener — ways to achieve the same goal. And they are urging leaders to heed the lessons provided by the massive storms that took down electricity lines in parts of Texas and Florida and left U.S. island territories in the Caribbean in the dark for weeks. Some lawmakers are already stepping up calls for a more resilient electricity grid that can withstand extreme weather events like strong winds and flooding. Those calls are coming not just from Democrats, but from Republicans who have typically shied away from addressing climate change effects.

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Power-Technology

November 8, 2017

With America’s ‘clean coal’ flagship dead, is the concept still credible?

As gloomy portents go, they don’t come much gloomier for ‘clean coal’ than recent developments at the Kemper County energy facility in Mississippi. The 524MW power plant, which has been under construction by Southern Company subsidiary Mississippi Power and its partners since 2010, aimed to gasify cheap, locally mined brown coal using proprietary technology, capture around 65% of the resulting syngas’s CO2 content and pipe it to nearby oil production sites for enhanced oil recovery operations. For years the Kemper project has been seen as the US’s flagship clean coal project, facilitating a more environmentally responsible means of unlocking abundant local reserves of highly polluting lignite, while demonstrating the viable economics of carbon capture and storage (CCS) at the large, commercial scale.

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Public News Service

November 9, 2017

Grid Stability Plan Attacked As Unneeded Subsidy For Coal, Nukes

A federal proposal to boost the reliability of the power grid would cost billions and do little to make the grid more stable, according to research. The Department of Energy is proposing a subsidy for coal and nuclear plants that stockpile 90 days of fuel to ensure electricity in an emergency. But a recent nonpartisan study showed the plan would cost taxpayers more than $10 billion a year. And in fact, fuel supply was not the issue when coal plants failed during the 2014 polar vortex and Hurricane Harvey earlier this year. David Schlissel, director of resource planning analysis at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said power lines are much more vulnerable than, say, renewable energy farms on the Gulf Coast.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

New York Times

November 9, 2017

As Wind Power Sector Grows, Turbine Makers Feel the Squeeze

Vestas Wind Systems and Siemens Gamesa are giants of the wind-power industry, building mammoth turbines that rise high into the air and power more and more homes. But disappointing earnings reports from the two companies this week indicated that even they are struggling to adapt to a fast-changing sector. Wind power is an increasingly important source of electricity around the world, and prices for the technology are dropping fast. But belt-tightening governments across Europe and North America are phasing out subsidies and tax incentives that had helped the industry grow, squeezing companies like Vestas and Siemens Gamesa in the process. On Thursday, Vestas, the world’s largest maker of wind turbines, said its revenue in the third quarter fell 6 percent compared with the same period a year ago, to 2.7 billion euros, or $3.1 billion.

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UTSA Today

November 9, 2017

UTSA professor to harvest clean energy from hot pavements

Samer Dessouky, professor of civil and environmental engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio, has received $298,000 through the Strategic Alliance between the Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute and CPS Energy, established in 2010, to generate power from hot pavements. Dessouky will use the funding to improve a technology he developed with his team that converts heat from paved surfaces into electricity. This technology allows paved areas, such as freeways, airport runways and parking lots to generate electricity, which can be used in rural areas for powering signage and data collection systems independently of the electric grid.

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Windpower Engineering and Development

November 6, 2017

Aging U.S. wind fleet driving surge in O&M spending, says IHS

The North American wind energy market is aging. The majority of installed wind-turbine equipment averages more than five years in age, and operations and maintenance (O&M) expenses cost the industry $3 billion to $4 billion annually, according to a new benchmarking study by IHS Markit, a global provider of critical information, analytics, and solutions. IHS Markit estimates total O&M spending for the wind energy sector will exceed $40 billion, cumulatively, from 2015 to 2025. (The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics is also keen on the potential for employment in the sector. It estimates wind energy technicians will be the fastest growing occupation and will more than double in demand during the next seven years.)

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PV Magazine

November 9, 2017

IEA: Solar, wind power rapid cost reduction may enable new options for greening industry

Assessing the potential for renewables in upcoming decades, a newly published report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) underlines the vital importance of the recent rapid cost reductions in solar photovoltaics and wind power, noting that one of its main findings is that greening the industry may be achieved either directly from electricity or through the production of hydrogen (H)-rich chemicals and fuels. Noting that solar, hydro and wind have enormous potential for use in industrial processes, as they both offer an opportunity to offset carbon emissions and provide cheaper power, the report notes that simultaneously, electrification offers new flexibility options to better integrate large shares of variable renewables into grids.

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Regulatory Stories

NBC News

November 8, 2017

Trump’s Chinese Gas Deal Raises Ethics Issues for Wilbur Ross

On Sunday, thanks to a consortium of investigative journalists, the public learned that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross never fully divested himself of ownership in a big global shipping company — one with ties to Russia’s rulers — when he joined President Donald Trump’s Cabinet. But new reporting by NBC News shows that Ross’ potential conflicts of interest go even further. The shipping company’s own documents suggest that Ross’ company may benefit from an important initiative that he has led as commerce secretary: securing a trade agreement with China to increase U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The shipping company in which Ross’ financial partnerships still have a 31 percent stake, Navigator Holdings, exports a different energy product, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). But Navigator’s own statements, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, say that when there’s a global expansion in LNG production facilities, that benefits the trade in LPG. That in turn could help Navigator’s bottom line, and thus Ross himself.

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Daily Comet (LA)

November 9, 2017

Scalise-backed oil bill sparks environmental concerns

A bill that would reverse course on much of former President Barack Obama’s administration’s policy on oil and gas drilling and potentially lift Louisiana’s share of federal oil revenue in the coming decades cleared a House committee Wednesday. The bill, dubbed the SECURE American Energy Act and sponsored by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, has gained limited bipartisan support but faced Democratic opposition Wednesday over environmental concerns. It wasn’t immediately clear when the bill might come up for a vote before the full House. The legislation also faces potential hurdles in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans hold a much thinner majority and bills must collect the votes of 60 of the 100 senators to pass.

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Bloomberg

November 9, 2017

Nominee Drops Paganism Claim, Says Climate Change Is Real

An environmental nominee of President Donald Trump who had dismissed the threat of climate change and labeled carbon dioxide plant food, abandoned those positions Wednesday under questioning from Senate Democrats. Kathleen Hartnett White, Trump’s pick for the White House’s top environmental position, also said her earlier comments comparing the belief in global warming to paganism had been taken out of context. “Climate change is, of course, real,” White said in her nomination hearing at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “It’s likely that CO2 emissions from human activity have some impact on climate.” She also said, however, that the link between human activity and climate change, remains unproven.

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WPTV (West Palm Beach FL)

November 9, 2017

Trump’s pick for key environmental role tells senators she did not underreport water contamination

Kathleen Hartnett White, President Trump’s top pick for a key White House post advising him on environmental and energy policies, gave a response Wednesday at a Senate nomination hearing that raises questions about the truthfulness of her testimony. At issue: White’s answer to a question from Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del., about her role in helping public water systems across Texas underreport the amount of radiation present in their drinking water. … In her nomination hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Carper, the ranking member on the panel, stated, “When Ms. White served on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the commission staff were told to underreport the levels of radiation in drinking water.”

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Houston Chronicle

November 9, 2017

FERC chairman says Perry’s grid proposal to be decided by Dec. 11

A delay on deciding Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s controversial proposal to keep coal and nuclear power plants from closing appear unlikely after Neil Chatterjee, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. said Thursday a decision will be made by Dec. 11, meeting the statutory deadline for such proposals. “We remain on that trajectory,” he said in an event hosted by S&P Platts in Washington. “I don’t want to have plants shut down while we do this longer term analysis.” Members of Congress from both parties have urged FERC to hold off on a decision out of concern it could negatively affect other power generators, namely natural gas plants and wind and solar farms.

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The Hill

November 9, 2017

Senate confirms top air regulator at EPA

The Senate on Thursday confirmed William Wehrum to head the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Air and Radiation, making him one of the most powerful officials in the agency. Wehrum became only the second of President Trump’s EPA nominees to secure Senate confirmation. Senators approved his nomination on a 49-47 vote. Democrats and environmentalists lined up against Wehrum’s nomination, noting both his legal career and a controversial tenure at the EPA under President George W. Bush.

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Washington Post

November 9, 2017

WP: A case on imported solar cells will put Trump’s promise on ‘America first’ to the test

PRESIDENT TRUMP has what might seem like an irresistible opportunity for a populist climate-change denier: to crack down on imports and harm the effort to combat climate change all at once. Yet even the briefest of looks shows that slapping tariffs on imported solar cells, as he has been urged to do, would harm far more Americans than it could possibly help. In other words, this is a precedent-setting test of whether reality can beat rhetoric in the White House. The implications are vast for the future of the internationally integrated U.S. economy. The United States has seen a boom in solar power over the past several years, as the cost of the once-pricey energy source has plummeted to a paltry 6 cents per kilowatt-hour. A big part of the story is the advent of highly efficient solar cell manufacturing in China and elsewhere, which has driven down the cost for essential solar parts.

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips November 9, 2017
Lead Stories

Houston Chronicle

November 8, 2017

Four signs this oil rally may not have legs

The rally that pushed crude to a two-year high is showing signs of losing strength, and we may soon see a reversal in prices. Here’s what to look out for in the oil market in months to come. Sell Sign: A closely watched technical marker is indicating crude might make a break for the downside. West Texas Intermediate crude’s 14-day relative strength index lingered above 70 on Tuesday, signaling the commodity is overbought. Prices have rallied about 5 percent so far this month. Francisco Blanch, Bank of America Merrill Lynch global head of commodities research, warned that oil might be nearing a top, with possibly another $4 or $5 left in the rally.

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CNBC

November 9, 2017

Chinese companies agree to develop LNG in Alaska as Trump visits

China’s top state oil major Sinopec, one of the country’s top banks and its sovereign wealth fund have agreed to help develop Alaska’s liquefied natural gas sector as part of President Donald Trump’s visit, the U.S. government said on Thursday. Alaska Gasline Development, the State of Alaska, Sinopec, China Investment Corp and the Bank of China have signed an agreement to advance LNG in Alaska, the U.S. government said in an email. The agreement will involve investment of up to $43 billion, create up to 12,000 U.S. jobs during construction, reduce the trade deficit between the United States and Asia by $10 billion a year, and give China clean energy, it said.

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San Antonio Express-News

November 8, 2017

Star witness in Uresti criminal case says ‘I trusted him’

The star witness in the criminal fraud case against state Sen. Carlos Uresti recounted on Wednesday how much she trusted her former lawyer before losing $800,000 on an investment he recommended. Denise Cantu, of Harlingen, testified in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for about 20 minutes in a trial involving FourWinds Logistics, a now-defunct oil field services company accused of defrauding her and other investors. Her appearance in the San Antonio courtroom was the first time she has publicly commented on the issue since the local Democrat’s May arrest.

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Texas Tribune

November 8, 2017

Wave of retirements may not be over for Texas congressional delegation

Rumors ran rampant on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning about more possible Texas retirements. Nearly every member over the age of 50 surfaced in highly speculative retirement chatter in the Texas GOP political class. Furthermore, the Texas GOP consultant class privately buzzed about a future in the minority and whether that scenario could goad more Texans to quit. So, are more retirements to come? The answer will likely come soon. The filing deadline for next year’s primaries in Texas starts this Saturday and lasts one month. It’s considered poor form within the delegation to announce plans to retire after filing starts.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

November 9, 2017

Oil markets stable, but doubts over recent bull run emerge

Oil prices held steady on Thursday after falling late in the previous session, supported by ongoing supply cuts led by OPEC and Russia. However, traders said a price rally that has pushed up Brent crude by over 40 percent since July may have run its course due to increases in U.S. supplies and some indicators of a demand slowdown. Brent futures were at $63.66 per barrel at 0155 GMT, up 17 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last close, but about $1 off the more than two-year high of $64.65 a barrel reached earlier this week. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $56.92 per barrel, up 11 cents, or 0.2 percent, but also some way off this week’s more than two-year high of $57.69 a barrel.

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Houston Chronicle

November 8, 2017

Petroleum stockpiles fall despite increase in oil inventories

The nation’s stockpile of commercial crude oil rose by 2.2 million barrels last week, but it was more than offset by a big dip in petroleum products inventories. Overall petroleum stocks fell by 9.1 million barrels led by a 3.3 million barrel dip in gasoline inventories and a 3.4 million barrel decline in distillate fuel oil used to make diesel and heating oils.

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Houston Chronicle

November 8, 2017

Noble to sell thousands of acres in Colorado oil field

Noble Energy has agreed to sell off thousands of acres in Colorado’s DJ Basin for $608 million, jettisoning two areas it hadn’t planned to develop for several years. The Houston oil company will sell 30,200 net acres in Weld County, in so-called non-core areas where it pumps only 4,100 barrels of oil equivalent a day. About half of the acreage is in an area it named Greely Crescent, and the other half is in the so-called Bronco area of basin. Only 20 percent of the hydrocarbons produced in the area are oil.

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Houston Chronicle

November 8, 2017

Conoco sets annual spending at $5.5 billion through 2020

ConocoPhillips will spend $5.5 billion annually in the oil patch through the end of the decade if U.S. crude prices stay above $50 a barrel, it said Wednesday. The Houston oil producer’s three-year operating plan called for cutting debt to $15 billion by 2019 and repurchase $7.5 billion in shares through 2020.

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Washington Post

November 8, 2017

Denning: ConocoPhillips Doesn’t Need to Fix What Isn’t Broken

ConocoPhillips is that rare oil company that’s having a really good year. So Wednesday morning’s update of the new strategy it rolled out just over a year ago also served as an opportunity for a bit of chest-thumping: Given that, it’s perhaps little wonder that many others in the exploration and production industry have been getting with Conoco’s program of late. That program boils down to emphasizing shareholder returns over growth. It’s little wonder, either, that Conoco is doubling down on its strategy. Front and center in Wednesday’s presentation was this figure: <$40 a barrel.

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KIII (Corpus Christi)

November 8, 2017

Nearly all vessels sunken by Harvey removed from Texas coast

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reports that nearly all the boats from Port Lavaca to Aransas Pass that either sank or took on water during Hurricane Harvey have been removed. On Wednesday, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush paid a visit to Aransas Pass to inspect the operation. After Harvey hit, 679 submerged vessels desperately needed to be removed from the water. 160 of those were extracted by Unified Command, a partnership between the U.S. Coast Guard and the Texas General Land Office that is completely funded by FEMA.

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New York Times

November 8, 2017

Endowments Boom as Colleges Bury Earnings Overseas

In 2006, the endowments of Indiana University and Texas Christian University invested millions of dollars in a partnership, hoping to mint riches from oil, gas and coal. The partnership was formed by the Houston-based Quintana Capital Group, whose principals include Donald L. Evans, an influential Texan and longtime supporter of former President George W. Bush. Little more than a year earlier, Mr. Evans had left his cabinet position as commerce secretary. Though the group had an impressive Texas pedigree, presidential cachet and ambitions for operations in the United States, the new partnership was established in the Cayman Islands. The founders promised their university and nonprofit investors that the partnership would try to avoid federal taxes by exploiting a loophole called “blocker corporations,” which are typically established in tax havens around the world.

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El Paso Inc.

November 7, 2017

Andeavor completes $1.7B acquisition of WNRL

San Antonio-based Andeavor Logistics has closed on the previously announced sale of El Paso-based Western Refining Logistics. Western Refining Logistics (NYSE: WNRL) is a spinoff of Western Refining, which was founded by El Paso billionaire Paul Foster in 1997 and purchased by Andeavor (NYSE: ANDX) in June. With the closing of Andeavor’s purchase of Western Refining and Western Refining Logistics, El Paso is now home to only two publicly traded company headquarters: Helen of Troy and El Paso Electric.

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San Antonio Express-News

November 8, 2017

Texas added more new jobs than any other state in October

Texas private-sector employers hired at a steady pace in October, adding 25,050 new jobs, according to new data Wednesday from payroll processor Automatic Data Processing Inc. That compares with 23,550 jobs added in August and a six-month average of 25,380, ADP’s Regional Employment Report said. The state’s hiring accounted for 10.7 percent of the 235,000 new private-sector hires made in October across the U.S., the most of any state. New York accounted for 8.3 percent and California accounted for 7.2 percent of all new jobs added.

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Wall St. Journal

November 7, 2017

Russian Oil Exports Could Be Looming Problem for Prices

Moscow says it is part of the solution to the global oil glut, but it could be part of the problem. Russia, the world’s largest oil producer, has ramped up its crude exports this year, potentially undermining a deal with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel that has helped raise oil prices. OPEC’s agreement with Russia and nine other countries was meant to reduce global oil output by 2% and has helped to raise Brent crude prices by roughly 5% this year, to over $60 a barrel. “The Russians are putting more oil on the market and cashing in,” said Georgi Slavov, head of research at commodity brokerage Marex Spectron. As a result, he said, the country is “delaying the effect the OPEC deal could have on the market.”

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Wall St. Journal

November 8, 2017

Total Expands Natural Gas Business with $2 Billion Deal

Oil giant Total SA TOT -0.23% has agreed to buy French utility Engie SA’s ENGI 0.41% liquefied-natural gas business for as much as $2 billion in a deal that would eventually make it the second-largest LNG player among Western energy firms. The acquisition is a down payment on Total’s strategic bet that lower-carbon natural gas will replace coal and play a central role in future power supply. More than any other major oil company, Total has identified the power sector as a hedge against oil’s eventual decline and has been building a business around that strategy.

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Financial Times

November 8, 2017

US urged to impose full embargo on Venezuelan oil

The Trump administration should dramatically tighten its sanctions on Venezuela by imposing a full embargo on its oil exports to the US, according to Argentine president Mauricio Macri, who said the move would enjoy broad support across Latin America. President Donald Trump unveiled a series of financial sanctions on Venezuela and members of its government over the summer, including prohibiting any US institutions from lending more money to the country. But he stopped shy of more draconian measures such as a full embargo on Venezuelan oil exports to the US.

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Utilities Stories

KFOX (El Paso)

November 2, 2017

Does the electric company penalize customers who put solar panels on their homes?

Debbie, a KFOX14 viewer, wanted to know whether El Paso Electric penalized its customers who installed solar panels on their homes. I took her question to electric company spokesman George De La Torre. He responded in an email that there is no penalty for a private, rooftop solar power system. … El Paso Electric said this monthly $30 fee is to “cover the cost of grid and customer-related services.” The electric company also said it will only apply to customers who connect their solar panels to the utility’s power grid after the rate case gets final approval from state regulators. So customers who already have rooftop solar power systems won’t have to pay this new charge.

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Green Tech Media

November 8, 2017

AEP Exec: The Future for Coal Power Is ‘Very Limited’
When Charles Patton joined American Electric Power in 2000, around 90 percent of the company’s electricity production came from coal. Since then, AEP’s executive vice president of external affairs says things have changed dramatically. “I will confess, there was a time I wouldn’t have publicly stated — although in the last few years I have publicly stated that I was wrong — that you would be able to [interconnect] renewables to the extent that we’ve been able to,” said Patton, speaking Tuesday at Greentech Media’s inaugural Power & Renewables Summit in Austin, Texas. “If you were a utility guy…that wasn’t something you necessarily believed was possible to the degree it is today.”

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Auto News

November 8, 2017

Lutz: ‘Everyone will have 5 years to get their car off the road or sell it for scrap’

It saddens me to say it, but we are approaching the end of the automotive era. The auto industry is on an accelerating change curve. For hundreds of years, the horse was the prime mover of humans and for the past 120 years it has been the automobile. Now we are approaching the end of the line for the automobile because travel will be in standardized modules. The end state will be the fully autonomous module with no capability for the driver to exercise command. You will call for it, it will arrive at your location, you’ll get in, input your destination and go to the freeway.

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Bloomberg

November 3, 2017

Trump’s Coal Threat to Renewable Energy

The Trump administration is plotting a series of moves in 2018 that could end up harming the wind and solar industries. That includes asking regulators to rewrite power market rules, revamping the tax code, and imposing tariffs on foreign-made solar panels. One of the most closely watched moves will likely involve Suniva Inc., a bankrupt solar panel manufacturer based in Georgia that filed a trade complaint in April. The company, which says it was hurt by cheap Asian imports, has asked Trump for tariffs on foreign panels. The administration has until mid-January to decide.

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Phys Org

November 4, 2017

Solar greenhouses generate electricity and grow crops at the same time

Electricity-generating solar greenhouses utilize Wavelength-Selective Photovoltaic Systems (WSPVs), a novel technology that generates electricity more efficiently and at less cost than traditional photovoltaic systems. These greenhouses are outfitted with transparent roof panels embedded with a bright magenta luminescent dye that absorbs light and transfers energy to narrow photovoltaic strips, where electricity is produced. WSPVs absorb some of the blue and green wavelengths of light but let the rest through, allowing the plants to grow.

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Forbes

November 8, 2017

Uber Wants To Bring Its Flying Taxis to Traffic-Congested Los Angeles Ahead Of The Olympics

Flying taxis sound like a futuristic idea, but Uber wants to test the idea in Los Angeles by 2020. The traffic-laden city is the second city in the US, following Dallas-Fort Worth, to be selected as a test bed for UberAir’s network of air taxis. Uber’s plan is to string together a network of electrical vertical take-off and landing vehicles, commonly called eVTOL, and make them available on-demand. Similar to helicopters, the eVTOL aircraft would take off and land on the tops of buildings and be able to cover distances more quickly and directly compared to cars stuck in traffic on Los Angeles congested roads.

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Regulatory Stories

Bloomberg

November 6, 2017

How McConnell May Have Inadvertently Undercut the Coal Industry

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is one of coal’s best friends in Washington, but the Kentucky Republican may have undercut his home state’s chief fuel by rushing through the confirmation of two obscure energy regulators. After the Senate confirmed the last members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a former McConnell aide may not be leading FERC’s review of a proposal to bail out coal-fired power plants. And those two newly confirmed FERC members — Kevin McIntyre and Richard Glick — have vowed not to tilt electricity-market rules in favor any particular fuel.

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Texas Observer

November 8, 2017

GOP Senator ‘Worries About Extremist Views’ of Kathleen Hartnett White at Confirmation Hearing

Kathleen Hartnett White, the Trump administration’s nominee to the White House Council on Environmental Quality, backtracked on her controversial position on biofuels when pressed by Republicans at a Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday. White, who has previously stated that ethanol policies are causing “massive distortions in the economy” and have “led to food riots in several countries,” said Wednesday she “erred” by not basing her previous position on current data and now “salutes the [ethanol] industry.” White faces a challenging confirmation. Even one Republican defection could cost her the appointment and her position on the Renewable Fuel Standard could be key in winning their support.

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Dallas Morning News

November 8, 2017

‘You’re not a scientist, are you?’ Former Texas regulator, climate change skeptic faces tough questions in hearing

Kathleen Hartnett White, a climate change skeptic and former chairwoman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, faced tough questions from Democrats on Wednesday during her nomination hearing for a top environmental post. Democrats on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works grilled White about remarks she’s made in her role as a fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank in Austin. They pressed White, who President Donald Trump nominated to head the Council on Environmental Quality, on her views over climate change, particulate matter and the Renewable Fuel Standard Program. “It seems to me you don’t believe climate change is real,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said to White. “You’re not a scientist, are you?” “No,” White replied. “But in my personal capacity, I have questions that remain unanswered,” adding that scientists need to have a more precise understanding of how much human activity impacts climate change.

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The Hill

November 7, 2017

Supporters of DOE coal rule haven’t proven their case, energy groups say

A coalition of 20 energy groups and companies argued Tuesday that the supporters of Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to prop up coal and nuclear plants haven’t proven the need for the regulation. The coalition, which includes strange bedfellows representing natural gas, oil, wind energy and solar energy, asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to scrap the proposal, saying the comments filed by supporters don’t show a legal justification for it. “The record in this proceeding, including the initial comments, does not support the discriminatory payments proposed” by Perry, the groups wrote.

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Wall St. Journal

November 7, 2017

Pollution Rule Is Boon for Richest Refiners, Blow for Weakest

The refining industry is facing its biggest disruption in years from a looming international air-pollution regulation aimed at slashing the amount of sulfur in marine fuel for oceangoing ships. The regulation doesn’t go into effect until 2020, but its reverberations are already being felt. Analysts predict it will widen the gap between the refining world’s winners and losers, making some richer while pushing others to the brink. Some larger companies, including ExxonMobil Corp., Total SA and Repsol SA have invested billions in recent years to upgrade refineries, which will allow them to produce more lower-sulfur fuel and other products.

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Los Angeles Times

November 2, 2017

Los Angeles Times: Protecting solar panel manufacturers doesn’t help American workers, it punishes them

President Trump has been the biggest advocate of protectionism to occupy the White House since Herbert Hoover, who signed a notorious tariff-raising law in 1930 that deepened the Great Depression. So far, though, the Trump administration has taken a limited, more conventional approach to trade imbalances, using tariffs only to raise the cost of imported materials and products that were allegedly being dumped into United States at below-cost prices. Now, an independent federal agency that adjudicates trade disputes is urging Trump to broaden the shield that the U.S. already provides domestic solar panel manufacturers against unfair foreign competitors. Dusting off a little-enforced provision in federal law, the International Trade Commission on Tuesday called for the imposition of temporary emergency tariffs of up to 35% on foreign-made solar panels and modules, with no need for proof of dumping or subsidies, in order to give two U.S. companies time to adapt to a surge in imports.

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The Hill

November 8, 2017

EPA head: Climate report won’t impact Obama rule repeal

The federal government’s comprehensive Climate Science Special Report won’t change the Trump administration’s rollback of former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) head. “We’re taking the very necessary step to evaluate our authority under the Clean Air Act and we’ll take steps that are required to issue a subsequent rule. That’s our focus,” Scott Pruitt told USA Today in an interview published Wednesday.

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The Hill

November 8, 2017

Feds subpoena former Trump adviser Icahn over biofuels push

Investigators have subpoenaed Carl Icahn and his investment company for information related to his work on biofuels policy while he was an adviser to President Trump. Icahn Enterprises LP revealed in a federal filing on Friday that the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York is “seeking production of information pertaining to our and Mr. Icahn’s activities relating to the Renewable Fuels Standard and Mr. Icahn’s role as an advisor to the President.”

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The Hill

November 7, 2017

GOP chairman has ‘more questions’ about Puerto Rico’s Whitefish Energy contract

A powerful Republican chairman said Tuesday he has more questions for Puerto Rican authorities about their controversial hurricane recovery contract with a small Montana energy firm. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said documents provided to his House Natural Resources Committee last week raised fresh concerns about the island’s $300 million contract with Whitefish Energy. Officials rescinded that deal last month amid questions from lawmakers and government watchdogs.

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips November 8, 2017
Lead Stories

Bloomberg

November 7, 2017

The Dollar Is Now More Correlated With Oil Than Some Petrocurrencies

As the petrocurrencies of the world break their historic link with oil, the greenback is building a relationship with the commodity that it isn’t supposed to have. Crude oil’s more than 9 percent surge since Oct. 25 has been mirrored by a 1.4 percent advance in the dollar against major world currencies, widening the pair’s 90-day correlation to the most in almost two years. Meanwhile, the link is getting weaker between oil and the currencies of major oil producers such as Russia and Canada.

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Houston Chronicle

November 8, 2017

Tomlinson: Power grab in Saudi Arabia threatens oil market stability

One thing for certain, is that Salman’s youth and impulsiveness leave him vulnerable to a power struggle. And by cracking down so harshly on potential challengers, he has made it clear that violence may be the only way to stop his rise to power upon his father’s death or abdication. The latter is a real possibility as King Salman is rumored to suffer from senility. A violent upheaval in Saudi Arabia would send shock waves through the global energy markets, endangering 10 percent of the world’s daily oil production. In a power Saudi struggle, taking control of the oil fields and the revenues they produce would be the first priority.

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Utility Dive

November 7, 2017

Exelon’s Texas merchant subsidiary files for bankruptcy

Exelon Corp. announced this morning that its Texas merchant power subsidiary ExGen Texas Power (EGTP) Holdings LLC and ExGen Texas Power LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, with an eye towards reducing debt at the companies. News stories earlier this year cited anonymous sources saying Exelon had brought an adviser on board to help it deal with mounting debt at the power subsidiary. The company reportedly selected PJT Partners Inc. to help address $650 million in debt. EGTP’s Board of Directors will go forward with a two-part plan for the company, including a negotiated agreement with lenders that would allow Exelon Generation to continue to own and operate the Handley Generating Station in exchange for a $60 million payment to the lenders.

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Bloomberg

November 7, 2017

GOP Senators Say Wind Tax Credit Is Safe in Their Tax Overhaul

Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee said they oppose a move by their colleagues in the House of Representatives to scale back the wind production tax credit. “We think that issue has been dealt with,” South Dakota Senator John Thune, the Senate’s No. 3 ranking Republican, said in an interview. “There may be folks who would like to follow the House approach, but I don’t think that’s what we are going to able to do over here.” With this comment, three GOP senators — each of them on the tax-writing committee — have now said they oppose changes to the wind tax credit. Republicans hold a 52-48 advantage in the upper house.

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Platts

November 6, 2017

ERCOT OKs Vistra’s plan to retire 2,400 MW coal capacity in Texas

Vistra Energy can retire two coal-fired plants in Texas totaling about 2,400 MW of nameplate capacity by early 2018 as planned, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said Monday. ERCOT said the two plants are “not required to support ERCOT transmission system reliability,” and approved Vistra’s requests to close its two-unit 1,200-MW Sandow Power Plant in Milam County by January 11, 2018, and its two-unit 1,200-MW Big Brown Power Plant in Freestone County by February 12, 2018. The two Sandow units are newer, with unit 4 built in 1981 and unit 5 built in 2010, while Big Brown’s two units came online in the early 1970s, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

November 8, 2017

Oil dips on falling Chinese crude imports; overall market still well supported

Oil markets dipped on Wednesday as Chinese crude imports fell to their lowest level in a year, although traders said that overall markets remained well supported largely due to OPEC-lead supply cuts. Traders said the market was eyeing growing tensions in the Middle East with concern, keeping a cautious tone on trade. Brent futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $63.55 per barrel at 0434 GMT, down 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, but still not far off a near two-and-a-half year high of $64.65 a barrel reached earlier this week. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $56.99 per barrel, down 21 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last settlement, but also still not far off the $57.69 a barrel reached earlier this week – the highest since July 2015.

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Law 360

November 6, 2017

Energy Co. Sues Pipeline Co. Over Millions In Overcharges

Fairway Energy Partners LLC filed a suit in state district court in Houston on Friday against Strike LLC, alleging Strike installed a defective pipeline, and billed for unnecessary and duplicative work, including $8.6 million in overcharges, in violation of an agreement related to a $31.4 million pipeline project. According to the lawsuit, Fairway hired pipeline company Strike to construct and install pipelines that would allow it to transport oil to and from its crude oil storage facility in south Houston. The companies entered into an agreement in July 2016 under which Strike would construct and install the pipeline by January 2017 in exchange for a lump sum payment from Fairway of $31.4 million.

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Reuters

November 7, 2017

Chevron green lights its first Canadian shale development

Chevron Canada, a unit of global oil major Chevron Corp, is forging ahead with its first ever Canadian shale play development, targeting the East Kaybob region of central Alberta’s Duvernay formation. The decision, announced by the company on Monday, is a rare bright spot for Canada’s oil industry, which was hard hit by the global crude price downturn. International energy firms sold off nearly $23 billion in assets this year alone. Chevron will initially develop around 55,000 acres in the Duvernay. That could eventually spur more drilling in other parts of the 330,000 acre portion of the shale formation controlled by Chevron Canada, company spokesman Leif Sollid said.

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Wall St. Journal

November 7, 2017

OPEC Says Oil Demand Will Grow Past 2040

OPEC doesn’t expect global demand for oil to peak before 2040, the cartel said Tuesday, though it predicted long-term demand growth would soon slow. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ forecast lends the cartel’s voice to a debate in the oil industry over how soon demand for crude oil will decelerate. For decades, petroleum consumption has grown almost every year, but big-oil companies and industry experts are planning for when crude demand begins to decline thanks to gains in efficiency, electric vehicles and government regulations.

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Oil Price

November 7, 2017

Slav: Can Oil Prices Hit $65 This Week?

Brent crude, the international benchmark, closed above US$64 a barrel for the first time since mid-2015 yesterday, and WTI settled at over US$57 as a string of political arrests in Saudi Arabia rattles markets, heightening worry about internal destabilization in the world’s number-two oil producer. But it wasn’t just the arrests causing the rally. Regional tensions in the Middle East are also heightening, supporting the price rally and reinforcing a bullish outlook for the near term. Last weekend, Lebanon’s Saudi-backed Prime Minister resigned, blaming Iran for destabilizing his country. Saudi Arabia, in turn, accused Lebanon-based Iran-backed group Hezbollah of waging a war against it, with the Kingdom’s Gulf affairs minister Thamer a-Sabhan saying the Lebanese government will be treated as “a government declaring war on Saudi Arabia.”

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Bloomberg

November 7, 2017

Denning: Structural issues have hurt WTI crude prices; fixing them could inspire U.S. firms to pump more.

A mea culpa: This piece I wrote last week on the dislocation between benchmark U.S. and international oil prices missed something important. While I emphasized the differences in speculative money flows to the Nymex West Texas Intermediate, or WTI, and Brent crude oil contracts, I didn’t give the role of logistics the prominence it deserved. So here goes. To recap, the spread between WTI and Brent crude prices began widening in late July and has recently blown out to about $6 or $7 a barrel: Hurricane Harvey’s disruptive impact in late August helped push that spread beyond $5. But it had been opening ahead of that and hasn’t shown signs of closing since. Besides Brent’s international benchmark, Nymex WTI is suddenly trading at wide discounts to other benchmarks within the U.S., too:

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Houston Chronicle

November 7, 2017

Westlake Chemical posts record profit on growing revenues

Houston’s Westlake Chemical said Tuesday it posted record net income and revenues for the quarter as the petrochemical company continues to expand in a favorable product pricing environment. Westlake reported a net profit of $211 million for the third quarter – versus $66 million a year ago – with $2.1 billion in quarterly revenues. Westlake posted a particularly strong quarter in its vinyls sales, including $1.6 billion of its revenues.

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CNBC

November 7, 2017

US shale oil will dominate the market in coming years, but the tables will turn, OPEC says

The American shale drillers that have upended the energy industry will capture much of the growth in oil demand in the coming years, OPEC forecasts in a new report. But after years of booming U.S. production and flat output from OPEC, the tables will turn, the producer group says. The forecast, released Tuesday, signals that OPEC believes its battle for oil-market share against U.S. shale will persist for years to come.

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San Antonio Express-News

November 7, 2017

Abraxas Petroleum loses $800,000 but meets Wall Street expectations

San Antonio-based Abraxas Petroleum Corp. lost $800,000 in the third quarter, meeting Wall Street expectations. Abraxas reported financial results after the market closed Tuesday. The net loss of $800,000 compared with a loss of $3.3 million in the same period last year. Adjusted for one-time costs and gains, the company earned 4 cents per share for the third quarter, which is on par with what Wall Street expected, according to an average of five analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

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Austin American-Statesman

November 7, 2017

Regent, wife donate $25 million to UT’s petroleum engineering unit

A University of Texas System regent and his wife have donated $25 million to UT-Austin’s highly ranked petroleum and geosystems engineering department, which henceforth will bear their name. “Regent Jeff Hildebrand and Mindy Hildebrand have a very deep connection to our university that makes this gift so special,” UT-Austin President Gregory L. Fenves said. “It will provide significant resources for student and faculty innovation, along with cutting-edge teaching and research related to the oil and gas industry.” The donation from the Hildebrand Foundation was announced Tuesday.

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San Antonio Express-News

November 7, 2017

San Antonio-based NuStar Energy 3Q profits fall 25 percent on hurricane, expansion costs

San Antonio-based NuStar Energy’s third-quarter profits fell 25 percent to $38.6 million as the company grappled with hurricane damage and costs associated with a $1.5 billion acquisition in the prior quarter, missing Wall Street expectations. The company, a master limited partnership, issued more units during the quarter to finance its acquisition of a crude oil pipeline system in West Texas’ Permian Basin oil field, which CEO Brad Barron said “burdened” the companies results but was already generating more earnings.

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KIII (Corpus Christi)

November 8, 2017

Oil cleanup completed after barge fire off Port Aransas jetties

The oil cleanup effort following a massive barge fire that erupted on Oct. 23 about three miles off the Port Aransas jetties is complete, according to officials. The fire resulted in the release of oil into the water. A cleanup effort was launched by the U.S. Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office and Bouchard Transportation.

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Daily Comet (LA)

November 4, 2017

Could oil exports help revive Gulf?

Exports could help invigorate a Gulf of Mexico oilfield, where a three-year bust has stripped thousands of jobs from the Houma-Thibodaux area, some analysts say. But it’s a long-term proposition, and a lot will depend on whether Gulf Coast terminals like the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, about 18 miles south of Grand Isle, can continue to increase storage and shipping capacity. In addition, analysts say, major oil companies still face risks investing in long-term projects in the Gulf while oil prices remain relatively low. The U.S. is now exporting a record 2.1 million barrels of crude a day, a figure that has risen steady since Congress and President Barack Obama lifted a 40-year export ban in late 2015.

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Dallas Morning News

November 3, 2017

Once considered America’s richest woman, Caroline Hunt offers a rare look at her famous Dallas family

Oil heiress Caroline Rose Hunt has never been one to seek the spotlight. In the late 1980s, the daughter of legendary wildcatter H.L. Hunt was considered the richest woman in America. Her net worth then of about $1 billion — more than $2 billion in today’s bucks — included the swank Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek and Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles. Her Crescent complex was setting Uptown in motion. When two of her brothers, Nelson Bunker Hunt and Herbert Hunt, went down for the financial count after disastrous misadventures in silver, sugar and oil, Caroline Hunt was still standing Texas tall.

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Reuters

November 3, 2017

France’s Total opens Washington office as Iran risks loom

Total (TOTF.PA) has opened an office in Washington in a bid to strengthen relations with the U.S. administration as the French oil and gas company prepares to invest billions in Iran. Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne confirmed Total opened a government relations office, telling Reuters “we should have done a long time ago.” In July, Total became the first Western energy firm to sign a deal with Iran since the easing of international sanctions in 2015, agreeing to develop Phase 11 of the South Pars offshore gas field with a total investment of $5 billion.

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Utilities Stories

Power-Technology

November 7, 2017

Lempriere: Turning the lights back on after Hurricane Harvey

Learning lessons from previous hurricanes, such as the devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Sandy in 2012, US states, including Texas, have set about modernising their grid systems. In 2009, utility company CenterPoint Energy began a $750m smart grid project, which involved the installation of 2.3 million smart meters, along with Intelligent Grid devices such as self-healing circuits and a new distribution management system. This network ensured the company was fully informed about outages, allowing it to redirect power and repair them far more quickly. While this system was undoubtedly useful during Hurricane Harvey, the magnitude of outages in hardest hit areas meant the fault location, isolation and service restoration (FLISR) system that forms a key part of the Intelligent Grid was of little use.

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Axios

November 7, 2017

Missing from oil group’s new ad: oil

The American Petroleum Institute is running a new online advertising campaign touting natural gas as a reliable and resilient electricity source. The word “oil” doesn’t show up once. Why it matters: The group, one of the most powerful in Washington representing the oil and natural gas industry, is releasing the ad to respond directly to the Trump administration’s recent regulatory push to favor coal and nuclear power plants over others, including ones powered by natural gas. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is pushing that initiative, contending it will make the electric grid more resilient. The big picture: It’s the latest sign of API’s entry into the fight over power generation.

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch

November 5, 2017

To make coal plants in southern Illinois competitive, Dynegy seeks lawmakers’ help

It would appear that last week’s announced merger of Vistra Energy and Dynegy is an outgrowth of a well-established trend, as coal-reliant power providers continue to scramble in the face of unrelenting market pressure. After all, there’s no shortage of eye-popping numbers that document the precipitous downfall of coal-fired power generation. Just last month, Vistra’s subsidiary, Luminant, announced it would retire two major Texas coal plants early next year. The move marked a national milestone, with 262 of the country’s coal plants facing shutdowns since 2010, while 261 — now less than half — remain in operation, according to the Sierra Club. And even before those announced closures, Texas — the home state for both Vistra’s and Dynegy’s headquarters and by far the nation’s biggest coal-burning state — was expected to see its wind generation exceed that from coal by the end of 2018.

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Think Progress

November 6, 2017

Environmentalists just gained a new enemy in the fight against natural gas pipelines

The electric utility sector’s top lobbying group is teaming up with fossil fuel trade associations as part of an effort to intensify the industry’s campaign against citizen and environmental groups opposed to fracking and new natural gas pipelines. A senior official at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) said at a recent conference in Pittsburgh that her trade group has grown “very aware of the ‘Keep It in the Ground’ movement” as its member companies have become more reliant on natural gas. These activists are opposed to the extraction of all fossil fuels, not just coal, said Karen Obenshain, senior director of fuels, technology, and commercial policy, according to Matt Kasper, research director at the Energy and Policy Institute, who attended the conference.

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Utility Dive

November 2, 2017

In new trend, utilities propose separate rate classes for solar customers without rate increase

Among a record level of U.S. solar policy actions tallied by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NC CETC) in its latest quarterly report, a potentially important new approach to the renewable resource emerged. “Some utilities proposed separating customers who own distributed generation into their own rate class, but without actually proposing any rate increases or rate changes,” Autumn Proudlove, the center’s manager of policy research, said. Utilities have typically included proposals to increase fixed charges and add demand charges. “Now some seem to want to test regulators about the idea of a separate Distributed Generation (DG) customer class,” Proudlove said. “Or it could be they want to set the stage for later rate design changes.”

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Nature

November 3, 2017

Energy researcher sues the US National Academy of Sciences for millions of dollars

A scientific dispute about the future of alternative energy has landed in a US court. Mark Jacobson, an environmental and civil engineer at Stanford University in California, has filed a libel lawsuit against the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and a researcher who published a study in the academy’s journal that criticized Jacobson’s work. Jacobson, who filed suit in superior court in Washington DC in late September, is seeking damages of US$10 million. He also wants the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) to retract the article it published by mathematician Christopher Clack in 2015. The NAS and Clack have until late November to respond, according to court documents.

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American Journal of Transportation

November 6, 2017

EIA reports repowering wind turbines adds generating capacity at existing sites

Repowering older wind turbines, which involves replacing aging turbines or components, is becoming more common in the United States as the turbine fleet ages and as wind turbine technology advances. Newer turbines tend to be larger and installed at greater heights, allowing for more capacity per turbine. About 12% of the wind turbines in the United States were installed before 2000, but these turbines make up only 2% of the installed wind electricity generating capacity. Federal production tax credits provide an incentive to increase electricity generation from existing wind turbines. In December 2015, the production tax credit (PTC) was extended until the end of 2019. The four-year extension and legislated phase-out of the PTC is expected to encourage many asset owners to repower existing wind facilities to requalify them to receive another 10 years of tax credits. A facility may still qualify for the PTC as long as at least 80% of the property’s value is new. This provision allows many owners to repower existing turbines without completely replacing them.

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Regulatory Stories

HuffPost

November 8, 2017

GOP Congressman Says Nature Has A Way Of Cleaning Up Massive Oils Spills

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, a concerned Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) jumped in his car and drove from Tyler, Texas, to somewhere southeast of New Orleans. He brought along a high-definition video camera, planning to document the effects of what would prove to be the largest oil spill in U.S. history. “I was going to film the destructiveness to the beaches,” he said during a legislative hearing Tuesday. But instead he claims to have found almost no oil — “a drop or two here and there,” as he put it — along the coast between New Orleans and Panama City, Florida. “I was going, ‘Where’s all the oil?’” he said.

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Dallas Morning News

November 7, 2017

Rep. Ted Poe latest Texas Republican to announce he’s retiring from Congress

A fourth Texas Republican — the third in a week — has announced plans to retire from the U.S. House after 2018. Rep. Ted Poe of Humble announced the news Tuesday evening, calling it an “honor and privilege” to represent the 2nd Congressional District. Poe, a former criminal court judge in Houston, cited “giving crime victims a voice, helping to combat human trafficking, and fighting for our constitutional rights and individual liberty” as among his office’s achievements. He was first elected to the House in 2004.

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Dallas Morning News

November 7, 2017

Senate panel takes up nomination of former Texas regulator and climate change skeptic for EPA job

A Senate committee Wednesday will review President Donald Trump’s nomination of Kathleen Hartnett White, a climate change skeptic and former chairwoman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, for a top environmental post. Environmental advocates sounded the alarm over her nomination to head the Council on Environmental Quality, a federal office that coordinates between agencies. Nearly 50 groups signed a letter Tuesday urging the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works to reject her nomination.

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Albuquerque Journal

November 6, 2017

Massive Xcel wind project draws criticism from PRC staff

A massive wind project that Xcel Energy wants to build in eastern New Mexico and West Texas is facing blustering opposition from utility division staff at the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. The project, which Excel unveiled last March, calls for a $1.6 billion investment in two huge wind farms, including a 522-megawatt facility in eastern New Mexico, and a 478-MW farm in Texas. Once built, those farms, combined with an agreement to also acquire 230 MW of wind energy from a nearby facility owned by NextEra Energy — would provide enough electricity to power about 440,000 average homes annually.

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Los Angeles Times

November 3, 2017

Hiltzik: Good riddance to Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the most obnoxious climate change denier in Congress

To our knowledge, Rep. Lamar Smith never brought a snowball onto the House floor like Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., to “prove” that climate change was a hoax. But once you’ve said that, you’ve said everything. In all other particulars, Smith has been the preeminent climate change denier in Congress. That’s a problem, because he also has been serving as chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, the last place where someone devoted to undermining scientific research belongs. From that perch, he’s harassed government officials, Earth scientists and other academics whose work refutes his position that the human role in climate change is a myth.

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Investor’s Business Daily

November 3, 2017

Investor’s Business Daily: The UN Admits That The Paris Climate Deal Was A Fraud

Here’s a United Nations climate report that environmentalists probably don’t want anybody to read. It says that even if every country abides by the grand promises they made last year in Paris to reduce greenhouse gases, the planet would still be “doomed.” … According to the latest annual UN report on the “emissions gap,” the Paris agreement will provide only a third of the cuts in greenhouse gas that environmentalists claim is needed to prevent catastrophic warming. If every country involved in those accords abides by their pledges between now and 2030 — which is a dubious proposition — temperatures will still rise by 3 degrees C by 2100. The goal of the Paris agreement was to keep the global temperature increase to under 2 degrees.

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips November 7, 2017
Lead Stories

Bloomberg

November 6, 2017

Oilpatch Drillers Are Betting Billions on Later Payouts to Make Deals Today

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s deal in January for a swath of Permian Basin drilling real estate came with a sweetener for the sellers. The heirs of oil tycoon Perry Bass will get $1 billion in cash by 2032 — if drilling goes well for Exxon. That payout would be on top of the $5.6 billion in Exxon shares the Bass family is getting for Bopco LP and other New Mexico and West Texas holdings in the Permian, the most productive U.S. oilfield. Such payouts — earnouts or contingent payments in M&A jargon — have become much more prevalent in the oil patch this year as deal-hungry explorers, services providers and pipeline operators hedge their bets on the future of shale. Some depend on oil or gas prices rising. Others are tied to future profits or production volumes. Most share the same premise: The seller gets more money if the deal goes well for the buyer.

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Politico

November 6, 2017

Ulrichsen: What the Hell Just Happened in Saudi Arabia?

It’s a typically bold move for a crown prince who has made such sweeping strokes the hallmark of his swift rise. And yet, the concentration of such authority in one individual may unravel the careful mixture of consensus and balancing among competing interests within both the royal family and Saudi society at large. Since the creation of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932 and especially after the rise of Crown Prince (later King) Faisal in the 1960s, the royal family has sought a pragmatic and gradualist approach to social and political change. This helped to cushion the impact of economic modernization and guide the kingdom through periods of great internal strain, such as the 1979 takeover of the Grand Mosque and the post-2003 terrorist campaign by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. They also represented a pragmatic acknowledgment of the multiple centers of gravity within the royal family, which acted as a check on the unconstrained exercise of power by any one individual.

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Houston Chronicle

November 6, 2017

Texas oil companies hire 30,000 over the past year amid oil price recovery

Texas oil companies have hired more than 30,000 workers over the past year, a sharp turnaround after they laid off a third of the industry’s statewide workforce during the oil bust. The number of Texas oil and gas workers reached more than 222,000 in September, up 16 percent from about 192,000 in the same month last year, the lowest point since the Great Recession in 2009. At the peak of the oil boom in 2014, Texas had more 295,000 jobs, according to Karr Ingham, a Texas economist who studies the oil industry.

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PV Magazine

November 6, 2017

AEP to invest $1.8 billion in renewables over the next three years

If there was one definitive sign that renewable energy has gone mainstream, this may be it. Last Friday American Electric Power (AEP), one of the United State’s largest power companies and one that owns a disproportionate share of coal assets, announced that it will invest $1.8 billion in new renewable energy projects during the 2018-2020 timeframe. This is nearly five times the company’s current investment in renewable energy generation by dollar value. This $1.8 billion will represent around 10% of the company’s planned capital outlays during the period, 72% of which will go to its transmission and distribution businesses. While AEP still owns 60 power plants totaling 26 GW of capacity (47% of which is coal-fired generation), in the past 10 years the company has taken a sharp turn in strategy away from investing in generation towards its transmission and distribution.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

November 7, 2017

Oil prices edge down from near 2-1/2 year high

Oil prices edged lower on Tuesday after posting the biggest gains in six weeks a day earlier, buoyed by moves by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince to tighten his grip on power and rising tensions between the kingdom and Iran. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude slipped 10 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $57.25 a barrel by 0231 GMT. The contract surged 3 percent on Monday, the biggest percentage gain since late September. Brent crude futures were down 19 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $64.08. On Monday, they closed 3.5 percent higher, also their biggest percentage gain in about six weeks.

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E&E News

November 6, 2017

Taxes, ANWR and nominees take center stage

Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told reporters last week he expects four days of “full-throated” debate over his proposal. It would slash corporate rates and consolidate personal income taxes by ending scores of write-offs. Brady does not expect leaders to allow any amendments when the bill moves to the floor. The GOP is hoping for such action before Thanksgiving. Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), ranking member on Ways and Means, said last week he expects Democrats to offer a wide range of amendments, including to protect deductions for electric cars and renewable energy credits.

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Yahoo! News

November 6, 2017

Purge of Saudi princes, businessmen widens, travel curbs imposed

A campaign of mass arrests of Saudi Arabian royals, ministers and businessmen expanded on Monday after a top entrepreneur was reportedly detained in the biggest anti-corruption purge of the kingdom’s affluent elite in its modern history. The reported arrest of Nasser bin Aqeel al-Tayyar followed the detention of dozens of top Saudis including billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal in a crackdown that the attorney general described as “phase one”. The purge is the latest in a series of dramatic steps by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to assert Saudi influence internationally and amass more power for himself at home.

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New York Times

November 5, 2017

Saudi Prince, Asserting Power, Brings Clerics to Heel

For decades, Saudi Arabia’s religious establishment wielded tremendous power, with bearded enforcers policing public behavior, prominent sheikhs defining right and wrong, and religious associations using the kingdom’s oil wealth to promote their intolerant interpretation of Islam around the world. Now, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is curbing their power as part of his drive to impose his control on the kingdom and press for a more open brand of Islam. … Dozens of hard-line clerics have been detained, while others were designated to speak publicly about respect for other religions, a topic once anathema to the kingdom’s religious apparatus.

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Washington Post

November 6, 2017

What Saudi Arabia’s purge means for the Middle East

While the full scope and ultimate outcome of the weekend’s arrests remain unclear, the new developments should be understood in the context of interaction between Mohammed bin Salman’s short window for domestic power consolidation and Saudi Arabia’s unsettled regional position. Mohammed bin Salman’s domestic political ambitions and foreign policy moves have unfolded in a deeply uncertain environment, with both domestic power and regional order in an unprecedented state of flux. The Yemeni missile attack, Hariri’s resignation, and the Saudi arrests would ordinarily be viewed as events of primarily local significance. In today’s context, however, they have sparked fears of a dangerous and unpredictable regional escalation against Iran. Since the Arab uprisings of 2011, Gulf regimes such as Saudi Arabia have lived in existential fear of the sudden eruption of popular mobilization, while pursuing unusually interventionist foreign policies across the region. The extended Saudi power transition at home and its erratic pattern of failed foreign policy interventions must be understood within this wider regional context.

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Houston Chronicle

November 6, 2017

GE’s Baker Hughes launching $3B share buyback program

The newly merged Baker Hughes is launching a $3 billion share buyback program after joining the General Electric family of companies. The massive buyback program follows in the footsteps of many energy carrying more conservative spending plans into 2018 as rising U.S. oil prices still hover below $60 a barrel. The Baker Hughes plan allows it to invest in itself while driving up shareholder value. Baker Hughes stock jumped by more than 7 percent Monday after the news came out, up to nearly $33.50 a share. Baker Hughes is in solid financial shape, but its stock hadn’t performed well since its merger with GE’s oil and gas division. The company now trades under the “BHGE” stock ticker.

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Washington Examiner

November 3, 2017

Steve Scalise introduces bill to expand offshore energy incentives to all states

A House Republican leader introduced a comprehensive bipartisan energy bill on Friday that would open up financial incentives for states that allow energy development off their shores. The SECURE American Energy Act was introduced Friday by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who was joined by House Natural Resources Committee chairman Rob Bishop of Utah. Democratic Reps. Henry Cuellar and Vicente González of Texas also signed onto introducing the legislation.

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Houston Chronicle

November 6, 2017

Gasoline prices surge nationally as crude hits two-year high

Gasoline costs surged nationwide for the first time in nearly eight weeks after oil prices hit a two-year high. Oil prices were already on the rise, but jumped higher after an anti-corruption purge in Saudi Arabia seen as an attempt to consolidate power around the crown prince led to the arrests of several other princes and ministers. Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, 32, has expressed support for extending oil production cuts amongst the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. The U.S. benchmark for oil hit $56 a barrel Monday morning, while the European benchmark in the North Sea ticked above $62.

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WVUE New Orleans

November 2, 2017

Zurik: Orphan wells and the deadbeats who leave them

T & M Production of Houston, Texas has the most abandoned wells in Louisiana at 330 as of Oct. 20, when the office last updated its orphan wells list. Drum Energy of Monroe has the second most, 194. That company is still active with the La. Secretary of State’s office – but they refuse to answer correspondence from the Office of Conservation or a letter that FOX 8 sent last month. “How do you stop people from walking away from wells? You can’t,” says Gil Murphy, a Shreveport-based oil-and-gas investor. Murphy once owned shares in High-Hope Oil and Gas; he says he sold his share in the company shortly before High-Hope abandoned its 41 wells.

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Houston Chronicle

November 6, 2017

Plains All American CEO to retire after more than 25 years in charge

Longtime Plains All American CEO Greg Armstrong said he will retire at the end of 2018 after more than 25 years in charge, setting up the chief operating officer, Willie Chiang, to succeed him. Although the oil pipeline company has established a clear succession plan, Armstrong’s retirement represents as dramatic change for Plains All American, which has only known Armstrong as its chief executive. Armstrong became CEO in 1992 when the company was launched as Plains Resources. It was renamed Plains All American six years later. The plan allows for Armstrong to retire as CEO after next year at age 60, but he will remain as Plains’ chairman through 2019.

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Houston Chronicle

November 6, 2017

Tomlinson: Oil bust may have ended, but a boom isn’t in sight

Congratulations Houston, another oil bust has ended. Just don’t count on another boom. Oil markets have finally stabilized at prices where companies can make money. U.S. crude inventory dropped 2.4 million barrels last week to 454.9 million barrels, marking the fifth decline in six weeks. Gasoline stocks dropped 4 million barrels, while diesel and other distillates dropped 400,000 barrels. The Brent oil futures market, where oil companies and speculators bet on international oil prices, is signalling that oil supply is tightening. The West Texas Intermediate futures market, which prices U.S. oil, is on the verge of flipping too as stockpiles revert to five-year averages.

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Kallanish Energy

November 6, 2017

Apache investing heavily in the Permian

Texas-based Apache Corp. reported net income of $63 million in the third quarter, due to increased drilling in certain locations and higher oil prices, Kallanish Energy reports. That compares with a loss of $607 million one year ago. Revenue increased in Q3 from $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion, the company said. Overall production in Q3 was 354,000 barrels of oil-equivalent per day (BOE/d), excluding Canada and Egypt production. That is down from roughly 371,000 BOE/d in Q2 2017.

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Houston Chronicle

November 2, 2017

Schade: How has the US fracking boom affected air pollution in shale areas?

Urban air pollution in the U.S. has been decreasing near continuously since the 1970s. Federal regulations, notably the Clean Air Act passed by President Nixon, to reduce toxic air pollutants such as benzene, a hydrocarbon, and ozone, a strong oxidant, effectively lowered their abundance in ambient air with steady progress. But about 10 years ago, the picture on air pollutants in the U.S. started to change. The “fracking boom” in several different parts of the nation led to a new source of hydrocarbons to the atmosphere, affecting abundances of both toxic benzene and ozone, including in areas that were not previously affected much by such air pollution.

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Wall St. Journal

November 6, 2017

Pemex Chief Hopes Recent Oil Find Makes It More Attractive for Joint Ventures

Mexican state oil giant Petróleos Mexicanos hopes that a recent major oil discovery will make it a more attractive partner as it considers whether to expand a program of joint ventures with private oil firms in the coming months, Chief Executive Jose Antonio González Anaya said Monday. Pemex, as the company is called, is planning on inking at least nine new joint ventures in the coming months, in addition to three existing deals with private firms. But it may expand the number of partnerships even more, Mr. González Anaya said in an interview. “We already had a lot of interest, but (the recent discovery) will increase the interest (in partnering with Pemex)”, he said. “We are evaluating being more ambitious (in seeking more partnerships).”

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Houston Chronicle

November 6, 2017

Houston economy could add some 70,000 jobs next year: forecast

Houston’s economy can take a punch – or two. By several measures, the oil bust that began three years ago and ended late last year was the worst downturn of its kind in history. Yet Houston’s economy only suffered a mild recession; the region face nothing like the kind of ruinous depression that followed the collapse of oil prices in the mid-1980s. The historic flood waters of Hurricane Harvey cost Houston thousands of jobs, left an $87 billion hole in balance sheets, severely damaged 39,000 homes and totaled 300,000 vehicles. But it will also spur a small boost of economic activity that will replace those jobs and spur a $2.6 billion surge in retail sales as people buy vehicles, furniture, and construction supplies to rebuild damaged homes.

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Utilities Stories

Utility Dive

November 6, 2017

How Vistra’s coal retirements could impact the Texas power market

Some 5,625 MW of fossil fuel capacity is slated to be retired or mothballed in the coming year. That has already raised concerns. Potomac Economics, the independent market monitor for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), said in October the retirements could push the reserve margin below ERCOT’s target of 13.75%. Unlike other organized power markets, ERCOT does not have a capacity market to incentivize new generation. Instead, it relies on energy prices to provide price signals to keep supply and demand in balance.

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Bloomberg

November 3, 2017

What’s the Cost When Two Big Hurricanes Hit the Power Grid? $2.5 Billion

How much havoc did back-to-back hurricanes that crashed ashore in the U.S. this year wreak on the nation’s power utilities? Based on this quarter’s earnings season, a much as $2.5 billion worth. NextEra Energy Inc., which owns Florida’s largest electric utility, was hardest-hit by Hurricane Irma, which ripped across the Sunshine State in early September. The company estimated $1.3 billion in damages in a filing this week. The company’s proposing to add a $4 surcharge to the average customer bill beginning next year to recoup the costs. Atlanta, Georgia-based utility owner Southern Co. estimated damages totaling $150 million. And Duke pegged its costs in Florida at almost $500 million, excluding damages in North and South Carolina that were smaller.

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San Antonio Express-News

November 6, 2017

Total cost for new CPS Energy headquarters could come in at $210 million

San Antonio’s CPS Energy could spend about $210 million on its new headquarters by the time employees move into the building in 2020. The city-owned utility agreed this week on a guaranteed maximum price of $145 million with Tucson, Arizona-based Sundt Construction to renovate the two towers at Avenue B and McCullough Avenue. An additional $5 million is being budgeted for a contingency fund that can be used to pay for additional headquarters projects that may come up due to rapid changes in the utility industry, CPS’ said John Benedict, a vice president who oversees the company’s real estate portfolio.

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Oil Price

November 4, 2017

The Boy Genius Tackling Energy’s Toughest Problem

Taylor Wilson garnered international attention from the science world in 2008 when he became the youngest person in history to produce nuclear fusion at just 14 years old, building a reactor capable of smashing atoms in a plasma core at over 500 million degrees Fahrenheit—40 times hotter than the core of the sun—in his parents’ garage. And this all happened after he built a bomb at the age of 10. As a child in Texarkana, Arkansas, Taylor became infatuated with nuclear science after trysts with biology, genetics and chemistry. At age 11, while his classmates were playing with Easy-Bake Ovens, Wilson was taking his crack at building a particle accelerator in an effort to makes homemade radioisotopes. Soon after he created a mini-sun in his garage, the wunderkind won $50,000 at a science fair for building a counterterrorism device that has the ability to detect nuclear materials in cargo containers, an invention which he later presented to Barack Obama in another science fair, this one sponsored by the White House.

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Trend.az

November 7, 2017

Armenia’s Metsamor NPP – ticking time bomb of region

The South Caucasus is a mountainous region where the seismic activity is considerably high. Due to this reason, the operation of large industrial facilities is very risky for the life of millions of people living in the region and beyond. Despite this, Armenia still operates its outdated Metsamor nuclear power plant, which was built more than 40 years ago. The NPP was built in six years in the city of Metsamor and began to operate in 1976. After the devastating earthquake of 1988 in the town of Spitak, it was closed; but in 1995, despite numerous international protests, the Armenian government renewed the operation of the NPP – moreover, the second reactor was launched. … During all these years, international ecologists and scientists have been noting that the seismic activity of the area makes the operation of the plant in Metsamor an extremely dangerous enterprise even if a reactor of new sample is constructed. They urge that due to its deplorable state, the Armenian NPP could repeat the fate of the Chernobyl NPP in Ukraine.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Austin American-Statesman

November 5, 2017

Wieland, Zeranski: How Texas can chart a new course in mobility

The wrath of Hurricane Harvey — and with it, the third 500-year flood Texas has suffered in the last three years — left behind scenes of massive destruction and loss of life, property, and in some instances, hope. But, we also see hope for a new future. Texas can access new technologies and solutions to leave it better prepared to withstand and recover from extreme weather events. By doing so, Texas has an opportunity to lead the nation in building a new mobility future: one founded upon shared, electric and autonomous mobility services in cities designed primarily for people instead of cars. This approach not only promises lower costs and cleaner air but would also strengthen the resilience of the state’s grid and provide backup power when it’s needed most.

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E&E News

November 3, 2017

Renewable energy boosters alarmed at GOP bill

A massive tax overhaul House Republicans unveiled yesterday is already drawing fire from the renewable energy industry, among other business groups, underscoring the challenges Congress may face in passing the legislation by the end of the year. House Republican leaders rolled out what they described as a once-in-a-generation rewrite of the tax code, promising it would slash corporate rates and personal income taxes for most Americans by limiting scores of breaks and other deductions. House tax writers said they anticipate some blowback and expect the legislation to change as it moves through Congress, but both the White House and House GOP leaders insist it will be law by 2018.

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Power-Technology

November 6, 2017

Austin Energy: America’s solar storage test bed

Texas’s energy story may have been historically dominated by oil and gas, but that story is slowly beginning to change. The Lone Star State is inundated with renewable energy resources, with the largest wind and solar energy potential in the US. Indeed, Texas reached its 2025 Renewable Portfolio Standard goal of 10,000MW of new renewable energy capacity in 2010, 15 years early, and has consistently achieved green energy targets ahead of schedule ever since. The vast majority of the state’s renewable energy success has been driven by wind power, in which Texas leads the nation with more than 20,000MW of installed wind capacity. Last year, wind accounted for more than 12% of Texan electricity production, powering the equivalent of 5.3 million homes.

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Regulatory Stories

CNN

November 6, 2017

Fed’s top 3 leaders are leaving their posts

The top three leaders at the Federal Reserve have either left or will leave their posts soon. New York Fed President William Dudley — one of the most watched policymakers on Wall Street — said Monday he will step down from his post in mid-2018, about six months before his term is set to end. “Leading the New York Fed and being a member of the [Fed’s committee] has been a dream job,” Dudley said in a statement on Monday.

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Bloomberg

November 6, 2017

Ethanol and Big Oil Are Advertising on Fox News to Try to Get Trump’s Attention

Big Corn and Big Oil are taking their long-running fight over renewable fuels to Fox News in a bid for the attention of one of the network’s biggest fans — President Donald Trump. Advocates of ethanol — the corn-based fuel that is mixed with gasoline in the U.S. — started running a television commercial Monday on Fox News using campaign footage of Trump pledging to support the government’s existing Renewable Fuel Standard and thanking the president for upholding his promise. Last week, the oil industry ran an advertisement on the Fox & Friends show saying that Trump is “caving to ethanol lobbyists” and putting thousands of manufacturing jobs at risk with his support for the program.

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E&E News

November 3, 2017

Interior review omits oil and gas rule

The Interior Department could skip one rule in its effort to erase all agency actions that unduly strain U.S. energy production. Last week, Interior unveiled its review of all department actions with the potential to burden domestic energy activity. The report touched on the department’s ongoing examination of rules introduced by the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service under the previous administration to guide oversight of oil and gas operations on sites the agencies manage. But beyond a mention of Secretary Ryan Zinke’s secretarial order listing four Interior rules pinpointed in President Trump’s March 28 “energy independence” directive, the NPS rule doesn’t even appear in the document.

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The Conversation

October 27, 2017

Why we can’t rely on corporations to save us from climate change

While businesses have been principal agents in increasing greenhouse gas emissions, they are also seen by many as crucial to tackling climate change. However, our research shows how corporations’ ambitious pro-climate proposals are systematically degraded by criticism from shareholders, media, governments, other corporations and managers. This “market critique” reveals the underlying tension between the demands of tackling climate change, and the more basic business imperatives of profit and shareholder value. Managers operate within increasingly short time frames and demanding performance metrics, due to quarterly and semi-annual reporting, and the shrinking tenure of executives.

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Politico

November 5, 2017

Jerry Brown’s holy war on Donald Trump

California has opened a new front in its war on Donald Trump — the Vatican, where Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday sought to enlist the Catholic Church in his effort to undermine the president’s climate policies abroad. Brown, addressing a somber gathering of scientists, politicians and religious leaders here, rebuked Trump’s rejection of mainstream climate science as a “lie within a lie,” urging religious establishments to help “awaken the world” to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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Politico

November 6, 2017

Trump coal backer wins big under Perry’s power plan

A proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to alter the nation’s electricity markets would provide a windfall for a small group of companies — most strikingly one owned by coal magnate Bob Murray, a prominent backer of President Donald Trump. Perry’s plan would force consumers to subsidize ailing coal-fired and nuclear power plants with billions of dollars, in what he calls an effort to ensure that the nation’s power network can withstand threats like terrorist attacks or severe weather. But his narrowly written proposal would mostly affect plants in a stretch of the Midwest and Northeast where Murray’s mining company, Murray Energy, is the predominant supplier, according to a POLITICO analysis of Energy Department data.

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Forbes

October 29, 2017

Clemente: The Clean Power Plan Is Irrelevant

Signed under the Obama administration but still not enacted, The Clean Power Plan (CPP) called for a 32% reduction in power sector CO2 emissions by 2030 (compared with 2005 levels) but is now in the process of being repealed under the Trump administration. This decision is consistent with American norms because it leaves the future of our power system to the free market, stopping the government from picking energy winners and losers with policy. In fact, many believe that the CPP wasn’t even legal, justifying the nearly 30 states attorneys general that were suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to block the plan. In fact, one Harvard Law expert tabbed the CPP “unconstitutional,” a violation of the 10th amendment and states’ rights, here. The repeal proposal reports that the removal of the CPP would save the country $33 billion, here.

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips November 6, 2017
Lead Stories

Associated Press

November 5, 2017

Saudi-led coalition closes Yemen ports; Aden attack kills 17

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen closed off the land, sea and air ports to the Arab world’s poorest country early Monday after a rebel-fired ballistic missile targeted Riyadh, blaming the launch on Iran and warning it could be “considered as an act of war.” The coalition’s statement ramps up tensions between the ultraconservative Sunni kingdom and its Shiite rival Iran, both of which have interests in Yemen’s yearslong conflict. The bloodshed continued Sunday as an Islamic State-claimed militant attack in Aden killed at least 17 people. In a statement, the coalition accused Iran of supplying Yemen’s Houthi rebels and their allies with the missile launched Saturday toward the Saudi capital’s international airport.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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Bloomberg

November 5, 2017

Lee: OPEC Is Already Thinking About $70 Oil

As recently as OPEC’s last meeting, back in May, several oil ministers were talking quite casually about $50 a barrel as a good price for crude. Don’t expect that to be repeated when they convene again at the end of this month.In fact, expect quite the opposite. As oil has risen, OPEC ministers’ assessments of a “fair price” for their crude have probably increased too, and that could put them at odds with their chief non-OPEC partner: Russia. OPEC has form on this creeping assessment of a fair price for oil. The right price always seems to be a little higher than the current price, no matter what that might be. That was true in the 1990s, when oil cost about $20 a barrel. It was true too in early 2008, shortly before Brent peaked near $150 a barrel.

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Bloomberg

November 3, 2017

Exxon Quietly Researching Hundreds of Green Projects

One of the world’s biggest oil companies is working on hundreds of low-carbon energy projects, from algae engineered to bloom into biofuels and cells that turn emissions into electricity. The work by Exxon Mobil Corp. includes research on environmentally-friendly technologies in five to 10 key areas, according to Vice President of Research and Development Vijay Swarup. While any commercial breakthrough is at least a decade away, Exxon’s support for clean energy suggests the world’s most valuable publicly-traded oil company is looking toward the possibility of a future where fossil fuels are less dominant.

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San Antonio Express-News

November 5, 2017

San Antonio’s Bates Energy loses in Kansas court

Stan Bates, who was indicted earlier this year with state Sen. Carlos Uresti for allegedly defrauding investors, was a no-show this week for a Kansas court hearing in an unrelated case. State District Judge Rhonda K. Mason entered an almost $650,000 judgment against Bates Energy Oil & Gas Wednesday, saying the company breached a lease with Caldwell-Baker. CEO Bates and the company were sued in May for allegedly backing out of a deal to lease 170 rail cars to transport frac sand — used in hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and gas. The lawsuit by Caldwell-Baker Co. of Gardner, Kansas, came just days after Bates and Uresti’s arrest.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

November 6, 2017

Oil hits highest levels since 2015 amid tightening markets, Saudi purge

Oil prices hit their highest levels since July 2015 early on Monday as markets tightened, while Saudi Arabia’s crown prince cemented his power over the weekend through an anti-corruption crackdown that included high profile arrests. Brent futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, hit$62.44 per barrel early on Monday, their highest level since July 2015. Brent was at $62.27 per barrel at 0051 GMT, up 20 cents, or 0.3 percent from the last close and 40 percent above June’s 2017 lows. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude hit $56.00 per barrel in early trading, also the highest since July 2015, and was at $55.83, up 19 cents, or 0.3 percent from the last settlement. WTI is a third above its 2017 lows.

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Associated Press

November 3, 2017

US Rig Count Down by 11 This Week to 898; Oklahoma Loses 8

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by 11 this week to 898. That’s up from the 569 rigs that were active a year ago. Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes said Friday that 729 rigs sought oil and 169 explored for natural gas this week. Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Colorado added four rigs, Texas gained three, while Alaska tacked on two.

This article appeared in US News

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New York Times

November 5, 2017

Saudi Crown Prince’s Mass Purge Upends a Longstanding System

A midnight blitz of arrests ordered by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia over the weekend has ensnared dozens of its most influential figures, including 11 of his royal cousins, in what by Sunday appeared to be the most sweeping transformation in the kingdom’s governance for more than eight decades. The arrests, ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman without formal charges or any legal process, were presented as a crackdown on corruption. They caught both the kingdom’s richest investor, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, and the most potent remaining rival to the crown prince’s power: Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, a favored son of the late King Abdullah. Prince Mutaib had been removed from his post as chief of a major security service just hours before the arrests announced late Saturday night.

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CNBC

November 5, 2017

Saudi prince killed in helicopter crash near Yemen border

A Saudi prince was killed Sunday in a helicopter crash near the border with Yemen, Saudi authoritie said, a day after the kingdom intercepted a ballistic missile that was said to have originated from its war-torn neighbor. Prince Mansour Bin Muqrin was traveling in the helicopter with a number of other officials when it crashed. “His Royal Highness Prince Mansour bin Muqrin Al Saud, who was appointed Deputy Governor of Asir in 22 April 2017, was killed in a helicopter crash while performing an inspection in remote parts of The Governorate. He was also accompanied by several other officials of the Asir Governorate and local municipalities,” a spokeswoman for the Saudi embassy in D.C. told NBC News.

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New York Times

November 2, 2017

Trump Team to Promote Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power at Bonn Climate Talks

The Trump administration will promote coal, natural gas and nuclear energy as an answer to climate change at a presentation during a United Nations global warming conference this month, the White House confirmed Thursday. The program is billed as a discussion of how American energy resources, particularly fossil fuels, can help poor countries meet electricity needs and drive down greenhouse gas emissions. Entitled “The Role of Cleaner and More Efficient Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power in Climate Mitigation,” it will feature speakers from Peabody Energy, a coal company; NuScale Power, a nuclear engineering firm; and Tellurian, a liquefied natural gas exporter.

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Dallas Morning News

November 3, 2017

Was Exxon Mobil’s tax rate last year really -5.1%?

Just as the GOP introduced its plan to slash the corporate tax rate, a new report shows that Irving-based Exxon Mobil had a negative tax rate for 2016 and a refund due of $406 million. That negative tax rate was the second-lowest in the S&P 100, according to the WalletHub report. The -5.09 rate fell just behind General Electric’s -5.14 percent. But ask Exxon officials, and they’ll say they had a 13 percent tax rate last year. That’s well below the U.S. top rate of 35 percent but still far from negative territory. So, who’s right? “They are both correct,” said Matt Gardner, senior fellow at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. “They’re just measuring different things.”

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NASDAQ

November 3, 2017

U.S. shale producers promise both higher output and returns

U.S. shale producers are telling investors impatient for better returns that they can keep boosting oil output aggressively and do so while still making money for shareholders. Investors have pushed top U.S. shale companies to focus on returns, rather than higher output, a move that threatened to slow the breakneck growth in supply sparked by the shale revolution in the world’s top oil consumer. But in comments during recent third-quarter earnings calls, shale executives signaled they expect to deliver both higher returns and output.

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Bloomberg

November 3, 2017

U.S. Chemicals Are Rocketing Back

A decade ago, chemicals were just another fading U.S. manufacturing business. Companies were reluctant to invest in new factories because of soaring prices for the oil and natural gas that serve as both raw materials and power sources. Dow Chemical and others were closing plants and moving production to the Middle East to save money. “The conventional wisdom was we are not going to produce a lot of petrochemicals here,” says Kevin Swift, chief economist at the American Chemistry Council, an industry group. Today, Dow, Exxon Mobil Corp., and Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. are putting the finishing touches on multibillion-dollar factories along the Texas Gulf Coast. The plants are part of $185 billion in proposed and recently completed investments, according to the chemistry council. “The U.S. is punching above its weight at the moment,” says Kevin McCarthy, a chemical industry analyst at Vertical Research Partners. Credit the rise of fracking.

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Texas Public Radio

November 5, 2017

Big Oil Has A Diversity Problem

The U.S. oil industry is trying to find a new generation of workers in a country that is becoming more diverse. But a history of sexism and racism is making that difficult. The oil industry has struggled to solve its diversity problem despite having some big advantages. It’s a wealthy industry accustomed to taking on complicated challenges (think deep-water offshore drilling and fracking). And oil and gas companies already have decades of experience operating all over the world in various environments. Still, the diversity problem persists.

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Sioux Falls Argus Leader (SD)

November 2, 2017

Dakota Access sued over farmland damage in South Dakota

A Harrisburg-area farm family has sued the Dakota Access pipeline for failure to keep its promise to restore their land after construction. The lawsuit is the first of its kind in South Dakota state court, and speaks to fears of lost productivity expressed by farmers in the planning stages of the controversial four-state pipeline. Slack Family Properties LLC is accusing the pipeline company of breach of contract, unauthorized taking of property, fraud and deceit in its lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Lincoln County.

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Santa Barbara Independent

November 6, 2017

Trial Date Set in Refugio Oil Spill Criminal Case

Santa Barbara CA — A trial date of January 22, 2018, has been set in the criminal case against Plains All-American Pipeline for its role in the 2015 Refugio Oil Spill. The Texas-based pipeline company, one of the largest operators in the country, faces four felony and 42 misdemeanor charges, including causing an oil spill, violating the Clean Water Act, dumping a hazardous substance into water, and making a false or misleading oil spill report. Plains submitted an application to Santa Barbara County’s Energy Division in August to replace Line 901, the corroded pipeline that ruptured and released 142,000 gallons of crude oil onto Refugio State Beach and into the Pacific Ocean.

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Houston Chronicle

November 3, 2017

EOG swings to profit in third quarter

EOG Resources swung to a profit in the third quarter amid higher oil prices and production. The Houston oil company collected a profit of $101 million, or 17 cents a share, in the July-September period, compared with a loss of $190 million, or 35 cents a share, in the same three months last year. Revenue increased to $2.6 billion from $2.1 billion. The company boosted oil production by 16 percent to 327,900 barrels a day, though Hurricane Harvey delayed some crude supplies from reaching the market. Those delayed volumes reached 15,000 barrels a day.

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Austin American-Statesman

November 3, 2017

Employees say Parsley Energy puts them in ‘position to succeed’

During one of the worst periods of Texas’ oil downturn in 2015, 34-year-old engineer John Nelson was seeking a new job. Austin’s Parsley Energy stood out to him. “Even during the downturn, their reputation as a good operator is what drew me in,” Nelson said. “We’ve stayed fairly hedged since the downtown, which has allowed us to stay in good shape.” Parsley’s business structure during the downturn, along with its professionalism, prime downtown location and close-knit working environment, helped it rank No. 1 among midsize companies in the American-Statesman’s 2017 Top Workplaces of Greater Austin project. It’s the second consecutive year Parsley has made the rankings.

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Bloomberg

November 3, 2017

Venezuelan Oil Too Big to Fail, at Least for China and Russia

Venezuela’s sudden demand to renegotiate its billions in debt could complicate life for its two biggest oil patrons, China and Russia. President Nicolas Maduro caught bondholders off guard on Thursday with a vow to wring debt relief from Venezuela’s creditors, sending the country’s bonds tumbling. But the move may also have been calculated to reassure the countries that are among Maduro’s biggest lenders, and the most vital customers of his nation’s crown-jewel oil industry. State-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA, keeper of the world’s largest oil reserves, has seen output drop to a 14-year low, beset by the country’s economic collapse, a global plunge in crude prices and U.S. sanctions. As American refineries, once PDVSA’s top customers, have bought less, China and Russia have stepped in.

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Houston Press

November 3, 2017

Downing: The Presses Have Stopped, But the Press Lives On

Print is dead. Long live digital. Long live the Houston Press. In dot com form. As of today and going forward, there will be no more print copies of the Houston Press. We’ll be online-only at houstonpress.com, a business decision brought about by declining advertising revenues seen throughout the print newspaper industry and more specifically for us, the mini recession caused by the downturn in the oil and gas industry that did nothing good for the Houston economy.

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Utilities Stories

Houston Chronicle

November 3, 2017

CenterPoint reports profit even during Harvey

Houston’s CenterPoint Energy reported solid quarterly profits and revenues even during the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. But the lights stayed on for most of Houston during Harvey, which was a stronger rain event than windstorm, which typically causes greater problems to electricity reliability. “Our ongoing focus on reliability and resilience enabled our system to perform well in the face of Hurricane Harvey,” said CenterPoint CEO Scott Prochazka.

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Dallas Morning News

November 3, 2017

Giovanetti: Rick Perry’s plans to revive coal would kill aspirations for a free market

From the very beginning of his presidency, Barack Obama pulled no punches about targeting fossil fuels. The Obama administration promised to eliminate coal, oil and natural gas to the degree possible and replace them with government-subsidized renewable energy sources, regardless of the cost of the economy. But politicians are the last to know. Beneath the surface, the fracking revolution was already transforming the energy sector. With the abundance of cheap, clean natural gas, fracking ironically became the Obama administration’s unappreciated partner in creating jobs, generating tax revenue and lowering emissions.

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Houston Chronicle

November 3, 2017

Vistra profits, Dynegy loses in Q3 as $10B merger moves forward

Texas power giant Vistra Energy posted a strong $273 million quarterly profit with revenues of $1.83 billion as it heads into its $10 billion merger with Houston’s Dynegy. On the other hand, struggling Dynegy lost $137 million, which is less than its $254 million loss during the same time last year. The $1.74 billion deal for Vistra to acquire Dynegy and create a $10 billion company would turn Irving-based Vistra, which is Texas’ largest power producer, into a major national player. Although it’s Houston based, Dynegy didn’t even have any Texas power plants until it acquired most of Paris-based Engie’s power portfolio last year.

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Regulatory Stories

Dallas Morning News

November 3, 2017

Texas’ chief toxicologist, skeptic of ozone damage, picked to lead EPA advisory board

Michael Honeycutt, Texas’ chief toxicologist and a longtime critic of the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration, has been named to lead the agency’s Science Advisory Board, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced. Honeycutt, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s chief toxicologist, is known for his controversial remarks on ozone risks. He also has repeatedly opposed tighter ozone standards. His appointment was reported Tuesday before the agency formally released the full list of new appointees Friday. In a statement, Honeycutt said he was “pleased and honored to bring my knowledge and experience to this prestigious panel.”

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Houston Chronicle

November 5, 2017

Bezanson: EPA decision means more hazy skies for Texas

On a clear day, you can see forever. On a hazy day, not so far. Clean air regulations are complex and not everyone has the expertise to fully understand the numerous factors that affect our air. Yet, we can all tell the difference between a clear day and a hazy, polluted one. And we can all figure out that if the Environmental Protection Agency decides to allow more pollution, then there’s going be more of it. And that’s what the EPA has done. In a recent regional haze ruling, the EPA chose to allow more pollution, not less, filling Texas’ skies with more haze. So, what is regional haze, and why should we care about it anyway?

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San Antonio Express-News

November 5, 2017

Webber: Improving women’s lives through energy: What Rick Perry got right and wrong

On Nov. 2, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry clumsily stated that fossil fuels could help prevent sexual assaults on vulnerable women in Africa. “When the lights are on, when you have light, it shines the righteousness, if you will, on [sexual assault],” Perry asserted. “So from the standpoint of how you really affect people’s lives, fossil fuels is [sic] going to play a role in that.” This wasn’t the first time that Perry’s views have raised eyebrows and garnered snickers. But on this issue, he was partly right. Access to energy can promote women’s rights and improve their lives. However, fossil fuels do not offer any special benefit for women in the developing world, and they pose some very real threats.

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World Oil

November 3, 2017

Proposed U.S. tax overhaul jibes with oil industry

The tax overhaul proposed in the U.S. House is a better bet for oil and gas companies than solar developers or electric car buyers, keeping with President Donald Trump’s decidedly fossil-fuel friendly views. The proposal, unveiled Thursday, slashes tax rates almost in half for most corporations, and expands the ability of businesses — from shale drillers to solar panel makers — to write off equipment. It keeps most of the oil industry’s most cherished tax breaks intact, as well as investment and production tax credits for renewable energy. But there are exceptions: A $7,500 credit for electric vehicle purchases is gone, as is a credit for big solar and geothermal projects. Those changes, alongside other tweaks, may make it harder for renewables to attract financing.

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Texas Public Radio

November 3, 2017

U.S. Withdraws From Anti-Corruption Group’s Oil And Petroleum Rules

The U.S. has pulled out of a pledge to conform to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an international group that was formed to add transparency and accountability to how governments manage natural resources. The U.S. says it can’t comply with all of the EITI’s requirements. A State Department spokesperson says the U.S. will remain as one of 17 “supporting countries” of the initiative. A U.S. representative also serves on the EITI’s international board. In response, the EITI’s director cited America’s prominent role in energy production and added, “This decision sends the wrong signal.”

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Houston Chronicle

November 3, 2017

Ohio sues gas pipeline developer over pollution violations

Ohio is suing the company building a $4.2 billion natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to Michigan over what it says are numerous water pollution violations during construction. The lawsuit filed Friday says work on the Rover Pipeline flooded a protected wetland with drilling mud and has damaged the environment in more than 10 of the 18 Ohio counties where the pipeline is being built. It also said that Rover Pipeline LLC had violated state laws, rules and permits designed to protect water quality. … Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which also was behind the Dakota Access oil pipeline, is the developer backing the Rover project.

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Bloomberg

October 24, 2017

This Ban Could Cost Britons $1.3 Billion in Power Bills

The U.K.’s subsidy ban for new onshore wind farms could tack 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) onto power bills over five years by eschewing one of the cheapest forms of clean energy. Generating power from new onshore wind farms would be 100 million pound a year cheaper than doing so from new nuclear reactors or biomass plants, and at least 30 million pounds cheaper than under the latest offshore wind-power contracts, according to research by the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit, a London-based non-profit group. Savings would reach 1 billion pounds over five years if 1 gigawatt of capacity was installed in the first year and another 500 megawatts in following years, said ECIU, which urged Theresa May’s Conservative government to allow wind farms to compete for contracts in the next power auction, due to be held in 2019.

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Associated Press

November 5, 2017

Report: Commerce head has stake in firm tied to Putin orbit

Newly leaked documents show that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the Trump administration’s point man on trade and manufacturing policy, has a stake in a company that does business with a gas producer partly owned by the son-in-law of Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Ross is an investor in Navigator Holdings, a shipping giant that counts Russian gas and petrochemical producer Sibur among its major customers. Putin’s son-in-law Kirill Shamalov once owned more than 20 percent of the company, but now holds a much smaller stake.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

November 2, 2017

The deadly 90-day rule will help coal barons, not coal miners. And kill people.

Amid the justified concern over the Trump administration’s gutting of greenhouse gas regulation, we can’t lose sight of the deadly consequences of the Department of Energy’s frontal attack on conventional air-pollution regulation. Reduced air pollution from coal plants has meant many thousands of fewer deaths in the United States since natural-gas plants began displacing coal for electric-power generation. The first salvo of the war on clean air was fired Sept. 28, when the DOE demanded that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission require consumers to subsidize power plants that keep 90 days of fuel on site. Only coal and nuclear plants can do that. FERC responded Oct. 2 by starting the rule-making process.

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The Atlantic

November 3, 2017

A Major New U.S. Report Affirms: Climate Change Is Getting Worse

Climate change is real. It’s caused by greenhouse-gas pollution released by human industrial activity. Its consequences can already be felt across every region and coastline of the United States—and, unless we stop emitting greenhouse gases soon, those consequences will almost certainly get worse. ?Those are the headline findings of the Climate Science Special Report, a sweeping and more than 800-page examination of the evidence. The report was published Friday by four agencies of the U.S. government and academics from across the country. Their conclusions form the first volume of the new National Climate Assessment, a report on the science and impacts of global warming that Congress requires agencies to complete every four years. A draft version of the second volume, on the human impacts of climate change, was also released Friday.

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips November 3, 2017
Lead Stories

Barron’s

November 2, 2017

Why Oil Stocks Are Suddenly Hot

West Texas Intermediate crude trading domestically poked its head above the top of its trading range at $55 Wednesday morning before turning slightly lower (see Chart 2). This is a tricky resistance area, considering that its overseas cousin is so strong. Not only is it the top of a big trading range, it is also arguably at the upper border of a rising trend channel. Sellers of oil could see this as a good place to take profits, as the $55 level had the same effect earlier this year. Any weakness resulting from the market reacting to reaching resistance does not negate Brent’s strength, but it does set up a buying opportunity on the next price dip. Interestingly, the United States Oil fund (USO), an exchange-traded fund that tracks the West Texas market using near-month futures contracts, does not show strong resistance at current trading levels.

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Louisville Courier Journal (KY)

November 2, 2017

To keep coal, some may be forced to pay higher electric bills, Trump energy official says

Some power customers may need to be hit with higher electric bills in order to prop up the declining coal-mining industry, the new chairman of a federal energy board said on Thursday. “It would not be a federal subsidy,” Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee, a Kentucky native and former adviser to Sen. Mitch McConnell, insisted in a conference call with Kentucky reporters. The extra money to keep coal burning “would come from customers in that region, who need the reliability,” he said. “It’s in these customers’ interests to keep these plants open.”

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Wall St. Journal

November 2, 2017

Royal Dutch Shell Closes Out Strong Quarter for Global Oil Firms

Royal Dutch Shell RDS.B 1.27% PLC said Thursday its profits nearly tripled in the third quarter compared with a year earlier, helped by recovering oil prices, better conditions for its refineries and an increase in oil-and-gas production. The British-Dutch oil giant said its quarterly profit on a current cost-of-supplies basis—a number similar to the net income that U.S. oil companies report—was $3.7 billion, up from $1.4 billion a year earlier. Shell’s earnings were lifted by conditions that have boosted the fortunes of most giant oil companies, which have regained a level of equilibrium after years of scrambling to adapt to the sharp drop in oil prices since 2014.

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Electric Light & Power

November 2, 2017

Consumers rate utilities high on hurricane response in J.D. Power survey

Power utilities stood out as the most helpful entities to residents hit by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. They were seen as proactive, responsive and flexible at a time when customers needed those qualities most. At the same time, a J.D. Power survey shows that a sizable number of consumers were still unhappy with their service providers, upset about perceived slow response times and inexact estimates on power restoration efforts. “Electric utilities were seen, by far, as being the most helpful in their response to the hurricanes in Texas and Florida,” reads J.D. Power’s release on the Pulse Survey. “But they were also the subject of a great deal of criticism. This stands to reason given the scale of damage and the wide variability of damage experienced from one customer to the next.”

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

November 3, 2017

Oil up on ongoing supply cuts, but analysts warn OPEC must stay the course

Oil markets rose on Friday, supported by OPEC-led supply cuts which are tightening the market as well as by strong demand, but analysts cautioned that the cuts would need to be extended to counter rising U.S. output. Brent futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $60.86 per barrel at 0524 GMT, up 24 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close. Brent has risen by 37 percent since its low in 2017 reached last June. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $54.83 a barrel, up 29 cents, or 0.5 percent, from the last close. WTI is 30 percent above its 2017-low in June.

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Houston Chronicle

November 1, 2017

Diverting hurricanes with satellites a possibility

Unfortunately, most proposed methods of diverting storms, such as hitting them with lasers, blowing them up with nuclear bombs, or bombarding them with soot are either impractical or raise fears of unintended consequences. One proposal, though, may offer a way to not only divert hurricane but to do so with enough precision that they can be steered out of harm’s way. The idea is to use a piece of technology called a solar power satellite, first imagined by Dr. Peter Glaser in the late 1960s. A solar power satellite would be powered by a massive solar collector, perhaps miles in diameter, deployed in a high geosynchronous orbit. The SPS would collect energy from the sun and convert it into microwave energy to be beamed to Earth to receiving stations on the ground.

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Houston Chronicle

November 2, 2017

Apache swings to profit in third quarter

Apache Corp. swung to a profit in the third quarter as crude prices rose and the company pumped more crude in places like the Permian Basin. The Houston oil explorer collected a profit of $63 million, or 16 cents a share, in the July-September period, compared with a loss of $607 million, or $1.51 a share, in the same three months last year. Revenue increased from $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion.

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Houston Chronicle

November 2, 2017

Hurricanes hurt Kirby, but pent-up demand is strong

Reopening plants and refineries after Hurricane Harvey created a pent-up demand for moving liquid products on barges, and executives with Houston-based Kirby Corp. said Thursday that demand has continued into the fourth quarter. They sounded cautiously optimistic during a morning earnings call that the activity could help lead to higher contracts after a period of relatively low industry prices. An excess of barges has meant companies are paying Kirby and its competitors less to move products. … Pricing challenges and this year’s hurricanes contributed to an 11 percent drop in third-quarter net income to $28.6 million. Kirby reported earnings per share dropped to 52 cents compared with 59 cents during the same three-month period a year ago.

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Houston Chronicle

November 2, 2017

Enterprise Products’ profits dip slightly due to Harvey

Houston pipeline and terminal giant Enterprise Products Partners reported surging revenues, but its profits fell by 4 percent in part due to Hurricane Harvey. Enterprise posted $611 million in quarterly net income, down from $635 million last year. But Enterprise said disruptions caused by Harvey caused a $35 million impact, which was enough to more than make up for the difference. Enterprise’s massive Mont Belvieu complex took on 50 inches of water.

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Dallas Morning News

November 2, 2017

Pioneer Natural Resources takes a slight zig, while other Permian drillers zag

Irving-based Pioneer Natural Resources Co. is staying the course — a slightly adjusted course, that is. It’s been a roller-coaster of a year for the U.S. shale-oil bellwether. In February, it unveiled a moonshot goal of quadrupling its oil and gas production to 1 million barrels of oil equivalent per day within a decade. Pioneer’s stock jumped 14 percent over the following week. Six months later, it cut its guidance for production this year and spooked the entire sector with signs of rising natural-gas output from its tight-oil wells. The stock dropped by a fifth in the following week. So with third-quarter results, released Wednesday evening, a little boredom was in order. On that front, Pioneer delivered. Earnings actually came in well ahead of expectations.

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Bloomberg

November 2, 2017

Cheniere Energy’s CEO on the Global Gas Bonanza

Naureen Malik: What sets Cheniere apart from other companies that liquefy natural gas? Jack Fusco: The beauty of the Cheniere model vs. just about any other LNG facility under construction today in the U.S. is that we are a full-service model. So if you are a utility and not a big conglomerate and you really don’t want to worry about procuring gas in America and shipping it to your facility, you come to Cheniere and we’ll deliver. If you want it delivered by ship to your [regasification] terminal in Asia, we are happy to do that. If you want it f.o.b. Louisiana, we are happy to do that.

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Associated Press

November 3, 2017

Dakota Access builder and Corps object to tribal proposal

The builder of the Dakota Access oil pipeline and the federal agency that permitted the project are objecting to an effort by American Indian tribes to bolster protections for their water supply. Lawyers for Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners and the Army Corps of Engineers argue separately in documents filed Wednesday in federal court in Washington, D.C., that the proposals by the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux are unnecessary or unwarranted. “Measures are already in place to achieve the objectives behind each proposed set of conditions,” company attorneys wrote.

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle

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Houston Chronicle

November 1, 2017

Tomlinson: China’s protection racket has U.S. business in a bind

When looking at the big picture, Xi’s manipulation of global trade to supplant the United States as a superpower is a far greater threat than North Korea’s weapons. While Kim will only use his nuclear weapons to deter regime change, Xi is using trade to diminish U.S. power and authority. Closer to Houston, hundreds of Texas companies do business with Chinese companies, including thousands of joint ventures in the energy industry where China is obtaining our drilling technology. Every U.S. company currently faces a tough choice: Either give up trade secrets or sacrifice working in the world’s second largest economy.

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Bloomberg

November 2, 2017

Get Used to These Higher Oil Prices

Oil prices are at their highest since the start of the year, after rising above the key $50-a-barrel mark in September and holding those gains. Rather than pure speculation, this move is rooted in fundamentals: falling inventories and increasing demand. The outlook for crude is no less bright as U.S. fiscal stimulus, in the form of tax cuts financed by additional deficit spending, could also send prices higher. In the U.S., total stocks (excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) are down 5.6 percent from a year ago, with distillate inventories lower by 14.4 percent at a time when economic growth has been solid and diesel demand is likely to remain strong. Plus, heating oil demand will soon kick in as the winter approaches. And if refinery runs increase to meet these product deficits — which seems likely — demand for crude would strengthen, further boosting prices.

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San Antonio Express-News

November 2, 2017

Pioneer Energy Services reports a $17.2 million loss

San Antonio-based Pioneer Energy Services reported a loss of $17.2 million for the third quarter, missing Wall Street expectations on revenue. Its quarterly results compared with a loss of $34.6 million during the same quarter the year before. Pioneer Energy Services reported financial results before the market opened Thursday and will hold a conference call with analysts this morning. Pioneer Energy, which hasn’t turned a profit since late 2014, had an adjusted net loss of 15 cents per share, or $11.3 million, but was projected to report a loss of 14 cents per share for the three months ended Sept. 30, according to an average of 9 analysts polled by Thomson Financial Network.

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Oil Price

October 31, 2017

Cunningham: Is Saudi Arabia’s Oil Strategy Working?

The IMF estimated that Saudi Arabia will need oil prices to trade at about $70 per barrel in 2018 for its budget to breakeven, a dramatic improvement from the $96.60 per barrel it needed just last year. Saudi’s improvement is the most dramatic out of all the Middle Eastern oil producers, and it also suggests the combination of austerity, cuts to wasteful subsidies, new taxes and economic reforms are starting to bear fruit. The improvement is all the more important because Saudi Arabia and its fellow OPEC members are restraining output as a way to boost oil prices. Selling fewer barrels means less revenue, although that is offset by the coordinated production cuts through the OPEC deal, which has helped raise prices.

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Seeking Alpha

November 2, 2017

Reuters: Enterprise says may raise tariffs on Seaway pipeline

Enterprise Products Partners (EPD -2.6%) is evaluating whether to raise tariffs on its 850K bbl/day Seaway pipeline system, Senior VP Brent Secrest said its earnings conference call, according to Reuters. EPD’s move would come after TransCanada last month sought to increase its temporary discounted spot rate for light crude on its 700K bbl/day Marketlink pipeline effective Dec. 1. EPD units are lower after Q3 earnings took a $35M hit from Hurricane Harvey, which caused massive flooding at its Mont Belvieu complex in Texas.

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Houston Chronicle

November 2, 2017

Layne Christensen to drill water wells for oil production

The Woodlands’ water company Layne Christensen is partnering with the state to drill more than 100 wells in West Texas to sell water to oil companies in the booming Permian Basin. The new deal with the Texas General Land Office headed by George P. Bush is the first known partnership with a public company to sell state-owned water across multiple counties to the energy sector. The agreement is for Layne to develop 88,000 acres in Reeves and Culberson counties in the active Delaware Basin portion of the Permian Basin.

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Reuters

November 3, 2017

Venezuela arrests more oil executives, requests compensation in U.S. case

Venezuela has arrested the president of state oil company PDVSA’s procurement subsidiary Bariven, the chief prosecutor said on Thursday, as a graft probe widens into the oil corruption that has long dogged the OPEC country. Bariven has been in the spotlight since U.S. authorities arrested two prominent Venezuelan oil businessmen in 2015 on charges of violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Both Roberto Rincon and Abraham Shiera have pleaded guilty to bribing PDVSA officials to win juicy contracts with Bariven, in what insiders say was a massive bribery scheme including kickbacks and overpricing.

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Reuters

November 2, 2017

Six years after tremors halted fracking, Britain ready to try again

Six years after Britain’s first fracking operation was stymied by earth tremors, its shale gas industry is poised to try again with a technology that could transform the UK gas market and drastically reduce its reliance on imports. While environmental and community concerns about fracking have not gone away, changes to the energy landscape since 2011 have added even more complexity to the effort to exploit Britain’s shale gas. On the one hand, imports are cheaper, at least for now. Global liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices LNG-AS have more than halved from 2014 peaks as new supply from Australia and the United States saturated key Asian markets.

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Utilities Stories

Texas Monthly

November 2, 2017

A California Experiment Could Shape Texas Electricity Rates

In 2015, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) announced the state will become the first to make time-of-use (TOU) electricity rates the default option for residential customers by 2019. Typically, residential customers pay a flat fee for every kilowatt-hour (kWh). TOU rates, however, change the price of electricity throughout the day according to a predetermined schedule to mimic average electricity market conditions. The CPUC decision calls for TOU rates that could help customers save money if they adjust their consumption patterns. By shifting how electricity is consumed, California might solve major energy challenges they face. One challenge, known as the duck curve, occurs because large amounts of solar energy are produced mid-day, falling off just as demand for electricity ramps up. The resultant net-load curve resembles a duck (sort of).

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Mississippi Business Journal

November 2, 2017

Electricity from Texas wind farms could cross Mississippi

The Mississippi Public Service Commission is expected to schedule hearings soon on a proposed certificate of convenience and necessity for a 200-mile transmission line that would cross 12 counties, carrying electricity generated by wind farms in Texas to Alabama and beyond, as well as Mississippi. The Mississippi Chapter of the Sierra Club has given its blessing to the project. “This cutting edge project will revolutionize the electric grid to deliver cost-competitive, clean, Texas wind energy to Mississippi and other Southeastern states by providing electricity to power Mississippi’s homes and businesses,” it said in a release.

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Navasota Examiner

November 1, 2017

Entergy’s advanced meters come to Grimes County in 2019

Recently, Entergy Texas Inc. customers received a flyer in their monthly bill advising that the Texas legislature approved SB 1145 that will allow Entergy to add an AMS Surcharge to recover “reasonable and necessary” costs of deployment of Advanced Metering Systems. So exactly what are advanced metering systems, and what are the benefits and costs to Entergy’s customers in Grimes County? … The proposed surcharge will be in place for 12 years but for the first five years, beginning with the first billing cycle of January 2018, monthly surcharges will be assessed as follows: Residential customers, $3.18; Small General Service, $4.79; General Service, $4.74; Large General Service, $4.96; and Large Industrial (non-transmission only), $4.58. At the end of five years, the surcharge for residential customers will decrease to $1.73 per month while all other customers will be $0.00 per month.

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Greeley Fence Post (CO)

November 2, 2017

USDA invests $2.5 billion in rural electric infrastructure

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that USDA is investing $2.5 billion in rural electric infrastructure improvements to help create jobs and support economic development in 27 states. “These significant investments will help develop and maintain modern, reliable electric infrastructure that businesses and rural communities need in a 21st Century economy,” Perdue said. “The loans I am announcing today will help utilities and cooperatives build new transmission and distribution lines, upgrade networks and facilities, and better manage the power grid.”

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Associated Press

November 2, 2017

Officials disagree on Puerto Rico power restoration timeline

Officials in the U.S. and Puerto Rico gave differing views Thursday on when power will be fully restored to the U.S. territory after Hurricane Maria hit as a Category 4 storm more than a month ago. Ricardo Ramos, director of the state-owned power company, said the utility has restored 35 percent of the electrical system’s regular output and expects to reach 50 percent by mid-November and 95 percent by mid-December. But Ray Alexander, director of contingency operations at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the corps’ goal is to have 50 percent restored by the end of November and 75 percent by the end of January.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express-News

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Regulatory Stories

Bloomberg

November 2, 2017

House Tax Bill Trims Wind Tax Credit, Extends Nuclear Provision

Tax credits cherished by the wind and solar industry remain under a rewrite of the tax code revealed by House Republicans, but the tax overhaul bill would trim the wind energy’s production tax credit by more than a third. The bill, unveiled by House GOP leaders Thursday, also extends an estimated $6 billion tax credit for the nuclear industry, which would benefit Southern Co. Without the extension, the credit may have gone unused before a 2021 deadline. Southern’s Vogtle project in Georgia faces construction delays and is not on track to be completed before the deadline. The bill also adds tax credits for other energy sources, such as geothermal, small-scale wind and fuel cells that were left out of a 2015 budget and spending deal.

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Washington Post

November 1, 2017

Stanford professor files $10 million lawsuit against scientific journal over clean energy claims

Mark Z. Jacobson, a Stanford University professor who has prominently contended that the United States can fully power itself with wind, water and solar energy, is suing the National Academy of Sciences and the lead author of a study published in its flagship journal that criticized Jacobson’s views — pushing an already bitter academic dispute into a courtroom setting. The suit, which asks for more than $10 million in damages and retraction of the study, charges that lead author Christopher Clack “knew and was informed prior to publication that many of the statements in the [paper] were false.” It adds that the NAS “knowingly and intentionally published false statements of fact” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences despite being aware of Jacobson’s complaints.

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Houston Chronicle

October 31, 2017

FEMA chief says agency didn’t approve Whitefish contract

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials had nothing to do with approving a pricey no-bid contract to restore the power grid in Puerto Rico, the head of the agency told Congress on Tuesday. FEMA Administrator Brock Long told the Senate homeland security committee there was “a lot wrong” with the controversial $300 million contract awarded to Whitefish Energy Holdings, a tiny Montana company from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown. Long testified that FEMA officials only learned about the deal after it had already been signed by the board of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority last month, just days before Hurricane Maria slammed unto the territory.

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Dallas Morning News

November 2, 2017

Grigsby: Why Rick Perry’s comments on electricity and sexual assault weren’t as stupid as you think

Here’s the core of the story, as reported by CBS News: During an event with Axios and NBC in Washington, D.C., Perry brought up sexual assault after launching into a story about a trip to Africa, where he said “people are dying” because they don’t have access to energy. “And it’s going to take fossil fuels to push power out into those villages in Africa, where a young girl said to my face: One of the reasons that electricity is so important to me is not only because I’m not going to have to try and read by the light of a fire and have those fumes literally kill people. But also from the standpoint of sexual assault: When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts.” … First, Perry was sharing an anecdote he heard from a girl in Africa. According to Perry, she said she wanted electricity NOT ONLY because she wouldn’t have to read by a fire’s light, BUT ALSO because of sexual assault.

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The Hill

November 2, 2017

Uranium One deal led to some exports to Europe, memos show

After the Obama administration approved the sale of a Canadian mining company with significant U.S. uranium reserves to a firm owned by Russia’s government, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission assured Congress and the public the new owners couldn’t export any raw nuclear fuel from America’s shores. … Yet NRC memos reviewed by The Hill show that it did approve the shipment of yellowcake uranium — the raw material used to make nuclear fuel and weapons — from the Russian-owned mines in the United States to Canada in 2012 through a third party. Later, the Obama administration approved some of that uranium going all the way to Europe, government documents show. NRC officials said they could not disclose the total amount of uranium that Uranium One exported because the information is proprietary. They did, however, say that the shipments only lasted from 2012 to 2014 and that they are unaware of any exports since then.

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Texas Tribune

November 1, 2017

GOP chairman presses social media companies over Russian energy ads

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee sent follow-up letters to social media companies citing an investigation into Russia’s use of their platforms to manipulate the energy market and urging cooperation. “Congress has an obligation to bring transparency to social media when their content impacts important areas of public policy,” wrote Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) in a letter dated Tuesday. The letter comes after Buzzfeed last week reported that the Russian campaign to destabilize the United States included a fake Native American advocacy account on Instagram that protested the Dakota Access Pipeline.

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Wall St. Journal

November 1, 2017

Trump’s States Need Nafta

Donald Trump’s strategy to brand his political opponents swamp creatures may be what got him to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But it’s hard to see how it can continue to succeed when, in his zeal to zero out a trade deficit with Mexico, he has turned his sights on an important engine of growth in red-state America. At a private luncheon with Republican senators last Tuesday, Mr. Trump reportedly shared his North American Free Trade Agreement negotiating strategy. According to Inside Trade, which spoke to senators who attended the gathering, the president believes that by issuing a notification of his intent to leave Nafta—which would trigger a six-month waiting period before the actual exit—he can force Mexico and Canada to make the concessions he wants.

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Daily Beast

October 29, 2017

Swamp Things: More Than 50% of President Trump’s Nominees Have Ties to the Industries They’re Supposed to Regulate

In August 2016, energy consultant Steven Gardner gave a presentation to the trade group Professional Engineers in Mining (PDF). In it, he hammered the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement for what he said was a highly flawed regulatory process behind the office’s Stream Protection Rule, a regulation designed to prevent water pollution near coal production sites. Gardner’s firm, ECSI LLC, had been retained by a coal industry trade group “to conduct a comprehensive critical review of the proposed rule,” which it opposed. Gardner ended his August 2016 presentation with a slide asking, “What’s next?” that featured a photo of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Contrary to the slide’s projection, Donald Trump prevailed and ended up signing legislation rolling back the Stream Protection Rule.

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips November 2, 2017
Lead Stories

Wall St. Journal

November 1, 2017

U.S. Trade Panel Backs Solar Tariffs

Federal trade officials are recommending that the Trump administration impose an import tariff of up to 35% on solar panels to protect U.S. solar manufacturers from low-price imports that have undercut the companies’ ability to compete. Members of the U.S. International Trade Commission outlined their various recommendations Tuesday, which also included import quotas and a licensing fee. They must now send them to the White House, which has until January to decide what, if any, actions to take. The recommendations come several months after two embattled solar-panel makers, Suniva Inc. and SolarWorld Americas Inc., petitioned the ITC for a tariff on imported solar cells, the component of a solar panel that converts sunlight to electricity and which both companies make.

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Buzzfeed

October 23, 2017

How Russians Attempted To Use Instagram To Influence Native Americans

The protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, were sacred for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. But for Russian trolls, the protests were another opportunity to sow discord in America — one of a series of social movements, from Black Lives Matter activism to pro-Trump populism, on which trolls appear to have seized. An Instagram account called @Native_Americans_United_ shared images related to Native American social and political issues — including the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the flashpoint for activists from all over the country, but especially Native Americans. … A post from that account reads “IF AN OIL COMPANY DESTROYED THESE ‘SACRED’ BURIAL GROUNDS AMERICANS WOULD LOSE THEIR MINDS,” plastered over an image of a US military cemetery. “BUT WHEN AN OIL COMPANY DESTROYS NATIVE AMERICAN SACRED BURIAL GROUNDS NO ONE SAYS A WORD.”

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The Hill

October 26, 2017

Matthews: Democrats dig for Russian connection and uncover environmentalists

Democrats and the media have been on a yearlong deep dig into Russian involvement into U.S. elections. But when you dig a hole you sometimes run across things you wish had remained buried — like the dirt pointing to Russian ties to the U.S. environmental movement. Democrats hoped their digging would expose some kind of Russian connection to President Donald Trump. That hasn’t happened. But as the investigations have progressed, there is a growing realization that Russians were trying to influence the political process and policy debates, including environmentalists’ efforts to limit or stop hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, an innovative crude oil and natural gas drilling process.

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Ars Technica

October 28, 2017

Here are humanity’s best ideas on how to store energy

Historically, the vast majority of the world’s power has been consumed as quickly as it is made, or it’s wasted. But climate change has made governments interested in renewable energy, and renewable energy is variable—it can’t be dispatched on demand. Or can it? As research into utility-sized batteries receives more attention, the economics of adding storage to a grid or wind farm are starting to make more sense. But grid-tied energy storage is not new; it has just always been limited to whatever resources a local power producer had at the time. Much like electricity production itself, storage schemes differ regionally. Power companies will invest in batteries that make sense on a local level, whether it is pumped storage, compressed air, or lithium-ion cells.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

November 2, 2017

Oil stable as US crude inventories fall despite rising production

Oil prices held steady on Thursday as U.S. crude inventories fell despite a rise in production, while outside the United States an OPEC-led supply cut continued to tighten the market. Brent futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $60.49 per barrel at 0040 GMT, flat from their last close. Brent has risen more than 35 percent since its 2017-lows last June. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $54.25 a barrel, down 5 cents from the last settlement, but is still some 30 percent above its 2017-low in June. Traders said oil markets were being supported by falling U.S. commercial crude oil inventories despite rising output.

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Wall St. Journal

November 1, 2017

Analysts Get Bullish on Oil for First Time in 6 Months on OPEC Hopes

Banks raised their oil-price forecasts for the first time in six months in October amid signs that production cuts by major suppliers are helping to rebalance the market. A poll of 14 investment banks surveyed by The Wall Street Journal at the end of October predicted that Brent crude, the international benchmark, will average $54 a barrel next year, up $1 from the September survey. The banks expect West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. oil gauge, to average $51 a barrel in 2018, also up a dollar from the previous survey. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, in concert with other big producers, has limited its production this year as part of a deal to support the market. OPEC and its allies are due to meet end of this month in Vienna to discuss an extension of their deal which is due to expire in March.

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Associated Press

November 1, 2017

Anadarko Petroleum reports 3Q loss

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC) on Tuesday reported a loss of $699 million in its third quarter. The The Woodlands, Texas-based company said it had a loss of $1.27 per share. Losses, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to 77 cents per share. The results fell short of Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for a loss of 56 cents per share.

This article appeared through Yahoo! News

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Bloomberg

November 1, 2017

Denning: Anadarko Woke Up and Really Smells the Coffee

Five bucks: The price of a fancy cup of coffee had a subtle, but important, role on Anadarko Petroleum Corp.’s earnings call on Wednesday morning.Anadarko is at the vanguard of U.S. exploration and production companies proclaiming a shift in emphasis from growth to value. It unfurled that particular banner with a surprise $2.5 billion buyback program, announced six weeks ago. It reinforced the message on Wednesday.Growth, said CEO Al Walker, is an output of Anadarko’s capital-planning process, not an input. And the board intends to meet later this month — earlier than usual — to discuss next year’s budget and likely changes to an executive compensation plan that, like so many others in the industry, has been criticized for encouraging expansion over efficiency.

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ZME Science

November 1, 2017

A hidden shortage: why the world is running low on sand

When you think of world shortages perhaps, the first ones that come to mind are water and natural gases. However, there’s a not-so-obvious shortage that is close at hand: sand. Yes, that’s right — the seemingly abundant particles of stone or coral that line beaches and deserts are running low. The biggest reason for this impending shortage is that we use sand for constructing almost everything and it is beginning to cause all sorts of problems. … Cities and urban areas are expanding at a dizzying pace. Materials are needed to build the streets and buildings; that’s where sand comes in. It is an essential ingredient for concrete, asphalt, and glass, which is most of what goes into a building. Sand is also used in fracking as a proppant to keep the fractures in the rock open and extract natural gas. Demand for sand will only increase in the next years and the replenishment rates are not high enough to meet this growing demand.

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Offshore Technology

November 1, 2017

Is privatisation working out for Mexico’s oil industry?

In the last year, interest has certainly picked up and Mexico’s offshore bid rounds have attracted a great deal more attention. The stuttering start to the country’s offshore bidding process contrasts starkly with more recent auctions. The latest shallow water oil tender in June this year saw ten of 15 blocks snapped up by the likes of Eni, Lukoil and a Total/Shell consortium; Zepeda described the auction as “a great result”. In December last year, eight of the 10 blocks offered under Mexico’s much-anticipated deepwater licencing round (Round 1.4) attracted successful bidders, from Total, ExxonMobil and China Offshore Oil Corp in the hyped Perdido area to Statoil, BP and others in the Saline Basin. Many of the bids offered additional royalties of up to 22.99%.

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Bloomberg

November 1, 2017

The Fracking Boom’s Midlife Crisis

Crude prices bouncing around $50 to $60 a barrel have kept U.S. shale producers stuck on the edge of profitability. That hasn’t been enough to shut down the oil boom in places such as North Dakota, Texas, and New Mexico—at least not yet. Drillers are heading into 2018 on the defensive as they face skepticism from shareholders who want to see less investment and more profit. They may also be finding that much of the easy oil has already been pumped. “There’s a complacency that shale is going to continue to produce at the kind of volumes that we had in the past,” says Jim Brilliant, a portfolio manager for Century Management Investment Advisors in Austin, whose investments include shares in energy-related companies. Output has recently failed to meet expectations. As of June, the U.S. Energy Information Administration expected an average of about 9.3 million barrels a day, more than 220,000 barrels a day higher than companies reported.

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Houston Chronicle

November 1, 2017

Houston’s American Midstream buying Southcross Energy

Houston pipeline firm American Midstream Partners plans to acquire Dallas-based Southcross Energy Partners to bolster its natural gas pipeline presence in southern Texas and along the Gulf Coast. American Midstream, which relocated from Denver to Houston last year, plans to sell up to $500 million in terminals assets to help fund the deal and cut down on the accumulation of debt. The Southcross deal, including additional assets from Southcross Holdings, is valued at $815 million, including the assumption of debt, American Midstream said.

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CNBC

November 1, 2017

Vistra Energy CEO: Even with the Dynegy acquisition, we’ll have the lowest debt-to-earnings ratio in the industry

Vistra Energy President and CEO Curt Morgan told CNBC on Tuesday that even with his energy company’s $1.74 billion acquisition of Dynegy, Vistra will be less debt-ridden that its rivals. “At the end of the deal, when we close, that day, … we’ll have roughly four times gross debt to our earnings, or EBITDA. That’s still the lowest, after the deal closes, of anybody else in the business,” Morgan told “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer in an exclusive interview. The gross-debt-to-EBITDA ratio measures a company’s total debt against its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization and helps analysts determine a company’s ability to lower its debt.

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Houston Chronicle

November 1, 2017

Transitioning Weatherford posts $256M loss

Struggling oilfield services giant Weatherford International reported a $256 million quarterly loss, even though its revenues grew more than 7 percent from the same period last year. Mark McCollum, who was named CEO in March, is slimming down the organization and cutting costs, but said it will take a bit more time before the services company is profitable again. “I am confident that these changes will lead to positive and measurable results in the coming quarters,” McCollum said.

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Reuters

November 1, 2017

Marathon Oil posts smaller-than-expected loss

U.S. oil producer Marathon Oil Corp (MRO.N) reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss on Wednesday, as a rise in production and higher realized prices offset higher costs. Hurricane Harvey tore through the U.S. Gulf Coast in August, forcing the company to shut its operations at the Eagle Ford field. Despite that the company said in October it expected average production to be at the high end of its forecast. Total production at Marathon Oil averaged 394,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) in the third quarter ended Sept. 30. It produced 344,000 boe/d a year earlier.

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Houston Chronicle

November 1, 2017

Occidental Petroleum swings to profit in third quarter

Occidental Petroleum Corp. swung to a profit in the third quarter amid higher oil prices and efforts to cut costs, the company said Wednesday. The Houston oil company banked a profit of $190 million, or 25 cents a share, in the July-September period, compared with a loss of $241 million, or 32 cents a share, in the same three months last year. Revenues rose from $1.7 billion to $1.9 billion.

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San Antonio Express-News

November 1, 2017

Ex-Apache engineer in San Antonio settles Alpine High insider trading charges

A former Apache Corp. petroleum engineer who worked in its San Antonio office has agreed to pay almost $436,000 to settle Securities and Exchange Commission charges that he traded on insider information ahead of an announcement of a major oil and gas discovery last year in West Texas. Christopher James Lollar, 29, will turn over more than $214,000 in alleged profits and pay that amount in penalties, plus interest, under the settlement. Lollar agreed to the settlement without admitting or denying the allegations. The settlement is subject to court approval, the SEC said in a statement today.

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Midland Reporter-Telegram

November 1, 2017

Horizontal drilling gives rise to acreage pooling

Texas does not — and until state statutes are changed — will not, allow forced pooling, Craddick said. She said she wants to see the industry and commission staff work together to ensure regulations are appropriately addressing these new industry trends. There is nothing different about pooling, said Mike Curry, vice president, land for Henry Resources. What is different is that, before horizontal drilling, there was little need for pooling in West Texas. It was more common in East Texas and South Texas, he said. “With the advent of horizontal drilling, pooling is a more useful tool, a more desirable tool. (But) because of allocation wells, it’s not always necessary or possible,” Curry said. He explained that, first, not all mineral owners or lessees are agreeable to pooling, partially because of their unfamiliarity with the issue or for reasons of dilution. Secondly, with the fractionation of mineral, royalty or leasehold ownership, it’s extremely difficult to find all the owners.

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Kallanish Energy

November 1, 2017

Texas production in August: Crude oil up, natural gas drops

Production in Texas in August totaled 75.18 million barrels (MMBbl) of oil and 583.79 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas, according to new data from the Railroad Commission of Texas. Those are preliminary figures reported by operators and will be updated as new figures are provided to the state, Kallanish Energy reports. In August 2016, the production figures initially reported were 75.03 MMBbl of crude oil, updated to the current figure of 84.13 MMBbl; a preliminary natural gas total of 606.93 Bcf, updated to the current total of 690.61 Bcf.

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Houston Chronicle

November 1, 2017

Large fire contained at Exxon Mobil refinery

A large fire filled the sky overnight at Exxon Mobil’s Baton Rouge refinery in Louisiana before being contained this morning. No injuries were reported at the nation’s fourth-largest oil refinery, where a fire ignited at about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday and was contained after 5 a.m., said Exxon Mobil spokeswoman Charlotte Huffaker.

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Bloomberg

October 31, 2017

In Today’s Oil Market, It’s America Last

America is, as you know, a bit different from the rest of the world. Lately, this exceptionalism has been more noticeable than usual in the oil market: It isn’t just the outright price where a gap has opened up. The shape of the futures curves — how barrels for delivery down the road are being priced — for U.S. and international grades of crude oil are also striking different poses: The discount for West Texas Intermediate, or WTI, blew out from about $4.50 a barrel to $6 in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in late August and early September. This made sense as disruption to refineries, pipelines and ports kept barrels trapped in the country. But the spread had already doubled in the month before the storm hit Texas and Louisiana. And two months on, with the U.S. oil industry having largely recovered, it is wider still.

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Utilities Stories

Houston Chronicle

November 1, 2017

Texas letting one coal plant shutter, undecided on two others

Texas’ electric grid operator will let one major coal plant close, but won’t decide until mid-December if two other shuttering coal complexes must stay open to maintain the grid’s stability. The state’s largest power generator, Dallas-based Vistra Energy, is planning to close three large coal plants by mid-February that are all losing money before Vistra acquires Houston’s Dynegy in a multibillion-dollar power sector merger that was announced on Monday. While the state is expected to have enough electricity to power a growing Texas populous early next year, the concern is whether the closures of more struggling coal plants in the future will destabilize a grid increasingly relying on wind and solar power that’s environmentally friendly but intermittent and not always predictable.

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Bloomberg

November 1, 2017

Wall Street to Soon Have Just One Bet Left on Merchant Power

If there’s still such a thing as an “independent power producer” in the U.S., you could argue that Vistra Energy Corp. will soon be the last one standing — at least the last publicly traded one. After taking over rival Dynegy Inc. in a $2.34 billion all-stock deal, the company will almost triple its portfolio of plants selling power into wholesale markets from Texas to New England. Its retail business will meanwhile shrink to just a quarter of gross margins. The only other publicly traded IPP like it is NRG Energy Inc., but it now counts on retail for half of sales and doesn’t consider itself an IPP anymore.

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Wall St. Journal

November 1, 2017

Coal Company Armstrong Energy Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

Coal-mining company Armstrong Energy Inc. filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday with a plan to turn over ownership of its struggling operations to a competitor and its lender. The St. Louis company plans to use the chapter 11 process to transfer the ownership of its five mines and other operations to a new entity owned by Illinois coal company Knight Hawk Holdings LLC and some of Armstrong Energy’s noteholders. Nearly all of Armstrong Energy’s shares are now owned by investment funds managed by Yorktown Partners LLC. Documents filed to U.S. Bankruptcy Court in St. Louis show that Armstrong Energy’s noteholders will assume 100% of the company’s ownership upon agreeing to forgive $90 million in debt. Knight Hawk Holdings, which will take over the company’s operations, will get an undisclosed portion of equity later.

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Scientific American

October 29, 2017

Auto and Utility Industries Team Up to Tackle Emissions

Top representatives from vehicle manufacturers and utilities are joining forces to find ways to cut the U.S. transportation system’s energy use in half by 2050. The Alliance to Save Energy, a 40-year-old organization focused on energy efficiency policies, is announcing the new group today and calling it the “50 by 50” Commission. Co-chaired by Audi of America President Scott Keogh and National Grid U.S. President Dean Seavers, the project aims to produce a report within a year outlining recommendations for the federal government, automakers, cities and infrastructure providers to curb emissions holistically. Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto (D) and Fort Worth, Texas, Mayor Betsy Price (R) — along with other leaders from utilities, environmental groups, infrastructure providers, manufacturers and public transit — have signed on.

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Scientific American

October 27, 2017

Levitan: Radical Proposal Would Prop Up Coal Power Industry

The U.S. coal power industry has been declining, thanks to the abundant availability of cheap natural gas, falling prices of solar and wind power, and the clear global imperative to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The Trump administration has long promised to fight that so-called “war on coal.” Several weeks ago the U.S. Department of Energy, led by Secretary Rick Perry, offered up an aggressive salvo: The nation’s power grid, the DoE said, would become vulnerable if more coal-fired power plants closed down. Therefore, the government should prop up the market for power facilities that offer a theoretical boost to stability—coal, along with nuclear plants. Action could begin soon, which could result in higher consumer prices for electricity and unhealthy pollution emissions from power plants. And progress toward a more climate-friendly energy system would take a hit.

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Bloomberg

November 1, 2017

Southern to Sell Solar Assets, Nuclear Settlement to Raise Cash

Southern Co. is shopping a $3.7 billion nuclear settlement and part of its solar-generation business to raise cash after recent acquisitions nearly doubled its debt. Potential asset sales announced Wednesday follow a earlier decision to offer two natural-gas utilities for $1.4 billion. The Atlanta-based utility owner has held talks with potential buyers over the settlement from Toshiba Corp. for failing to complete the expansion of the Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia, Chief Executive Officer Tom Fanning said by phone Wednesday.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Wall St. Journal

November 1, 2017

Tesla’s Nightmare Before Christmas

It looks like Elon Musk just canceled Thanksgiving and probably Christmas, too — if you work at Tesla Inc., anyway.The electric-vehicle-cum-battery-cum-solar-equipment company Musk heads reported third-quarter results on Wednesday evening. Tesla missed earnings forecasts by a mile. But that number, never a huge concern, mattered even less this time around. It’s cash and cars — specifically the somewhat more mass-market Model 3 — that count.First, cash: Having racked up its first quarter of burning through more than $1 billion of cash in the three months ending in June, Tesla topped that with $1.4 billion of negative free cash flow in the third quarter. In the past two quarters, therefore, Tesla has burned through more cash than the previous six combined.

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Northwast Indiana Times

October 27, 2017

Why Power Inverters Are the Key to the Solar Industry

The inverter is where DC power from solar systems large and small are collected and turned into the AC current the grid can use. In that respect, it’s essentially the brains of the solar system. For utility-scale solar systems, the inverter acts as a hub before power is sent to the grid. Big electric infrastructure players like General Electric, Schneider Electric, and ABB have built large inverter businesses, but solar inverters are a small percentage of their overall sales and none of them are market leaders. According to GTM Research, that title belongs to Huawei and Sungrow, which are Chinese suppliers and rely on their home market for most of their demand.

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Regulatory Stories

Associated Press

November 1, 2017

Court Upholds Approvals of 3 Projects to Export Natural Gas

A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld Energy Department decisions approving three projects to export liquefied natural gas, a boost for the Trump administration’s strategy to increase energy production and promote exports. The Sierra Club was seeking to overturn approvals of export terminals in Maryland, Louisiana and Texas, saying the projects would increase air and water pollution and contribute to global warming. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said in a unanimous opinion that the Energy Department fulfilled its legal obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act and other laws. The court said its decision was similar to a ruling in August when it upheld approval of a separate export terminal in Texas.

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Texas Tribune

November 1, 2017

TCEQ toxicologist, who has questioned ozone risks, appointed to EPA advisory board

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday it had appointed Michael Honeycutt, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s chief toxicologist, as chairman of the federal agency’s Science Advisory Board. “I am pleased and honored to bring my knowledge and experience to this prestigious panel,” Honeycutt said in a statement. “It is my goal to direct the other members of the SAB to bring sound science to the reviews that we will make in advising the administrator.” During his time at TCEQ, Honeycutt courted controversy for leading the fight against an Obama administration push to toughen federal standards on ozone levels, telling the Tribune in a 2014 interview, “I haven’t seen the data that says lowering ozone will produce a health benefit. In fact, I’ve seen data that shows it might have a negative health benefit.”

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Texas Observer

October 31, 2017

Sadasivam: Texas Toxicologist Who Rejects Basic Science Appointed to EPA Science Board

For years Texas’ chief toxicologist, Michael Honeycutt, has accused the EPA of scaring the public about the health risks of toxic chemicals. The EPA, he has said, “ignores good science which demonstrates that a chemical is not as toxic as they think it is,” uses “‘chicken little’ toxicity values” and doesn’t “do common-sense groundtruthing.” Honeycutt has repeatedly put himself outside the scientific mainstream by arguing that pollutants are not nearly as harmful as the evidence suggests. Mercury? EPA is “overstating” the risks of exposure and ignoring the fact that the Japanese eat 10 times as much fish as Americans.

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HuffPost

November 1, 2017

Polluting America First: How Killing Clean Power Plan Hurts the Latino Community

The Trump Administration’s decision to backtrack from the Obama-era Clean Power Plan (CPP) is a continuation of its attacks on environmental protections and underscores a blatant disregard for the consequences those decisions will have on public health. It’s clear that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has forgotten what the “P” in his agency has traditionally stood for: “Protection.” But there is nothing traditional about this administration, with its anti-science policy agenda, and policies that discriminate against communities of color with unparalleled precision. The CPP established national limits on carbon pollution from power plants, which greatly benefited communities of color who often live closest to these plants and are most affected by the pollution they produce.

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The Hill

October 30, 2017

Coons, Poe: An unlikely bipartisan solution on energy and taxes

It’s no secret that our tax system is outdated, overly complicated, and full of loopholes, and anyone in Washington can tell you that tax reform – especially bipartisan tax reform – isn’t easy. But we – a progressive Democrat from Delaware and a conservative Republican from Texas – believe that we can work together on common sense tax reforms, and we’ve found an unlikely place to start: the energy sector. Almost everyone agrees that the United States needs to increase domestic energy production, and a number of Democrats and Republicans alike have argued for an “all of the above” energy strategy.

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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 November 1, 2017
Lead Stories

Seeking Alpha

October 30, 2017

Mancini: Critical U.S. Fracking Equipment Shortages Mean Higher Oil Prices In 2018

The myth of rapid response U.S. shale production, or the “call on shale” thesis, will be disproven in 2018 as investors realize shale output is dictated by service sector capacity. Shale production is currently constrained by pressure pumping equipment shortages. Aging pressure pumping fleets will only compound this over the next year & significant investment is still required. These are not issues that are solved quickly, and will prove to be a major headwind to shale growth in 2018.

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Bloomberg

October 31, 2017

Wall Street Is Running Out of Power Generators to Bet On

If there’s still such a thing as an “independent power producer” in the U.S., you could argue that Vistra Energy Corp. will soon be the last one standing — at least the last publicly traded one. After taking over rival Dynegy Inc. in a $2.34 billion all-stock deal, the company will almost triple its portfolio of plants selling power into wholesale markets from Texas to New England. Its retail business will meanwhile shrink to just a quarter of gross margins. The only other publicly traded IPP like it is NRG Energy Inc., but it now counts on retail for half of sales and doesn’t consider itself an IPP anymore. Such is the state of America’s merchant power generators — that only one publicly traded company will depend on selling into wholesale electricity markets for the bulk of its earnings. The rest, like NRG, are relying on retail sales to homes and businesses for an increasing share of their earnings as cheap natural gas and renewables send wholesale prices plunging, wiping out the profits of merchant plants across the U.S.

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Midland Reporter-Telegram

October 31, 2017

West Texas to be home to energy storage project

Energy flows from the Permian Basin in more forms than crude oil and natural gas. West Texas is home to some of the nation’s largest wind farms, and work has been done on developing solar and geothermal energy as well. Now West Texas is becoming home to the development of energy storage, which will become an important piece of future energy infrastructure. Essen-Germany-based E.ON, an energy network, customer solution and renewables-focused company, has broken ground on two short-duration energy storage projects on its wind farms near Roscoe. Texas Waves, located on E.ON’s Pyron and Inadale wind farms, consists of two 9.9 megawatt short-duration energy storage projects using lithium-ion battery technology. Texas Waves is designed to provide ancillary services to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas market in order to respond to shifts in power demand quickly and increasing reliability and efficiency.

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The Hill

October 31, 2017

More must be done to protect America’s nuclear power plants from cyberattacks

America’s nuclear plants have already become targets of cyber-attack, as evidenced by the recent breach of the administrative computer system at the Wolf Creek nuclear plant in Kansas. According to reports, this intrusion was part of a much broader, sophisticated cyber-attack involving over a dozen U.S. electrical power facilities. Such an attack is alarming, as a failed safety system at a nuclear power facility could result in substantial releases of radioactive materials. The good news is that U.S. federal agencies have taken the question of nuclear power cybersecurity seriously.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

November 1, 2017

Brent oil near 2-year highs as OPEC’s compliance with cuts improves

Brent crude oil prices were near two-year highs on Wednesday as OPEC has significantly improved compliance with its pledged supply cuts and Russia is also seen keeping to the deal. Brent futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $61.16 per barrel at 0045 GMT, up 22 cents, or 0.36 percent, since their last close and near the $61.41 a barrel two-year high from intraday trading on Tuesday. Brent is up almost 38 percent since its 2017-lows last June. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was at $54.65 a barrel, up 27 cents, or 0.5 percent, and close to February highs. It is up almost 30 percent since 2017-lows in June.

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Wall St. Journal

October 31, 2017

Tailwater Capital Commits Up to $100 Million to New Midstream Company

Tailwater Capital pledged to invest up to $100 million in Elevate Midstream Partners LLC, one of a series of deals the energy private-equity firm plans to announce in the coming weeks. Based in Houston, newly formed Elevate provides midstream services to oil-and-gas exploration and production companies operating on U.S. onshore basins, according to a news release. Those services include systems to gather, process, transport and store the natural gas, oil and water produced from wells. The company is led by Chief Executive Officer Roger Fox, Chief Financial Officer Roger Ondreko and Chief Commercial Officer James Arnold, the release said. Collectively, the three veteran energy-executives have worked at companies such as BG Group plc, Macquarie Bank Ltd. , BHP Billiton Ltd . and Eagle Rock Energy Partners LP, the release added.

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Houston Chronicle

October 30, 2017

Fewer lawsuits filed against Texas firms

The number of lawsuits companies face has declined significantly during the past five years, even though nearly 80 percent of Texas business leaders were sued during the past year, according to exclusive data provided to The Texas Lawbook by the Norton Rose Fulbright law firm. There would be even fewer civil lawsuits if not for the increase of Texas businesses suing each other, according to The 2017 Litigation Trends Survey. The report states that Texas general counsel have witnessed an uptick in lawsuits involving oil and gas operations, labor and employment disputes and contract violations this year. The sharpest rise in civil complaints came in the energy sector. Lawsuits involving offshore oil and gas operations more than tripled during the past year, according to the report.

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Dallas Morning News

October 31, 2017

Exxon to spend $300 million to upgrade 8 plants to settle with feds in pollution case

Exxon Mobil settled air pollution violations with the Trump administration by paying a $2.5 million civil penalty and promising to spend $300 million on pollution-control technology at several plants along the Gulf Coast. Federal officials said Tuesday that the settlement will prevent thousands of tons of future pollution, including cancer-causing benzene, from eight petrochemical plants in Texas and Louisiana. Some environmentalists attacked the settlement as insufficient punishment for years of violations by the giant oil company, while others said it addressed excess burning or flaring of gas, a key pollution problem at Exxon plants.

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Wall St. Journal

October 30, 2017

LyondellBasell Makes Takeover Approach to Braskem

LyondellBasell Industries LYB -1.71% NV has made a takeover approach to Braskem SA, BAK -1.26% according to people familiar with the matter, eyeing a deal that could value the Brazilian petrochemical company at well over $10 billion. The talks are at an early stage, the people said, and there is no guarantee there will be a deal. Should there be one, it would be substantial: Braskem on Monday had a market value of about 37 billion Brazilian reais ($11.4 billion) and nearly as much debt. LyondellBasell had a market value of about $40 billion.

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Houston Chronicle

October 31, 2017

Houston layoffs expected in Vistra takeover of Dynegy

Dynegy could cut scores of Houston jobs next year when it shutters its downtown headquarters as part of its sale to the largest Texas power generator. The Houston merchant power company said it’s too early to say how many would lose jobs once the sale to Vistra Energy of Irving closes in mid-2018. But executives told investors and analysts that they would vacate Dynegy’s headquarters at 601 Travis Street, where 370 people work, and that job cuts would make up the bulk of a potential $225 million in savings by combining their operations. “We’re obviously early in the process here and more information is going to be known in coming weeks and months,” said David Byford, a spokesman for Dynegy.

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Prarie Public News (Fargo, ND)

October 31, 2017

Oil company to try unique idea for enhanced oil recovery

An oil company wants to try a new technique for enhanced oil recovery. Liberty Resources will try it in a field near Tioga, ND. “They want to test what we traditionally would call a ‘huff-and-puff’ operation,” State Mineral Resources director Lynn Helms told the North Dakota Industrial Commission. The operation involves the injection of field-produced gas, with added hydrocarbons such as ethane or propane. “That’s to see if they can pump those things into these wells, let it soak in and then produce it back, and see how much they can enhance the recovery,” Helms said.

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NC Policy Watch

October 30, 2017

Pipeline builders’ group starts “incident database” to track protests

An organization that supplies the energy industry with equipment and machinery is tracking protests against oil and gas pipeline projects, including those that are peaceful demonstrations. Energy Builders lists 18 incidents over the past year in which protesters were arrested. Some of those incidents involved vandalism to heavy machinery and pipelines under construction, but those acts were limited to property damage. However, the organization makes no mention of the police violence against peaceful protesters. The group is also alleging the protesters are paid, although none of the news articles that the website links to substantiate that claim.

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Houston Chronicle

October 31, 2017

Schade: What has fracking done to our air quality?

Urban air pollution in the U.S. has been decreasing near continuously since the 1970s. Federal regulations, notably the Clean Air Act passed by President Nixon, to reduce toxic air pollutants such as benzene, a hydrocarbon, and ozone, a strong oxidant, effectively lowered their abundance in ambient air with steady progress. But about 10 years ago, the picture on air pollutants in the U.S. started to change. The “fracking boom” in several different parts of the nation led to a new source of hydrocarbons to the atmosphere, affecting abundances of both toxic benzene and ozone, including in areas that were not previously affected much by such air pollution.

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Energy Voice

October 26, 2017

Fracking associated chemicals could harm infants and children, US report warns

A report published by the US health journal, Reviews on Environmental Health, states that chemicals ‘associated with unconventional oil and natural gas operations’ could cause neurological harm to young children and babies. The study looks at the potential effects of harm of the chemicals used either in the excavation of shale or in by-products created by the process itself. The report’s abstract states: ‘Heavy metals (arsenic and manganese), particulate matter (PM), benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes (BTEX), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have been linked to significant neurodevelopmental health problems in infants, children and young adults.

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Wall St. Journal

October 31, 2017

BP to Restart Share Buybacks as Oil Industry Regains Footing

BP BP 2.65% PLC on Tuesday said it would restart its share buyback program after posting healthy third-quarter earnings, the latest signal that the oil industry has found its footing amid a modest crude-price recovery. The U.K. oil giant said its strengthened financial position allowed it to begin a share repurchase program in the final three months of 2017, though it didn’t put a value on future buybacks. With Brent crude, the international benchmark, trending over $60 a barrel for the first time since 2015, BP’s move ranks among the first actions showing big oil companies are healthy enough to sweeten the pot for investors who had soured on the sector.

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Washington Free Beacon

October 31, 2017

Iran Threatens Ballistic Missile Strikes on American Forces, Can Hit ‘All U.S. Bases’

A top Iranian military commander has threatened to launch ballistic missile attacks on U.S. forces in the region amid a public effort by the Islamic Republic to show off its advanced missile capabilities, according to U.S. officials and regional reports. Iranian leaders disclosed that their advanced ballistic missile technology, which could be used as part of a nuclear weapons program, is sophisticated enough to strike U.S. forces up to nearly 1,300 miles, or 2,000 kilometers, away, which encompasses all U.S. bases in the region. The head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, announced on Tuesday that Iranian missiles can already “cover all U.S. bases in the region” and that Tehran has the capability to increase its missile power even further.

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Associated Press

October 31, 2017

UN environment chief: US likely to live up to Paris accord

The head of the U.N. environment program said Tuesday the United States is likely to live up to the Paris climate deal despite President Donald Trump’s planned pullout, because “all the big American companies” are working toward greener operations. The comments from UNEP executive director Erik Solheim came as the U.N. agency presented its latest “Emissions Gap” report, which gives a scientific assessment about how national efforts are affecting the greenhouse gas emission trend. The report’s release ahead of a crucial climate meeting next week in Bonn, Germany, aims to inject new momentum to the Paris accord and even strengthen it in 2020.

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle

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Utilities Stories

KAMC

October 30, 2017

KAMC Exclusive: Are Lubbock Utility Bills Higher than Other Texas Cities?

It’s no secret Lubbock residents have complaints with utilities here in town, with many asking, “Why is my bill so high?” EverythingLubbock.com took a deeper look at the cost of utilities in Lubbock, and how our rates compare to other Texas cities. Both Matt Rose of LP&L and Aubrey Spear with the City of Lubbock Water Department said we are sitting right around the average for Texas. “When you look at the cost of electricity, if you are an LP&L customer today, you will see that that cost is positioned right at the state average for electric cost,” Spokesperson for LP&L Matt Rose said.

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Palestine Herald

October 17, 2017

Power producers in high-energy debate on subsidies

Last week not only brought word that owners will pull the plug on two more Texas coal-fired power plants, but also that the Texas wind-energy generation could overtake coal here in the near future. Yet while some contend that the coal industry has lost what EPA administrator Scott Pruitt called “the war” against it, a battle is underway over government proposals that could subsidize wholesale coal and nuclear power generation in the name of ensuring the electric grid’s reliability, and end further coal-powered and nuclear-powered plant closings. “The resiliency of the electric grid is threatened by the premature retirements of these fuel-secure traditional baseload resources,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry wrote in a letter to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission earlier this year.

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Utility Dive

October 31, 2017

Utilities focus on plausibility, prevention in preparing for worst-case scenarios

Don Daigler, director of business resilience for Southern California Edison, has also worked at FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. He said “utilities can prepare for a lot of things but there has to be a cost-benefit analysis — otherwise, protections become so costly customers would never be able to afford to harden the grid.” SCE’s strategy is to focus on “more plausible scenarios,” said Daigler. “We’re looking at preparing for large scale events, but some [fears] are so wildly out of bounds with reality, they are unlikely to occur.” Take, for instance, recent warnings of an electro magnetic pulse (EMP) triggered by a nuclear detonation in the atmosphere, likely by North Korea. Such an event could be devastating. Peter Pry, who served as chief of staff for a Congressional commission on EMP attacks, recently testified before a House Committee on Homeland Security that the threat is “critical and existential.”

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Electrek

October 30, 2017

Smart shipping container offers power grid resilience with ‘self healing’ capability

Electrical grid complexity has increased immensely. Recently, weather damage and intermittent renewable energy production have increased the dynamics that must be managed in a large power grid. In order to address that, the Dutch company Alfen is currently field testing their new ‘cellular smart grid’ solution in Lelystad, the Netherlands. They have developed a combination of energy storage and finely tuned algorithms to help make electrical grids more resilient and to reduce their downtime. Alfen is a producer of transformer substations, energy storage systems, smart grids and charging stations for electric vehicles. In 2012, Alfen got a $1,000,000 government grant to design this hardware.

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Yahoo! News

October 31, 2017

Saudi Arabia takes first step towards nuclear plant tender: sources

Saudi Arabia has sent a request for information (RFI) to international suppliers to build two nuclear power plants, a first step towards a formal tender, three sources said. The kingdom is considering building 17.6 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear capacity by 2032, the equivalent of about 17 reactors, making it one of the biggest prospects for an industry struggling after the 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan. The world’s biggest exporter of oil wants to reduce the amount of crude it burns at home to generate electricity so it can sell more of it overseas.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Dallas Morning News

October 31, 2017

The way Exxon sees it, only 6 percent of vehicles would be electric in 2040

Irving-based Exxon Mobil Corp. says the existential threat to oil producers from electric cars is overblown. Despite concern that electrification will render obsolete the gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine, the world’s biggest crude explorer says the 158 year-old oil industry won’t go gentle into that good night. The electric-vehicle, or EV, fleet won’t grow fast enough to displace much in the way of fuel demand, according to Exxon Vice President Jeff Woodbury. Plus, heavy-duty trucks and petrochemicals are where the real action is anyway, he said during a conference call with analysts on Friday.

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HuffPost

October 29, 2017

The Surprising Story Of Republican Towns Going Green

uring the Great Recession, the city of Lancaster, California, had a 17 percent unemployment rate and a housing market dominated by foreclosures. Mayor R. Rex Parris (R) knew he needed to do something drastic. After meeting with a tech innovator who wanted to build a solar thermal plant that used mirrors to focus the sun’s energy, Parris realized that Lancaster could harness California’s abundant sunshine to create new jobs, save people money on their utility bills, increase the value of local homes and slash the city’s overall energy use.

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Bloomberg

October 27, 2017

Wind Farms of a Certain Age Eyeing Surgery to Extend Lives

Even for wind farms, middle age is a time for nips, tucks and sometimes replacement surgery. At least 600 megawatts of U.S. wind farms have already undergone significant upgrades, primarily in California, and NextEra Energy Inc., the largest producer of North American wind power, said Thursday it expects to invest as much as $3 billion to upgrade or replace aging turbines at operating power plants through 2020. It’s part of an expected wave of refurbishments, which the wind industry calls “repowerings,” that may affect as much as 30 percent of the country’s wind farms in the next three years, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

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Texas Public Radio

October 30, 2017

How Tariffs Could Help And Hurt The Solar Industry

The U.S. solar industry is booming, in large part because of cheap, imported solar panels. But a U.S. trade commission says those imports also hurt manufacturers here. It’s offering recommendations to President Trump on how to repair that damage, but the industry is divided over whether any remedy would do more harm than good. SolarWorld, outside Portland, Ore., is one of two manufacturers which brought the trade suit. At its plant, robots do much of work of building solar cells into panels. “They’re picked up, put on this belt,” says John Clason, as he loads stacks of solar cells the size of large drink coasters into the automated machines. “These panels we’re making now are just about 300 watts each.”

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Regulatory Stories

Houston Chronicle

October 31, 2017

Texas-size $61 billion Harvey plan includes ‘Ike Dike,’ new reservoirs, buyouts

A nearly $61 billion state plan to rebuild Houston and the Texas coast after Hurricane Harvey includes funding for three “coastal spines” to control flooding, new reservoirs and buyouts of thousands of properties. About 60 percent of the funding would go to “future proof” flood-prone areas and 33 percent would pay for buy-outs and elevating buildings in low-lying regions stretching roughly from Rockport to the Beaumont area and parts of Southeast Texas where Harvey hit hardest. Gov. Greg Abbott and top Texas leaders briefed top Washington officials and the Texas legislative delegation Tuesday afternoon on the previously undisclosed plan.

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Houston Chronicle

October 29, 2017

Bailes: Eminent domain statutes need review to ensure fairness

For many in our area, Hurricane Harvey is a distant memory. Homes have been repaired, roads reopened, and lives back to normal. But, for others, there is still a long recovery ahead. As we continue efforts to address residual issues from the hurricane, help direct people in need to the appropriate resources, and reflect on response and recovery efforts, Legislators have also received a full list of interim charges from the Texas House of Representatives. I have been busy addressing interim charges assigned to the House committees I serve on and providing additional information to the other House committees, especially as they relate to issues we are experiencing here in HD 18.

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Energy Collective

October 31, 2017

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Regains Ability to Certificate Natural Gas Pipelines

Three new pipeline projects in the northeast received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in October, the first projects to be approved since February. FERC regained its quorum in August after the Senate confirmed two new commissioners. These confirmations ended a six-month period when FERC was unable to issue certificates to allow construction of interstate energy transmission infrastructure, including natural gas pipeline projects. FERC did not have a quorum beginning in February 2017 when the number of commissioners fell below the required minimum of three. The final two commissioners await a floor vote by the Senate.

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The Hill

October 31, 2017

EPA blocks scientists who get grants from its advisory boards

The Trump administration rolled out a new policy Tuesday that states scientists receiving Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants cannot serve on the agency’s advisory boards, a move critics decried as part of a war on independent science. The policy, rolled out at an EPA event by Administrator Scott Pruitt, bars hundreds of expert scientists working in environmental and health fields at universities from serving on the boards. Conversely, it would almost certainly increase the representation from companies and industry groups on the panels. The policy change was quickly denounced by Democrats and environmental groups, who called it a poorly disguised attempt to push out experts at odds with industry.

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Newsweek

October 31, 2017

Trump may not seek re-election: Rand Paul, Chris Christie

Another top GOP official has raised doubts about whether President Donald Trump will run for re-election. Senator Rand Paul said Sunday night that even though the president is raising millions for a 2020 campaign, Republicans should not assume he’s running. “There could well be a primary,” the junior senator from Kentucky said on MSNBC, after being asked if a 2020 primary would be good for the Republican Party. … Paul’s comment echoes what Trump insider and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told the Today show’s Matt Lauer on October 27: “If he runs again I would support him, yes, but I’m not so sure what will happen.”

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Big Law Business

October 25, 2017

Labor Department Top Attorney Nominee Represented Silica Company

President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Labor Department’s Office of the Solicitor, Kate O’Scannlain, once worked for one of the nation’s largest silica sand suppliers, potentially putting her at odds with the department’s ongoing defense of OSHA’s silica rule. Among O’Scannlain’s private law practice clients at Kirkland & Ellis LLP is U.S. Silica Co., based in Frederick, Md., according a financial disclosure form she filed in early October with the Office of Government Ethics. … According to U.S. Silica stockholder reports, the company had a revenue of $560 million in 2016, operating nine industrial sand production plants, and nine oil and gas sand production plants. Among the other companies are investment firms the Blackstone Group and Bain Capital Private Equity LP; and online food delivery provider GrubHub Inc.

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Houston Chronicle

October 31, 2017

In unprecedented shift, EPA to prohibit scientists who receive agency funding from serving as advisers

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is poised to make wholesale changes to the agency’s key advisory group, jettisoning scientists who have received grants from the EPA and replacing them with industry experts and state government officials. The move represents a fundamental shift, one that could change the scientific and technical advice that historically has guided the EPA as the agency crafts environmental regulations. The decision to bar any researcher who receives EPA grant money from serving as an adviser to the agency appears to be unprecedented.

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Toronto Star

October 31, 2017

Ted Cruz warns of ‘profound damage’ to U.S. economy if Trump kills NAFTA

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz warned Tuesday that the United States would face “massive economic costs” if President Donald Trump killed the North American Free Trade Agreement — but that Trump might go ahead and make that decision. Cruz said “NAFTA has created millions of jobs across the United States,” and he said “Texans believe in international trade.” He expressed concern that Trump, whom he generally supports, would seek to use the ongoing NAFTA renegotiation to reduce trade and erect protectionist barriers rather than to expand trade. Reducing access to the Canadian and Mexican markets, Cruz said, would “do profound damage to the American economy and to Texas in particular.”

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