The Texas Energy Report NewsClips Archives December 2017

Archives are listed from latest down to earliest monthly entries

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – December 29, 2017

 

Lead Stories

 

Wall St. Journal – December 28, 2017

Power Plants Bloom Even as Electricity Prices Wilt

A glut of gas from U.S. shale fields is fueling a power-plant construction boom in several Northeastern states, despite fierce competition that has caused wholesale electricity prices to plummet.

The key for electricity producers is location. Having access to transmission lines to move megawatts to market is vital; but in addition by building close to natural-gas reserves, power producers can more easily access cheap fuel supplies.

In Pennsylvania and Ohio, which sit above the prolific Marcellus Shale formation, companies including Invenergy LLC and Calpine Corp. CPN 0.07% are building gas-fired power plants capable of generating a combined 8.6 gigawatts when they come online between now and 2020, according to federal data. That output, which is enough to power up to 8.6 million homes, would require about 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas a day—roughly the equivalent of the daily flow through a major pipeline.

___________

 

Inside Climate News – December 22, 2017

Banerjee: How big oil lost control of its climate misinformation machine

The Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank, launched a billboard campaign in 2012 to compare believers in global warming to “murderers and madmen” such as the Unabomber, Charles Manson and Osama bin Laden. The backlash was so severe that Heartland pulled the plug within 24 hours, but it still lost major donors and political allies and faced criticism that its fight against climate science was beyond extreme. … Heartland’s rebound is striking. Its ascent into the Trump administration’s orbit, where it now advises the Environmental Protection Agency on climate change issues, marks the most dramatic success yet in a decades-long crusade, first funded by fossil fuel money, against the mainstream scientific conclusion that human activity is warming the planet and inviting disastrous consequences.

___________

 

Longview News Journal – December 22, 2017

Energy industry looking to brighter 2018

Owners of Longview-area oil and natural gas businesses are seeing hopeful signs of a slow recovery in 2018 with oil prices rising, natural gas price stability and a friend in the White House.

Some of them began stepping up drilling operations earlier this year or plan to do so next year depending on continuing increases in prices, with gas possibly overtaking oil production in a few years.

Their decisions will boil down the old economics concepts of supply and demand.

___________

 

New York Times – December 14, 2017

Where wind farms meet coal country, there’s enduring faith in Trump

GLENROCK, Wyo. — No place is more likely than this one to benefit from President Trump’s promise to make the United States a dominant energy force in the world, or more likely to be disappointed if the promise is not kept. … Actually, oil and gas exploration soared during most of the Obama administration before it swooned in the final two years. But Mr. Trump’s embrace of coal mining and unfettered energy production is particularly welcome here, since almost everyone is dependent on energy jobs — coal miners and their families, out-of-state oil workers who drill and complete wells, and the business owners and service workers catering to everyone. This is a place that gauges its well-being by the local rig count and, since big-time coal mining began here in the 1970s and 1980s, how often mile-long coal trains pass by.

___________

 

Des Moines Register – December 20, 2017

Chemical exposure results in injuries, pink slips at Iowa wind blade maker, lawsuits claim

Every day, Zarpka “Patience” Green scratches at the constant, gnawing itch that plagues her entire body.

It keeps her up at night. Her skin is so sensitive, she avoids winter coats and layered clothing, she said.

For relief, she showers at least twice a day and regularly slathers up with handfuls of lotion.

The 36-year-old suffers from contact dermatitis, a condition she says she contracted while crawling inside cavernous wind turbine blades to apply a hazardous resin at TPI Composites’ Newton factory.

To make matters worse, Green says TPI fired her because of the illness.

 

 

Oil and Gas Stories

 

Financial Times – December 27, 2017

BP chief says shale will have limited effect on global oil market
There is a limit to how big a role US shale can play in the global oil market, according to the chief executive of BP, who said traditional producers such as Saudi Arabia would continue to exert more influence over crude prices. Bob Dudley said he had become less worried about the extent to which US shale resources could hold down prices as more was learned about their geology. “There are cracks appearing in the model of the Permian being one single, perfect oilfield,” he told the Financial Times, referring to the region of Texas and New Mexico at the centre of the shale revolution.

___________

 

Associated Press – December 28, 2017

Trump administration rescinding rules for oil, gas drilling

President Donald Trump’s administration is rescinding proposed rules for hydraulic fracturing and other oil- and gas-drilling practices on government lands, government officials announced Thursday. The rules developed under President Barack Obama would have applied mainly in the West, where most federal lands are located. Companies would have had to disclose the chemicals used in fracking, which pumps pressurized water underground to break open hydrocarbon deposits.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

___________

 

Associated Press – December 28, 2017

U.S offshore drilling agency rolls back safety regs

The nation’s offshore drilling regulator announced Thursday it was pulling back some of the safety regulations put in place following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico. “It’s time for a paradigm shift in the way we regulate the OCS,” said Scott Angelle, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. “There was an assumption made previously that only more rules would increase safety, but ultimately it is not an either/or proposition. We can actually increase domestic energy production and increase safety and environmental protection.”

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle

___________

 

Bloomberg – December 22, 2017

U.S. Refiners Running Hard This Winter Give Oil Demand a Boost

Oil demand may jump in the new year as U.S. refiners plan to take fewer units offline than last winter, freeing them up to churn out more fuel. Crude unit shutdowns in the first two months of the year are expected to be 35 percent below winter 2017, according to data from Energy Aspects Ltd. March outages are seen falling 55 percent from the prior year, potentially increasing crude demand at a time when U.S. supplies are already at the lowest since October 2015.

___________

 

Associated Press – December 28, 2017

Rising energy costs eyed amid brutal cold snap gripping US

Plunging temperatures across half the country on Thursday underscored a stark reality for low-income Americans who rely on heating aid: Their dollars aren’t going to go as far this winter because of rising energy costs. Forecasters warned people to be wary of hypothermia and frostbite from an arctic blast that’s gripping a large swath from the Midwest to the Northeast, where the temperature, without the wind chill factored in, dipped to minus 32 (minus 35 Celsius) on Thursday morning in Watertown, New York.

___________

 

San Antonio Express News – December 23, 2017

Mexico’s presidential front-runner a wildcard for US ties

Mexico’s leftist presidential front-runner is combative and unbending, and his personality-based campaign proclaiming honesty and fiery nationalism could set up a unique and combustible relationship with his northern counterpart should he win. …

Where Trump and Lopez Obrador most agree is on skepticism about NAFTA. Both have called for renegotiating a deal they say has harmed the working class in their countries.

Trump wants to increase U.S. content in automobiles under NAFTA rules and stem the migration of auto plants to Mexico. Lopez Obrador would ban foreign ownership of oil and energy resources and try to make Mexico more self-reliant — in part by pushing for greater reinvestment in the state oil company in order to cut fuel imports from the U.S.

___________

 

Texas Public Radio – December 21, 2017

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Battle Ends, But Drilling Not A Given

The tax bill calls for the federal government to hold at least two oil and gas lease sales in the next decade. And Alaska might finally get an answer to one of its big questions: which oil companies — if any — will actually want to drill in ANWR?

For now, the top three oil companies in Alaska are keeping their cards hidden. ExxonMobil declined to comment for this story. ConocoPhillips said in a statement it will “consider it against other opportunities in our portfolio, just as we do with exploration opportunities worldwide.” BP referred all questions to an industry lobbying group, the Alaska Oil and Gas Association. Kara Moriarty, the association’s president, said she has no idea what oil companies might bid on leases to drill in the Arctic Refuge.

___________

 

The Guardian – December 26, 2017

World’s largest plastics plant rings alarm bells on Texas coast

Donald Trump’s state visit to Saudi Arabia in May will perhaps be best remembered by his participation in an all-male sword dance where he awkwardly waved a ceremonial blade in step with his cabinet and their Saudi counterparts.

But a little-noted deal signed prior to the ceremony is set to worsen a vast problem the world has yet to fully confront – plastic pollution.

In front of a seated Trump and King Salman, Saudi officials posed for photos shaking hands with secretary of state Rex Tillerson and Darren Woods, Tillerson’s successor as chief executive of the oil and gas giant ExxonMobil.

___________

 

Platts – December 26, 2017

Enterprise delays startup of new Texas PDH unit: filing

Enterprise Products Partners has delayed its startup timeframe by three weeks to begin December 24 and run through January 23 on its newbuild 750,000 mt/year propane dehydrogenation plant in Mont Belvieu, Texas, the company said in a weekend regulatory filing with the state.
The referenced startup timeframe in the filing is a “best estimate,” the company said in a filing with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

___________

 

Victoria Advocate – December 17, 2017

Oil prices increase, leading to more production

“There are over 80 rigs in the Eagle Ford right now,” said Omar Garcia, president of the South Texas Energy and Economic Roundtable. “The price of oil has been pretty steady in the mid-50s and has allowed companies to continue their drilling scheduling. Companies have continued to invest in the region, and companies are hiring again.”

Energy Waste, headquartered in Yoakum, is an oil field equipment rental business. Part-owner Kenneth Schumacher said the company is busier now than this time than last year. Business has gradually increased during the last six months.

___________

 

Forbes – December 19, 2017

Lynch: The Next Oil Price Collapse

There is significant optimism about oil prices for next year given the return of inventories to something approaching “normal” levels, and a high degree of compliance among oil producers who have agreed to cut production. Strong economic growth should produce robust demand next year, and there is a relatively strong consensus that the market will be bullish for oil prices, with some talking about a $70 or $80 target for Brent. Compared to the swings of the last decade, a $10 or even $20 increase seems like a pittance, but would actually put $100 billion to $200 billion into the pockets of OPEC countries, and add tens of billions to the oil industry’s revenues.

___________

 

Texas Monthly – December 23, 2017

Odessa Stinks! (Literally.)

The oil field, it is said, smells, but it smells like money. Part of the price of living in a boomtown like Odessa is learning to tolerate the strange odors that accompany oil and gas production, like the rotten-egg smell of hydrogen sulfide. But the stench that descended on east Odessa over the past year is something else entirely.

Maria Chavez says she first noticed the powerful odor back in April, when she started driving for ride-sharing companies in town. A big part of her business was to take oil field workers to and from the gentlemen’s clubs, Rick’s Cabaret and Jaguars, on the east side of town. “To be honest, the first time I smelled it, I thought it was a passenger,” she said.

 

 

Utilities Stories

 

Associated Press – December 26, 2017

Tourism in coal country: Digging into culture, ecotourism

PERRY COUNTY, Ohio (AP) — Two-thirds of Appalachia’s coal industry jobs have disappeared since the 1990s. Now the region is hoping tourism will help rebuild its economy by tapping into history and its rugged natural beauty.

A Shawnee, Ohio, event re-enacted a Prohibition rally outside the real-life former speakeasy. In Corbin, Kentucky, they’re constructing an elk-viewing area on a former mountaintop mine. Virginia’s Crooked Road traces country music history. Ohio’s Winding Road takes visitors back to the birth of the U.S. labor movement.

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle

___________

 

Washington Times – December 21, 2017

Georgia regulators say nuclear reactors, nation’s first since 1978, will be finished

In a decision that could help shape the future of American nuclear power, Georgia regulators on Thursday said a troubled $25 billion reactor project that’s over budget and years behind schedule can continue — though state electricity customers will have to foot less of the bill moving forward.The unanimous vote of the five-member Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) will have reverberations across the nation and the energy sector; if the panel had stopped the expansion of the Plant Vogtle facility, it would have cast serious doubt on whether it’s commercially feasible to build a new nuclear reactor in the U.S. The two new reactors at the Vogtle site, located just south of Augusta, would be the first such new facilities put into operation nationwide since 1978.

___________

 

Utility Dive – December 18, 2017

‘Clean coal’ test facility planned for Wyoming

Clean Coal Technologies Inc. expects to begin operating a test plant in northeast Wyoming by summer 2018, Associated Press reports.
The New York-based company has developed a process that converts “raw” coal into a cleaner burning fuel. CCT boasts its “clean coal” technology may reduce 90% of chemical pollutants from coal, including sulfur and mercury, “thereby resolving emissions issues affecting coal-fired power plants.”

“Clean coal” has remained largely elusive, despite technologies which are known to work. Earlier this year Southern Co. canceled its Kemper integrated gasification combined cycle project in Mississippi after costs quadrupled.

___________

 

NBC News – December 18, 2017

Lighting the West, dividing a tribe

For almost half a century, America’s largest native reservation relied on coal: for jobs and economic vitality. Now the coal era on the Navajo reservation appears near an end. In Black Mesa, Arizona, tradition has it that the spiritual forerunners of the Navajo people picked this spot — the high mesa land of the American Southwest — and assured the Navajo they had reached a kind of promised land.

The Diné, or “children of the Holy People,” as the Navajo call themselves, were taught not to stray from the land bracketed by four sacred mountains, where they would never know the earthquakes, tornadoes and other calamities that beset their neighbors. The Navajo scratched out a living from the sparse scrub country and, for centuries, the teaching seemed true enough.

___________

Associated Press – December 25, 2017

Dark, desperate life without power in Puerto Rico

A study conducted Dec. 11 by a group of local engineers estimated roughly 50 percent of the island’s 3.3 million people remained without power. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has said it likely won’t be until May that all of Puerto Rico is electrified.

Local and federal officials blame the rough terrain and extensive damage for delaying restoration of a power infrastructure that was in dire need of maintenance due to Puerto Rico’s 11-year-old recession. A growing number of Puerto Ricans say officials didn’t prepare for the hurricane and didn’t activate a mutual aid agreement with power companies on the U.S. mainland quickly enough.

 

 

Alternative and Renewables Stories

 

The Guardian – December 14, 2017

In 10 years’ time trains could be solar powered

Last week, my 10:10 colleague Leo Murray co-authored a new report on solar-powered trains with Nathaniel Bottrell, an electrical engineer at Imperial College.

It’s exciting stuff. We think solar could power 20% of the Merseyrail network in Liverpool, as well as 15% of commuter routes in Kent, Sussex and Wessex. There’s scope for solar trams in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham, London and Manchester too, and there’s no reason it should just be a British thing either. We’re especially excited about possibilities in San Francisco, Mexico City, India and Spain, but trains and trams all over the world could be running on sun in a few years time.

___________

 

The Hill – December 12, 2017

Jarrett: Sorry wind and solar, America’s insatiable energy demands require reliable power sources

The United States urgently needs to settle on a roadmap for the next 30 years of domestic power generation. And that’s because recent attempts to strengthen the nation’s electric grid are running headlong into opposition from an industry that prefers the status quo.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that America’s electricity needs will grow 12.5 percent through 2040. That may be a conservative prediction — given prospects for greater economic expansion ahead. But even such modest growth in electricity demand poses real challenges.

___________

 

Solar Industry Magazine – December 20, 2017

Energy Department Awards $12M To Boost Solar Forecasting

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $12 million in new funding for eight projects to advance predictive modeling capabilities for solar generation. The DOE says these models will lead to more accurate forecasts of solar generation levels, enabling utilities to better manage the variability and uncertainty of solar power and improve grid reliability.

“These projects will address a critical gap in our research, which is knowing precisely how much solar electricity to expect at any given hour on any given day,” states U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

___________

 

Bloomberg – December 4, 2017

Bullard: Who Will Fund Clean Energy? Familiar Faces

People who invest in the world’s energy systems often want to know how many trillions of dollars will be needed to finance renewable energy and natural gas. One way to find the answer is to look at what those who have already invested trillions of dollars want to happen as the world transitions to a lower-carbon power system and electrifies transportation. A look at the numbers shows that the first thing they want is scale. The 10 largest institutional asset managers each manage more than $1 trillion; the largest, BlackRock Inc., manages nearly $6 trillion. Trillions of dollars of investor supply naturally need trillions of dollars of asset and company demand.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 19, 2017

Developers proposing offshore wind farms

Offshore wind farm developers are submitting proposals for large-scale operations off Massachusetts.

Deepwater Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski says his company will submit two proposals by Wednesday’s deadline for firms seeking to supply at least 400 megawatts of offshore wind energy to Massachusetts power companies.

 

 

Regulatory Stories

 

San Antonio Express News – December 28, 2017

EPA says San Antonio air quality OK for now

San Antonio avoided placement for now on a list of Texas regions the Environmental Protection Agency intends to label as noncompliant with federal ozone standards, a rating that can carry long-term and costly economic implications.

The agency is seeking more up-to-date 2017 data before making final air pollution designations, likely next spring, the EPA wrote in a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott on Dec. 22.

The agency did signal, however, that it will reclassify counties in the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth areas as noncompliant with stricter ozone standards adopted in 2015.

___________

 

Texas Observer – December 28, 2017

Latest Texan to Join Trump’s EPA is Still Deciding if She Believes in Climate Change

When the Trump administration announced the appointment of Anne Idsal as the new regional EPA administrator, Adrian Shelley, the director of Public Citizen Texas, had just one thought: Who? “That name meant nothing to me,” said Shelley, who has worked on environmental issues in Texas for the past six years.

Idsal is something of an unknown quantity for many, though she comes from a well-connected Texas political family with ties to the Republican guard and has worked at a high level in state government for years. Her mother, Katharine Armstrong, served on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission under George W. Bush; her grandmother, Anne Armstrong, was an ambassador to the United Kingdom during the Ford administration.

___________

 

Fox News – December 27, 2017

‘Junk science’? Studies behind Obama regulations under fire

Scientific studies used by the Obama administration to help justify tough environmental regulations are coming under intensifying scrutiny, with critics questioning their merit as the Trump EPA reverses or delays some of those rules.

In one case, agencies determined the research used to prop up a ban on a pesticide was questionable. On another front, the Environmental Protection Agency never complied with a congressional subpoena for the data used to justify most Obama administration air quality rules.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 21, 2017

Bruner: States overreach in thwarting pipelines

Imagine if a new interstate highway, planned for years to connect two major population areas, was abruptly halted at the behest of a single state official for purely political reasons. The public outcry would be fast and furious.

Yet interstate natural gas pipeline projects are suffering much the same treatment, leaving households, businesses and entire communities deprived of access to an affordable energy source thanks to raw political calculations with no bearing on the merits of the projects themselves.

___________

 

Mother Jones – December 6, 2017

Drum: Fracking Is a Huge American Money Pit

I learned something new today. Every year, fracking operations in the United States produce more than a billion barrels of oil and gas. And we’re basically just giving it all away:

That’s right: the whole industry is a huge money sink. If you invested $100 in the S&P 500 a decade ago, you’d have $180 today. If you invested $100 in fracking, you’d have…

$69.

 

___________

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – December 28, 2017

 

Lead Stories

 

 

Houston Chronicle – December 27, 2017

Permian Basin oil production crushes 1973 records

Operators have pumped more barrels of oil out of West Texas’ prolific Permian Basin than ever before.

Permian production hit 815 million barrels in 2017, blowing past the previous record of 790 million barrels set in 1973, business research firm IHS Markit said on Tuesday.

“The magnitude of the rebound in Permian Basin liquids production is unprecedented,” analyst Reed Olmstead said in a report. “Not so long ago, many in the industry were saying the Permian was dead.”

___________

 

The New Yorker – December 27, 2017

The Dark Bounty of Texas Oil

Fracking is a dark bounty. It has created enormous wealth for some, and the flood of natural gas has lowered energy costs for many, but it has also despoiled communities and created enduring environmental hazards. As in many Texas towns where fracked wells have become commonplace, the citizens of dishwere anxious. In 2010, the town paid fifteen thousand dollars for an air-quality study. It found elevated amounts of benzene, a carcinogen, and other harmful chemicals, but not at levels that are known to endanger health. “If you drew a circle of a mile around my house, there were probably two hundred wells inside it,” the former mayor, Calvin Tillman, told me. His children started getting nosebleeds when gassy odors were present. “One of my boys got a nosebleed that was all over his hands,” Tillman recalled.

___________

 

Oil Price – December 17, 2017

The Secret To Replacing Fossil Fuels

When it comes to renewables, skeptics tend to point out the lower efficiency rates as opposed to fossil fuels, the high costs, and the dependence on subsidies for making a profit. But technology is coming to the rescue, accelerating efficiency gains and cost reductions.

Technology is too general a term, however. Specifically, it’s supercomputers that are making the difference for renewables, says Peter Kelly-Detwiler from consultancy NorthBridge Energy Partners. Supercomputers are becoming faster and more powerful, more capable of coming up with new, better, molecules and designs for renewable energy installations.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 27, 2017

First wireless charging technology approved by the FCC

Two competing technologies for delivering wireless charging over the air have been given regulatory nods by the Federal Communications Commission to begin manufacturing and selling wireless power chargers in the United States. Both Energous Corp. and Powercast Corp. received FCC approval this week for transmitters that convert electricity to radio waves, which are then beamed to a devices equipped with receivers. The companies plan to show off their technologies at the upcoming CES electronics show in Las Vegas in January.

___________

 

DNA India – December 16, 2017

In a first, solar power projects planned on dams

The Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited (MahaGenco) is planning to develop solar power projects on dams in its first such attempt in the state. These floating solar panels will do away with the need for the state-owned utility to acquire land to add capacity to its renewable energy portfolio and also reduce the evaporation of water from these reservoirs.

The MahaGenco plans to develop solar power worth 250 MW capacity through this route.

 

 

Oil and Gas Stories

 

CNBC – December 28, 2017

Oil prices near 2015 highs on tight market

Oil prices were stable on Thursday with trading activity drying up ahead of the New Year weekend.

Heading into 2018, traders said market conditions were relatively tight due to ongoing supply cuts led by the Middle East dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), as well as top producer Russia.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $59.69 a barrel at 0134 GMT, up 5 cents from their last settlement. WTI broke through $60 a barrel earlier this week, the first time since June 2015.

Brent crude futures were at $66.50 a barrel, up 6 cents. Brent broke through $67 this week, the first time since May 2015 this week.

___________

 

World Oil – December 24, 2017

Permian producers push the envelope for output growth in 2018

Sought-after shale acreage in the Permian basin has been the jewel of U.S. production growth in the past year. Although its prolific geology should continue to produce oil and gas at increased rates, the leaps and bounds wrought by longer laterals and increased proppant usage could begin to taper off in 2018.

Indeed, lateral lengths focused in the Permian’s highest-quality Bone Spring, Wolfcamp Delaware and Wolfcamp Midland plays have increased by a range of 20% to 35% since 2014. For instance, last June, lateral lengths averaged more than 9,000 ft in the Wolfcamp Midland, versus about 7,200 ft in June 2014.

___________

 

Reuters – December 22, 2017

Colonial Pipeline Co, the largest U.S. fuel network, defended the fees it charges to ship gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, saying on Friday a formal complaint by some of its biggest customers was based on “purposefully manipulated” financial data.

In a November complaint filed with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), affiliates of Chevron, Valero and Delta Air Lines said Colonial’s rates were excessive and unreasonable, and accused it of effectively monopolizing the New York market.

The complaint alleged that Colonial’s opaque fee structure pushed its 2016 interstate revenue to exceed its costs by $339.3 million, earning it about a 29 percent realized return on equity, an increase of about 44 percent from 1991.

___________

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – December 23, 2017

Petroleum Index has jumped 28.5% in last 13 months

Crude prices broke out of their doldrums beginning in October, helping spur continued increase in oil field activity.

That rise helped spur continued growth in the Texas Permian Basin Petroleum Index, which posted its 13th consecutive month of increase and now stands 28.5 percent higher than October 2016 levels.

“Even at that, the Texas Permian Basin Petroleum Index remains down by some 29 percent compared to an all-time peak achieved in November 2014,” said Karr Ingham, the Amarillo economist who prepares the index.

___________

 

Barron’s – December 26, 2017

Oil-Services Stocks Break Out

The energy sector finally woke up in August. After lagging the broad market for nearly a decade, the Energy Select Sector SPDR exchange-traded fund finally joined the rally, gaining about 17% since that time.

But even as major international, refiner, and exploration and production subsectors moved higher, oil-services stocks were curiously absent. Indeed, the Philadelphia Oil Services Index, known as the OSX, moved sideways for several months instead of following its cousins.

That changed only last week, as the index finally scored a technical breakout above its range and moved above its 200-day moving average for the first time since April .

___________

 

San Antonio Express News – December 27, 2017

LNG sales to China boom

China’s imports of liquefied natural gas from the U.S. jumped last month as the country snatched up a record volume of the fuel to meet surging demand for heating and industrial use.

Shipments from the U.S. totaled 407,325 metric tons in November, up from nothing the same month a year earlier and 57 percent from October, placing one of the world’s newest LNG sellers as the third-biggest supplier to China, behind stalwarts Australia and Qatar.

___________

 

Gulf Times – December 24, 2017

Energy CEOs facing squeeze as proxy giant roots out the overpaid

Institutional Shareholder Services Inc, the world’s biggest proxy adviser, next year will add new metrics to a screening process it uses to flag companies that overpay executives who underdeliver for investors. ISS’s advice is bought by investors managing more than $25tn, and can sway as much as 20% of the shareholder vote, research shows.
Instead of just focusing on total shareholder returns, companies now will be judged on their return on invested capital as well as their assets and earnings growth. It’s a move that intensifies investor-led efforts to force financial discipline on an industry that overspent on production growth before the 2014 oil rout, and now is struggling to provide meaningful investor returns.

___________

 

Reuters – December 21, 2017

Oasis looks to expand oil ambitions beyond North Dakota’s Bakken

Oasis Petroleum Inc, the last major oil producer operating exclusively in North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation, is heading south to the nation’s largest oilfield, pursuing a pricey expansion as investors worry about maturing shale fields.

Oasis shares have tumbled 21 percent following last week’s disclosure, pointing to growing tension between oil producers looking to invest in their future and investors demanding better returns.

___________

 

Platts – December 26, 2017

Enterprise delays startup of new Texas PDH unit: filing

Enterprise Products Partners has delayed its startup timeframe by three weeks to begin December 24 and run through January 23 on its newbuild 750,000 mt/year propane dehydrogenation plant in Mont Belvieu, Texas, the company said in a weekend regulatory filing with the state.
The referenced startup timeframe in the filing is a “best estimate,” the company said in a filing with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

___________

 

Albany Democrat and Chronicle – December 23, 2017

Fracking: Landowner sues New York, seeks compensation for ban

An East Rochester lawyer waging a years-long battle over New York’s hydraulic fracturing ban is taking a new approach, filing a lawsuit last week attempting to force the state to compensate him for the oil-and-gas rights on his land.

David Morabito and his wife, Colette, are suing the state Department of Environmental Conservation in federal court, arguing that the state essentially took their property rights by preventing them from allowing high-volume fracking on their land.

___________

 

NASDAQ – December 21, 2017

U.S. tax overhaul likely to spur spending by refiners, pipeline cos

U.S. refiners and pipeline companies are likely to embark on a capital spending spree in the next year, fueled by a provision in the recently-passed U.S.

tax bill that rewards investment in new projects, said energy industry lobbyists and analysts.

The bill contains a bonus depreciation provision that allows all companies to immediately write off the full costs of capital improvements, instead of depreciating the new asset over time.

___________

 

New York Times – December 15, 2017

BP, Once a Renewables Leader, Bets $200 Million on Solar

BP had been at the forefront when it came to major oil companies going green. It invested billions in renewables. It was quick to acknowledge the link between fossil fuels and global warming. It adopted the slogan “Beyond Petroleum.”

But that all fell by the wayside when the company was hit by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. On Friday, in what may be a move to repolish tarnished green credentials, the energy giant said that it would spend $200 million to acquire a large stake in a Lightsource, a solar power developer based in Britain.

 

 

Utilities Stories

 

San Antonio Express News – December 22, 2017

CPS Energy partners with UTSA researchers in hunt for new technology

San Antonio’s CPS Energy is providing $1.5 million in funding for researchers at UTSA who are working on new technologies to improve power generation.

The funding was announced in October and is the latest installment in a partnership between CPS and the UTSA-based Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute that began in 2010 when the institute was founded. CPS is donating $50 million over a 10-year period to the institute’s research efforts.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 27, 2017

CenterPoint sending repair crews to Puerto Rico

Houston’s CenterPoint Energy will send crews to Puerto Rico in January, as part of a national effort to repair the island’s power grid after Hurricane Maria hit this fall.

CenterPoint, which runs electricity and gas distribution for the Houston area, will send 68 em-ployees to Puerto Rico for six weeks to help repair the island’s grid, much of which winds through rugged mountains with little or no road access after Hurricane Maria, according to CenterPoint.

___________

 

Forbes – December 18, 2017

Marcacci: Utilities Closed Dozens Of Coal Plants In 2017. Here Are The 6 Most Important.

Utility coal power closures driven by market economicswere a regular occurrence throughout 2017. While President Donald Trump’s “Energy Dominance” agenda gave the false impression that federal efforts could revive coal, 27 coal-fired plants totaling 22 gigawatts (GW) of capacity were announced for early closure or conversion in 2017 – roughly one every 15 days since Trump’s election.

U.S. electricity generation economics have completely reversed. Building new coal is more expensive than building new renewable energy across the U.S. , and in many parts of the country, keeping existing coal plants open is more expensive than building new wind turbines (and solar, in some places).

___________

 

Spectrum News – December 23, 2017

Austin Energy extends solar power to low-income customers
Austin Energy is accepting applications for a program to help low-income customers receive solar power at a discounted rate.

Approved by the Austin City Council earlier this month, the program will accept about 200 eligible customers. They also do not have to install solar panels.

“Austin wants to shrink its carbon footprint,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler in a statement.

___________

 

Vox – December 15, 2017

Roberts, Chang: Meet the microgrid, the technology poised to transform electricity

We need a greener grid. But that’s not all.

The highly digital modern world also demands a more reliable grid, capable of providing high-quality power to facilities like hospitals or data centers, where even brief brownouts can cost money or lives.

The renewable energy sources with the most potential — wind and solar — are variable, which means that they come and go on nature’s schedule, not ours. They ramp up and down with the weather, so integrating them into the grid while maintaining (and improving) reliability means finding clever ways to balance out their swings.

 

Alternative and Renewables Stories

 

Dallas Morning News – December 26, 2017

Turning trash into cash: Converting landfill gas to renewable natural gas creates new revenue

MELISSA — Luke Morrow looked at the 30-foot-tall candlestick flare at the Collin County landfill and saw dollar signs disappearing.

“We are burning money, and it’s very painful,” said the president of Morrow Renewables, which started the final phase of testing earlier this month at the landfill’s new gas-to-energy plant. The plant became operational on Dec. 15.

The flare burns off the gas generated by the decomposing solid waste at the landfill. It also helps control landfill odors. But with Morrow’s help, that waste stream will now be a revenue stream.

___________

 

Austin American Statesman – December 26, 2017

Austin’s role in the rise of autonomous vehicles

At a news conference in the spring, Austin Mayor Steve Adler made a bold statement about the city’s future in innovative technology — specifically, its future in the automotive industry.

“Austin,” Adler said, “should be to automated vehicles what Detroit was to the last century of automakers.”

For years, high-tech and automotive companies have sped toward a future where autonomous vehicles dominate the market, promising market-ready vehicles within the next decade.

___________

 

Washington Post – December 26, 2017

Tesla’s enormous battery in Australia, just weeks old, is already responding to outages in ‘record’ time

Less than a month after Tesla unveiled a new backup power system in South Australia, the world’s largest lithium-ion battery is already being put to the test. And it appears to be far exceeding expectations: In the past three weeks alone, the Hornsdale Power Reserve has smoothed out at least two major energy outages, responding even more quickly than the coal-fired backups that were supposed to provide emergency power.

Tesla’s battery last week kicked in just 0.14 seconds after one of Australia’s biggest plants, the Loy Yang facility in the neighboring state of Victoria, suffered a sudden, unexplained drop in output, according to the International Business Times.

____________

 

New York Times – December 19, 2017

After 16 Years, Hopes for Cape Cod Wind Farm Float Away

At the height of the oil embargo in 1974, Jim Gordon was sitting in a line for gas that extended two blocks, frustrated that the United States had become so dependent on foreign oil.

That led him into the clean energy business and, decades later, to plan the nation’s first offshore wind farm, to be called Cape Wind. It would provide clean power to 200,000 homes on Cape Cod and spur the building of other such farms up and down the East Coast.

But after 16 years — and $100 million of his own money — that dream is, well, gone with the wind. Mr. Gordon has pulled the plug, stymied by endless litigation and a series of financial and political setbacks that undermined Cape Wind’s viability.

___________

 

Clean Technica – December 21, 2017
Every year, the California Energy Commission releases its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) report, which gives details about the mix of energy experienced by all utilities within the state during the preceding 12 months. The report for this year, released in November, shows that all three of the state’s investor-owned utilities — Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric — are projected to derive 50% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. That is a full decade ahead of schedule. PG&E reports it used 32.9% renewable energy in the past year. The figure for SoCal Edison was 28.2%. San Diego Gas & Electric led the pack with 43.2% renewable energy.

 

Regulatory Stories

 

Austin American Statesman – December 22, 2017

2 Texas Trump nominees find no easy path to confirmation

Two conservative Texas candidates for top environmental jobs in the Trump administration, Susan Combs and Kathleen Hartnett White, have had their nominations derailed by a procedural move and must be renominated by the White House.

The Senate on Thursday agreed to carry over a list of nominees who had not yet been confirmed by the chamber into the next session of Congress that begins Jan. 1. But neither Combs nor White were on the list.

___________

 

Bloomberg – December 25, 2017

China to Overtake U.S. Economy by 2032 as Asian Might Builds

The growing importance of Asia’s major economies will continue in 2018 and beyond, according to a league table that sees the region dominating in terms of size in just over a decade. The report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research in London sees India leapfrogging the U.K. and France next year to become the world’s fifth-biggest economy in dollar terms. It will advance to third place by 2027, moving ahead of Germany. In 2032, three of the four largest economies will be Asian — China, India and Japan — and, by that time, China will also have overtaken the U.S. to hold the No. 1 spot. India’s advance won’t stop there, according to the CEBR, which sees it taking the top place in the second half of the century.

___________

 

Yahoo! News – December 26, 2017

Northeast states sue EPA over air pollution from Midwest

Eight northeastern states said on Tuesday they sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to force it to impose more stringent controls on a group of mostly Midwestern states whose air pollution they claim is being blown in their direction.

In the latest development of a legal saga that began during Barack Obama’s presidency, the lawsuit by New York and seven other states challenges a Trump administration decision to allow nine upwind states to escape tighter smog pollution controls.

“Millions of New Yorkers are breathing unhealthy air as smog pollution continues to pour in from other states,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who led the coalition of states that filed the lawsuit dated Friday.

___________

 

Politico – December 15, 2017

U.S. setting stage for solar trade war with China

An unreleased White House document offers the strongest hint yet that the Trump administration is laying the groundwork for punitive tariffs on Chinese-made solar power equipment — a step that would promote the president’s “America First” trade agenda while sharply increasing the costs of solar power in the U.S.

The prospect of such tariffs, which President Donald Trump could announce in January, has deeply alarmed the U.S. solar installation industry. It warns that it could lose tens of thousands of jobs if the cost of solar spikes, slowing the booming growth that sun-powered energy enjoyed during the Obama administration.

___________

 

Vox – December 20, 2017

Roberts: Rick Perry’s fake grid crisis just got undermined by more grid experts

Energy Secretary Rick Perry wants to bail out coal and nuclear plants. He says the US energy grid is experiencing an urgent crisis — that its reliability and resilience are in immediate danger unless those power plants are saved.

There is no evidence to support this position, though Perry and his allies in the coal and nuclear industries repeat it like a mantra. Numerous credible analysts have examined the question, including Perry’s own DOE, and not one has uncovered a crisis. On the question of urgency, Perry is simply wrong, no matter how many times he repeats it. There’s no reason to rush into anything.

 

 

___________

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – December 27, 2018

 

Lead Stories

 

Houston Chronicle – December 21, 2017

Oil discoveries in 2017 hit all-time low

Oil companies discovered less oil and gas this year — 7 billion barrels — than any year on record, the Norwegian research firm Rystad Energy reported on Thursday.

“We haven’t seen anything like this since the 1940s,” says Sonia Mladá Passos, a senior analyst at Rystad. “We have to face the fact that the low discovered volumes on a global level represent a serious threat to the supply levels some 10 years down the road.”

In 2012, companies discovered four times that — more than 30 billion barrels.
___________

 

Bloomberg – December 22, 2017

U.S. Refiners Running Hard This Winter Give Oil Demand a Boost

Oil demand may jump in the new year as U.S. refiners plan to take fewer units offline than last winter, freeing them up to churn out more fuel.

Crude unit shutdowns in the first two months of the year are expected to be 35 percent below winter 2017, according to data from Energy Aspects Ltd. March outages are seen falling 55 percent from the prior year, potentially increasing crude demand at a time when U.S. supplies are already at the lowest since October 2015.

“If you have less turnarounds, refiners are going to be demanding more crude, so a lighter turnaround season is supportive for crude prices,” Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston, said by telephone.

___________

 

Dallas Morning News – December 26, 2017

Texas renewable energy sector may be dodging bullets from Washington in 2018

The renewable energy industry is bracing for a tumultuous new year as it tackles challenges from potential federal policy changes and new tax laws.

If President Donald Trump imposes tariffs on imported solar cellsand panels, it could help the fortunes of a few domestic solar companies while risking overall industry growth in 2018.

Then there is the possibility of subsidizing power from nuclear and coal plants. A fresh lease of life to currently unprofitable, polluting coal plants could potentially slow the transition to cleaner energy sources.

___________

 

Charleston Post and Courier (SC) – December 10, 2017

Power Failure — How utilities across the U.S. changed the rules to make big bets with your money

Listen to the folks who run some of our biggest electric utilities:

Tom Fanning, chief of Southern Company, in 2016 about its nuclear project in Georgia, which is years behind schedule: “It has gone beautifully. And we’re on schedule.”

Kevin Marsh, CEO of SCANA, in 2016 about South Carolina’s V.C. Summer nuclear project a few months before it collapsed: “We’re excited about where we are.”

Lewis Hay, CEO of Florida Power & Light, in 2011 about nuclear upgrades that cost twice as much as promised: “Our customers should greatly benefit.”

And Fanning again in 2015, this time about his company’s clean coal project in Mississippi, which isn’t burning coal or cleaning it: “We’re on a real winning streak right now.

They should have said “thank you,” because money they torched on these and other power plants wasn’t theirs.

It was yours.

____________

 

Green Tech Media – December 19, 2017

How Electric Vehicles Could Sink the Texas Grid

Simultaneous charging of just 60,000 next-generation electric vehicles could one day threaten the Texas grid, an analysis has shown.

Based on a 100-kilowatt EV battery with a 5-minute charge time, which could potentially be the standard for EVs in three or four years, demand from 60,000 cars charging at once would equate to 70 gigawatts, said analysts from GTM’s parent company, Wood Mackenzie.

That’s the same as the current peak demand for the whole of ERCOT, said Prajit Ghosh, Wood Mackenzie’s head of Americas power and renewables research.

 

 

 

Oil & Gas Stories

 

CNBC – December 27, 2017

Oil prices slip away from 2015 highs, but market remains tight

Oil prices on Wednesday slipped away from two-and-a-half year highs hit the previous session as the gradual resumption of flows through a major North Sea pipeline made up for supply disruption in Libya.

But the two outages in quick succession have highlighted how much tighter global oil markets have become a year into supply cuts led by OPEC and Russia.

At 0210 GMT U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $59.74 a barrel, down 23 cents from their last settlement. WTI broke through $60 a barrel for the first time since June 2015 in the previous session.

Brent crude futures were at $66.66 a barrel, down 36 cents. Brent broke through $67 for the first time since May 2015 the previous day.

____________

 

Oil Price – December 26, 2017

Oil Holds Steady Through Holidays

Oil held steady this week while light trading pushed prices slightly higher on Tuesday morning, adding to the likelihood that oil prices will hold their recent gains heading into the New Year. U.S. oil production is set to average about 9.3 million barrels per day (mb/d) in 2017, according to the EIA. The agency predicts that will grow to an average of 9.9 mb/d in 2018. That will exceed the annual record of 9.3 mb/d set back in 1970.
Supply growth will come from the Permian (+0.515 mb/d) and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico (+0.344 mb/d), with smaller contributions from elsewhere.

____________

 

US News – December 22, 2017

US Rig Count Rises by 1 to 931

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. rose by one this week to 931.

That exceeds the 653 rigs that were active this time a year ago.

Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported on Friday that 747 rigs were drilling for oil and 184 for natural gas this week.

Among oil- and gas-producing states, New Mexico gained four rigs, and North Dakotaadded one. Texas and Wyoming each lost two rigs, and Oklahoma lost one.

_____________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 26, 2017

Pipeline explosion sets back Libya’s oil revival; oil rallies

Libya’s oil industry revival had a setback Tuesday as a pipeline carrying crude to the OPEC nation’s biggest export terminal had an explosion. Oil rallied.

In New York, crude was trading at $59.75 a barrel at about 10:40 a.m. Central time.

The pipeline is operated by Waha Oil Co., carrying crude to the Es Sider terminal, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said.

_____________

 

Bloomberg – December 26, 2017

America’s Hottest Oil Play Just Needs a Few Thousand Truckers

When the price of oil collapsed in 2014 and disrupted drilling operations all across Texas’s massive Permian Basin shale formation, truckers were among those hardest hit. Rendered unnecessary by the slump in output, they were fired in scores. Now, three years later, with oil prices inching back higher and production in the Permian soaring once again, the drillers want the truckers back. The feeling, though, isn’t mutual. The pain of the 2014 bust remains fresh for many who went on to find driving gigs in other industries and, what’s more, they worry that companies will remain tightfisted with pay as they re-hire.

_____________

 

KIII (Corpus Christi) – December 18, 2017

New businesses eyeing Port of Corpus Christi as growth continues

The Port of Corpus Christi is one of the busiest ports in the U.S., and thanks to some new deals in place, even more, new businesses are about to set up shop there.

61-percent of U.S. oil exports travel through the Port of Corpus Christi right now, and Port officials believe that number is going to increase.

Port Executive Director John LaRue said the Port has become a major player in the oil export business in the two short years that the U.S. began to sell oil again overseas.

_____________

 

Associated Press – December 25, 2017

Fewer strong earthquakes in Oklahoma thus far in 2017

Regulators and scientists say the number of 3.0 magnitude or stronger earthquakes in Oklahoma is declining.

The Oklahoma Geological Survey reports the number of quakes of at least that magnitude during 2017 was 294 through mid-December, compared to 624 total during 2016.

The geological survey has said the number began declining in mid-2015 after the state Corporation Commission began directing oil and gas producers to close some wells and reduce injection volumes in others.

This story appeared on Yahoo! News

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 23, 2017

Energy loan defaults set to shrink in 2018, Fitch says

The energy industry’s financial prospects could improve in 2018 if oil prices stay elevated.

Fitch Ratings said in a report Thursday it believes the energy industry could default on 11 percent of its leveraged loans next year, down from 17 percent this year. That’s roughly $5 billion in loan defaults forecast for 2018, down from $7.4 billion in 2017.

_____________

 

Oil Price – December 21, 2017

A $1.7 Billion Natural Gas Pipeline To Ease The Permian Glut

Kinder Morgan, DCP Midstream, and a unit of Targa Resources are moving forward with their plan to build a US$1.7-billion gas pipeline in the Permian that could ease some of the takeaway bottlenecks in that basin, and reduce natural gas flaring that has increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline, DCP Midstream, and an affiliate of Targa Resources Corp announced on Thursday a final investment decision to proceed with the Gulf Coast Express Pipeline Project (GCX Project), designed to transport up to 1.92 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas.

_____________

 

Kallanish Energy – December 21, 2017

Texas producer to pay $2.25 million in gas royalties dispute

A federal prosecutor says a Texas-based independent oil and gas producer will pay $2.25 million to settle allegations it underpaid royalties for natural gas produced on federal land in Wyoming.

Colorado U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer said [last] Tuesday Citation Oil & Gas was accused of breaking federal law requiring companies to make royalty payments for natural gas produced on leased federal lands, The Associated Press reported.

Citation was accused of deducting the cost of making natural gas into a marketable product from its royalties, which isn’t permitted.

_____________

 

Austin American Statesman – December 26, 2017

Dallas Fed: Texas factory output spikes to 11-year high in December

Texas factory production tends to ebb and flow from one month to the next, but overall output surged throughout 2017 and in December reached its highest point in more than 11 years, according to a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

The state production index, a key measure of factory activity statewide, jumped to a reading of 32.8 in December from 15.1 the prior month, according to the monthly Texas Manufacturing Outlook Survey. … Oil and gas prices sustained their modest recovery, stabilizing much of the manufacturing sector’s lost demand from energy-related customers.

_____________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 21, 2017

Chevron Phillips completes $6B petrochemical expansion

Chevron Phillips Chemical said it completed construction of its $6 billion petrochemical expansion in the Houston area, although it’s not expected to be fully up and running until springtime.

The Woodlands-based petrochemical company said it wrapped up heavy construction of the massive ethane cracker – the crown jewel of the expansion – at its Cedar Bayou complex in Baytown. The project was originally supposed to be be completed months ago but has faced delays, including flooding during Hurricane Harvey.

_____________

 

Platts – December 19, 2017

Nebraska upholds Keystone XL approval, sparking likely court battle

Nebraska regulators [last] Tuesday upheld their decision to allow TransCanada to build the stalled 830,000 b/d Keystone XL crude pipeline, albeit on an alternative route.
The state Public Service Commission order denied requests by TransCanada and pipeline opponents to reconsider the November 20 approval.
… Lawyers for Nebraska landowners opposed to the project said Tuesday’s denial represents “the absolutely worst decision possible for TransCanada and the best possible outcome for landowners and the protection of their property rights.”

 

 

Utilities Stories

 

San Antonio Express News – December 14, 2017

CPS Energy board focusing on single candidate for CEO

CPS Energy’s board of trustees has zeroed in on a preferred candidate to be its next chief executive officer and has begun negotiating with that person, the utility’s incoming board chairman Ed Kelley said.

“The board has authorized the search committee to work with one candidate that we’ve identified to see if we can come to an agreement with that individual,” Kelley said after the board’ regular monthly meeting.

Kelley declined to name the prospective hire or say whether the person lives out of state or is a current CPS executive, citing confidentiality agreements with the candidates interviewed.

_____________

 

PV Magazine – December 21, 2017

Austin begins taking applications for low-income solar program

Over the past few years a number of programs have been launched across the nation to address these issues. And while California the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) program is launching to incentivize 300 MW solar on the roofs of low-income apartment buildings over the next decade, the majority of programs seen by pv magazine are based on off-site community solar.

Today the municipal utility in Austin, Texas officially joined this movement by opening applications for a low-income community solar offering. Up to 200 customers in Austin Energy’s Customer Assistance Program (CAP) can now receive electricity from the 2.5 MW La Loma Community Solar Project in East Austin.

_____________

 

Bloomberg – December 26, 2017

Why This Struggling Coal Stock Skyrocketed on Tuesday

A U.S. coal miner that’s seen its shares plunge 93 percent this year and its debt rated as junk just enjoyed the biggest intraday rally in almost 20 years. Call it the Trump bump. The U.S. Interior Department has signed off on an expansion of one of Westmoreland Coal Co.’s mines in Montana that could unlock 60 million tons of coal production, according to the Associated Press. The Colorado company’s shares skyrocketed as much as 49 percent, the most since 1998. They closed at $1.29 in New York Tuesday.

_____________

 

Oil Price – December 20, 2017

Saudi Arabia Expects To Finalize First Nuclear Reactor Contracts In 2018

Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih expects to sign two new nuclear reactor contracts by the end of next year, according to a new report by Reuters.

Falih made the remarks at a press conference in the country’s capital, adding that the Jizan oil refinery would also go online some time in 2018.

In his recent trip to Saudi Arabia, U.S. Energy Secretary Perry discussed Riyadh’s plans to embark on a 16-nuclear reactor building spree.

_____________

 

Clean Technica – December 16, 2017

Barnard: Tesla vs. Tesla: The Juice In Your Car Will Increasingly Come Through HVDC, Edison’s Preferred Current

This is partially a Thomas Edison vs Nikola Tesla story. Edison was committed to direct current, but Tesla liked alternating current. Alternating current was easier to step up and down and DC couldn’t be transformed reliably, so it became the transmission and distribution standard for electricity. Edison did some ugly things to try to win the fight, but lost. Then he won economically anyway.

Most long-distance transmission today is built using high-voltage alternating current, but it has some interesting limitations. It’s limited to 765 kilovolts (kV), which is more than enough to fry an egg. Due to the nature of alternating current, after that, voltage losses due to the electromagnetic field interacting with the insulation and heating it makes AC uneconomic.

 

 

Alternatives and Renewables Stories

 

Inside Climate News – December 26, 2017

In Central Texas Where Wind Power Means Jobs, Climate Talk is Beside the Point

All along the straight-shot roads of Nolan County in West Texas, wind turbines soar over endless acres of farms, the landscape either heavy with cotton ready to harvest or flushed green with the start of winter wheat. The turbines rise from expanses of ranches, where black Angus beef cattle gaze placidly at the horizon. Here and there are abandoned farmhouses dating to the 1880s, when this land was first settled and water windmills were first erected. Occasionally a few pump jacks bob their metallic heads, vestiges of a once-booming oil industry still satiating an endless thirst.

_____________

 

Denton Record Chronicle – December 15, 2017

Denton gets solar designation

The Solar Foundation named Denton to the bronze level of its SolSmart program for making it faster, easier and more affordable to install solar panels on homes and businesses.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, the program began in 2016 with the leadership of the International City/County Management Association. Nearly 150 cities and counties have achieved a bronze, silver or gold designation in the program.

 

Regulatory Stories

 

Dallas Morning News – December 23, 2017

Christian: Setting the record straight about the Railroad Commission of Texas

Seemingly every six months, The Dallas Morning News publishes an editorial inaccurately criticizing the job performance of the Railroad Commission of Texas in protecting the environment for the citizens of Texas. The latest fake-news piece accuses the Railroad Commission of turning a “blind eye to science” by not doing enough to protect the public from earthquakes.

The fact is, the commission is a government agency full of scientists who take the issue of induced seismicity very seriously. As a result, the commission has in place some of the most stringent rules on disposal wells — the type of wells some link to earthquakes — in the country.

_____________

 

Reuters – December 22, 2017

U.S. pipeline office needs to improve safety at gas storage sites: GAO

The U.S. pipeline safety office is struggling to inspect natural gas storage sites and uphold other standards on the facilities, according to a report released by the General Accountability Office on Friday

After a leak at California’s Aliso Canyon underground storage plant spewed natural gas for months, Congress updated pipeline standards in a bill signed by former President Barack Obama last year.

_____________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 26, 2017

Rice pulls out from UH hurricane research center

Rice University has backed out of a Gulf Coast hurricane research institute launched by the University of Houston to share expertise after Harvey battered Houston and the Texas coast.Rice’s withdrawal means that the private university’s decade-old storm center and its faculty will not be collaborating on projects financed and undertaken by the new center. Rice’s Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters center – itself a coalition of researchers from different schools – has worked with academics, emergency managers and public and private agencies since 2007.

_____________

 

Associated Press – December 21, 2017

Trump administration halts study of offshore oil inspections

The Trump administration has halted an independent scientific study of offshore oil inspections by the federal safety agency created after the massive 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine was told to cease review of the inspection program conducted by the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. Established after the 2010 spill, the bureau was assigned the role of improving offshore safety inspections and federal oversight.

_____________

 

Global Times – December 15, 2017

US interest rate hike has greater impact on world energy market

The US Federal Reserve (Fed) on Wednesday raised the benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points, as it raised the forecast for the country’s economic growth in 2018. Local analysts said the move has little impact on the domestic energy industry, but it makes the US dollar more competitive in the international energy market.
David P. Tuttle, a research fellow in the Energy Institute at University of Texas at Austin, told Xinhua on Thursday that the rise in interest rates can strengthen the dollar in the short term, making US assets more attractive to foreign investment and making the dollar “more competitive in international energy markets.”

_____________

 

Dallas Observer – December 14, 2017

Rick Perry May Be Under the Radar in Washington, But Nobody Here Would Count Him Out

When the president is on Twitter suggesting a U.S. senator is a whore and his fellow Republicans are on TV talking about how much they hate the FBI, guess who gets lost in the shuffle? Why, it’s our own Rick Perry, our former Gov. Oops. Where is that boy, anyway, and what in the devil’s he been doing with himself up there in Washington?

A quick check reveals he’s still very much doing the Donald’s work as secretary of energy and still with the great hair. Far from lounging around idle, our former three-term Texas governor has been exploiting his low profile to dig deep into the government.

 

 

____________

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – December 21, 2017

Lead Stories

 

Bloomberg – December 20, 2017

Oil Prices in 2018: Once Again It’s All About U.S. Shale Output

The direction of oil prices in 2018 will be decided in Texas.

Crude oil production out of the U.S. is expected to hit record levels next year, buoyed in part by OPEC supply curbs that have put a floor under prices. For analysts forecasting prices next year, there are two key questions: exactly how far American production grows and whether the global economy is strong enough to swallow those extra barrels?

Brent crude is expected to average $60 a barrel in 2018, while its U.S. counterpart is seen at about $55 a barrel, according to the median estimate of 27 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. That’s below where oil prices sit now — currently near $64 a barrel for Brent and close to $58 for West Texas Intermediate.

__________

 

The Hill – December 20, 2017

Congress votes to open Alaska refuge to oil drilling

Congress voted Wednesday to open Alaska’s remote Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and natural gas drilling, ending more than four decades of heated debate on the matter.

The House voted 224-201, mostly along party lines, to pass the Republicans’ tax overhaul bill, which has the ANWR drilling provision attached to it.

__________

 

Wall St. Journal – December 20, 2017

China to Shake Up Global Market With Yuan-Based Oil Futures Contract

China is preparing to launch its own yuan-based oil futures contract, a move set to shake up the 96 million barrel-per-day global crude market currently dominated by trading in London and New York.

No official launch date has been announced for the new contract, but traders and analysts in China say they expect trading in it to begin late this year or in early 2018. Trading will be based at the Shanghai International Energy Exchange, which has already conducted five test runs for the new contract, according to its website.

__________

 

Eurekalert – December 11, 2017

Glass with switchable opacity could improve solar cells and LEDs

Using nanoscale grass-like structures, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania have created glass that lets through a large amount of light while appearing hazy. This is the first time that glass has been made with such high levels of haze and light transmittance at the same time, a combination of properties that could help boost the performance of solar cells and LEDs.

The glass exhibits another remarkable quality: It can be switched from hazy to clear by applying water.

 

Oil and Gas Stories

 

CNBC – December 21, 2017

Oil prices stable on lower US crude stocks, but rising output weighs

Oil prices were stable on Thursday after posting strong gains late in the previous session on the back of a drop in U.S. crude inventories.

Another rise in U.S. oil production, which is close to breaking through 10 million barrels per day (bpd) is capping crude prices as it undermines efforts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia to tighten the market through withholding output this year and next.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $58.05 a barrel at 0126 GMT, down 3 cents from their last settlement.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $64.58 a barrel, down 8 cents.

__________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 20, 2017

US oil inventories fall by 100 million barrels since March peak

The nation’s commercial stockpile of crude has fallen by 100 million barrels since reaching the highest point in decades at the end of March.

Domestic oil inventories dropped by 6.5 million barrels last week, bringing the total amount of crude stored in tanks along the Gulf Coast and elsewhere to 436.5 million barrels, the Energy Department said in its weekly report on Wednesday.

That’s the fifth consecutive weekly decline in crude inventories. And it brought stocks down from the 536 million barrels recorded on March 31, the highest level since at least 1982, according to the Energy Information Administration.

__________

 

US News – December 20, 2017

Texas Company to Pay $2.25 Million in Gas Royalties Dispute

A federal prosecutor says a Texas-based oil and gas company will pay $2.25 million to settle allegations that it underpaid royalties for natural gas produced on federal land in Wyoming.

Colorado U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer said Tuesday that Citation Oil & Gas Corp. was accused of breaking federal law requiring companies to make royalty payments for natural gas produced on leased federal lands. Citation was accused of deducting the cost of making natural gas into a marketable product from its royalties, which isn’t permitted.

__________

 

Wall St. Journal – December 20, 2017

For Oil Drillers, Glut Damps the Excitement as Arctic Opens Up

Congressional Republicans and the Trump administration are poised to offer up a bevy of new opportunities for oil exploration in lands and waters owned by the government.

They happen to be doing it, however, at a time when a glutted oil market has companies less eager to find new sites to drill.

The tax bill that cleared Congress Wednesday includes a provision to lease most of the coastal plain in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And the Department of Interior is also pushing to expand offshore drilling. Millions of acres could be opened to oil extraction for the first time.

__________

 

World Oil – December 19, 2017

Mexican protesters disable $400-million natural gas pipeline

A chunk of Sempra Energy’s natural gas pipeline sits in the dirt behind a community center in the village of Loma de Bacum in northwest Mexico. Guadalupe Flores thinks it would make a great barbecue pit.

“Cut it here, lift the top,’’ he says, pointing to the 30-in. diameter steel tube. “Perfect for a cook-out.’’

It would be an expensive meal. The pipeline cost $400 million, part of a network that’s supposed to carry gas from Arizona more than 500 mi to Mexico’s Pacific coast. It hasn’t done that since August, when members of the indigenous Yaqui tribe – enraged by what they viewed as an unauthorized trespass their land – used a backhoe truck to puncture and extract a 25-ft segment.

__________

 

Investor’s Business Daily – December 20, 2017

Rich: Why Saudi Arabia Is Now Shopping Around For U.S. Shale Assets

Saudi Arabia is reportedly looking at natural-gas assets in Texas shale basins and is in talks with a U.S. liquefied natgas producer as it looks to break into U.S. shale. State-run oil giant Saudi Aramco is in early negotiations with Tellurian (TELL) to buy a stake or some of its natural gas, according to sources in a Wall Street Journal article. The report also said Armaco has asked about assets in the Permian and Eagle Ford shale formations. If the company starts production in the U.S., it would be the first time it had any output from outside the kingdom. It also would come after three years of struggles to cool shale’s growth, which has upended markets that Saudi Arabia once swayed as the swing producer.

__________

 

San Antonio Express News – December 20, 2017

Uresti criminal trial delayed again

The criminal fraud trial of state Sen. Carlos Uresti, the San Antonio Democrat, has been postponed two weeks following the death of a defense lawyer’s father.

Senior U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra said Wednesday the trial will now start with jury selection Jan. 18 after assistant public defender Kurt May, who represents co-defendant Stan Bates, requested a delay. … Uresti, Bates and Cain in May were indicted by a federal grand jury on a combined 22 felony counts in connection with their involvement in now-defunct oil field services company FourWinds Logistics, which prosecutors have alleged was a Ponzi scheme.

__________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 20, 2017

Census Bureau: Texas added 400,000 people in a year

Texas grew numerically more than any state in the last year, mirroring data that shows the South and Westleading the nation in population growth, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures released Wednesday. The Lone Star State added nearly 400,000 people, allowing it to remain the second most populous state in the country with 28 million residents.

Stephen L. Klineberg, professor of sociology at Rice University and founder of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, attributes most of the population growth in Texas over the last several years to the state’s oil and gas industry peak. He said Texas must now focus on other ways to attract newcomers.

__________

 

Canadian Lawyer – December 13, 2017

Federal court strikes down patent claim by fracking company

The Federal Court of Canada has ruled against a Calgary-based oil and gas services company ensuring there is no monopoly on a fracturing technology used in horizontal drilling and well completion systems in the sector.

The judgment struck down a claim by Packers Plus Energy Services Inc. to a patent entitled “Method and Apparatus for Wellbore Fluid Treatment” to have exclusive rights to the method commonly known in the industry as open-hole, multi-stage ball drop fracturing system.

__________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 19, 2017

Peter Huntsman replacing father as Huntsman chairman

Huntsman Corp. Chief Executive Peter Huntsman also will assume the chairman role in January as his father, Jon, steps away from the board leadership role.

Peter Huntsman will officially serve as president, CEO and chairman of the The Woodlands-based specialty chemicals giant that Jon Huntsman Sr. founded 48 years ago in Utah. Jon Sr. will continue to serve on the corporate board in a reduced capacity.

__________

 

Phys Org – December 20, 2017

Modeling the effects of wastewater injection

In work that offers insight into the magnitude of the hazards posed by earthquake faults in general, seismologists have developed a model to determine the size of an earthquake that could be triggered by the underground injection of fluids produced as a by-product of hydraulic fracturing. …

Previous attempts to model the relationship between injection of wastewater and the triggering of earthquakes suggested that the maximum magnitude of the seismic activity induced in this way would be proportional to the volume of the fluids injected. However, this interpretation fails to account for the fact that earthquakes can grow beyond the area impacted by fluid pressure, says Jean Paul Ampuero, professor of seismology at Caltech and co-author of a new study on the topic that appears in the journal Science Advances on December 20.

__________

 

Barron’s – December 20, 2017

Bulls in Noble Energy? Execs Are Buying Stock

About two years ago, Noble Energy was cornered by weak energy prices.

In January 2016, the oil and natural-gas explorer slashed its quarterly dividend to 10 cents per share–where it remains today–from 18 cents. A month later, Noble wrote down about $1.3 billion in assets in its fourth-quarter report, but the company’s unit operating costs hit an eight-year low.

Noble has been shedding noncore assets and made an acquisition that offers “substantial dropdown potential” for the company’s ownership in Noble Midstream Partners.

 

 

Utilities Stories

 

Bloomberg – December 20, 2017

Denning: Merry Christmas, Texas Power! Love, Texas Power

After years of expanding spare generating capacity, Texas suddenly faces the prospect of a tight power market next summer.

This isn’t because power demand is expected to surge; ERCOT has slightly raised its projected growth rate across the next decade, but the forecast for peak demand in summer 2018 has actually been cut by half a percent.

Instead, years of falling wholesale power prices due to all that excess capacity did their job and pushed power producers to shut down plants. A net 2.5 gigawatts of expected summer capacity has been taken out since ERCOT’s last report in May.

__________

 

Dallas Morning News – December 20, 2017

Watchdog: Who wins our awards for Watchdog City of the Year and School Superintendent of the Year?

The 2017 Watchdog City of the Year is Fate, Texas for its “Fate Power Switch” program. The aptly-named city says it is saving participating residents about $368 a year. That’s a fate all Texas cities could aspire to. Well done. … City leaders learned that 71 percent of their residents hadn’t switched electricity companies in three years. That’s my pet peeve about Texas electricity. Most Texans, I bet, are paying too much on their monthly bills because of the complexity of shopping for a company. That’s how companies and the state system intend it to be. Confusing. … Today, 791 residents are paying only 3 cents a kilowatt hour to an electric company. That’s among the lowest prices I’ve seen. The city contract with respected Champion Energy also allows a $5.25 monthly base charge and, of course, Oncor’s service charge tosses on another 3 cents or more on each kWh.

__________

 

ElekTrek – December 20, 2017

USA’s cheapest solar power in Austin, Texas – ~2.5¢/kWh for 150MW of solar electricity

Austin Energy is once again leading the USA with the lowest price per kWh from solar power. Intersect Power and Austin Energy announced a 150MWac solar power purchase agreement that seems to range between 2.35-2.725¢/kWh, and could be as low as 2.1¢/kWh.

When this project comes online in 2020, Austin Energy will be getting 51% of its electricity from renewable electricity sources. … The project is located in Western Texas on 1,700 acres of land – where solar resources are more than 20% greater than the Austin area. The developer, Intersect Power, suggested the project could be upsized by 20% to 180MW.
__________

 

KRGV (Rio Grande Valley) – December 20, 2017

Recent Weather Fluctuations Put Strain on Valley Power Grid

When there’s an emergency, the Community Service Agency in Hidalgo County is one of the first places people go. Executive Director Jimen Longoria one of the first people you’ll meet.

“Realizing we’re all just one illness, one paycheck away from poverty,” said Longoria.

The agency helps those who are struggling keep the lights on, but doing so may be out of their hands.

With weather extremes, Emergency Management Coordinator Ricardo Saldana says sustainable electricity in the Valley is something they’re trying to cope with.

__________

 

Utility Dive – December 14,2017

About that national conversation on resilience of the electric grid: The urgent need for guidance and action

“Resilience” is perhaps the newest, most popular term in the electric industry’s lexicon these days.

If it’s not about the utter lack of resilience after Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico’s electric grid, then it’s about Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s September 2017 proposal − initiated in the name of resilience − to preserve financially challenged baseload power plants. Action on this resilience proposal will be high on the agenda of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, now that its bench is back at full strength and its five members use the next month to reflect on the record before the agency.

 

 

Alternative and Renewables Stories

 

Quartz – December 11, 2017

Batteries can’t solve the world’s biggest energy-storage problem. One startup has a solution.

Electrochaea takes carbon dioxide produced during the process of cleaning wastewater, and converts it into natural gas. That alone would be impressive enough; if we want to stop global warming in its tracks, we need to do everything we can to keep CO2 from entering the atmosphere. But Electrochaea has also figured out a way to power the whole enterprise with the excess green energy produced during particularly sunny and windy days that otherwise would have gone to waste, because there would have been no way to store it.

In other words, when scaled up, Electrochaea’s process could be an answer to one of the biggest problems of the 21st century: energy storage, while also making a dent in cutting emissions.

__________

 

Smart Rail World – December 14, 2017

Harness solar power to run electric trains, says Imperial College report.

The challenge faced by rail operators of powering the growing numbers of electric trains could be solved by the sun’s rays, after a UK energy research group said that solar energy could help part-power services. The Energy Futures Lab, a division of Imperial College London, has released a report with the climate change charity, 10:10, which details how subsidy-free power can be directly connected to substations which provide power to the rail system.

__________

 

Windpower Monthly – December 12,2017

France pits wind against solar in new tender

France: Energy minister Nicolas Hulot announced the launch of a 200MW tender pitting onshore wind against solar PV.

The tender, which is designed to “evaluate the relative competitiveness” of the two sectors, will be run as an experiment to test the advantages and disadvantages of technology-neutral tenders as promoted by the European Union.

Projects between 5MW and 18MW will be selected solely on the basis of “economic competitiveness”, the ministry said.

Winners will receive support in the form of top-up payments, while projects including citizen participation will receive a higher tariff. The deadline is 3 September 2018.

 

 

Regulatory Stories

 

Dallas Morning News – December 20, 2017

EPA’s new Dallas chief: ‘It’s possible that humans have some impact on climate change’

The long, slow effort to appoint new leaders for federal agencies by President Donald Trump has now reached Dallas’ Environmental Protection Agency office.

EPA Region 6, which serves Texas and its four neighboring states, will be headed by Austin’s Anne Idsal, who was George P. Bush’s deputy at the Texas General Land Office.

A lawyer, former general counsel of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and member of a prominent ranching family, Idsal said she’s now “off to the races.” Idsal started her new job as EPA regional administrator on Monday and plans to move to Dallas soon.

__________

 

The Guardian – December 20, 2017

France bans fracking and oil extraction in all of its territories

French parliamentarians have passed a law banning fossil fuel extraction. President Macron says he wants France to lead the world with switch to renewables.

France’s parliament has passed into law a ban on producing oil and gas by 2040, a largely symbolic gesture as the country is 99% dependent on hydrocarbon imports.

In Tuesday’s vote by show of hands, only the rightwing Republicans party opposed, while leftwing lawmakers abstained.

No new permits will be granted to extract fossil fuels and no existing licences will be renewed beyond 2040, when all production in mainland France and its overseas territories will stop.

__________

 

Associated Press – December 20, 2017

EPA says Superfund Task Force left behind little paper trail

The Environmental Protection Agency says an internal task force appointed to revamp how the nation’s most polluted sites are cleaned up generated no record of its deliberations. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in May announced the creation of a Superfund Task Force that he said would reprioritize and streamline procedures for remediating more than 1,300 sites. Pruitt, the former attorney general of Oklahoma, appointed a political supporter from his home state with no experience in pollution cleanups to lead the group.

__________

 

Reuters – December 20, 2017

Senator Cornyn trying to get Big Corn behind U.S. biofuels reform

Senator John Cornyn, the No. 2 Senate Republican, is trying to win support from the Midwest corn lobby for a broad legislative overhaul of the nation’s biofuels policy, according to sources familiar with the matter. The effort comes as President Donald Trump’s White House mediates talks between the rival oil and corn industries over the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires oil refiners to blend increasing amounts of corn-based ethanol and other biofuels in the nation’s fuel supply every year.

 

___________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – December 20, 2017

 

Lead Stories

 

Texas Tribune – December 19, 2017

Congress is on track to send a massive tax cut package to Trump. Here’s how Texans voted.

The U.S. House voted for a major overhaul of the American tax code on Tuesday afternoon, a measure that, if also approved by the U.S. Senate, would mark the first significant legislative achievement of the Republican-controlled government under President Donald Trump.

The House passed a compromise bill hammered out between the two chambers on a 227-203 vote. The 36-member Texas delegation vote fell along strict partisan lines.

___________

 

Wall St. Journal – December 20, 2017

How the Tax Plan Affects Business: Everything You Need to Know

The refining industry is poised to reap more than $150 billion in tax savings next year alone, according to some estimates, if the current 35% corporate tax rate drops to 21% as called for in the legislation.

Independent refiners have largely been unable to use other tax provisions to avoid paying the current 35% tax rate, unlike major oil companies like Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp., which both produce and refine oil. That is because refiners can’t take advantage of offsets such as deductions for drilling costs and most don’t have overseas assets.

___________

 

Platts – December 19, 2017

ERCOT admits to violating Texas PUC rules on pricing, disclosures

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has notified state regulators it has violated several state regulations and ERCOT protocols affecting prices and other issues, some since ERCOT’s nodal market start-up in December 2010, which one trader on Tuesday said was “troubling.”
In a filing Monday, ERCOT notified the Public Utility Commission of Texas it had violated rules related to the release of information on energy ancillary service offers, to the calculation of proxy offer curves for price-taking resources, to projections for ancillary service requirements in the short and medium term, and to generation interconnection studies.

___________

 

Forbes – December 11, 2017

Lynch: How To Dodge The Fake News Amid Energy Headlines

Let’s start with electric cars. Grist.org notes, “Electric cars are so popular we’re running out of plugs,” while oilprice.com says, “Electric car threat to oil is wildly overstated.” A careful reader might argue that the two are not mutually exclusive: We could be running out of chargers at the same time that the potential oil displacement is being exaggerated. But if you are an advocate of electric vehicles, you will cite the first; a skeptic, the second.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 19, 2017

OPEC’s cuts have been less effective than the market believes, Dallas Fed says

OPEC’s effort to slice into the global oil glut hasn’t gone as well as it would like you to believe, the Dallas Fed argued this week.

While it appears OPEC’s production cuts have reduced oil inventories in developed nations to half of their level above the five-year average, much of that decline came because the five-year average has drifted higher.

“Only half of this decline represents actual inventory draws,” the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said in a new report. “The new five-year average includes 2017 inventory data and is therefore higher.”

 

 

Oil and Gas Stories

 

CNBC – December 20, 2017

Oil edges up on N.Sea pipeline outage, expectation of lower US crude stocks

Oil prices inched up on Wednesday, supported by expectations of a fall in U.S. crude inventories and by the ongoing outage of the North Sea Forties pipeline system.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $57.71 a barrel at 0100 GMT, up 15 cents from their last settlement.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $63.86 a barrel, up 6 cents.

“Oil prices inched higher on expectations of another strong drawdown in U.S. inventories,” ANZ bank said on Wednesday. The American Petroleum Institute said on Tuesday that U.S. crude inventories fell by 5.2 million barrels in the week to Dec. 15 to 438.7 million.
____________

 

The Telegraph (UK) – December 19, 2017

Saudi ‘intercepts Yemen rebel missile over Riyadh’

Saudi Arabia has intercepted a rocket fired by rebel Houthi fighters in Yemen, who declared a “new chapter” in its confrontation with the kingdom.

The Volcano 2-H ballistic missiles was aimed at the al-Yamma royal palace in Riyadh, but was stopped by Saudi’s air defences.

Reporters heard a blast and saw a plume of smoke rising above the Saudi capital near the palace, where King Salman chairs weekly government meetings and hosts foreign dignitaries.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 18, 2017

Ex-BP economist indicted for alleged efforts to extort bitcoin from BP

A former BP economist was charged with five counts of wire fraud for allegedly trying to extort money from the London-based company whose U.S. operations are based in Houston.

George Koutsostamatis, 28, who worked for BP in Chicago, was indicted last month in Houston for allegedly trying to exchange sensitive corporate documents for Bitcoins. He was arrested in Chicago and brought to Houston where he appeared in federal court Tuesday morning, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Houston.

____________

 

World Pipelines – December 18, 2017

US pipeline companies unhappy with tax reform

Texas pipeline companies are unhappy with Republicans’ tax reform legislation. As Congress nears a critical vote on legislation that would drastically shrink the overall corporate tax rate, pipeline companies are fighting to maintain tax breaks that allow them to deduct the borrowing costs on construction projects that take years to permit and build.

In a letter mid December, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), which represents the pipeline companies, asked House Republican leaders to adjust a provision within the Senate version of the bill limiting how much interest they can deduct.

____________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 19, 2017

Layne Christensen studying frack water recycling market

The Woodlands-based water company Layne Christensen is looking hard at the business of recycling dirty water left over from oil and gas production.

“That’s one of the things everybody’s talking about,” said Layne CFO Michael Anderson.

Layne jumped into the oil and gas business earlier this year, first drilling a half-dozen water wells for hydraulic fracturing operations in West Texas, then, in November, announcing a pact with the Texas General Land Officeto drill for water on 88,000 state acres in the Delaware Basin, the western lobe of the Permian Basin, which covers 75,000 square miles in West Texas and New Mexico.

____________

 

Texas Monthly – December 15, 2017

Energy Transfer Partners Files Lawsuit Against Greenpeace

Oil is flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline, despite years of protests against it by Native American tribes. Indigenous rights activists and environmentalists said it threatened the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and violated culturally and historically important sites.

By all measures, it would seem that Energy Transfer Partners, the Dallas-based company that owns a major stake in the pipeline, won the battle against protesters when the pipeline received a final construction approval from the Trump administration in late January. But instead of burying the issue underground with the completed pipeline, ETP is now suing a handful of environmental groups involved in anti-pipeline protests. The energy company is seeking over $1 billion in damages and attorney fees from Greenpeace, Earth First, and BankTrack for defamation, racketeering, interference with business, and criminal conspiracy.

____________

 

CNN – December 15, 2017

Egan: GE has a fossil fuels problem
General Electric has a long history of disrupting the industrial landscape through breakthrough technologies like the jet engine and the light bulb. Today, GE is the one being disrupted.

The iconic company has been badly caught off guard by the dramatic rise of renewable energyat the expense of fossil fuels. Rapid adoption of solar and wind has created chaos in GE’s power division, which makes giant turbines and generators used by coal and natural gas power plants.

GE Power’s problems have helped spark a scary cash crunch that led the conglomerate to slash its dividend for just the second time since the Great Depression. GE shares have lost more than 40% of their value this year.
____________

 

CNBC – December 18, 2017

US shale oil drillers set to kick off the new year with big production gains

America’s shale drillers are poised to ring in the new year with strong growth in the U.S. oil patch, according to the latest forecast from the Department of Energy.

Crude oil production from seven major shale regions is set to grow by 94,000 barrels a day in January, the department’s U.S. Energy Information Administration projected on Monday.

Total output from those regions is seen topping 6.4 million barrels a day next month. That would mark growth of more than 1 million barrels a day from this past January, when frackers produced 5.2 million barrels a day.

___________

 

Futurism – December 17, 2017

Russia Is Drilling the Arctic for Liquefied Natural Gas

With a new $27 billion plant that will extract over 16 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas per year, Russia races ahead of its competitors in the fossil fuels market. For the country’s tainted climate record, the plant is yet another setback.

Polar ice is melting, and the Arctic region, from North America to Russia, reveals its hidden treasures. With thinner ice and new open pathways to the deep north, drilling previously inaccessible parts of the planet has never been a more attractive pursuit.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 18, 2017

Jaffe: Could a U.S.-Russia oil showdown be coming?

About a year ago, a seasoned U.S. oil leader with deep political connections explained to me that U.S. shale would be out of the woods by 2018. He thought that the U.S. economy would see improved growth under President Trump, pulling up global gross domestic product — and with it, oil demand.

That growth would mean Saudi Arabia would be closer to maxed out on its capability to produce oil, no longer a significant threat to U.S. shale.

Under this worldview, American producers would be able wrest more market share in the future without fear of toppling prices, hence the Trump administration’s optimistic view of U.S. energy “dominance.”
____________

 

Oil Price – December 14, 2017

Cunningham: Is The Oil Glut Set To Return?

For the second month in a row, the IEA has poured cold water onto the oil market, publishing an analysis that suggests 2018 could hold some bearish surprises for crude.

The IEA’s December Oil Market Report dramatically revises up the expected growth of U.S. shale, which goes a long way to torpedoing the excitement around the OPEC extension.

Late last month, when OPEC agreed to extend its production cuts through the end of 2018, the U.S. EIA came out with data – on the same day as the OPEC announcement – that showed an explosive increase in shale output for the month of September, up 290,000 bpd from the month before.

 

 

 

Utilities Stories

 

Solar Industry Magazine – December 15, 2017

El Paso Electric Rate Settlement is a Mixed Bag For Solar

The Public Utility Commission of Texas has approved a final order resolving all issues in El Paso Electric’s (EPE) comprehensive rate case. The order covers a wide range of rate-related topics, but it also includes a solar settlement agreement that the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) acknowledges is helpful but “far from perfect.”

For example, although EPE solar customers were ultimately spared from some harmful proposals, the agreement does include a minimum monthly bill of $30.00 for the utility’s new rooftop solar customers.

____________

 

Longview News Journal – December 15, 2017
SWEPCO request for rate increase OK’d
The Public Utility Commission of Texas has approved a rate increase sought by AEP Southwestern Electric Power Co., but it’s unclear if the company was granted the full 12.7 percent hike it requested.

Details remain to be worked out after the commission’s vote this week, according to PUC spokesman Terry Hadley. He said staff is expected to report back at the Jan. 11 meeting for the three-member commission to issue its final order.

SWEPCO, based in Shreveport, applied to the PUC exactly one year ago for a rate increase averaging 12.7 percent for consumers.

____________

 

Wall St. Journal – December 19, 2017

The Climate for Coal Just Got Even Chillier

It’s been a pretty good 18 months for the coal industry following the disastrous price crash of 2015, but on Tuesday miners got a big lump in their stockings.

BHP , the world’s largest mining company, announced it is reconsidering it’s membershipin the U.S. Chamber of Congress, a skeptic on the latest global climate deal brokered in Paris, and may quit the World Coal Association, the industry’s lobby group. BHP cited the WCA’s support for abandoning Australia’s proposed Clean Energy Target as one reason for its preliminary decision to bow out.

____________

 

Clean Technica – December 15, 2017

NERC Highlights Importance Of Providing Essential Reliability Services In Wake Of Decreasing Coal & Nuclear

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the independent body given authority over grid reliability, has published its 10-year forecast and highlighted the “unique set of challenges” facing the American bulk power system in the face of decreasing nuclear and coal sources and increasing natural gas and renewables.

In its 2017 Long-Term Reliability Assessment (PDF), published this week, North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has warned that the American bulk power system (BPS) must ensure “adequate levels of essential reliability services and fuel assurance” if they are to properly manage “a rapidly changing resource mix” and successfully meet renewable policy goals while “maintaining a highly reliable and resilient bulk power system.”

____________

 

Platts – December 12, 2017

Policy, fundamentals to challenge US independent power producers in 2018

Stagnant US electricity demand, lower commodity prices, policy interventions, and continued improvements in renewable energy costs and technologies may increase risks for independent power producers in 2018, which some industry observers say may result in more sector consolidation.
“In general, IPPs will face a challenging 2018 due to persistently low commodity prices and flat to very moderate demand growth for electricity,” said Matthew Cordaro, a former Midcontinent Independent System Operator CEO who now resides in New York.

 

 

Alternative and Renewables Stories

 

 

Windpower Engineering – December 18, 2017

Port of Corpus Christi hits wind-turbine cargo milestone, with plans for expansion

By the end of 2017, Port Corpus Christi is expected to reach a new wind-turbine cargo milestone by handling more than 3,000 large turbine components, including blades and tower sections. In 2015 and 2016, the number of wind-turbine components handled via Port Corpus Christi, which is located on the western Gulf of Mexico, was 2,603 and 2,875, respectively.

____________

 

Green Tech Media – December 14, 2017

US Solar Installs Fall to Their Lowest Level Since 2015, as Uncertainty Swirls and Prices Rise

America’s solar industry had its toughest quarter in two years.

Faced with political uncertainty, rising equipment prices, a slowdown in maturing markets, and a churn within residential installer rankings, deployments in the third quarter of the year are down on both a quarterly and annual basis.

According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s latest U.S. Solar Market Insight report, 2,031 megawatts of PV were installed in the U.S. in the third quarter of the year, resulting in the market’s smallest quarter in two years. (For historical context — Q3 deployments were still 100 megawatts more than the entire year of installations in 2011.)

_____________

 

E&E News – December 14, 2017

AEP’s $4.5B Wind Catcher aims to overcome bumpy reception

American Electric Power Co. Inc. generated much applause over the summer when it unveiled a $4.5 billion plan to invest in wind power centered in Oklahoma.

But the regulatory reaction to the project — known as the Wind Catcher Energy Connection — has been far short of a standing ovation.

Dockets in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas are peppered with concerns over everything from the selection process to cost estimates. Louisiana is also reviewing the plan, though regulators eased the burden a bit in that state. The Oklahoma attorney general’s office has delivered withering criticism of the plan, fighting unsuccessfully so far to have a preapproval request dismissed.

_____________

 

San Antonio Express News – December 19, 2017

San Antonio-based Mission Solar returns headquarters land to Brooks

San Antonio-based Mission Solar Energy has returned ownership of its land to the Brooks Development Authority in an agreement that will allow it to rent back the property for its plant while saving up to $1.6 million in annual property taxes.

The site houses the headquarters and manufacturing facility for solar manufacturer Mission Solar and the headquarters of its parent company, OCI Solar Power.

Mission Solar took ownership of the land in Sept. 2016, according to the Bexar County Appraisal District. The property has been appraised at $56 million.

_____________

 

 

Regulatory Stories

 

Texas Monthly – December 15, 2017

Texas Mayors Pledge to Fight Climate Change

Texas mayors are no stranger to dealing with climate change denial: for years, leaders at the state level have been unwilling to incorporate climate change into their future planning, forcing cities that were interested in addressing it to tackle the problem themselves. So when President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement in June, it’s unsurprising that 6 Texas mayors were among the some 346 mayors across the country who pledged to pick up the slack to meet the country’s outlined emission reduction targets anyway. They vowed to “adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement.”

____________

 

Fiscal Notes (Comptroller of Texas) – December 20, 2017

The Cost of Aging Government Technology

Texas’ state government, like many others, has an aging IT infrastructure, and ours must serve a population growing by nearly half a million new residents each year. As the population — and its expectations — continue to grow, modernizing the state’s IT capabilities will become imperative to ensure public services keep pace with the speed and convenience of the private sector.

At present, however, much of the state’s IT infrastructure is outmoded, often so much so that the personnel who maintain it must be trained in archaic computer languages no longer taught in universities. Each year, the state spends hundreds of millions of dollars on maintaining such outdated “legacy” systems. Updating or replacing them would cost even more.

_____________

 

Dallas Morning News – December 19, 2017

Democrats try stall tactic to oppose Texas climate skeptic, Trump’s pick for key environmental post

The top Democrat for the Senate Environment and Public Works committee is leading an effort to ditch the White House’s nomination of Kathleen Hartnett White, the ex-Texas regulator picked to lead the Council on Environmental Quality.

President Donald Trump nominated White, a climate change skeptic and former chairwoman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, in October to head the federal office that coordinates efforts among agencies.

_____________

 

Dallas Morning News – December 19, 2017

Big Oil’s bet on Mexico underscores why Trump shouldn’t shred NAFTA

For the first time in eight decades, retail gas stations in Mexico are getting competition from foreign firms — and a lot of it. It makes for a great illustration of the benefits of capitalism and, with NAFTA renegotiations languishing, for an especially timely lesson in how connected our economy is to that of our southern neighbors.

Irving-based Exxon Mobil turned heads this month by announcing plans to spend $300 million over the next decade opening gas stations in Mexico, the fifth-largest retail gasoline market in the world. Eight opened already, and 50 should be open by the spring. California-based Chevron and a consortium of partners have announced plans to open stores in Mexico, too.

____________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 19, 2017

GOP works to undo disclosure rule for oil companies abroad

Republicans are moving to do away with a law aimed at preventing U.S. oil and mining companies from paying bribes to foreign officials to win business in resource-rich countries.

____________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – December 19, 2017

 

Lead Stories

 

Dallas Morning News – December 18, 2017

Texas electricity bills could increase next summer as shrinking supply meets record use

Texans are expected to use a record amount of electricity this summer but excess power available for peak use is half of what was earlier projected, according to the state’s grid operator.

The state would have capacity to produce 9.3 percent more electricity than what is projected as peak demand during summer, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the state’s power grid, said Monday.

That is well below the 13.75 percent minimum cushion preferred by the authority, and a lot less than its May estimate of 18.9 percent in reserve capacity. The closing of some older power plants and the delay of new ones are to blame.

___________

 

New York Times – December 18, 2017

What Needs to Happen Before Electric Cars Take Over the World

Faster than anyone expected, electric cars are becoming as economical and practical as cars with conventional engines. Prices for lithium-ion batteries are plummeting, while technical advances are increasing driving ranges and cutting recharging times.

“Once the trend gets going, it can happen very fast,” said Guido Jouret, chief digital officer at ABB, an electronics company based in Zurich whose businesses include constructing charging stations.

But this electric-car future is still missing some pieces. Some crucial raw materials are scarce. There are not enough places to recharge. Battery-powered cars still cost thousands of dollars more than many gasoline vehicles.

___________

 

North American Shale Magazine – December 18. 2017

2017: The Year Shale Went Global

The magic number for U.S. shale is 54. The number has nothing to do with breakeven prices, fracture stages per well or other data points linked to shale energy production. Fifty-four is the distance—in feet—needed to make the Port of Corpus Christi truly the shale energy export hub of the world (not that it isn’t already). As it currently exists, the Port’s main channel is 47 feet deep. At 54 feet, the channel could accommodate Very Large Crude Carriers, the massive vessels capable of moving more than 2 million barrels of liquid crude sourced from places like West Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota to anywhere in the world. A VLCC can save a shale oil exporter up to $1 million per voyage and represents the ideal vessel for exports to European import hubs in Italy or China where refineries are in need of light sweet crude.

___________

 

Fortune – December 18, 2017

Rhodes, Webber: The Solution to America’s Energy Waste Problem

So what needs to be done? The answer is simple: Improve the energy efficiency of the economy as a whole. And the best way to improve the economy’s efficiency is through deep electrification, or taking some of our standard activities that are powered by burning fuels and using electricity instead. In the old days, that meant replacing kerosene lamps with electric lightbulbs, but today that means replacing gasoline-powered automobiles with electric vehicles and industrial boilers that burn natural gas to make steam with more advanced devices.

____________

 

Daily Mail (UK) – December 18, 2017

What is Boeing’s secret plane? Firm teases mysterious design believed to be an electric ‘hairdryer’ craft it boasts will ‘change future air power’

Boeing’s defence arm is set to unveil a mysterious new plane – and says it will ‘change future air power’

The aerospace giant’s defence arm teased the new craft, covered in a black cloth.

It is believed to be a radical new craft using electric ‘hairdryer’ to allow it to land and take off vertically.

Speculation has so far said it could anything from a new spaceplane to an electric fighter jet.

Earlier this year Boeing bought Aurora Flight Sciences Corp, which is developing the autonomous, electric-powered and long-flight-duration aircraft for its commercial and military businesses.

Boeing will unveil their mystery aircraft on December 19th.

 

 

Oil and Gas Stories

 

CNBC – December 19, 2017

Oil range-bound as disruptions offset by rising US output

Oil markets edged up on Tuesday as the Forties pipeline outage in the North Sea and voluntary production restraint led by OPEC supported crude, although soaring output in the United States put a cap on gains.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $57.30 a barrel at 0319 GMT, up 14 cents from their last settlement.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $63.49 a barrel, up 8 cents.

There has been very little price movement in recent trading, with Brent moving within a $63.00 to $63.91 per barrel price range since last Friday.

Some upward pressure was taken off Brent after a nationwide oil worker strike was called off in Nigeria, traders said.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 18, 2017

Tellurian plans $7 billion gas pipeline network

Houston-based Tellurian said it proposes to build an ambitious, $7 billion network of natural gas pipelines from West Texas’ Permian Basin to liquefied natural gas export hubs in southern Louisiana.

The system also would include a pipeline from East Texas’ and North Louisiana’s Haynesville shale down to the same southern Louisiana hub north of Lake Charles. All of these would tie into existing pipeline systems and another planned pipeline to Tellurian’s proposed Driftwood LNG export terminal south of Lake Charles.

____________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 16, 2017

31 million barrels of oil later, new life for old rig

After chugging along for 37 hours, the lumbering heavy-lift vessel reached its destination 110 miles off Louisiana. There, the ship’s powerful cranes lowered a massive steel structure, used to support offshore oil platforms, to the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, 200 feet below the surface.

This location, however, will never produce oil. Instead, the 3,000-ton frame, from a retired platform operated by Royal Dutch Shell, will become home to barnacles, mussels, sponges and other aquatic invertebrates and a way station for migratory fish from red snapper to whale sharks seeking food and shelter.

____________

 

Seeking Alpha – December 15. 2017

Gue: Key Takeaways From Oasis Petroleum And Noble Midstream Partners LP’s Asset Acquisitions

Oasis Petroleum’s shares suffered a massive sell-off earlier this week, giving up almost 20 percent of their value over just two days.

What Precipitated the Sudden Collapse in the Stock? Oasis Petroleum announced an agreement to pay EnCap Investments LP-backed Forge Energy $946 million for its net 20,000 acres in the Delaware Basin, funding the purchase with cash drawn from its revolving credit facility, a public equity sale, and 46 million common shares issued to the seller. Oasis Petroleum aims to offset this cash component with $500 million worth of noncore asset sales from its legacy position in North Dakota’s Williston Basin, home to the Bakken Shale.

_____________

 

Bloomberg – December 18, 2017

Hedge Funds Eye Oil’s Year-End ‘High Note’ After Bumpy 2017

Oil’s bumpy ride to higher ground this year is winding down with a good dose of optimism that 2018 will be even better. Hedge funds boosted their bets on rising Brent crude to a record, with bullish wagers on West Texas Intermediate oil near a nine-month high. The optimism is largely fueled by confidence that the extension of OPEC output curbs will tighten up markets next year. “In general, money managers are ending the year on a high note, certainly a little more optimistic than where they started and where we were at the middle of the year,” Ashley Petersen, lead oil analyst at Stratas Advisors in New York, said in a telephone interview.

_____________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 18, 2017

McDermott and CB&I merging in $4 billion combination

Houston energy engineering and construction companies McDermott International and CB&I are combining into a company with a $4 billion Wall Street value and an emphasis on both onshore and offshore projects. Offshore-focused McDermott will own 53 percent of the merged company in the all-stock deal with CB&I, which has honed in on onshore construction in the liquefied natural gas, petrochemical, refining and gas power generation sectors.

____________

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – December 18, 2017

Griffin: Exxon Mobil’s about-face on climate disclosure

Exxon Mobil Corp. has vowed to do a better job in disclosing the risks it faces from climate change starting “in the near future” after bucking pressure to do that for years.

Until now, shareholders and bondholders had no choice but to rely on informed guesswork by outsiders to divine how the nation’s largest fossil fuel company was retooling for the future – a time when taxes, regulations and competition from renewable energy and other new technology alternatives are likely to thin consumers’ demand for its products.

In other words, investors and the rest of the public had little way of knowing how much these changes will affect Exxon Mobil’s bottom line.

____________

 

Fox News – December 18, 2017

Boom and Bust: Running an oil-dependent economy through a downturn

It’s easy to get used to disposable income, new cars and fancy toys like boats and ATVs, as many residents in oil and gas towns do during booms. But that lifestyle can slip away quickly as prices drop and layoffs increase.

Many mineral-dependent cities suffered after oil prices dropped below $30 a barrel in the early months of 2016. But Midland, Texas, despite relying on the Permian Basin, fared better than others.

“Those states have never experienced an oil boom like they’d seen before. This is not the first rodeo for Midland, Texas,” said J. Ross Lacy, a Midland city councilman who works in the oil industry.

____________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 18, 2017

Missouri City, Pearland residents increasingly worried about potentially toxic emissions from oil well blowout in Fort Bend County

Despite assurances from state officials that air emissions from a recent oil well blowout in Fort Bend County pose no danger, residents say fumes from the spill are making them sick.

“Something is going on out here. I can’t breathe. I’m coughing all the time and I feel like I’m smothering,” Coca Dawson said.

A resident of nearby Quail Glenn subdivision, Dawson babysits her 2-year-old grandson during the week and voiced concerns he was also getting sick.

“My grandbaby has been having problems breathing and today he just started throwing up,” she said.

____________

 

Valley Morning Star – December 18, 2017

Pipeline to Mexico: Natural gas project on track for completion

BROWNSVILLE — It’s hard to miss for those who have driven S.H. 48 in the vicinity of the Brownsville Ship Channel during the past several months: Valley Crossing Pipeline, currently under construction to supply fracked natural gas to Mexico from the Eagle Ford Shale oil fields in Central Texas.

The $1.5 billion pipeline, being built by VCP parent company Enbridge Inc., is not related to liquefied natural gas projects proposed for the Port of Brownsville. Rather, it’s being built to supply Mexican power plants as that country transitions from coal and imported LNG in the wake of sweeping energy reforms.

_____________

 

KHOU (Houston) – December 16, 2017

Earthquake reported east of South Padre Island in Gulf of Mexico

According to the U.S. Geological Center, an earthquake happened just off the coast of South Padre Island on Saturday.

The USGS says that the earthquake hit 103 kilometers (about 64 miles) east-northeast of South Padre around 6:15 p.m. local time. It was a 3.0-magnitude earthquake, which is relatively small.

_____________

The Star (Malaysia) – December 18. 2017

Russia-Cuba heading for a major oil agreement
Cuban President Raul Castro and the head of Russian oil company Rosneft met in Havana on Saturday, the latest sign the two countries are readying a major energy agreement.
State-controlled media on Sunday ran a photograph of Castro and Igor Sechin sitting with notebooks at a table with Economy Minister Ricardo Cabrisas, after the latter two had held what was termed in a brief caption “a working meeting”.

 

 

Utilities Stories

 

New York Times – December 11, 2017

Rethinking Electric Power, Prompted by Politics and Disaster

SEATTLE — Lilo Danielle Pozzo, who teaches chemical engineering at the University of Washington, grew up in Puerto Rico. So when Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September, it felt, she said, like a perfect alignment of needs and expertise: Professor Pozzo studies batteries and electrical storage systems at the university’s Clean Energy Institute, and Puerto Rico, a place she loves, had just seen its power grid destroyed.

She led a team from the institute to a remote mountain community called Jayuya that was still completely without power two months after the disaster. “We want to see what we can contribute,” she said.

____________

 

Utility Dive – December 15, 2017

NERC: Changing resource mix tightening reserve margins

The rapid shift from coal and nuclear generation to more intermittent renewables and natural gas is creating new challenges for the North American electric grid, including declining resource adequacy as soon as next year in at least one region.

“The accelerating move toward natural gas and renewables means the industry must adopt a more robust approach to planning the bulk power system so that it continues to be reliably operated,” said John Moura, NERC’s director of reliability assessment and system analysis.

_____________

 

The Hill – December 18, 2017

World coal demand forecast to grow slightly through 2022

International demand for coal is likely to grow slightly through 2022, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted Monday.

The Paris-based intergovernmental group said in its annual medium-term coal report that annual coal demand will increase 0.5 percent for the next five years, to 5.534 billion metric tonnes.

Pointing to the minimal growth, IEA declared the 2012 to 2022 time frame a “decade of stagnation” for coal.

____________

 

Oil Price – December 13, 2017

The Death Of Europe’s Coal Industry

More than half of Europe’s coal plants are already bleeding cash, but by 2030, the percentage of coal plants in Europe that report negative cash flow could explode to an estimated 97 percent.

Those findings come from a new report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative, which paints a dire picture for the economics of coal after surveying 600 power plants in Europe.

To be sure, coal has been hit hard over the past half-decade or so due to a variety of forces – falling costs for renewables, air quality and climate regulations, as well as the policy shift in Germany away from nuclear following the 2011 Fukushima meltdown.

 

 

Alternatives and Renewables Stories

 

Energy Manager Today – December 11, 2017

Austin’s New Sports Stadium Will Be Solar-Powered

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) revealed plans for a sports stadium and entertainment center in Austin, Texas, that the architectural firm says will have rooftop photovoltaic panels. Called East Austin District, the 1.3 million-square-foot project includes a 40,000-seat stadium next to a 15,000-seat multi-purpose arena.

BIG is collaborating with Walter P. Moore Engineers and STG Design on East Austin District for client Austin Sports & Entertainment, which will have the city’s first pro sports stadium. Set to be built at the site of Rodeo Austin — replacing the Travis County Expo Center — the new center is being designed to be the Rodeo’s new home as well as a destination for large-scale soccer and rugby matches, music festivals, and cultural events. Buildings at the edge of the district will offer retail, dining, hospitality, and youth facilities.

_____________

 

North American Wind Power – December 12, 2017

Duke Energy Upgrades Battery Storage At West Texas Wind Farm

Younicos has completed the installation and commissioning of an upgraded battery storage system at the site of Duke Energy’s 153 MW Notrees Windpower Project in West Texas.

The company replaced previously deployed lead-acid technology with a 36 MW system comprising Samsung SDI lithium-ion batteries.

The Notrees system has been in operation since 2012, actively participating in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ Fast Response Regulation Services (FRRS) market.

_____________

 

Fast Company – December 13. 2017

If We Want Renewable Energy, We Need Fully Digitized Power Systems

The New York Power Authority is pioneering an effort to monitor every one of its assets, from generating facilities to transmission lines to buildings, in real time–and to figure out how new influxes of wind and solar can fit into the system. With 16 generating facilities and around 1,400 transmission lines, the New York Power Authority is the state’s largest electric utility and the largest state-owned utility in the U.S. And as of this month, it will be the world’s first fully digital utility–a move that NYPA hopes will help it hit Governor Andrew Cuomo’s goal of generating 50% of its power from renewable resources by 2030.

_____________

 

E&E News – December 12, 2017

Since 2005, as utilities and consumers began to understand the future economic and environmental benefits of installing more wind power, the nation’s capacity for turning wind into electricity has multiplied 10 times. There are now more than 52,000 whirling turbines, and because the price of wind power continues to drop, this forest of rotating blades is expected to grow.

Driven by federal and state subsidies, it began as a remarkable leap of faith into a poorly understood technology. Some American engineers and scientists working on it suspected it would be a hard problem. Despite the enthusiasm of environmental groups and the tendencies of a growing number of utilities to harness the breeze, pieces of this puzzle were still missing.

____________

 

Eco-Business – December 14, 2017

Southeast Asia’s largest wind project gets $1.1 billion funding injection

Thai renewables developer Wind Energy Holdings Co. Ltd (WEH) has raised US$1.1 billion to finance five new onshore wind farms in what is billed as Southeast Asia’s biggest wind energy project yet.

Located in Thailand’s northeastern provinces of Nakhon Ratchasima and Chaiyaphum, the wind farms will add up to 450 megawatts of energy to the national grid on completion, slated for early 2019.

 

 

Regulatory Stories

 

Reuters – December 15, 2017

Senator Cruz wants to cap renewable fuel credits at 10 cents – document

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz wants to place a cap of 10 cents each on renewable fuel credits – a fraction of their current value – to help U.S. refiners cope with the nation’s biofuels policy, according to a document viewed by Reuters on Thursday. The proposal marks the latest step in talks being mediated by the White House between oil industry backers and rivals in the ethanol industry over the Renewable Fuels Standard. Refiners claim complying with the law, known a the RFS, costs hundreds of millions of dollars a year and could put them out of business.

____________

 

American Wind Energy Association Blog – December 14, 2017

DOE makes a big investment in offshore wind

Wrapping up a year of exciting offshore wind developments, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced a new $18.5 million funding opportunity for an offshore wind research and development (R&D) consortium.

“As the former Governor of one of the largest wind producing states, I know the value of wind power in our energy portfolio,” said Secretary Perry. “This work will further DOE’s goal to accelerate the development of offshore wind technologies by supporting fundamental research to reduce the costs of offshore wind energy to successfully compete in regional energy markets.”

____________

 

Texas Tribune – December 15, 2017

Some Texans dodge bullet train, others are square in its path

Federal officials narrowed the possible paths for a Dallas-Houston bullet train down to one likely route Friday, providing an unknown number of rural Texans the most definitive answer so far as to whether their land will be in the path of the controversial project.

Much of the planned route had already been largely solidified. But documents released Friday by the Federal Railroad Administration filled in the rest of the gaps, favoring a more westerly route that runs through Navarro, Freestone, Leon, Madison and Limestone counties. Another potential route that was dropped from consideration would have avoided Limestone County.

____________

 

The Hill – December 9, 2017

Wynn: Regulatory certainty for pipeline permitting would be a win-win for all

According to recent reports, investing giant Blackstone Group LP is seeking $10 billion to supplement its ambitious infrastructure investment fund. Overall the firm “expects to invest in more than $100 billion on infrastructure projects, principally in the United States.”

Blackstone President Tony James said recently the company’s infrastructure efforts will not be affected by whether the Trump administration enacts its $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

 

 

___________

 

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – December 18, 2017

 

Lead Stories

 

Austin American Statesman – December 15. 2017

Study: Fracking linked to underweight babies

Pregnant women have to take a ton of precautions to help keep their babies healthy healthy. A new report suggests avoiding fracking sites should be one of them.

While fracking, the process of injecting liquid into the ground to free up petroleum resources, can benefit local economies, there are potential health risks.

That’s why researchers from Princeton University, the University of Chicago and other institutions across the country recently conducted a study, which was published in Science Advances, to determine the human health hazards associated with fracking. … They found that pregnant women living within two-thirds of a mile to a fracturing well were more likely to give birth to a smaller infant than women who lived at least 10 miles away during pregnancy.

___________

 

Futurism – December 13, 2017

A Power Plant Joining the Grid in 2018 Burns Natural Gas with No Emissions

In a typical power plant, a fossil fuel such as coal is combusted with ambient air to create heat to boil water. The steam from that water then turns a turbine to produce electricity.

According to NET Power, this process is inefficient, with 30 to 40 percent of the system’s energy lost during the process. It’s also damaging to the environment, producing harmful nitrous oxides (NOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and, in some cases, spewing sulfur dioxides, mercury, and fine particulate matter into the air as well.

___________

 

Dallas Morning News – December 14, 2017

Texas installs enough solar panels in last three months to power 44,000 homes

Texas  continues to have one of the nation’s hottest solar markets, according to an industry report released Thursday.

The state added 227 megawatts of solar capacity in the third quarter, trailing only Nevada and North Carolina. That amount — enough to power 44,000 homes — was more than what Texas added in 2015, according to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Despite its large population and abundance of sun, Texas still ranks seventh in the nation in installed solar capacity. Solar accounts for less than 1 percent of electricity generated by the state’s utilities.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 15, 2017

Residents, officials remain concerned about air quality after oil-well blowout

State officials monitoring air emissions after an oil-well blowout continue to report no health risk to residents, but a former Texas Commission on Environmental Quality investigator said Friday he’s not so sure.

“I don’t think people were told the whole truth and so I’m concerned there were some misrepresentations made to the public,” Neil Carman, who worked as a TCEQ investigator for 12 years, said at a news conference.

 

 

Oil and Gas Stories

 

CNBC – December 18, 2017

Oil edges up, though 2018 outlook cites ample supplies

Oil edged up on Monday, lifted by an ongoing North Sea pipeline outage and over signs that booming U.S. crude output growth may be slowing, although the outlook for oil markets cites ample supplies despite ongoing production cuts led by OPEC.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $57.39 a barrel at 0447 GMT, up 9 cents or 0.2 percent from their last settlement.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $63.37 a barrel, up 14 cents or 0.2 percent from their last close.

 Traders said the slightly higher prices came on the back of the North Sea Forties pipeline system outage, which provides crude that underpins the Brent price benchmark, as well as indicators that U.S. oil production growth may be slowing down.
___________

 

Killeen Daily Herald – December 15. 2017

US rig count falls by 1 this week to 930, Pennsylvania up 3

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. slipped by one this week to 930.

That’s well above the 637 rigs that were active this time a year ago.

 According to Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes, 747 rigs were drilling for oil and 183 for natural gas this week. Baker Hughes released its tabulation Friday.
 ___________

BOE Report – December 16, 2017

White: Here’s What You Won’t Hear About Claims That Fracking Is Hurting Babies

A study released Tuesday suggests mothers who live next to fracking wells in Pennsylvania have children who experience a variety of negative health effects, but the report does not tell the entire story.

Children born to mothers who live one kilometer from an active fracking well are 25 percent more likely to have low birth weight, according to a study published in the journal Science Advances. Other researchers have noted some serious flaws with the journal’s conclusions.

The report is fatally flawed, Pennsylvania Director for Energy in Depth (EID), Nicole Jacobs, said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation. EID is the research arm of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, a pro-oil association based in Washington, D.C.

___________

 

 

KUHF (Houston) – December 15. 2017

Ron Reynolds Is Concerned About Potential Health Problems Due To Oil Well Blowout

Texas State Representative Ron Reynolds said Friday he will reach out to state officials because of his concern about potential health problems due to a recent oil well blowout incident near Missouri City.

The blowout happened on December 6 near the Texas Parkway and the Fort Bend Parkway Toll Road, and caused the dissemination of a gas called hydrogen sulfide.

The Railroad Commission of Texas is the lead agency in the response to the incident and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is conducting “odor survey investigations,” according to a news release.

___________

 

McAllen Monitor – December 16, 2017

Valley Crossing project will deliver natural gas to Mexico

It’s hard to miss for those who have driven S.H. 48 in the vicinity of the Brownsville Ship Channel during the past several months: Valley Crossing Pipeline, currently under construction to supply fracked natural gas to Mexico from the Eagle Ford Shale oil fields in Central Texas.

The $1.5 billion pipeline, being built by VCP parent company Enbridge Inc., is not related to liquefied natural gas projects proposed for the Port of Brownsville. Rather, it’s being built to supply Mexican power plants as that country transitions from coal and imported LNG in the wake of sweeping energy reforms. The pipeline will receive gas from the Agua Dulce gas hub in Nueces County.

___________

 

New Orleans Times Picayune – December 15, 2017

Workers injured in Shell platform fire in Gulf of Mexico file suit

Three workers injured in a November fire on Shell’s Enchilada platform in the Gulf of Mexico are suing the oil and gas company in a Texas county court. The suit claims Shell, its Gulf of Mexico subsidiary and a pipeline operator “acted with flagrant and malicious disregard” for the health and safety of the workers leading up to the incident.

___________

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – December 15, 2017

T. Boone Pickens, Mesa awarded $136 million in lawsuit of West Texas investment

The El Paso court of appeals has awarded T. Boone Pickens and Mesa Petroleum Partners about $136 million in a lawsuit relating to his investment in a West Texas oil and gas play.

In the final judgment entered Dec. 8, Mesa was awarded approximately $136 million against Delaware Basin Resources and Baytech of Midland.

In a nearly four-week trial that ended Nov. 23, 2016, the jury unanimously voted in favor of Mesa and found that one of the defendants – J. Cleo Thompson operating company of Dallas – liable for gross negligence and willful misconduct and gave Mesa $146 million against Delaware Basin resources, Baytech and J. Cleo Thompson.

___________

 

Transportation Today News – December 15, 2017

Port of Corpus Christi solidifies agreement for crude oil export teminal

Through a lease agreement with Vitol Inc. and Harvest Pipeline Company, the Port of Corpus Christi will devote 22 acres to a crude oil export terminal. The terminal will support crude oil flow out of South Texas and the Permian Basin, to Corpus Christi and is broader market access. Harvest already maintains a pipeline system through South Texas, so the new terminal will add a new connection between that system and its Midway Junction, as well as water access for the Permian Basin supply.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 15, 2017

Energy industry confronts the NAFTA doldrums

President Donald Trump sent shock waves through the Texas business world when he opened up the North American Free Trade Agreement for renegotiation four months ago.

Would he tear up the deal? Would he imperil what for many is a lucrative cross-border trade between Texas and Mexico?

But so far developments have been slow in coming, with government officials announcing that negotiations would extend through at least the end of March.

 “Most people think this is going to take a while,” said Chet Thompson, president of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, which represents a number of Texas refineries. “You have the Mexican election and the U.S. midterms to contend with. This could easily go through 2018.”

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 15, 2017

Keane Group buying new fracking fleets

Houston’s Keane Group said it is spending $115 million to order three new fracking fleets to prepare for a busy 2018, especially in West Texas’ booming Permian Basin.

The hydraulic fracturing company, said the new fleets will add about 150,000 hydraulic horsepower to give Keane about 1.3 million horsepower, including 800,000 dedicated to the Permian.

___________

 

Wall St. Journal – December 16,2017

An Oil Cartel’s Strange Dilemma: Prices Rising Too High

OPEC is grappling with an unusual conundrum: Oil prices are going higher than it wants.

A rise to $65 a barrel could undermine a fragile coalition of 24 oil-producing nations, led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, that says it is withholding almost 2% of global oil supply. Their production cuts were meant to reduce an oversupply of oil—and by extension boost prices—but prices going too high could cause some to abandon the effort and cash in, analysts and OPEC members said.

___________

 

Dallas Morning News – December 15, 2017

May: How Putin’s proxies helped funnel millions into GOP campaigns

Viktor Vekselberg is one of the 10 richest men in Russia. He and long-time business partner Blavatnik hold a 20.5 percent stake in Rusal. (They met while attending university in Russia.)

In 1990, Blavatnik and Vekselberg co-founded the Renova Group for large-scale investments in energy, infrastructure, aluminum and other metals. One of their earliest investments was in Tyumen Oil Co. (TNK), founded in 1995. TNK is best known for its contentious partnership with British Petroleum after the two entities formed a joint venture in 2003. That rocky relationship ended 10 years later when they sold out to the state-controlled energy giant, Rosneft, under pressure from the Russian government.

___________

 

US News – December 15, 2017

Paralysis at PDVSA: Venezuela’s Oil Purge Cripples Company

 Decisions at some joint ventures with foreign firms are delayed. A growing number of oil tankers sit idle because no one authorizes payments. Employees struggle to get approval for routine expenses, from taxis to training.

An alleged crackdown on graft in Venezuela, seen by critics as an effort by President Nicolas Maduro to consolidate power, has sown panic across the country’s energy industry and all but paralyzed state-run Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA, according to people at the company and across the sector.

The ongoing purge, in which prosecutors have arrested at least 67 executives including two recently ousted oil ministers, now threatens to further harm operations for the OPEC country, which is already producing at near 30-year-lows and struggling to run PDVSA units including Citgo Petroleum, its U.S. refiner.

___________

 

Texas Public Radio – December 11. 2017

How The Food Industry Uses Cavitation, The Ocean’s Most Powerful Punch

Throughout history, being on the receiving end of anything involving cavitation, a miniscule underwater implosion, has been bad news. Millions of years before humans discovered cavitation — and promptly began avoiding it, given its tendency to chew up machinery — the phenomenon has provided the shockwave and awe behind a punch so ridiculously violent that it’s made the mantis shrimp a honey badger-esque Internet mascot. … According to Doug Mancosky, chief science officer of Hydro Dynamics, which designs cavitation technology, when 15 years ago he started trying convince biofuel and petroleum manufacturers that cavitation could be used to refine their products, they thought he was crazy. Now, his company is at the forefront of a burgeoning sector of firms selling cavitation technology to food and beverage manufacturers….

 

 

Utilities Stories

 

Austin American Statesman – December 15, 2017

New solar contract tips the scales on Austin Energy’s renewable efforts

Austin Energy this week continued its solar power buying spree with a deal on a major new facility in West Texas that represents two milestones for the utility.

Under the deal approved Thursday by the City Council, the utility will buy the solar power produced by a 150-megawatt facility to be built by Intersect Power. Austin Energy would pay $150 million over the life of the 15-year contract, with the option to buy more if the facility is expanded to 180 megawatts.

When this solar array comes online in 2020, Austin Energy estimates that more than half of the city’s power needs will be covered by renewable energy — bringing the utility closer to its goal of covering 65 percent of the city’s power needs with renewable sources by 2027.

___________

 

Austin American Statesman – December 15, 2017

Austin panel smacks utility for lacking answers on water bill spikes

Months after hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Austin residents received huge September water bills after abnormally low August bills, Austin’s Electric Utility Commission flogged city staff members for answers. …

The Statesman evaluated 106 September water bills residents sent to the paper, all showing huge August dips in water use followed by unprecedented spikes, from clusters around Austin. Citywide, officials said more than 1,800 overbilling complaints were escalated for further action after that billing cycle — more than double a normal month.

But Austin Energy, which handles meter reading and billing for the water utility, said it had no explanation for the dip and spike — and therefore wouldn’t assume responsibility.

___________

 

San Francisco Chronicle – December 12, 2017

Southern California fires: Utility says its gear may be under investigation

Southern California Edison, the electric utility that serves Ventura County and many of the Los Angeles suburbs, says state investigators may be looking into whether the company’s equipment helped start this month’s devastating wildfires.

Edison said last week that based on where the fires began, it is unlikely that the company’s power lines could have sparked them.

 But in a news release Monday, the utility said state investigators are now looking at other possible ignition points for the fires — places where Edison’s equipment could have played a role.

___________

 

San Jose Mercury News – October 24, 2017

California fires: Electrical grid due for costly upgrade?

California’s first power pole was erected in the 1880s, soon after Thomas Edison’s light bulb. Now we have 4.2 million of them, carrying a spider web of fickle and fire-triggering lines that hang in drooping catenaries for 210,000 miles — enough to wrap around the world eight times. With downed power lines now under scrutiny as the suspected source of the devastating Wine Country fires, many experts say the country’s electrical grid is due for a costly overhaul, making it safer and more reliable in our increasingly digital world.

 

 

Alternatives and Renewables Stories

 

Platts – December 14, 2017

US solar installations fall, costs rise in third quarter: report

US solar installations third quarter dropped 51% from the same quarter a year ago, in large part because of a slowdown in installations in California, said a report the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research released Thursday.
The report also said all solar market segments saw price increases in Q3 that stemmed from increases in module costs. Those increases, the report said, were “due to a global shortage of Tier 1 module supply,” as well as concerns over the Section 201 tariff case that President Donald Trump must decide on by January 26.

___________

 

Bloomberg – December 17, 2017

Chinese Electric-Car Startup NIO Undercuts Tesla With Debut Model

Chinese electric-car maker NIO has launched sales of its first vehicle three years after the company was founded, undercutting the price of a rival model from Tesla Inc. Chinese customers can buy the ES8 sports utility vehicle, with a range of 500 kilometers (311 miles) on a single charge, for 448,000 yuan ($67,783), the company said late Saturday in Beijing. That compares with 836,000 yuan for Tesla’s Model X, and 596,300 yuan for BMW’s gasoline-powered X5.

___________

 

Bloomberg – December 17, 2017

This Electric Truck Will Probably Beat Tesla’s to Market

On the evening of Nov. 16, Elon Musk unveiled the latest prop in his Tony Stark cosplay. Tesla Inc.’s all-electric semi rig met all the classic Musk product launch criteria: It looked stunning, had unprecedented performance numbers, included features straight out of science fiction, and would arrive at some unknown date at a too-good-to-be-true price from a still-to-be-built assembly line.

Ten miles from the cramped Los Angeles airport hangar where thousands of Muskovites were swooning, a 25-year-old named Dakota Semler watched the performance on his phone, tossed a piece of sushi into his mouth, and shrugged. Semler, you see, has an all-electric semi of his own, a matte-black curvaceous truck known for now as the ET1. It’s the first vehicle from his startup, Thor Trucks, which hopes to grab a tiny slice of the 940,000-unit-a-year market for semis and go after short-haul trucks, delivery vans, and work vehicles.

 

 

Regulatory Stories

 

Dallas Morning News – December 15, 2017

Feds pick preferred route for Dallas-to-Houston bullet train

The Dallas-to-Houston bullet train rolled a few inches closer to the starting line Friday with the release of a long-awaited federal studythat narrows down several possible routes to a single path through powerline easements.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement, released by the U.S. Department of Transportation, doesn’t necessarily endorse the so-called Utility Corridor. The feds still have 60 days to hear from the public before a final decision is made at a date undetermined. Ten public hearings will be scheduled in the next two months in the 10 counties affected by the 240-mile, $15 billion project privately funded by Texas Central Partners.

___________

 

WKRG (Mobile, AL) – December 17, 2017

Gulf States Would Continue To See Energy Money In Current Tax Bill

A significant amount of funding from oil and gas production off the coast looks likely to stay in the coffers of Gulf states. It’s part of the final Republican tax bill that’s on the verge of going to the president’s desk.

Under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act or GOMESA gulf states like Alabama get a cut of the revenue from offshore drilling. Earlier this year the Trump administration, like the Obama administration before it, proposed ending the flow of money exclusively for Louisana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas. As of this Friday not only does that money stay with gulf states but they’re also poised to reap a greater chunk of the revenue

___________

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – December 15, 2017

Doreen: Craddick is gearing up for 26th campaign

For the 26th time, Tom Craddick’s name will be on a general election ballot as the Republican nominee for state representative.

That Craddick is running to represent Midland County – among others – in the state House of Representatives is something that most people who follow politics in Midland take for granted. For the past 50 years, the people in Midland have come to expect the sun will rise in the east, oil is destined to come out of the ground, and every two years Craddick will run for state representative, and he will win.

___________

 

Wall St. Journal – December 17, 2017

Why Refiners Are Expected to Give Their Tax Savings Right Back to Shareholders

U.S. fuel makers are poised to reap billions under a sweeping Republican overhaul of the tax code. But don’t expect them to expand, go on a hiring binge, or lower prices at the pump.

Refiners haven’t built any major new plants in the U.S. since the 1970s. Instead, they have been returning profits to shareholders en masse in recent years, because the country has more gasoline and diesel than it can consume.

That strategy is expected to continue if refiners, who have largely been paying the current 35% corporate tax rate, see their rate drop to 21% under the proposed tax cut, according to analysts and people familiar with the companies’ plans.

___________

 

Wall St. Journal – December 15, 2017

Trucking Industry Worries New Rule Could Raise Costs

A new rule requiring most big rigs to be equipped with electronic logs that record a driver’s time behind the wheel is triggering deep divisions in the trucking world and raising concerns that shipping goods could get more costly and complicated.

The federal regulation takes effect Monday. Many shippers and drivers expect the rule to reduce the number of miles trucks travel in a single day, because the logs make it easier for regulators to enforce existing rules limiting driving time. Some drivers say they may retire rather than use the electronic logging devices, known in the industry as ELDs.

 

____________
The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – December 15, 2017
Lead Stories

 

Stanford News – December 12, 2017

Small earthquakes at fracking sites may be early indicators of bigger tremors to come, say Stanford scientists

Stanford geoscientists have devised a way of detecting thousands of faint, previously missed earthquakes triggered by hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” … “These small earthquakes may act like canaries in a coalmine,” said study co-author William Ellsworth, a professor (research) of geophysics at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. “When they happen, they should be viewed as cautionary indicators of underground conditions that could lead to larger earthquakes.”

____________

 

Wall St. Journal – December 14, 2017

Warburg Pincus Group Reunites With Texas Wildcatters, Staking $780 Million in Shale Startup

A group led by Warburg Pincus LLC has agreed to invest $780 million in an oil-exploration company, one of the largest private equity investments in a shale startup.

ATX Energy Partners plans to use the money to acquire large assets from big oil companies or to make multiple smaller deals, according to people familiar with the matter. The company is named after Austin, Texas, where it makes its headquarters.

The big check from Warburg and its partners is the latest sign that private- equity firms are willing to spend increasing amounts of money on U.S. energy exploration.

____________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 13. 2017

BP doubles power of oil-finding supercomputer

British oil major BP has more than doubled the power of the supercomputer that discovered 200 million barrels of oil in a hidden Gulf of Mexico cache last year.

The machine is now the most powerful commercial research computer in the world, BP said.

Last year, BP began testing a new algorithm to image under deep-sea salt domes, which distort seismic waves that companies use to map features below the earth, making oil harder to locate.

____________

 

Dallas Morning News – December 14, 2017

Sempra’s offer to buy Texas electricity giant Oncor wins a key vote of confidence

The latest effort to free Oncor, Texas largest regulated utility, from bankruptcy court cleared an important hurdle Thursday.

A group of key stakeholders is backing the $9.45 billion plan to buy Oncor, which owns and manages power lines and related infrastructure for about 3.4 million business and homes, mostly in north and west Texas.

The sale now has the approval of the staff of the Texas Public Utility Commission, Office of Public Utility Counsel, Steering Committee of Cities Served by Oncor and Texas Industrial Energy Consumers. … While these are major endorsements, they don’t guarantee that San Diego-based Sempra Energy will get approval from the state regulator, the Texas Public Utility Commission. A vote is expected early next year.

 

Oil and Gas Stories

 

CNBC – December 15, 2017

Oil prices stable on tighter market, but rising US output looms for 2018

Oil markets were stable on Friday as the Forties pipeline outage in the North Sea and ongoing OPEC-led production cuts supported prices, while rising output from the United States kept crude from rising further.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $57.18 a barrel at 0539 GMT, up 14 cents from their last settlement.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices,were at $63.34 a barrel, up 3 cents from their previous close.

Traders said markets were well supported overall by efforts led by Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia to withhold supply to prop up prices.
____________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 14, 2017

Linn Energy to split into three companies and focus on Oklahoma oil

Houston’s Linn Energy, once a darling of Wall Street and one of the biggest independent oil giants, is now further splitting into three standalone companies.

Linn declared bankruptcy last year with $8.3 billion in debt and emerged in February as two companies, Linn and Berry Petroleum, which it had purchased at the height of the oil boom. But on Thursday, executives said it is further separating, this time into three: an oil and gas company focused on Oklahoma plays; a pipeline business in the same area; and one made up of the left-over parts.

____________

 

Financial Times – December 14, 2017

North Sea pipeline operator invokes force majeure

The operator of a damaged North Sea crude pipeline has invoked a clause that exempts it from fulfilling contracts, underlining the scale of the damage that has sent oil and gas prices surging. Ineos, the operator of the Forties network of pipelines that shifts almost 40 per cent of the North Sea oil and gas production, on Thursday declared force majeure which exempts an entity from obligations if there are causes beyond its control. “Although North Sea cargoes are often delayed from one month to the next, it is very rare for force majeure to be declared, highlighting the severity of the issue,” said analysts at consultancy FGE.

____________

 

Bloomberg – December 14, 2017

Bitcoin Points Way to ‘Massive Change’ for Commodity Businesses

Blockchain is upending the world’s financial markets with the rise of bitcoin, and now the digital-ledger system is poised to do the same next year for raw materials like food and energy.

Companies including BP Plc, ABN Amro Group NV and Mercuria Energy Group Ltd. said last month they will adapt blockchain to streamline physical energy transactions. In October, four banks joined a venture started by UBS Group AG and International Business Machines Corp. to use the technology in a platform for the global goods trade. Natixis SA and Trafigura Group Ltd. announced in March they will employ the system to finance buying and selling oil.

____________

 

Benzinga – December 12, 2017

What Is A Blockchain And What Does It Do?

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are powered by a system known as the blockchain. Each major digital currency has its own blockchain, but the general idea behind them is the same. Blockchains are typically defined as digitized, decentralized public ledgers of cryptocurrency transactions. The blockchain is a public ledger of every transfer the bitcoin community makes, and many different people can make entries into that ledger.

Decentralization Is Key: On the surface, the blockchain may seem a bit like Wikipedia in the sense that anyone can edit information and the entire community is in change of editing and policing content. But Wikipedia content is stored on a centralized server, and users use the internet to make changes to that centralized database.

____________

 

Bloomberg – December 13, 2017

The U.S. Is Exporting Oil and Gas at a Record Pace

The world’s largest oil consumer exported more hydrocarbons than ever before in 2017 and shows no signs of slowing down. You name it — crude oil, gasoline, diesel, propane and even liquefied natural gas — all were shipped abroad at a record pace. While the surge comes many years after the shale boom started, it can be traced straight back to the growth of horizontal drilling and fracking. U.S. exports are poised to expand even further, as the fear of peak oil supply has all but vanished just as a new demand threat emerges in the form of electric vehicles.

____________

 

Associated Press – December 13, 2017

Nobody Hurt in Central Texas Natural Gas Pipeline Fire

SOMERVILLE, Texas (AP) — Authorities are trying to determine what sparked a natural gas pipeline fire in Central Texas in an early-morning blaze that could be seen for several miles.

The Burleson County Sheriff’s Office says nobody was hurt in the fire reported about 3 a.m. Wednesday at a rural site near Somerville, about 90 miles (144 kilometers) east of Austin.

The line is operated by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners. Spokeswoman Vicki Granado says the affected section of pipeline was quickly shut and the fire safely burned itself out by Wednesday afternoon.

This article appeared in US News

____________

 

Reuters – December 15, 2017

Apache’s latest expansion plan shows U.S. shale far from peaking

Apache Corp Chief Executive John Christmann is betting the future of his company on a remote corner of the Permian Basin, the largest U.S. oilfield, planning to spend billions of dollars in the next 20 years to drill more than 5,000 wells.

The development of the company’s Alpine High field holds ramifications for U.S. oil reserves and future output from the already prolific Permian oilfield in Texas. The region was first tapped in the 1920s. After decades of drilling, it was considered largely exhausted by the late 1990s.

____________

 

Wall St. Journal – December 14, 2017

Cobalt International Energy Files for Bankruptcy

Cobalt International Energy Inc., a publicly traded company whose major investors include Carlyle Group and Paulson & Co., filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, about a month after warning that a chapter 11 reorganization was possible.

A host of factors—the failed sale of operations in Angola, lawsuits related to its business in the West African nation, a prolonged downturn in the exploration and production industry, and nearly $3 billion in debt and looming interest payments—led the oil-and-gas company to seek protection from creditors in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Houston, Chief Financial Officer David Powell said in a filing.

____________

 

Natural Gas Intelligence – December 12, 2017

Mexico’s Natural Gas Industry Condemns US Pipeline Export Delays

Natural gas industry leaders in Mexico are strongly criticizing “barriers to the nation’s social and economic development” led by community groups, which the industry claims are blocking new U.S. pipelines to help support gas demand.

The Asociación Mexicana de Gas Natural, aka the Mexican Natural Gas Association, on Monday condemned the use of legal injunctions “to postpone development, the creation of new jobs and the generation of electricity that is cleaner and more competitive in terms of costs.”

____________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 13, 2017

Plains All American pushing ahead with Cactus pipeline expansion

Houston’s Plains All American Pipeline said it’s seeking customers to build its planned Cactus II Pipeline connecting West Texas’ booming Permian Basin with the emerging crude oil export market out of Corpus Christi.

Plains’ project would add two pipelines to its existing Cactus network, expanding the system’s crude capacity from 390,000 barrels a day to up to 575,000 barrels daily. The project could be completed by the fall of 2019.

The original Cactus Pipeline is the only major oil artery connecting the Permian to Corpus Christi.
____________
Houston Chronicle – December 13, 2017

Noble Energy’s pipeline business created a new joint venture to buy Colorado’s Saddle Butte Pipeline for $625 million.

The deal is a play by Houston’s Noble Midstream Partners to expand in Colorado’s DJ Basin and capitalize on the region’s growing oil production. Noble Midstream, which spun out last year from Noble Energy, is focusing on the DJ Basin and West Texas’ booming Permian Basin.

____________

 

 

Houston Chronicle – December 12, 2017

Oasis Petroleum in $946 million deal for Delaware Basin land

Oasis Petroleum has agreed to buy thousands of acres for nearly $1 billion in the coveted Delaware Basin in a cash and stock deal.

The Houston oil producer said it would snap up 20,300 net acres in the West Texas oil patch from San Antonio explorer Forge Energy. The $946 million deal, expected to close in February, includes $483 million in cash and 46 million shares.

____________

 

The Guardian (UK) – December 12, 2017

Zou: How big oil is tightening its grip on Donald Trump’s White House

When Rick Perry was interrupted by climate-change protesters during his address to the National Petroleum Council in late September, the energy secretary was ready with a retort.

“You want to talk about something that saves lives? It’s the access to energy around the globe,” Perry said, countering a woman worried about deadly hurricanes and a man whose hometown is being submerged by the rising Philippine Sea. “I am proud to be a part of this industry. I am proud to be an American.”

____________

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – December 12, 2017

House Energy Resources Committee visits Midland

Texas’ primary economic engine – the oil and gas industry – is creating both a revenue stream and heightened demand for state funds, primarily for infrastructure.

Members of the State House Energy Resources Committee convened Tuesday at the Petroleum Museum to hear from those in the heart of the dominant oil-producing basin in the state and the nation, and perhaps the world.

“This is an important meeting for the committee, to listen to the folks responsible for a significant part of the Texas economy,” said Rep. Drew Darby of San Angelo.

Rep Tom Craddick of Midland said he’s proud to have the chance to show off “what’s happening here, our needs.

____________

 

Washington Examiner – December 12, 2017

Rise of electric vehicles threatens oil industry

Refiners and oil executives are beginning to look at the threat that electric cars pose to the future of diesel and gasoline as the vehicles gain staying power. …

“Seventy percent of oil consumption is as a transportation fuel. So, if you move those numbers in the long-term it can cause titanic shifts,” said Dan Eberhart, an oil executive who owns Canary, one of the largest oil drilling wellhead manufacturers in the country.

Eberhart, who donates to President Trump and has ventured deeper into energy policy in recent months, is working on a book on the long-term implications of the electric car on the demand for oil.

He believes that most news outlets miss the significance of the electric car on refiners and oil producers.

____________

 

Washington Examiner – December 4, 2017

Malone: Stacking the patent deck against inventors

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the patent case Oil States Energy Services, LLC v. Greene’s Energy Group, LLC. In many ways, the future of American innovation hangs in the balance.

Oil States, a Texas energy company, invented a new way to seal a natural gas wellhead to contain the 15,000 pounds per square inch of pressurized hydraulic fracturing fluid. The company caught Greene’s infringing on its patented intellectual property and filed suit. Rather than defend the accusation of infringement in an Article III court of law, Greene’s filed an inter partes review petition at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB).

The Patent Trial and Appeal Board is one of two divisions of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

____________

 

New York Times – December 7, 2017

Stephens: Four Questions About American Greatness

Suppose it’s the year 2110, and a history professor at Yeshiva’s Business School is asking her students to name the inventions or innovations that defined the economic terms of the 21st century, much in the way that airplanes, the Model-T, and penicillin defined the 20th century, or the steam engine and locomotive defined the 19th.

What answers might her students give?

Let me suggest three.

The first is what we usually call fracking. A decade ago, it was fashionable to claim the world was running out of oil, and that the United States was mostly a bystander when it came to energy markets. Yet today, the world produces more oil than ever and the U.S. is the world’s No. 1 energy producer of petroleum and natural gas.

Utilities Stories

 

Austin Monitor – December 14, 2017

Electric Utility Commission recommends purchase of more solar power

Austin has a herculean trial ahead of itself as it tries to reach 65 percent renewable energy by 2027. Thankfully, one new proposed project may make that goal achievable.

Despite making up only 4 percent of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas market, Austin Energy’s renewable energy contribution is noteworthy. With its latest proposed project, the city-owned utility will add another 150 megawatts to the AE solar portfolio and will provide nearly a third of the solar energy available on the ERCOT market.

___________

 

New York Times – December 13, 2017

Rising Coal Exports Give Short-Term Aid to an Ailing Industry

A shake-up in global coal trading has delivered some oxygen to the struggling American mining industry, driving up exports to energy-hungry countries. But the relief may not last.

United States coal sales abroad over the first three quarters of the year surpassed exports for all of 2016, according to government figures. Energy experts project an increase of 46 percent for the full year, adding more than $1 billion to coal companies’ revenues.

____________

 

Windpower Monthly – December 1, 2017

de Vries: WindTech: High-speed gearboxes still rule onshore

The decisive switch from geared to direct-drive turbines that was considered inevitable by many just six or seven years ago has not materialised.

The cumulative share of direct-drive turbines in the global market continues to vary from 15% to 22%, with Enercon, Goldwind and the Siemens arm of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) among the most prominent OEMs applying the technology. But turbines with high-speed geared drivetrains continue to dominate onshore. The latest — and largest — example is GE’s 4.8MW machine, featuring a doubly fed induction generator (DFIG) and a rotor diameter of 158 metres.

 

Alternatives and Renewables Stories

 

San Angelo Live – December 13, 2017

$250 Million Rattlesnake Wind Farm Project Taking Shape near Melvin

The skyline in Mcculloch County is changing as the first eight wind turbines in the Rattlesnake Wind Project are under construction and can be seen from U.S. 87 at Melvin. The Rattlesnake Wind Project is a partnership between Renewable Energy Systems (RES) and Xinjiang Goldwind Science & Technology Co., Ltd. It is RES’s 18th wind project in Texas and its largest. Goldwind is the manufacturer of the 2.5 MW permanent-magnet, direct drive turbines. Goldwind, a Chinese company with investments for this project from Warren Buffet’s Berkshire-Hathaway Energy and Citi, has constructed approximately 15 percent of the wind projects in Texas.

____________

 

Vox – December 13, 2017

Some Republicans are reconsidering the tax bill’s attack on renewable energy

The GOP has had to find ways to pay for its promised tax cuts, which could cost over $1 trillion. And so Republicans have been scrambling to fill the void with ideas ranging from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to undoing tax breaks for renewable energy.

Both the House and Senate versions of the Republican tax bill now include provisions that would serioulsy threaten the wind and solar industries. The hemming and hawing over them is meanwhile also stalling more than $20 billion in investment in clean energy, according to Democratic lawmakers who oppose the cuts.

But here’s the catch: wind and solar are booming not just in deep blue states like California, but also in red states like Texas, Wyoming, Kansas, and Iowa.

____________

 

Bloomberg – December 13, 2017

Famed Short-Seller Jim Chanos Says Tesla Headed for ‘Brick Wall’

“Every bull market has its poster children,” the president and founder of hedge fund Kynikos Associates Ltd said at an event in Detroit. “Tesla is one of the bad ones.”

… While Chanos has made wayward bets against U.S. stocks and China recently, he built his reputation by wagering that Enron Corp. would fail and was proven correct. He said Wednesday that the spate of executive departures Tesla has endured this year is reminiscent of Enron before its fall.

 

Regulatory Stories

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – December 13, 2017

State senator wants to eliminate business franchise tax

“I have told people, only half in jest, that you see a lot of bumper stickers in Austin that say, ‘Keep Austin weird.’ I want to replace every one of those with one that says, ‘Have you hugged your oil and gas producer today.’”

That’s the sentiment from state Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, who was in the heart of the oil patch this week to be honored by the Permian Basin Petroleum Association for his efforts to improve the oil and gas industry.

Estes is the chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee. He stopped by the Reporter-Telegram to talk about a bit about oil and gas, the business franchise tax and even some of the funny laws on the Texas books.

____________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 13, 2017

Pipeline firms fight to maintain tax breaks

Add Texas pipeline companies to the ranks of those unhappy with Republicans’ tax reform legislation – a long list that includes everyone from so-called fiscal hawks to tax and spend liberals.

Even as Congress nears a critical vote on legislation that would drastically shrink the overall corporate tax rate, pipeline companies are fighting to maintain tax breaks that allow them to deduct the borrowing costs on construction projects that take years to permit and build.

In a letter last week the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, which represents the likes of Enbridge and Kinder Morgan, asked House Republican leaders to adjust a provision within the senate version of the bill limiting how much interest they can deduct.
____________

Austin American Statesman – December 14, 2017

I-35 toll lanes in Austin cut from long-range transportation plan

State transportation officials, reacting to anti-toll pressure from Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, voted Thursday to remove all new tollway projects from a key 10-year construction plan — including what would have been the addition of two toll lanes to each side of Interstate 35 through Central Texas.

That 5-0 vote came despite the pleas of nearly a dozen Central Texas political, civic and business leaders — including Austin Mayor Steve Adler, state Sen. Kirk Watson, Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty and Capital Metro board Chairman Wade Cooper — to keep the I-35 express lanes in the plan.

____________

 

Texas Observer – December 13, 2017

No Texas Senator Has Called for the Resignation of Two Colleagues Accused of Sexual Misconduct

This week, the Observer reached out to all 31 state senators as well as Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who didn’t respond, about the allegations. Of the 15 senators who responded, including Miles and Uresti, all broadly denounced sexual harassment, variously noting that it is “unacceptable,” “a serious and sensitive issue” and “will not be tolerated in the Texas Senate.” However, none called on Miles or Uresti to resign. Seven senators — four Democrats and three Republicans — said the allegations needed to be investigated or reviewed by the Senate.

 

____________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips December 14, 2017

Please click on the headline to read more about each story

 

Lead Stories

 

San Antonio Express News – December 13, 2017

Cantu told FBI her affair with Uresti began in 2010 with ‘sexy’ comment, lewd text

Indicted state Sen. Carlos Uresti began a sexual relationship with Denise Cantu of Harlingen — a key witness against him — as early as 2010, telling his then-client she looked “sexy,” sending her lewd text messages and later consummating the friendship at a hotel room in San Antonio, she told the FBI in interview records that reveal new details of their relationship.

Calling Cantu a “demonstrated liar,” Uresti’s lawyers shared FBI records with the San Antonio Express-News after federal prosecutors filed a motion under seal last week to block some expert testimony from his upcoming criminal fraud trial. … Federal prosecutors said Uresti used his “special relationship” of trust with Cantu to convince the grieving mother to invest in a San Antonio oil field services company that later went bankrupt.

__________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 13, 2017

Energy Dept. sees higher oil prices, more oil in 2018

The recent rally in crude prices could drive U.S. oil production to a record annual average of 10 million barrels a day in 2018, the Energy Department said on Tuesday.

In its monthly forecast, The Energy Information Administration said it expects U.S. crude production to rise by an average of 800,000 barrels a day next year, while Canada, Brazil, Norway, the United Kingdom and Kazakhstan add another 700,000 barrels a day. On top of that, OPEC may boost output by 200,000 barrels a day.

___________

 

Dallas Morning News – December 13, 2017

DMN: Railroad Commission still a nonbeliever on ties between North Texas earthquakes, injection disposal wells

North Texas’ seismic tremors aren’t predictable, unlike the Texas Railroad Commission’s response to earthquake swarms.

A study published recently in the journal Science Advances concludes that high-pressure wastewater injection disposal wells used to bury fluids from hydraulic fracturing activities revived dormant faults near Dallas. Like clockwork, the Railroad Commission insists again that this isn’t a conclusive link between earthquake swarms and oil and gas activity.

___________

 

Neat Big Future – December 6, 2017

Nuclear powered drones are technically feasible and could fly for years

From 2008-2011, Sandia National Labs and Northrop Grumman designed nuclear drones that would be able to fly for many months.

China has put $3.3 billion into making new highly compact nuclear reactors which would also use for nuclear powered drones.

The potential impact of nuclear-powered drones can be seen by comparing them with existing aircraft such as the MQ-9 Reaper, which is used extensively in Afghanistan and Pakistan in operations against insurgents. The Reaper presently carries nearly two tonnes of fuel in addition a similar weight of munitions and other equipment and can stay airborne for around 42 hours, or just 14 hours when fully loaded with munitions.

Oil and Gas Stories

 

CNBC – December 14, 2017

Oil rises on lower US crude stocks, but growing output caps gains

Oil markets rose on Thursday, lifted by a fourth straight weekly fall in U.S. crude inventories, though climbing output capped prices well below the 2015 highs reached earlier this week.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $56.77 a barrel at 00344 GMT, up 17 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last settlement.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at $62.81 a barrel, up 37 cents, or 0.6 percent from their last close.

___________

Houston Chronicle – December 13, 2017

Big oil inventories draw again offset by fuels build

Another big dip in the nation’s crude oil stockpiles was offset for the second week in a row with an even larger build in gasoline inventory levels.

The country’s falling oil glut saw its commercial crude stocks decline by 5.1 million barrels last week, according to the U.S. Energy Department. However, gasoline inventories grew by 5.7 million barrels with less demand for fuel from motorists in between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday travel weeks.

___________

 

Kallanish Energy – December 13, 2017

Texas drilling permits in November increase 76.3% from 2016

The number of Texas drilling permits issued in November jumped by 76.3%, Kallanish Energyreports.

The number went from 673 in November 2016, to 1,187 in November 2017, said the Railroad Commission of Texas, in a report filed this week.

The November 2017 total included 955 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, 11 to re-enter plugged well bores and 221 for recompletions of existing well bores.

___________

 

Dallas Morning News – December 3, 2017

Judge trims the $146 million jury award in T. Boone Pickens’ West Texas oil lawsuit

Judge Mike Swanson of the 143rd Judicial District Court trimmed a 2016 jury award to oil billionaire T. Boone Pickens from nearly $146 million to $117 million in a case that involved two Midland-based oil companies and Dallas-based J. Cleo Thompson.

The compensation would also include 5 percent interest on the $117 million dating from December 2014, when the lawsuit was filed.

___________

 

San Antonio Express News – December 13, 2017

Texas wants Trump to back away from ethanol

Texas politicians are increasing pressure on President Donald Trump to pull back a federal ethanol mandate created to reduce the nation’s thirst for oil.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and other Republican senators met with President Donald Trump last week to discuss changes, after the Environmental Protection Agency said earlier this year that it would slightly increase the amount biofuel that must be blending into gasoline for 2018 and would not make changes to the program long sought by Republicans from oil-rich states.

____________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 13, 2017

Hilcorp, Vitol team up on Corpus crude export project

Houston-based Hilcorp Energy and international energy trader Vitol are teaming up to potentially build a new crude export terminal in Corpus Christi.

Corpus Christi and Houston are leading the way as the nation rapidly increases its exports of crude oil since Congress lifted the decades-old ban two years ago.

Hilcorp subsidiary Harvest Pipeline said it inked a deal with the Netherlands-based Vitol to explore the joint development of a major crude storage and export terminal at the Port of Corpus Christi.

 

___________

 

Wall St. Journal – December 13, 2017

U.S., Japan Express Concern Over China’s Interest in Saudi Oil Giant

The U.S. and Japan have urged Saudi Arabia to pursue an international listing for oil giant Aramco, fearing the possible sale of a stake to China would give Beijing too much sway in the Middle East, people familiar with the matter said.

Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Aramco, was slated to become the world’s largest-ever public offering, with a domestic and international listing next year. More recently, Riyadh has instead considered selling a private placement to a Chinese consortium of state-held entities, people familiar with the matter said.

U.S. and Japanese concerns come amid increased tensions in the region, where Saudi Arabia and its allies are facing off against Iran and Riyadh is dealing with domestic political turbulence.

___________

 

San Antonio Express News – December 12, 2017

Uresti adds more names as potential witnesses for upcoming criminal trial
State Sen. Carlos Uresti has added some more notable politicians and lawyers to an already powerful list of potential witnesses who could be called to testify in his criminal fraud trial, set to start in about three weeks.

Uresti updated the list this week to include U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, a Republican.

Former state Land Commissioner Garry Mauro, one of the last Democrats to win election statewide in Texas — in 1994 — and Hillary Clinton’s point person in Texas for last year’s presidential election, also has been added to the list of witnesses who may be called.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 13, 2017

Global oil field spending set to rise by $25 billion in 2018, led by U.S., survey says

Energy companies will boost capital spending in the U.S. oil patch next year, but their investments won’t grow nearly as much as this year, a new report said Wednesday.

The oil industry’s capital expenditures – the lifeblood of the oil field service companies that employ thousands of people in Houston and across Texas – will increase by 15 percent in the United States next year, compared with an increase of 49 percent last year, according to a survey of more than 300 companies by investment bank Evercore ISI.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 12, 2017

Schaeffer: Diesel technology can reduce air pollution in Texas

Houston’s plan to purchase the newest generation of diesel technology with funds from the Volkswagen settlement is a smart, sensible plan. And if Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality want to ensure the greatest number of Texans receive the greatest clean-air benefits for the available funds, they should follow Houston’s example.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 12, 2017

Port of Galveston names new director

The Port of Galveston is tapping an executive from the world’s second-busiest cruise port as the island seeks to attract more vacationers and boost cargo operations.

Rodger Rees, deputy executive director and chief financial officer at Port Canaveral in Florida, will take over as Galveston’s port director in mid-January. His top priorities include increasing revenue and improving bond ratings needed to finance future projects.

 

 

Utilities Stories

 

Canadian Biomass Magazine – December 6, 2017

Canadian Biomass Magazine: We can learn from a close call at Pacific BioEnergy
In a matter of days a frightening situation at Pacific BioEnergy turned into a remarkable one with important lessons learned for pellet producers.

This past August at the Prince George, B.C., facility a silo holding 3,500 tonnes of wood pellets began smouldering. The situation was critical. Up to this point efforts to put out fires in pellet silos have been unsuccessful in North America.
But cooler heads prevailed and a co-ordinated effort between the plant’s staff, first responders and FutureMetrics’ John Swaan over the next few days ended in the best possible result – the smouldering was extinguished and the silo was safely emptied. It’s a first in North America, says Swaan, who founded Pacific BioEnergy Corporation in 1994.

___________

 

Washington Post – December 8, 2017

An American energy plan straight from coal country

Energy Secretary Rick Perry had been in office less than four weeks when he took a meeting from a coal magnate who had an urgent request.

Robert E. Murray, founder of Murray Energy and a major Trump supporter, presented a four-page “action plan” to rescue the coal industry. The plan said that commissioners at three independent regulatory agencies “must be replaced,” Environmental Protection Agency staff slashed, and safety and pollution rules “overturn[ed],” according to photos and documents seen by The Washington Post.

___________

 

North American Windpower – December 7, 2017

New Program Seeks To Bolster Utility Sustainability, Clean Energy Reporting

To better serve customers and investors, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), an association representing all U.S. investor-owned electric companies, is launching a pilot environmental, social, governance and sustainability-related (ESG/sustainability) reporting template.

The goal is to help EEI’s member electric companies provide investors with more uniformity and better consistency for ESG/sustainability metrics, the association says.

___________

 

Daily Mail (UK) – December 13, 2017

Bitcoin mining ‘is using so much energy that it is causing electricity blackouts’ amid fears it will consume more power than the world by 2020
Experts say Bitcoin mining is consuming more power than used by 159 countries.
The hardware uses approximately 31 terrawatt hours of energy per year.
That compares with 23TWh in Ireland and 309TWh for the whole of the UK.
It is creating a ‘colossal’ carbon footprint as the value of one coin surges to more than £12,000 amid violent swings in the cryptocurrency market

 

 

Alternatives and Renewables Stories

 

Washington Times – December 12, 2017

Republicans scoff at one of economy’s fastest-growing sectors: Renewable energy

It’s become a national leader in wind-power generation, but in deep-red, oil-rich Texas, many conservatives still turn a skeptical eye toward renewable energy — despite growth numbers that dwarf virtually every other sector of the economy.

For Jeff Clark, who heads The Wind Coalition in Texas, the fact that political posturing often seems to overrule hard data can be mind-boggling.

“As soon as I say, ‘Oh, by the way, it’s clean and it doesn’t contribute to climate change,’ I’ve just lost half my audience. The joke is, Would you love me more if I was dirtier?” said Mr. Clark, offering a tongue-in-cheek take on the immediate instinct of many Republicans to promote only fossil fuels.

___________

 

Smart Cities Dive – December 6, 2017

How solar energy will transform in 20 years

1. Solar prices will be significantly cheaper: In 1975, solar panels produced energy at a rate of over $100 per watt. The price is less than $1 per watt today. In many countries like Spain, Germany, Italy and Australia, solar is already cheaper than coal. In the U.S. solar will be cheaper than natural gas within a decade.

Costs will continue to decline as solar power installations multiply and solar technology becomes more efficient. Price could decline by an additional 59% by 2025 compared against 2016 prices, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. Further declines will be difficult to achieve, but by 2040, the price could be two-thirds of its current cost. 2. Solar power will be much more ubiquitous:

___________

 

Green Tech Media – December 4, 2017

Off-Grid Solar and Storage May Be 80% Cheaper in Developing Countries Than Assumed

A British international development company claims the real cost of solar-plus-storage systems in emerging economies could be up to 80 percent cheaper than current estimates.

London-based Crown Agents said the perceived high capital cost of PV andstorageis acting as a deterrent to investment by multilateral agencies, but this perception is based on outdated technology assumptions.

Agencies and donors are basing investment decisions on a rough cost of anything from $5 up to $10 per watt of PV power, said Jordan Fast, senior technical adviser and partnerships manager at Crown Agents.

click on headline to read more

 

 

Regulatory Stories

 

Electric Light and Power – December 12, 2017

New Mexico AG, others agree on proposed wind farms

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, consumer advocates and others have reached a settlement with Xcel Energy over the utility’s plans to add more wind power for customers in New Mexico and parts of Texas.

The proposed agreement was filed Monday with New Mexico utility regulators for approval. The Public Utility Commission of Texas also will have to sign off, but officials said some work remains before a final agreement can be presented to regulators there.

___________

 

New York Times – December 13, 2017

Trump’s E.P.A. Chemical Safety Nominee Withdraws

President Trump’s nominee to oversee the Environmental Protection Agency’s chemical safety division on Wednesday withdrew his name from consideration for the post in the face of mounting opposition.

The nominee, Michael L. Dourson, a longtime researcher whose studies often bolstered safety claims by manufacturers of pesticides, flame retardants and other products under federal scrutiny as possible public health hazards, had been working as an adviser to the agency while awaiting confirmation.

___________

 

The Hill – December 8, 2017

Opposition to Trump power push creates strange bedfellows

Energy lobbyists and advocates have been working furiously over the last two months on the Trump administration’s plan to prop up coal and nuclear power plants.

The surprise proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry at the end of September asks the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to require certain electric grid operators to pay more for electricity from coal and nuclear plants in an effort to improve the resilience of the grid.

___________

 

Bloomberg – December 12, 2017

Bloomberg: The Jones Act Costs All Americans Too Much

Puerto Rico’s post-hurricane plight has drawn attention to the Jones Act, the 1920 law that compels all maritime commerce between U.S. ports to be carried on ships built, owned and crewed by Americans. The law is adding to the island’s problems, and should be set aside for that reason alone — but the Jones Act was, or should have been, a scandal well before the hurricane hit.

What Americans ought to ask is not whether the law should be waived in the long term for Puerto Rico to speed its recovery, but whether its costs are something the country as a whole should tolerate under any circumstances.

___________

 

New York Times – December 7, 2017

NYT: The Trump Administration’s Coal Bailout

Federal energy regulators will soon vote on a ham-fisted Trump administration proposal to subsidize coal-fired power plants. This plan could cost families and businesses billions of dollars in higher electricity prices for no discernible public benefit.

The measure in question comes from the energy secretary, Rick Perry, and amounts to a devious and reckless attempt to prop up coal-fired plants, which have been shutting down in recent years because they cannot compete against cheaper and cleaner natural gas plants and renewable sources of energy like wind and solar.

___________

Bloomberg – December 12, 2017

Tillerson Says He’s Learning to Enjoy Job But Misses His Horse

Rex Tillerson has had public disagreements with his boss, Donald Trump, and private concerns about the role the president’s son-in-law is playing in the Middle East, but the secretary of state said he’s “learning to enjoy” his role as America’s top diplomat.

“Look, this is a hard job. I start every morning with the thought — how can I keep somebody from being killed today,” Tillerson told employees at the State Department Tuesday, in his first building-wide question and answer session with staff since taking office in January.
That said, Tillerson sounded eager to take a break from Washington, saying he’s looking forward to seeing the cowboys on his ranch in Texas over the holidays.

___________

 

Independent Journal Review – December 8, 2017

These Photos of Rick Perry Have Become an Internet Sensation — And It’s Fantastic

In a press release from the Department of Energy, Perry said the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are entering an “exciting new phase in our energy partnership, building on our collective success with an eye to the future.”

“Together, through the development of clean energy technologies, our two countries can lead the world in promoting economic growth and energy production in an environmentally responsible way,” he added.

But — again — it was the photos that mattered to Twitter users:

 

__________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips December 13, 2017

Please click on the headline to read more about each story

Lead Stories

 

E&E News – December 12, 2017

Longtime aide cashes in after fixing Perry’s ‘oops’ image

Jeff Miller directed Rick Perry’s 2016 presidential campaign and shepherded the Energy secretary through the Senate confirmation process. Now, he’s cashing in.

A handful of energy companies paid Miller’s recently launched lobbying practice $1.17 million through the first nine months of 2017, federal lobbying disclosures show.

The former Perry adviser is the only lobbyist listed in the disclosures. Miller Strategies LLC’s client roster includes a number of companies whose futures are closely intertwined with the Department of Energy.

___________

 

Wichita Falls Times Record – December 12, 2017

World Bank cuts off upstream oil, gas financing

Texas oil and gas advocates said the World Bank pulling shut the purse strings on oil and gas exploration and extraction after 2019 is just another attempt to harm their industry.

But eventually, it might mean more money flowing to Lone Star State producers, local economies and the United States in general.

“This could open up some new markets for U.S. natural gas,” Karr Ingham, petroleum economist for the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, said. “We’re awash in the stuff. We can produce as much natural gas as we need and then a whole bunch more.

___________

 

Carlsbad Current-Argus (NM) – December 12, 2017

Oil, water producers work to comply with State Land Office to reduce Ogallala use

Many oil and gas operators and water producers in the Permian Basin region are adjusting their operations to conserve water from one of the country’s largest underground aquifers, six months after the New Mexico State Land Office demanded companies find another source of water.

The Ogallala aquifer extends as far north as Wyoming and South Dakota, with a small section of the freshwater shale reported in eastern New Mexico along the Texas state line.

The Ogallala, a freshwater source, has long been a source for agriculture in the American Midwest and for extraction activities in the Permian Basin.

___________

 

American Journal of Transporation – December 11, 2017

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions decreased in most states from 2005 to 2015

The United States has a diverse energy landscape that is reflected in differences in state-level emissions profiles. Between 2005 and 2015, energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions decreased in 43 states (including the District of Columbia) and increased in 8 states. On a per capita basis, energy-related CO2 emissions decreased in 49 states (including the District of Columbia) and increased in 2 states (Louisiana and Nebraska) between 2005 and 2015. EIA’s latest data on state-level energy-related CO2 emissions include data organized by fuel and by sector.
EIA’s analysis measures emissions released at the location where fossil fuels are consumed. When fuels are used in one state to generate electricity that is consumed in another state, for example, emissions are attributed to the state where the generation occurs.

___________

 

San Diego Union-Tribune – December 12, 2017

Sempra takes another step to acquire Texas power company

The deal is far from final, but San Diego-based Sempra Energy cleared another hurdle Tuesday in its bid to complete the largest acquisition in company history.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order authorizing Sempra’s acquisition of Oncor, the largest transmission and distribution utility based in Dallas. The OK was largely expected but nonetheless crucial in wrapping up a $9.45 billion deal that will greatly expand Sempra’s reach into the two biggest energy states in the country — California and Texas.

 

Oil and Gas Stories

 

CNBC – December 13, 2017

Oil prices recover on big US crude stock drawdown, pipeline shutdown supports

Oil prices rose on Wednesday as industry data showed a larger-than-expected drawdown in U.S. crude stockpiles, while expectations for an extended shutdown of a major North Sea crude pipeline also continued to bolster markets.

Brent crude was up 64 cents, or 1 percent, at $63.98 a barrel by 0413 GMT. It had settled down $1.35, or 2.1 percent, on Tuesday on a wave of profit-taking after news of a key North Sea pipeline shutdown helped send the global benchmark above $65 for the first time since mid-2015.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 42 cents, or 0.7 percent,at $57.56 a barrel, having settled the previous session down 85 cents.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 12, 2017

U.S. drilling permits could surge in December if oil stays elevated, Evercore says

If crude prices remain elevated, oil companies could take out some 5,000 onshore U.S. drilling permits this month, the biggest monthly haul of the year, a new report says.

State agencies issued 2,460 drilling permits through December 8, driven by an 80 percent increase in New Mexico, according to New York investment bank Evercore ISI.

“With commodity prices again on the rise and charging toward $60, we believe that an influx of smaller private/independent operators will drive permitting activity into year end,” Evercore analysts wrote on Tuesday.

___________

 

US News – December 12, 2017

Exxon Says It Will Increase Climate-Change Disclosures

Exxon says it will give more details about how climate change could affect its business.

The oil giant said in a brief regulatory filing Monday that in the near future — it didn’t give a date — it will disclose potential changes in demand and implications of policies designed to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius. Policies to cap emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide could reduce demand for oil.

___________

 

Bloomberg – December 11, 2017

Nodding Donkeys Fail as Long Shale Wells Make Pumping Oil Harder

Imagine trying to slurp a thick chocolate shake through a J-shaped straw four miles long. That’s the kind of cheek-puckering test the American shale industry must overcome to prolong a record boom in oil output.

For almost a decade, drillers have been using new techniques to tap vast petroleum reserves scattered within deep, porous rock layers in places like west Texas, Pennsylvania and southern Canada. By digging extra-long wells that went down and then sideways at different angles, engineers were able to capture a lot more crude than from a vertical hole.
___________
Houston Chronicle – December 12, 2017
Carrizo selling Eagle Ford acreage for $245 million in cash

Carrizo Oil & Gas will sell off some of its footprint in the Eagle Ford Shale for $245 million in cash, the company said Tuesday.

The Houston oil company said it’d sell some 24,500 net acres in the South Texas shale play. The region produced some 3,400 barrels of oil equivalent a day in the fourth quarter.

___________

Wall St. Journal – December 12, 2017

Investors Pledge Cuts to Fossil-Fuel Commitments at Paris Meeting

Several global institutions pledged to cut financing of fossil-fuel projects at a summit in Paris, backing French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for the private sector to do more to combat greenhouse-gas emissions after President Donald Trump said the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

One of the largest pledges at the One Planet Summit on Tuesday came from French insurer AXA, which said it would pull €2.4 billion ($2.8 billion) from the coal industry, shed all investment in oil sands and no longer insure new projects in either sector. Dutch lender ING said it would cut its exposure to coal power to zero by 2025 and the World Bank said it would no longer finance upstream oil and gas after 2019.

____________

San Antonio Express News – December 11, 2017
Federal geologists to reevaluate North Dakota oil potential

Federal geologists agreed Monday to reevaluate the amount of recoverable crude oil in North Dakota, U.S. Senator John Hoeven said.

Hoeven and industry officials requested the new assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey, saying it would likely attract investment by showing stronger production potential.

USGS Deputy Director William Werkheiser notified Hoeven by letter on Monday.

___________

 

Bloomberg – December 12, 2017

Canadian Oil Collapses Amid Pipeline and Rail Bottleneck

Heavy Canadian crude fell to the lowest in almost four years against benchmark prices Tuesday as bottlenecks on pipelines and rail networks crimped exports.

Canadian crude’s discount to West Texas Intermediate futures has widened more than $15 since August as pipeline companies including Enbridge Inc. rationed space amid high Western Canadian inventories. Rail cars struggled to catch up on deliveries after line disruptions over the past two months.
“You are in a serious pain point right now,” Mike Walls, a Genscape Inc. analyst, said by phone from Boulder, Colorado. “It’s the perfect storm of too much supply and not enough capacity.”
___________
Laredo Morning Times – December 12, 2017
Progress on Bruni refinery remains unclear despite planned 2017 groundbreaking

A lot has happened in the year since Raven Petroleum announced it would be building a $500 million, 50,000-barrel-per-day oil refinery near Laredo.

Officials from Webb, Duval and Jim Hogg counties immediately touted the economic boost and hundreds of potential jobs that would come out of this project. A few months later, though, Webb County Judge Tano Tijerina withdrew his support, citing Raven’s vague details about the refinery.

A group of wary Laredo and Bruni residents concerned about the project’s environmental impact formed South Texans Against the Refinery, or STAR. They have held several town hall meetings in Bruni, which is only four miles away from the proposed refinery site, and right along its prevailing wind pattern.

___________

 

KRGV (Rio Grande Valley) – December 11, 2017

Looming LNG Pipeline Construction Raising Concerns for Tourism Businesses

PORT ISABEL – Tour boat companies are speaking up in the wake of three liquefied natural gas pipelines in the works.

“This is home to 250 to 300 dolphins,” said Captain Heather Lacy. “We have 17 babies in the bay right now.”

Lacy and Captain Paul Sty run Fins to Feathers, a tour boat company out of Port Isabel. They rely on Texas’s Gulf Coast tourism to survive.

“We need more tourists. The more coastline that you take away and the more stuff that you take away from them, we’re going to lose the tourists. This is a tourist city,” said Lacy.

___________

 

Reuters – December 12, 2017

Forties pipeline outage is a gift to U.S. oil exporters, others: Russell

The shutdown of Britain’s largest crude oil pipeline is an early Christmas gift to U.S. exporters shipping to Asia, and a complication for Middle Eastern and African producers seeking to maintain market share in the world’s top importing region.

The Forties Pipeline System, which carries about 450,000 barrels per day (bpd) from the North Sea to Scotland, may be closed for several weeks for unscheduled repair work, operator Ineos said on Monday.

Forties crude is the largest of the five North Sea crudes that make up the dated Brent price benchmark.

___________

Baton Rouge Advocate (LA) – December 7, 2017
LSU gets millions in BP oil settlement money to study how to make drilling in Gulf safer

Louisiana researchers are getting the lion’s share of $10.8 million of BP oil settlement money to figure out ways to make offshore drilling safer and prevent disasters like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine announced the distribution of the $10.8 million in awards on Thursday, with LSU engineering professor Wesley Williams claiming the largest share.

His $4.9 million project will study how to prevent oil rigs from accidentally tapping into underground pockets of natural gas. When the flammable gas gets into the pipes, it expands and can blow out the top, which may cause an explosion — the very thing that happened in the Deepwater incident, Williams said.

___________

 

 

Associated Press – December 11, 2017

Gas driller: Make homeowner pay for disparaging us

A gas driller argued in court Monday that it’s entitled to monetary damages from a Pennsylvania homeowner who continued bad-mouthing the company after settling his water-contamination lawsuit against it more than five years ago.

Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. claims Dimock resident Ray Kemble and his former lawyers tried to extort the company through a frivolous federal lawsuit that recycled already-settled claims against Cabot. The lawsuit, which was filed in April but withdrawn two months later, accused Cabot of polluting Kemble’s water supply anew.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

___________

 

Glenwood Springs Post Independent (CO) – December 10, 2017

Judge denies dismissal of SG Interests libel lawsuit over Thompson Divide online comment

A judge has denied a motion to dismiss a libel suit that energy company SG Interests has brought against a Paonia environmental activist.

Pete Kolbenschlag, who has been active in fighting energy development in the North Fork Valley, posted a Facebook comment to a Post Independent story on SG Interests early this year after some big news came out about their nearby natural gas leases.

SG Interests is a Texas-based oil and gas company that held the majority of the leases on the Thompson Divide, which the BLM announced in November 2016 that it was cancelling.

 

 

 

Utilities Stories

 

Green Tech Media – December 12, 2017

The Top 10 Utility Regulation Trends of 2017

Not surprisingly, the challenges public utilities commissions are grappling with are wide-ranging and diverse: utility business model reforms, distribution system planning, grid modernization, rate-design changes, large investments in renewables, transportation electrification, energystorage wholesale market changes, and data access, to name a few. Here is a roundup of the top 10 matters before PUCs in 2017.

___________

 

Platts – December 12, 2017

Policy, fundamentals to challenge US independent power producers in 2018

Stagnant US electricity demand, lower commodity prices, policy interventions, and continued improvements in renewable energy costs and technologies may increase risks for independent power producers in 2018, which some industry observers say may result in more sector consolidation.
“In general, IPPs will face a challenging 2018 due to persistently low commodity prices and flat to very moderate demand growth for electricity,” said Matthew Cordaro, a former Midcontinent Independent System Operator CEO who now resides in New York.

___________

 

San Antonio Express News – December 12, 2017

San Antonio’s CPS Energy executive named co-chair to Puerto Rico energy council

Nearly three months after Hurricane Maria destroyed much of Puerto Rico’s power grid, CPS Energy’s chief operating officer, Cris Eugster, has been named co-chair of a council that will advise the island’s utility as it rebuilds its devastated energy infrastructure. The island’s utility, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, announced the members who will make up the Transformation Advisory Council. The council brings together 11 individuals in public and private utility-scale power companies tasked with coming up with recommendations on building what Eugster calls a more “sustainable, resilient and viable” system.

___________

 

Denton Record Chronicle – December 12, 2017

Audit shows Denton Municipal Electric traders have not kept up with market

A special audit found that the energy trading group inside Denton Municipal Electric has not kept up with the increasing complexity of the Texas electricity market, putting its operations and ratepayers at greater risk of price fluctuations.

Representatives from Deloitte, which conducted the audit, presented their findings to the Denton City Council during a work session Tuesday afternoon. The audit also found that DME and the city government weren’t following a risk management plan written for the trading group when it was formed in 2014. However, that 3-year-old plan also needs to be updated, they said.

___________

 

PV Magazine – December 7, 2017

Utilities are increasingly planning for energy storage (w/ charts)

The U.S. energy storage market over the last few years has been a true roller coaster. As measured by either capacity (megawatts) or duration (megawatt-hours), the amount of storage deployed has swung wildly from quarter to quarter.

And coming in the aftermath of more than 200 MW deployed during the fourth quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 – largely due to California’s need for capacity following the Aliso Canyon gas leak – Q3 was another quarter of relatively subdued deployment. In its quarterly Energy Storage Monitor, GTM Research reports 42 MW of energy storage deployed nationally, a 10% increase over Q3 2016.

 

Alternatives and Renewables Stories

 

KUT (Austin) – December 11, 2017

Texas Landowners Take The Wind Out Of Their Sales

Trey Murphy is a grad student in North Carolina, but he has dreams of owning land in West Texas. A few months ago, he was looking at real estate online and came across something strange.

“I saw that there was this particular listing that was selling the surface estate, but not willing to sell the wind estate,” he says. Most people would have no idea what that means. But Murphy is originally from Texas, and, as luck would have it, he studies “energy geography.” He knows that in Texas, one tract of land can be owned in different ways by different people.

___________

 

The Guardian – December 11, 2017

Global warming will weaken wind power, study predicts

Wind farms are key to tackling climate change but warming will significantly cut wind power across US and UK, though Australia will see winds strengthen.

The research is the first global study to project the impact of temperature rises on wind energy and found big changes by the end of the century in many of the places hosting large numbers of turbines.

____________

 

 

The Hill – December 8, 2017

Stevens: Americans were duped by bad actors in rooftop solar industry

As Congress debates tax reform, which may include provisions to hobble investment in wind and solar power generation, it is critical that when discussing renewable energy, American consumers are not forgotten. Specifically, bad actors in the rooftop solar industry must not be allowed to continue to abuse and mislead customers who are considering spending as much as $20,000 to install solar panels on their homes.

Consumer watchdog Public Citizen began questioning the arbitration clauses included in rooftop solar contracts. The group warned that solar leasing arrangements pose “significant financial risks for families.” The National Consumer Law Center also weighed in, urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to protect low-income consumers citing, among other things, a dramatic increase in leases for solar panels “and extensive complaints of false claims as to the savings with such panels and the terms of the leases.

 

 

Regulatory Stories

 

HuffPost – December 11, 2017

Ted Cruz Challenger Picks Up Key Environmental Endorsement

The county judge gave Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke a dire warning earlier this year when the three-term El Paso congressman leaned down to sip from a water fountain outside the Lasalle County courthouse, a roughly two-and-a-half-hour drive from San Antonio.

Don’t drink the water.

A gas drilling company contaminated the water table, the judge told him, and no one trusted the water to be safe. It’s a story of industrial pollution that’s become familiar to O’Rourke since he began barnstorming the state in March in a bid to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 12, 2017

Trump delays offshore drilling announcement

Plans to announce the Trump administration’s offshore drilling plan for the next five years, scheduled for release today, have been delayed.

A spokeswoman for the Interior Department said Tuesdat the release has been “rescheduled” for a future, unspecified date. She declined to answer the cause of the delay.

The offshore drilling plan would replace that put in place by former President Barack Obama before leaving office.

___________

 

Vox – December 9, 2017

Roberts: A moment of truth arrives for Rick Perry’s widely hated coal bailout

Donald Trump campaigned for president with intense support from coal miners and coal mining communities. He promised them the moon — mines would reopen, their jobs would come back, and their communities would thrive.

Like many of Trump’s promises, these are impossible to keep, but he’s been making a real effort (more than you can say about his other promises). Part of that effort was instructing Rick Perry, head of the Department of Energy, to figure out a way to stop so many coal-fired power plants from closing.

___________

 

Clean Technica – December 7, 2017

SEIA Provides President Trump With Blueprint For America First Solar Success

The US Solar Energy Industries Association has this week unveiled its blueprint plan to put America first on economic growth, jobs, manufacturing, and national security, while maintaining the solar industry’s booming growth. Earlier this week the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) published its America First Plan for Solar Energy which outlines six steps that President Trump can take to ensure that the country’s solar industry continues its impressive growth rates, while also adhering to the President’s protectionist desires to ensure America remains strong on local manufacturing, jobs, economy, and national security.

___________

 

 

New York Times – December 9, 2017

Hulse: How Arctic Drilling, Stymied for Decades, Made Surprise Return in Tax Bill

As another fevered push to open the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to energy exploration collapsed on the Senate floor in December 2005, Ted Stevens, then the powerful and wily Republican senator from Alaska, declared it “the saddest day of my life.”

At that moment, it looked as though the decades-long fight over drilling in 1.5 million acres of the remote refuge could finally be at an end. Republicans essentially gave up for the remainder of the George W. Bush administration after Democrats won control of Congress, and the drilling proposal had no chance during the Obama years, so it virtually disappeared as a topic of congressional conversation.

 

 

 

___________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips December 12, 2017

Please click on the headline to read more about each story

 

Lead Stories

 

Wall St. Journal – December 11, 2017

Fracking Our Way to Mideast Peace

Whatever you think of President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it points to the most important strategic reality in the Middle East: Arab power has collapsed in the face of low oil prices and competition from American frackers.

The devastating oil-price shocks of the 1970s, orchestrated by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, nearly wrecked the world economy. Ever since, the U.S. has looked for ways to break OPEC’s parasitic and rent-seeking grip on the oil market—and thereby to reduce America’s geopolitical vulnerability to events in the Middle East.

____________

 

Oil Price – December 7, 2017

U.S. Shale Cautious As Oil Majors Invade Texas

Shale drillers are starting to show some caution when it comes to their pace of drilling, but some of the oil majors are still increasing their efforts in the shale patch.

Chevron announced a 2018 capital spending program on Wednesday, which detailed spending cuts for the fifth consecutive year. One of the big reasons why Chevron slashed spending yet again is because of the completion of some massive, high-profile LNG export projects in Australia. But the oil major is also trying to chart a careful course amid uncertainty about oil prices.

__________

 

Dallas Morning News – December 11, 2017

Baylor Law grad with connections to ranching and Bush family to head EPA’s Dallas office

Anne Idsal, a key deputy to Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, was named Monday as the new Region 6 administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Dallas-based office covers Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. The EPA has been among key federal agencies that President Donald Trump and his appointees are seeking to remake in such a way as to reduce their regulatory reach.

In her job as chief clerk, Idsal oversees budgets and spending at the Texas General Land Office, which manages 13 million acres of public land and the oil and gas rights underneath.

__________

 

Texas Observer – December 11, 2017

Big Spring Vs. Big Oil

In 2010, an estimated 100 million gallons of water were used for fracking in Howard County alone. By 2015, that number had already increased tenfold to nearly 1 billion gallons, according to the Texas Water Development Board.

This flurry of frack-related water pumping isn’t limited to Howard County. Last year, 30 billion gallons of water were used for fracking in the Permian Basin. Energy research firm IHS Markit predicts that number will rise to 100 billion gallons by 2020. That’s enough water to fill the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium 128 times. The rush on groundwater is playing out in small towns all across the Permian Basin, where crude abounds but water is scarce.

__________

 

National Post – December 7, 2017

Now it’s personal: Eco-activists attack CEO’s home and car after firm joins Quebec oil project

Environmental activists say they doused an oil company CEO’s home with paint and extensively damaged his cars during a recent nighttime raid in Quebec City, a rare and “very personal” targeting by eco-extremists of an industry executive.

An anonymous article from the supposed perpetrators said their goal was to dismantle Quebec’s fledgling oil and gas business, mentioning, in particular, fracking operations in the province’s Gaspé region.

They also claimed allegiance with Indigenous groups in the message reposted by the U.S.-based Site Intelligence Group.

 

 

Oil and Gas Stories

 

Oil & Gas 360 – December 7, 2017

Going Local for Supplies Sparks New Frac Sand Boom in Texas

“Everyone is running at full capacity.” But this sand boom is different than the last. In the first phase of the shale fracking boom, oil producers were notorious for prioritizing production growth over investor returns.

They sought premium sand supplies far from the oil patch in states such as Wisconsin. Its “northern white sand” was prized for hardness and roundness that made a porous latticework inside underground wells. But given its bulk, it also cost a fortune to ship. Northern white sand has averaged $41 per short ton at the mine gate this year, according to IHS Markit, but can cost $120 at a Texas well head after transport.

__________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 11, 2017

Phillips 66, Enbridge team up on massive Permian pipeline

Houston-based Phillips 66 and Canada’s Enbridge said Monday they’re teaming up to build a large Texas oil pipeline stretching from West Texas’ Permian Basin to export and refining hubs near Corpus Christi, Houston and Freeport.

The two energy giants said they’re beginning to solicit interest this week from customers and will finalize the pipeline plans based on customer feedback and interest.

The proposed Gray Oak Pipeline tentatively would transport 385,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day with room to expand. The goal is to complete the pipeline by late 2019.
__________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 11, 2017
Mideast oil exports drop most since February

After rising for three weeks, oil exports from the Middle East dropped the most since February last week.

The drop comes shortly after OPEC and its allies last month agreed to keep 1.8 million barrels of oil a day off the market through next year.

__________

 

Reuters – December 6, 2017

Saudi Arabia’s SABIC looking at investing in U.S.

Petrochemicals company Saudi Basic Industries Corp 2010.SE is considering several possible investments in the United States, while state oil giant Saudi Aramco [IPO-ARMO.SE] is looking at gas prospects abroad, Saudi energy minister said on Wednesday. However, Saudi Aramco’s interest in gas investments is closer to home, probably in Africa or the Mediterranean, Khalid al-Falih told reporters on the sidelines of an industry conference in Abu Dhabi.

__________

 

Wall St. Journal – December 8, 2017

Mexico’s Pemex Says Oil Prices, Competition Kept Potential Partners Away

Mexican state oil company Petróleos Mexicanos said Friday that moderate oil-price forecasts and competition from Brazil were partly to blame for the dearth of interest in teaming up on a deep-water project in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mexico’s oil regulator on Thursday said no companies registered to participate in the bidding process for a partner to join Pemex in the development of the Nobilis and Maximino oil and gas fields, which lie under 3,000 meters of water close to the Mexican-U.S. maritime border.

__________

 

 

Reuters – December 8, 2017

Former BP boss Browne back with what he knows best – oil mergers

For Lord John Browne, the former chief of oil major BP, it feels like time has been rolled back 20 years and he is busy doing mega-mergers again.

Browne, who led BP’s transformational acquisitions of Arco and Amoco in the 1990s, has helped with the merger of DEA, a vehicle of Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, and Wintershall, the oil and gas unit of chemical giant BASF.

The new firm Wintershall-DEA is still significantly smaller than BP, which in its glory days was producing 4 million barrels per day, or more than five percent of global output, but the deal is still significant.

__________

 

KTVT (Dallas) – December 8, 2017

Gasoline Prices Drop In Texas And Nationwide

AAA Texas on Thursday reported the average price at the pump statewide was down 3 cents to average $2.24 per gallon. Gasoline prices across the country slipped a penny to settle at an average $2.48 per gallon.

Association officials say San Antonio has the cheapest gasoline in Texas this week at an average $2.13 per gallon. Drivers in Midland face the state’s highest retail gasoline prices at an average $2.52 per gallon.

AAA experts say cheaper winter gas prices are in markets across the bulk of the country as gasoline demand hits the lowest mark since February. On the week, 90 percent of states saw their gas price average drop – some even by double digits.

___________

 

Dallas Morning News – December 11, 2017
A drone that can carry 1,000 pounds? Bell Helicopter examines the military and consumer possibilities

The drone that delivers a package to your doorstep may someday be built by Fort Worth-based Bell Helicopter.

Bell, a division of global aerospace giant Textron, is moving aggressively into the autonomous vehicle business with an Automatic Pod Transport — APT, for short — that could be employed by the military or retailers such as Amazon.

“We think the opportunity for a vehicle like this is now,” said Scott Drennan, Bell’s director of innovation.

 

 

Utilities Stories

 

Science Magazine – December 11, 2017

Spongelike crystal could make it easier for natural gas–powered cars to store fuel

As an alternative automotive fuel, natural gas, or methane, doesn’t get a lot of attention. Millions of environmentally friendly, natural gas–powered vehicles cruise the world’s roads, but they still account for just a tiny fraction of new autos sold. In part that’s because they require bulky and expensive high-pressure tanks to store enough of the fossil fuel to meet drivers’ demands. Now, researchers have come up with a new material that’s able to store a large volume of methane at low pressure. If they can figure out how to make large quantities of the stuff, the material could spark the development of high-capacity gas tanks and propel wider adoption of natural gas–powered vehicles.

___________

 

The Hill – December 8, 2017

Raia, Ginn: Let America lead in nuclear power innovation

In today’s politically polarized environment, compromise is a rare commodity, especially in the energy debate. While progressives push for the use of zero-carbon energy, conservatives counter by advocating for a reliable electricity grid.

Yet, nuclear energy could bridge the divide. Innovative technologies like molten salt reactors safely create power that is both carbon free and highly reliable. By removing onerous energy-related regulations and subsidies, federal and state governments can provide an economic environment that allows such a game-changing innovation to benefit Americans.

___________

 

 

Midwest Energy News – December 4, 2017

Secrecy surrounds pro-coal group eyeing Ohio wind cases

A pro-coal group that has appeared in multiple Ohio wind farm cases has not disclosed its members, raising questions about who funds the nonprofit organization and what relationship it might have to other parties.

The Campaign for American Affordable and Reliable Energy (CAARE) has been added to the service list in ten wind energy matters at the Ohio Power Siting Board. As a result, its lawyers would formally receive copies of all filings.

The group formally sought to become a party in only one of those cases, involving the Paulding Wind Farm. An administrative law judge denied that request because the group’s interest was “nothing more than objections to wind farms generally.” In two other cases, the same lawyers for CAARE later went on to represent individuals opposed to the projects.

___________

 

Motherboard – December 7, 2017

Cryptocurrency Miners Are Using Old Tires to Power Their Rigs

An entrepreneurial cryptocurrency mining company has just announced an unusual deal: it has partnered with a tire-based waste-to-energy company in the United States to power its mining computers.

Standard American Mining and PRTI, a tire “thermal demanufacturing” company based in North Carolina, are powering graphics cards-based mining equipment to earn a range of alternative cryptocurrencies like Ethereum.

___________

 

Power Engineering – December 6, 2017

Duke Energy Assumes Full Ownership of California-Based REC Solar

Duke Energy acquired full ownership of California-based REC Solar, a provider of renewable energy solutions for commercial customers throughout the U.S. Duke Energy first acquired a majority interest in REC Solar in February of 2015.

Duke Energy purchased the remaining shares of REC Solar in a cash transaction. Details were not disclosed. REC Solar will be managed as an independent business unit of Duke Energy Renewables.

 

 

Alternatives and Renewables Stories

 

Associated Press – December 11,2017

New Mexico AG, others reach agreement on proposed wind farms

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, consumer advocates and others have reached a settlement with Xcel Energy over the utility’s plans to add more wind power for customers in New Mexico and parts of Texas.

The proposed agreement was filed Monday with New Mexico utility regulators for approval. The Public Utility Commission of Texas also will have to sign off, but officials said some work remains before a final agreement can be presented to regulators there.

The Sagamore Wind Project is planned for Roosevelt County. It would be the largest wind farm in New Mexico, providing more than 520 megawatts of power.

___________

 

”PV Magazine – December 7, 2017

EIA: U.S. solar output increases 47% in 2017

The latest Electric Power Monthly by the U.S. Energy Information Agency shows solar PV continuing its impressive growth, generating 47% more electricity from January through September 2017 than the same time period in 2016. Every state in the U.S. increased its output from solar, from South Dakota, the only remaining state that did not generate more than 1,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) or one gigawatt-hour (GWh) in the nine month period, to perennial PV giant California.

California, with its 24,877,000 MWh, more than laps the field over next place Arizona, with 4,593,000 MWh. However, as PV output growth across the U.S. accelerates, the Golden State’s share of PV generation, shrank from 48% in 2016 to 43% in 2017. Rounding out the top 10 generators are North Carolina, Nevada, New Jersey, Texas, Massachusetts, Georgia, Utah and Colorado.

____________

 

India Times – December 7, 2017

International Solar Alliance seeks cheap energy via global bids

The International Solar Alliance, championed by India and France, came into effect Wednesday, aiming to promote affordable sun-powered electricity to its members through global tenders and cheap financing.
The inter-governmental agency, which has been ratified by 19 countries and has 46 signatories to its framework agreement, aims to mobilize $1 trillion of low-cost financing for solar energy by 2030, Upendra Tripathy, interim director general of the alliance said in an interview in New Delhi.

___________

 

Solar Paces – December 5, 2017

Could Transmission in Railroad Corridors Enable More US CSP?

Although this news item concerns transmission of wind power, this innovative use of pre-approved railroad right of ways could also offer a solution for Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) development, overcoming one of the obstacles faced by CSP, the round-the-clock form of solar needed to complement PV and wind to build a 100% renewable grid.

Like wind power, CSP is ideally located in isolated regions, but permitting transmission across multiple jurisdictions is very difficult and slow, because the US has a very Balkanized grid. Multiple land owners and jurisdictions must approve each section.

___________

 

Phys Org – December 7, 2017

Solar power advances possible with new ‘double-glazing’ device

A new ‘double-glazing’ solar power device – which is unlike any existing solar panel and opens up fresh opportunities to develop more advanced photovoltaics – has been invented by University of Warwick researchers.

This unique approach, developed by Dr Gavin Bell and Dr Yorck Ramachers from Warwick’s Department of Physics, uses gas – rather than vacuum – to transport ,

The is essentially a thin double-glazed . The outer pane is transparent and conducts electricity. The inner window is coated with a special material, which acts a source of electrons under illumination by sunlight – this is called a ““.

___________

 

Business Recorder – December 4, 2017

After solar and wind power, waves will be used to generate electricity

After successfully using solar panels and wind turbines to generate electricity, scientists have figured out the next best source of producing power for the world through ocean waves.

Scientists have created a huge, yellow, doughnut-shaped device called ‘The Lifesaver’, which floats with the motion of the ocean. The device, which is full of gears, cables and electronics, is actually a wave energy converter.

According to the manager of the device tester, Hawaii National Marine Renewable Energy Center, Luis Vega, wave energy converters are more promising and emerging as compared to the other mature renewable energy sources such as wind or solar.

 

 

Regulatory Stories

 

Reuters – December 8, 2017

New U.S. energy agency head gets time to decide on coal, nuclear rule

The new chairman of the U.S. office that regulates energy projects was granted more time on Friday to decide on Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s directive to subsidize aging nuclear and coal-fired power plants.

Perry had directed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in September to decide on a rule by Dec. 11 that would allow power plants that maintain at least 90 days of fuel supply on site to recover their full costs through regulated power pricing.

__________

 

Washington Examiner – December 8, 2017

Rick Perry says FERC’s inability to meet his deadline places grid at risk

Energy Secretary Rick Perry is giving the nation’s grid watchdog until the middle of next month to finalize his proposed grid plan to prop up coal and nuclear power plants, saying the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s inability to meet the original Dec. 11 deadline places the electric grid at risk.

Perry’s Friday response came after the new Trump-appointed FERC chairman, Kevin McIntyre, requested an additional 30 days to evaluate Perry’s grid plan, although the commission has discretion to act independent of the secretary.

___________

 

 

Honolulu Star Advertiser – December 6, 2017

Whistleblower: Flynn texts broached nuclear plan

As Donald Trump delivered his presidential inaugural address last January, his national security adviser Michael Flynn told a former business associate in text messages that a private plan to build nuclear reactors in the Mideast was “good to go” and that U.S. sanctions hobbling the plan would soon be “ripped up,” a whistleblower told congressional investigators.

The witness did not specify which sanctions Flynn was referring to in his texts. But the nuclear project that Flynn and his business associate had worked on together was stymied by U.S. financial sanctions on Russia.

___________

 

Bloomberg – December 11, 2017

Trump to Open the Door for Oil Drilling Off U.S.’s East Coast

The Trump administration is preparing to unveil as soon as this week an expansive offshore oil plan that would open the door to selling new drilling rights in Atlantic waters, according to people familiar with the plan.

President Donald Trump ordered his Interior Department to write the new blueprint with the aim of auctioning oil and gas drilling rights off the U.S. East Coast — territory that his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, had ruled out. The Interior Department’s coming draft proposal, an initial milestone in replacing the Obama-era sale plan, dovetails with the oil industry’s push for new places to drill, said the people, who asked not to be identified before a formal announcement.

____________

The Hill – December 7, 2017

Pruitt says EPA to replace Obama climate rule

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is committing to pursue a replacement climate change rule for power plants after repealing the Obama administration’s regulation on the matter, agency head Scott Pruitttold a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel on Thursday.

“We are going to be introducing a replacement rule too, in place of the Clean Power Plan,” Pruitt told Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) in response to questioning about the EPA’s plans to repeal the Obama rule.

____________

 

 

Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier (Iowa) – December 2, 2017

EPA head faces biofuels balancing act

It is “kind of Christmastime in Iowa,” Scott Pruitt said last week, a day after the federal agency he leads announced federal renewable fuel requirements.

Renewable fuels supporters in Iowa were pleased with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency decision, announced Thursday, to maximize the amount of corn-based ethanol required to be blended in the nation’s fuel supply, a boon to Iowa’s agriculture-based economy.

But renewable fuels officials also were dismayed the EPA declined to increase the amount of required biodiesel fuel production.

And oil refiners are feeling left out of the Christmas party; they sought changes to the renewable fuels standards, or RFS, and claim it is driving up their operating costs.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips December 11, 2017

Please click on the headline to read more of each story

 

Lead Stories

San Antonio Express News December 8, 2017

Feds dispute Uresti’s take on steamy text messages

Federal prosecutors denied they purposefully withheld sexually explicit texts and other texts from state Sen. Carlos Uresti, who believes the messages may help exonerate him in his upcoming criminal fraud trial. Prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office, in a Thursday court filing, said many of the “allegedly ‘concealed’ text messages” have been in the San Antonio Democrat’s possession since June when they first turned over information relevant to his case.

___________

 

Bloomberg December 8, 2017

Dogged $4 Billion Investor Is Sticking to Shale

Shawn Reynolds is sticking to shale, with the $4 billion fund manager unshaken in his resolve that the U.S. industry’s stocks are due for a rebound after a lackluster 2017.

The veteran energy investor, whose main $2 billion fund holds about half its assets in energy and oil-services stocks, says American shale producers are now due to reap profits after years of overspending. The companies have more potential to grow compared with conventional explorers as they face fewer risks related to the extraction of resources, the fund manager at Van Eck Associates Corp. said.
___________

 

Reuters December 8, 2017

White House pressures Big Corn to meet on U.S. biofuels policy

President Donald Trump’s administration called two lawmakers from the U.S. corn belt to convince them to join talks about potential changes to biofuels policy to ease the burden on oil refineries, according to a spokesman for one of the lawmakers and a source briefed on the matter. The effort is the clearest sign yet Trump is seeking to mediate the long-running dispute between the U.S. oil industry and corn growers over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a law requiring refiners to blend increasing volumes of biofuels like corn-based ethanol every year into the nation’s fuels.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 8, 2017

Report climate risks to business, BlackRock say

BlackRock Inc., the world’s biggest asset manager, is telling companies that now is the time to start reporting clear information on climate risk to their businesses.

The firm, which oversees almost $6 trillion in assets, sent letters from its corporate-governance team to about 120 companies this week, urging them to report climate dangers in line with the recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, set up by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 8, 2017

U.S., Saudis to team up on carbon capture effort

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has signed a deal with the Saudi Arabian government to allow its Ministry of Energy to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Energy on technologies designed to reduce the carbon dioxide output of fossil fuels. The Department of Energy said last week the memorandum of understanding between the two countries would extend to carbon capture as well as methods such as chemical looping and oxy-combustion that make it easier to remove carbon dioxide from emissions.

 

Oil and Gas Stories

Laredo Morning Times December 8, 2017

Drilling rig count rises to kick off December

Oil drilling activity continues to pick up with rigs added to both the Permian Basin and South Texas’ Eagle Ford shale this week.

Those gains offset losses in other states, contributing to a net gain of two oil drilling rigs nationwide. The number of rigs drilling for natural gas stayed flat, according to weekly data collected by Baker Hughes.

The Permian and Eagle Ford added three new rigs apiece, contributing to a net gain of five rigs for Texas. New Mexico, which has a portion of the Permian, tacked on three rigs.

___________

 

Dallas Morning News December 8, 2017

Fort Worth energy startup expands its Permian holdings in New Mexico

Chisholm Energy Holdings, a Fort Worth startup, is expanding its holdings in the Permian’s New Mexico Delaware Basin.

Chisholm is buying an undisclosed amount of undeveloped acreage from Resource Rock Exploration. The land contains multiple horizontal oil and gas reservoir targets in the Bone Spring and Wolfcamp formations in Eddy County, according to a statement.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. It is expected to close in January.

___________

 

Bloomberg December 8, 2017

The Panama Canal Is Now a Major Problem for U.S. Shale

Just as the Panama Canal was unveiling a new, fatter set of locks, U.S. shale drillers were readying their very first exports of liquefied natural gas. While the wide-body tankers that transport LNG would’ve had no chance of squeaking through the original steel locks built a century ago, they could easily traverse the bigger channel and shave 11 days off the trip to primary markets in Asia.

But 17 months in, it’s not quite working out as planned. Only a single LNG tanker has a guaranteed passage each day. The natural-gas industry blames the Panama Canal Authority for holdups, and the canal authority blames the industry for being lackadaisical about transit timetables.

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 8, 2017

If oil stagnates, U.S. growth and global trade will prop up Houston’s economy in 2018

Bustling global trade and a strong national economy should offset weakness in the energy sector, allowing Houston area to add more jobs next year, although at a subpar rate, according to an economic forecast released Friday.

Companies that sell plastics, resins, lubricants and engineering services to national and international markets should benefit from solid growth expected for the U.S. and global economies, forecasters at the Greater Houston Partnership said.

“Global trade and the U.S. economy will help Houston overcome the weakness in energy,” said Patrick Jankowski, the GHP’s senior vice president of research.
___________

 

Bloomberg December 8, 2017

The Next U.S. Crude Export Surge May Start at a Lonely Gulf Buoy

A 1,000-foot ship will likely pull up to a buoy floating in the Gulf of Mexico next year, hook up its hoses and usher the U.S. into a new era as a major oil exporter.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, which already handles imports from similar large ships known as Very Large Crude Carriers, or VLCCs, will likely be the first port to to load oil into a supertanker. LOOP has indicated that its pipelines require minor modifications and could operate in both directions in early 2018.
“Expanding U.S. ports to accommodate direct loading of VLCCs will logistically help to streamline and expedite exports,” said Michael Tran, a commodities strategist with RBC Capital Markets LLC in New York.
___________

 

KWES (Midland) December 6, 2017

New frac sand mine opens in Monahans next month

It’s what plays a role in fracking. The demand for frac sand is growing, especially in West Texas. It’s good news for one company that will soon open their frac sand mine in Monahans.

“The Permian Basin makes up about 40% of the overall frac sand in the country. We think on the go-forth basis, it will represent to 40-45% of that demand,” said Preferred Sands President and Chief Operating Officer, TJ Doyle.

Preferred Sands is marking their place in Monahans, a spot right in between the Delaware and Midland Basins, where well activity is present. Where the highway is easily accessible to move sand to those well sites.

___________

 

Associated Press December 7, 2017

SW Idaho Couple Wants Texas Oil Company to Reveal Records

A southwestern Idaho couple concerned they aren’t being paid their fair share of oil and natural gas royalties are asking state officials to force a Texas-based oil company to reveal production and other records.

Randy and Thana Kauffman made the formal complaint on Thursday at the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission meeting.

In a one-page letter addressed to Chairman Kevin Dickey and the four other commissioners, the Kauffmans asked the commission to use its authority to make sure Alta Mesa provides the information.

___________

 

The Hill December 17, 2017

‘Largest ever’ drilling lease sale in Alaska yields few bids

A lease sale for oil and gas drilling rights in Alaska — deemed the largest there by the Trump administration — produced bids for only seven tracts of land and garnered only $1.16 million in revenue, officials announced late Wednesday.

The Bureau of Land Management auctioned 900 tracts of land in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska, totaling 10.3 million acres, for oil and gas drilling rights this week.

But only two companies bid, securing drilling rights for seven tracts of land — or less than 1 percent of that offered — for only $1.16 million, Reuters reports.

 

Utilities Stories

 

Rio Grande Guardian December 10, 2017

Salinas says lack of power has cost RGV steel-related projects

The Rio Grande Valley has lost out on major steel-related projects over the years because it does not have enough electrical power, Gilberto Salinas told the Texas House Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness.

Salinas, representing the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, testified mostly about SpaceX, STARGATE, the importance of having a trained workforce, and offering incentive packages to lure companies to Texas. However, he was asked to speak about the Valley’s electricity capacity by state Rep. René Oliveira.

___________

 

Seguin Gazette December 7, 2017

GVEC celebrates creation of solar panel hub

While driving east on U.S Highway 90 Alternate from Seguin toward Gonazles, drivers may notice row upon row of solar panels sitting on about 16 acres of land.

The panels are part of the new SunHub Generation Station — Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative’s (GVEC) first community solar project.

… “This is an exciting day for GVEC. On a day like this I’m wondering why we didn’t put in wind turbines instead of solar power panels,” GVEC General Manager Darren Schuauer said during the ceremony amid the blustery weather.

___________

 

Austin American Statesman December 10, 2017

Austin Energy helps restore power in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

Nearly three months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island is still working to restore its power grid. Now, they will have some help from Austin Energy crews, who traveled 2,000 miles last week to lend a hand.

Three people from Austin Energy arrived in San Juan on Saturday to assist with power restoration on the island. They are part of a 10-man team that includes personnel from the Salt River Project in Arizona and a total of 70 who are overseeing the now thousands of utility workers from across the United States who are stationed in Puerto Rico.

___________

 

San Antonio Express News December 6,2017

CPS Energy could tap into commercial solar rebate funds for residential projects

With 2017 winding down, CPS Energy is running low on money for residential solar rebates and could tap into funds set aside for commercial projects.

Through Dec. 2, the city-owned utility had allocated more than $10 million of the $15 million it started using in April. Of that amount, $9 million was set aside for residential projects and $6 million for commercial. Nearly $8.2 million has been allocated for residential projects while only $2 million has been allocated for commercial.

___________

 

Ars Technica December 6, 2017

Bitcoin’s insane energy consumption, explained

The skyrocketing value of Bitcoin is leading to soaring energy consumption. According to one widely cited website that tracks the subject, the Bitcoin network is consuming power at an annual rate of 32TWh—about as much as Denmark. By the site’s calculations, each Bitcoin transaction consumes 250kWh, enough to power homes for nine days.

Naturally, this is leading to concerns about sustainability. Eric Holthaus, a writer for Grist, projectsthat, at current growth rates, the Bitcoin network will “use as much electricity as the entire world does today” by early 2020. “This is an unsustainable trajectory,” he writes.

 

Alternatives and Renewables Stories

 

Bloomberg December 7, 2017

U.S. Energy Storage Surges 46% Led by Big Project in Windy Texas

U.S. energy-storage capacity surged 46 percent in the third quarter, mainly due to a single big project in Texas, the biggest source of wind power.

Power companies and developers added 41.8 megawatts of storage systems, including a 30-megawatt utility-scale project in Texas, according to a report Thursday from GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association. California added 8.4 megawatts of residential and commercial systems. The industry installed 28.6 megawatts in the third quarter of 2016.
___________
KXII (Sherman, TX) December 8, 2017

By the end of the month, Grayson County is set to have three solar plants up and running, able to power about 5,000 homes.It’s all renewable energy, without any emissions and these plants are the first of their kind in the county.

With temperatures going down, energy bills are rising.

“If you can add the renewable in it, you can bring the cost of everything else down,” construction manager Leah Jones said.

___________

 

San Antonio Express News December 7, 2017

San Antonio officially launches effort to respond to global warming

Thursday, the city of San Antonio, CPS Energy and the University of Texas at San Antonio officially begin an effort to address the causes and effects of global warming in America’s seventh-largest city.

The Climate Action and Adaptation Plan will be San Antonio’s effort to make good on its promises this summer after signing onto the goals of the Paris Agreement, a global accord to try to keep warming to tolerable levels.

___________

 

Futurism December 1, 2017

New Smart Windows Transform Into Solar Cells When They Change Color

Low heat emission (Low-E) glass is a feature in the windows of many of the business and residential buildings in the United States. According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), these energy efficient windows can be found in 80 percent of homes and 50 percent of commercial buildings.

However, as popular as these Low-E windows are for keeping the heat out of living and work spaces, there’s a potential energy feature that remains largely untapped and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) might just have the technology to realize it.

 

Regulatory Stories

 

New Orleans Times-Picayune December 8, 2017

Louisiana may sell water to drought-stricken Texas

Hit by drought after drought, Texas is so parched that it’s asking its neighbors if they have any water to spare. Louisiana’s response: maybe, but it’ll cost you.

This week, the state Water Resources Commission approved the formation of a group to study the idea of selling water to Texas and other states, possibly cashing in on another natural resource — along with oil, gas and fisheries – that Louisiana has in abundance.

“The state only has a handful of things to exploit that it hasn’t already exploited, as far as revenue,” said Mark Davis, a commission member and director of Tulane University’s ByWater Institute. “And a lot of people covet our water.”

___________

 

Austin American Statesman December 9, 2017

UT System competing against California-A&M alliance to run Los Alamos

When the University of Texas System and its competitors — including a surprising alliance between the Texas A&M University System and the University of California — submit proposals to run the birthplace of the nation’s nuclear weapons program, they better make sure to use the correct typeface and to format and number the pages properly.

After all, if you can’t get those things right, how can you be trusted to manage and operate Los Alamos National Laboratory, which is responsible for designing nuclear weapons and ensuring that they would work as intended, without actually detonating them?

___________

 

San Antonio Express News December 9, 2017

Citing Alamo trouble, Jerry Patterson challenges Land Commissioner George P. Bush

Former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, accusing his successor of mismanaging the ambitious Alamo redevelopment project, said Friday that he will challenge George P. Bush in the Republican primary. “Over the last three years, I’ve watched the Texas General Land Office crater,” Patterson told the San Antonio Express-News, contending that he has watched the agency “hide the ball on the Alamo” through a management structure involving nonprofit entities and “generally mismanage the process over the last six or eight months.”

The winner of what has turned into a crowded the Republican primary for the job could face Miguel Suazo, an Austin-based energy attorney and likely the first office-seeker to launch his campaign with proceeds from investing in Bitcoin.

___________

 

KUHF Houston December 6, 2017

TCEQ Chair Says It’s Unclear If Pollution Leaked From Houston Superfund During Harvey

The top environmental regulator in Texas still won’t say whether contaminants leaked from a Houston-area superfund site during Hurricane Harvey.

Bryan Shaw, Chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, testified before a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday, telling lawmakers that during Harvey, two polluted sites “likely had or may have had” releases.

At one of them, the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund near Houston, where toxic “dioxins” were exposed to the river, Shaw said the details are still fuzzy.

___________

 

Temple Daily Telegram December 8, 2017

McLane named chairman of rail project

Temple businessman Drayton McLane Jr. was named chairman of the board for Texas Central, a group developing what may become the United States’ first high-speed train.

The passenger line, the Texas Bullet Train, would connect the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area to the Houston area.

“I’m very excited about getting this rail built,” McLane said during an interview Friday afternoon. “I’m looking forward to working as chairman of the board.”

McLane said the group tapped him to be the chairman because of his experience helming the boards of several organizations, including the McLane Co. and Baylor University, as well as his understanding of transportation issues.
___________

 

PolitiFact December 8, 2017

PolitiFact: Ryan Sitton errantly says 12 million people left without homes by Hurricane Harvey

A Texas official’s guest editorial, shared on his campaign website, made us wonder about the whopping impact of Hurricane Harvey.

Ryan Sitton, a Houston Republican on the Texas Railroad Commission, opened his Nov. 7, 2017, article in Drilling Contractor: “Earlier this year, Hurricane Harvey left more than 12 million people in Texas and Louisiana without homes. The devastation of this storm was more far-reaching than anyone imagined.” …

This figure, attributed to a typo, is improbably high. We also didn’t spot an authoritative alternate count though it seems reasonable to say–based on requests for help through FEMA and a state expert’s review rooted in flood insurance claims–that more than a million Texas residents sustained home damage. It looks to us like the hurricane left far fewer Louisianans without homes.

We rate Sitton’s published claim False.

 

__________

 

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips December 8, 2017

 

Lead Stories

 

Wall St. Journal December 7, 2017

Wall Street Tells Frackers to Stop Counting Barrels, Start Making Profits

Twelve major shareholders in U.S. shale-oil-and-gas producers met this September in a Midtown Manhattan high-rise with a view of Times Square to discuss a common goal, getting those frackers to make money for a change.

In the months since, shareholders have put the screws to shale executives in ways that are changing the financial calculus of hydraulic fracturing and could ripple through the global oil market.

In the past decade, the shale-fracking revolution has made the U.S. the world’s largest oil-and-gas producer and reshaped markets. Yet shale has been a lousy bet for most investors.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Quartz December 4, 2017

A radical startup has invented the world’s first zero-emissions fossil-fuel power plant

Ever-growing carbon emissions fuel the ever-growing risk of catastrophic climate change. The trouble is that, like a smoker to his cigarettes, humans are addicted to the luxuries fossil fuels have brought to our lives. The International Energy Association, an inter-governmental think tank, believes we’ll keep burning these fossil fuels for decades to come. Net Power, a North Carolina-based energy startup, is betting on that prediction. At its pilot plant in Houston, the company is making a $150-million investment in a new approach to deploy carbon-capture technology that it believes could completely change the way we use natural gas to generate electricity.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 7, 2017

Trump officials examining states’ authority in pipeline delays

After years of pipeline projects getting held up or derailed by environmental concerns, the Trump administration is examining ways to get around state roadblocks that have made it increasingly difficult to build in certain parts of the United States.

In late October, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission startled many state officials when it granted a construction permit for a natural gas pipeline in New York, despite state regulators turning down the developer over concerns the project would increase greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has for months discussed the possibility of using federal authority to speed infrastructure development, a potential political third rail for Republicans who have long proclaimed the sanctity of states’ rights.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Electrek November 30, 2017

California’s largest solar power plant to extract oil

Yesterday, Aera Energy and GlassPoint Solar announced plans to build California’s largest solar energy project. Located at the Belridge oilfield west of Bakersfield, the project will be used to generate steam to inject into the ground to help extract oil.

The site will produce 12 million barrels of steam per year, replacing 4.8B ft3 of natural gas that would have been burnt to generate the steam. The oil-producing solar project is projected to save more than 376,000 metric tons of carbon emissions, which is equivalent to the emissions of 80,000 cars per year.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Bloomberg December 1, 2017

What Was Once Hailed as First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Is No More

Cape Wind, the offshore wind project off the coast of Massachusetts that drew the ire of the Kennedy and Koch families, is officially dead.

Energy Management Inc. has ceased efforts to build what was once expected to become the first offshore wind farm in the U.S., according to an emailed statement from Chief Executive Officer Jim Gordon. The project’s Boston-based developer has already notified the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management that it has terminatsed the offshore wind development lease it received in 2010.
click on headline to read more

 

Oil and Gas Stories

 

CNBC December 8, 2017

Oil prices steady as Chinese demand counters stronger dollar

Oil prices were stable on Friday, held back by a strengthening U.S. dollar but supported by China’s relentless thirst for crude amid the OPEC-led supply cuts that have already tightened the market this year.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $56.68 a barrel at 0535 GMT, virtually unchanged from their last settlement at $56.69.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were steady at $62.20 a barrel.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Texas Tribune December 7, 2017

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush getting Democratic challenger

Texas Democrats are getting a candidate for land commissioner.

Miguel Suazo, an Austin-based oil and gas attorney who worked as an aide to former U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico, is set to announce Friday that he is challenging the Republican incumbent, George P. Bush. Bush is seeking a second term at the helm of the General Land Office in 2018.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Daily Beast December 7, 2017

Messer: ‘You Want to F*** With Me Tonight?’: Horror Stories from the Texas Capitol

[Karen] Brooks, who for years reported for The Dallas Morning News, told The Daily Beast last month that “lecherous” men in Texas state politics regularly and repeatedly propositioned her during her 16 years covering the legislature.

Four years before her run-in with Miles, Margaret says she was walking up a set of stairs in the Capitol wearing a polka-dot shift dress with a short-sleeved jacket. She was walking toward Rep. Senfronia Thompson’s office when she passed then-House member Carlos Uresti. The Democrat stopped her and allegedly said, “I can tell you’re wearing a thong, is it polka-dots to match your dress?”

[Note: Sen. Uresti is facing federal charges in connection with a frack sand company, hence the inclusion of this article and those below in today’s NewsClips]

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Austin American Statesman December 7, 2017

Texas senators push back on sexual assault claims

Two Democratic state senators are pushing back on an explosive report that they sexually assaulted and harassed women at the Capitol.

The Daily Beast published late Wednesday several allegations of misconduct by Sens. Borris Miles of Houston and Carlos Uresti of San Antonio. According to the report, Uresti forcibly kissed a journalist, asked a political consultant about her underwear and gave her inappropriate hugs. …

Miles and Uresti are facing calls to resign from Annie’s List, a powerful political group that supports Democratic women running for office in Texas.

Uresti pushed back against the group’s call, saying it’s based on “an unsourced article from the Daily Beast.”

click on headline to read more

___________

 

San Antonio Express News December 7, 2017

Garcia: It’s time for Carlos Uresti to step down

Dave Mann, senior editor at Texas Monthly, said Uresti “was known to hit on female staffers and used them to help him meet women.”

A female Capitol reporter said Uresti allegedly put his hands on her thigh and stuck his tongue down her throat.

The saddest — and most infuriating — sentence in the exposé comes from that same reporter, who says, in reference to Uresti, that she “knew that this guy was a sleazebag,” but thought she could handle it.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Dallas Morning News December 7, 2017

Ted Cruz, other oil-state Republicans meet with Trump on biofuel mandate concerns

A high-dollar tussle between oil states like Texas and corn states like Iowa reached the White House on Thursday, adding yet another dimension to a years-long debate over renewable fuel standards.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, long a critic of ethanol fuel requirements, joined several other GOP lawmakers to meet with President Donald Trump to discuss the oil states’ concern that existing rules are harming certain refiners and small retailers.

And though the dispute centers, in part, on a nebulous credit trading market that’s become a critical component of the biofuel mandate, the potential implications are far-reaching.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Oil and Gas Investor December 7, 2017

Chevron Plans Sharp Rise In US Shale Investment

Chevron is stepping up investment in U.S. shale production, even as the second-largest US oil and gas group prepares to cut its total capital spending for a fifth year in succession.

The company on Wednesday afternoon announced a budget for capital and exploration spending for 2018 of $18.3 billion, about 4% lower than the expected out-turn for 2017.

Within that, however, there will be a sharp acceleration in its planned investment in shale. The company intends to invest $2.5 billion in shale this year, most of it in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico.

click on headline to read more

 

Utilities Stories

 

Military Technologies December 7, 2017

Nearly half of all U.S. electricity customers have smart meters

Installations of smart meters have more than doubled since 2010—almost half of all U.S. electricity customer accounts now have smart meters. By the end of 2016, U.S. electric utilities had installed about 71 million advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) smart meters, covering 47% of the 150 million electricity customers in the United States. …

Residential smart meter penetration rates vary widely by state. Washington, DC, has the highest AMI penetration rate at 97%, followed by Nevada at 96%. Six other states had a residential AMI penetration rate higher than 80% in 2016: Maine, Georgia, Michigan, Oklahoma, California, and Vermont. In 2016, Texas added the most residential AMI meters of any state, installing smart meters on more than 200,000 customer accounts.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Roll Call December 7, 2017

GOP Power Play in Hurricane-Ravaged Puerto Rico

As the wrangling continues over funding, Puerto Rico struggles to restore power and drinking water and buckles under a $74 billion debt that has left it unable to pay for virtually anything. Meanwhile, there are many in Washington who are looking at the near-total devastation on the island as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the U.S. territory in a fundamental way. They are pushing not just for an improved electrical grid or sturdier buildings, but for a business-friendly, free-market tax haven that will be a boon for the U.S., not a drag.

Look no further than House Speaker Paul D. Ryan. In late October, the Republican from Wisconsin made a trip to the American Enterprise Institute, the conservative-leaning Washington think tank.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Bloomberg December 7, 2017

One Trump Buzzword to Seal Fate of $700 Billion Power Trade

Hurricane winds and raging wildfires knocked out power to millions of people from Florida to California this year, underscoring the need to protect America’s electric grid from disaster.

President Donald Trump’s administration has a plan to achieve what it calls “resiliency”: Keep money-losing coal and nuclear plants running. The only problem is that almost every other corner of the energy industry — including the $700 billion utility sector — is heading in another direction.
Even as the White House pushes a proposal to prop up coal and nuclear, the nation’s utilities are devoting almost half of their record $123 billion in spending this year to power lines and poles.
click on headline to read more

___________

 

USA Today December 7, 2017

General Electric to cut 12,000 jobs in power division

General Electric plans to cut 12,000 jobs in its power division as the industrial conglomerate’s new CEO institutes sweeping changes and the company grapples with a decline in business for coal and natural gas products.

The company will cut nearly one in five positions in its GE Power unit. Overall, the layoffs equal about 4% of the company’s workforce of about 295,000 employees at the end of 2016.

Asked where the reductions would occur, GE spokesperson Katie Jackson said they would be “global.” The company said layoffs would span “professional and production employees.”

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Chattanooga Times Free Press December 4, 2017

Tennesseans want more solar power and choices other than TVA

Most Tennesseans want more of their electricity from the sun and are willing to change a fundamental tenet of the Tennessee Valley Authority in order to do so.

A new statewide survey of 600 Tennessee voters found 81 percent of respondents want Tennessee to increase its use of solar power and 88 percent said they would use more solar energy in their home if it was available at the same or lower price.

The poll by North Star Opinion Research also found that by better than a 7-to-1 margin, Tennesseans want to be able to buy power from other sources than Tennessee Valley Authority, even though the TVA now prohibits such third party power sales in its 7-state region.

click on headline to read more

 

Alternatives and Renewables Stories

 

News Atlas December 7, 2017

Austin scores BIG with solar-powered sports stadium

The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has unveiled plans for a new sports stadium and entertainment center in Austin, Texas, that will include soccer, rugby, basketball, rodeo, shopping, and dining facilities. The sprawling East Austin District is also aiming for self-sufficiency in electricity with a rooftop totally covered in solar panels.

The 1.3 million sq ft (120,773 sq m) East Austin District is designed in collaboration with Walter P. Moore Engineers and STG Design, and is arranged in a checkerboard pattern.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Clean Technica December 3, 2017

US Supreme Court To Hear SolarCity Anti-Trust Case

Tesla is no shrinking violet when it comes to promoting its various businesses, and that means being proactive in pursuing legal remedies when necessary. It is suing the great state of Michigan, claiming its franchise dealer law prohibiting Tesla from marketing its cars directly to customers in the Wolverine State is prohibited by the US Constitution. While that legal action is wending its way through the courts, SolarCity, the rooftop solar division of Tesla, is also pursuing legal action against the Salt River Project, the utility company that supplies electricity to the Phoenix, Arizona area.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Forbes December 2, 2017

The Surprising Solution To The Global Water Crisis: Solar Power

It’s a universal, and undeniable fact that water is a basic need for human life. The average person needs to consume half a gallon (or 2 liters) of water daily to stay healthy. Yet many across the world don’t even have access to clean drinking water.

… The solution is a solar microgrid-powered water plant that uses reverse osmosis and ultraviolet (UV) filtration technologies, converting hard water into clean drinkable water. Simply put, reverse osmosis is a water filtering process where contaminated water is forced through a ‘filter’ (semi-permeable membrane) to produce water free of dissolved and suspended contaminants. And UV filtration uses ultraviolet light to kill any bacteria and viruses remaining.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Oil Price November 30, 2017

U.S. East Coast Looks To Become Hub For Wind Power

Things could soon get much windier in New York…

As you’d expect from the land that’s home to the city that never sleeps, now that New York has embraced wind power, it’s already making some impressive claims about wind’s future influence on the Empire State.

“New York intends to be the preeminent global hub for the next generation of the wind industry,” said New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul at the recent American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Offshore WINDPOWER Conference.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

 

Futurism December 1, 2017

New Electron Research Could Lead to Cheaper, More Versatile Solar Cells

Hybrid organic-inorganic perovskites (HOIPs) are incredibly efficient when it comes to converting energy from light into usable electricity. They are lightweight, flexible, and inexpensive, and they may be our best option for improving the solar power systems that could end our reliance on fossil fuels.

The problem with HOIPs, however, lies in their stability. In a solar cell, the presence of light excites electrons, and these excited electrons are what power our homes, devices, or whatever else is linked to the solar cell. Electrons contained by HOIPs are subject to rapid degradation, particularly when exposed to changing temperatures, making them difficult to use inside of a solar cell.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Fortune December 1, 2017

Google Just Bought Enough Wind Power to Offset 100% of Its Energy Use

Google will buy 536 megawatts of wind power, adding to the company’s already large supply, making it the biggest corporate purchaser of renewable energy, according to a statement Thursday.

The Alphabet subsidiary will purchase wind energy from four different power plants: two in South Dakota, one in Iowa and one in Oklahoma.

Google announced at the end of last year that it would reach 100% renewable energy in 2017. With these deals, the company has agreed to buy enough power to compensate for all of its energy needs this year, though some of the projects are not yet operational.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Electrek December 1, 2017

Failed US solar company uses global lawsuit as leverage to cover its debts and pump stock price… and it’s working

Suniva solar is trying hard to sell its soul and it just might win. The ITC Section 201 trade case – in which Suniva is suing all global solar power manufacturers for too much competition – was bankrolled by an investment firm, SQN Capital Management, in order to use as leverage to extort successful solar power companies to buy the hardware of the failed manufacturer. The investment firm attempted to get a buyer in May, stating that a successful sale would negate the need for the lawsuit. They failed at finding a buyer and the lawsuit has passed the point of no return.

Now it seems Suniva might still win, as two major solar companies – LONGi and Canadian Solar, seem to have shown interest in buying their assets.

click on headline to read more

 

Regulatory Stories

Texas Tribune December 7, 2017

Texas water board chairman Bech Bruun resigns ahead of likely challenge to U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold

Bech Bruun, chairman of the Texas Water Development Board, resigned Thursday from that position ahead of an anticipated bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi.

“Serving as the Chairman of the Texas Water Development Board has been the privilege of a lifetime,” Bruun wrote in a letter dated Dec. 7 to Gov. Greg Abbott obtained by The Texas Tribune. “Recent events, namely the impacts of Hurricane Harvey, have led my family and me to the belief that the time has come for me to focus my passion for public service closer to home.”

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Texas Observer December 7, 2017

Sadasivam: Texas-Bred Anti-Environmentalists Find New Power in Trump Administration

At a climate conference in Washington, D.C., about a month after the presidential election, Brooke Rollins was in a celebratory mood. “We are winning, and a couple of years ago, it didn’t seem possible,” she said. “Most people thought it was going to be a really sad and dark and unfortunate time for the country, especially on [climate change]. There is great hope.”

Rollins must be sick of winning. The atmosphere has more carbon than any time in the last 3 million years, and many of her colleagues at the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), a conservative think tank in Austin, are headed to Washington, D.C.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Mother Jones December 5, 2017

Texas’ Trump Lovin’ Ag Honcho Faces a Primary Challenge From a Monsanto Lobbyist

Remember Sid Miller, Texas’ cowboy hat wearin’, Trump-lovin’ agriculture commissioner? This time a year ago, Miller was working hard to flatter his way to the top agriculture spot in the incoming presidential administration. But after being passed over for that post, Miller will instead have to fight to keep his current job: Last week, news surfaced that he faces a primary challenge from within the Republican Party.

His new rival, Trey Blocker, served as an aid to then Gov. George W. Bush in the 1990s and has since built a career as a lobbyist in the Texas Legislature in Austin, with clients ranging from seed/pesticide giant Monsanto to Walmart to a slew of fossil fuel companies. You might think that someone with such a resume might campaign as a technocrat eager to make Texas respectable again for agribusiness.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

 

Politico December 7, 2017

Coal magnate had early access to Rick Perry to share coal plan

Coal magnate Bob Murray pitched Energy Secretary Rick Perry on his plan to throw an economic lifeline to coal companies less than a month before Perry set in motion plans to aid the industry, according to newly disclosed photographs that show the two meeting.

The liberal magazine In These Times obtained pictures of Murray and Perry from a March 29 meeting at Energy Department headquarters, less than a month after Perry was sworn in. Several other officials were in attendance, including Andrew Wheeler, who at the time was a lobbyist for Murray and has since been nominated as the Environmental Protection Agency’s No. 2 official.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

International Business Times December 5, 2017

Tax Bill Provision From Texas Senator Would Enrich Pipeline Giants

The controversial Keystone pipeline spilled more than 200,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota last month, prompting new pressure to slow pipeline development in the United States. Only weeks later, Republican lawmakers slipped a provision into a massive tax bill that could instead give the pipeline operator, TransCanada, a huge new tax cut.

The company is one of a handful of energy giants that set up master limited partnerships (MLPs) — financial vehicles often used to shield energy investments from taxes. The investors in those vehicles — who are often the parent company or its subsidiaries — could receive a huge boost thanks to an eleventh-hour amendment added to the GOP tax bill by Texas Sen. John Cornyn. MLPs themselves are already exempted from corporate taxes, but Cornyn’s last-minute provision would cut income taxes on the money earned by the MLP partners.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

 

New York Times December 1, 2017

Trump’s First Major Trade Fight With China Could Be Over Solar Panels

With President Trump vowing to get tougher on trade, troubled American makers of everything from steel tubing and aluminum foil to washing machines have lined up to ask Washington for protection from foreign rivals.

But Mr. Trump’s first big international trade fight could be over solar panels.

Major manufacturers in the United States and China, as well as numerous other businesses that buy and use solar panels, are readying for a clash that could begin as soon as January. The solar panel dispute comes at a time when senior administration officials have been signaling their intention to take a much tougher trade stance toward China, where most solar panels are made.

click on headline to read more

 

 

___________

 

 

Texas Energy Report NewsClips December 7, 2017

 

Lead Stories

 

Wall St. Journal December 6, 2017

Move Over, Cushing: Houston Emerges as Key Oil Trading Hub

“Cushing is becoming irrelevant,” said Philip Verleger, an energy economist who helped develop the Nymex oil futures contract in the early 1980s.

Cushing, which describes itself as the “Pipeline Crossroads of the World,” remains a critical storage hub for crude and the point through which much of the oil from the U.S. and Canada passes on its way to refineries around the country.

But as U.S. crude exports have surged to records, surpassing 2 million barrels a day at one point, some analysts say it is the Houston price that better reflects global supply and demand dynamics for U.S. crude. Producers are starting to look at the price of West Texas Intermediate crude in Houston when they plan their budgets.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Bloomberg December 5, 2017

How Trump Did the Impossible: Getting Solar and Oil Lobbyists to Unite

In his 20 years of promoting renewable energy in Washington, Gregory Wetstone has made common cause with a range of special interest groups:- environmentalists, power utilities, even a handful of natural gas producers. But President Donald Trump’s efforts to bail out the coal industry led Wetstone, the head of the American Council on Renewable Energy, to find a surprising new partner: Big Oil.

Within hours of Energy Secretary Rick Perry releasing a proposal to overhaul the country’s power markets to advantage unprofitable coal and nuke plants, Wetstone was busy pulling together a team of unlikely allies, including solar installers, oil refineries and natural gas drillers, all of whom were worried that the plan would raise electricity costs and undercut their fuel source in the power markets.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 6, 2017

Exxon sends first U.S. fuel shipment to Mexico’s newly free market

Exxon Mobil Corp. is joining Chevron Corp. and other U.S. refiners to supply the newly free Mexico fuel market.

Exxon sent two cargoes totaling 120,000 barrel of diesel and gasoline Wednesday from its refinery in Beaumont, Texas, to a private terminal in San Luis Potosi. The company is moving cargos along Kansas City Southern’s rail network and plans to utilize the San Jose Iturbide terminal in Guanajuato state, which is being expanded, to bring in more supplies. Eventually, it aims to move product from all of its refineries along the Gulf Coast.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

 

Associated Press December 6, 2017

India to phase out ‘petcoke’ imports after AP investigation

India’s government says it plans to phase out imports of a dirty fuel known as petroleum coke, or “petcoke,” after an Associated Press investigation found U.S. oil refineries are exporting vast quantities of the product to India.

But when it comes to domestic use, the Indian government seems to be going in a different direction. The government this week argued in court that restrictions on petcoke around polluted New Delhi should be eased for certain low-impact industries. The move has infuriated environmentalists.

The AP investigation found the U.S. sold about 20 times more petcoke to India last year than it did six years earlier after U.S. refineries struggled to sell the product at home.
This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News
click on headline to read more
___________

Dallas Morning News December 6, 2017

Texas lawmakers not among dozens of congressional Republicans opposing solar tariffs

Forty-one congressional Republicans have signed letters opposing a proposal to raise tariffs on imported solar cells and panels. But none are from Texas even though the state is among the U.S. leaders in total solar capacity.

The letters from 35 GOP representatives and six Republican senators were released just ahead Wednesday’s regulatory hearing on the tariff question. The fight pits most of the U.S. solar industry against a small group of manufacturers struggling to compete with low-cost solar cell and panel imports.

It’s not clear why no Texas Republicans signed the letters.

click on headline to read more

 

Oil and Gas Stories

 

CNBC December 7, 2017

US oil edges up after drop in crude inventories, but soaring output weighs

Oil prices inched up on Thursday on a decrease in U.S. crude inventories, but rising gasoline stocks and crude production weighed on the market.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $56.09 a barrel at 0021 GMT, up 13 cents, or 0.2 percent from their last settlement.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were yet to trade.

Traders said the higher prices came as U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 5.6 million barrels in the week to Dec. 1, to 448.1 million barrels, putting stocks below seasonal levels in 2015 and 2016.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Dallas Morning News December 6, 2017

Exxon to open eight Mobil gas stations in Mexico, with plans for 50 by early 2018

Irving-based Exxon Mobil will open eight gas stations in Mexico this week as part of a plan to invest $300 million in the next decade across the border.

The Mobil-branded stations will be operated in partnership with retailer Grupo Orsan in Querétaro in central Mexico. Exxon plans to open 50 stations in the Bajio region by the end of March 2018.

The stations will be supplied by gasoline and diesel produced at Exxon’s Texas refineries, the company said in a statement. Fuel will be carried by rail through private terminals in San Luis Potosi and San Jose Iturbide. Exxon moved 120,000 barrels of diesel and gasoline Wednesday from its refinery in Beaumont.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle – December 6, 2017

Milito: Explaining API’s methane reduction initiative

When it comes to concrete climate leadership and results, U.S. success should be the world’s gold standard. We lead the world in cutting energy-related carbon emissions, which are near 25-year lows, while also leading in natural gas and oil production. And we’re making great strides in cutting methane emissions, too, setting an example for the world.

Today, 25 of the country’s natural gas and oil companies, including many of our largest natural gas producers, have signed up to be a part of the Environmental Partnership, a new industry program that includes concrete actions and commitments by the industry to continuously improve environmental performance.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Rigzone December 6, 2017

Enterprise to Ship More Permian Crude to Texas Gulf Coast

Enterprise Products Partners L.P. will convert one of its pipelines linking the Permian Basin to the Texas Gulf Coast from natural gas liquids (NGL) to crude oil service, the company stated Wednesday.

“We have had strong demand for crude oil transportation, storage and marine terminal services for crude oil production from the Permian Basin,” A.J. “Jim” Teague, CEO of Enterprise’s general partner, said in a written statement. “This repurposing of an NGL pipeline to crude oil service is another example of our system flexibility and the innovation of our employees to respond to customer needs while increasing the distributable cash flow and value of our partnership.”

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Yahoo! News November 30, 2017

Up for Mexico’s Newly Free Market

From oil majors to trading companies to pipeline operators, U.S. companies are jumping at the chance to supply a newly free Mexico fuel market.

After years of preparation, Mexico finished liberalizing prices for gasoline and diesel across the country. Foreign companies were allowed to start moving fuels in April last year, but now consumers’ costs will be more closely aligned with the ebbs and flows of the open market. As fuel specifications and prices align, U.S. companies are working to make transportation to Mexico seamless.

click on headline to read more

___________

Barron’s December 6, 2017

GE, Baker Hughes Get a Breather

Three years ago, in late 2014, the activist investor had begun to accumulate shares in the predecessor company to the awkwardly named operating partnership Baker Hughes, a GE Co (ticker: BHGE). It was simply “Baker Hughes” before merging with General Electric’s (GE) oil and gas operations on July 3. GE owns 62.5% of the partnership.

At the time ValueAct was first buying, Baker Hughes already had agreed to be acquired by Halliburton(HAL). ValueAct was also buying Halliburton shares. In a Jan. 15, 2015, regulatory filing, ValueAct said it had paid $1.22 billion for 22 million Baker Hughes shares, or about $55.68 each.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

World Oil December 5, 2017

Nussbaum: Oil industry to open 2018 stuck between thirst for growth, wary investors

Investor exhaustion with poor returns from the oil and gas industry may mean less financing to expand the U.S. shale boom next year, and less of a drive for consolidation.

After nearing a record in 2016, equity issues from U.S. oil and gas companies are on pace for an eight-year low this year, amid doubts about the stability of the rally in global crude prices. Mergers and acquisitions and initial public offerings got off to a strong start but petered out as the year wore on.

While explorers including Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and ConocoPhillips have preached the need for fiscal discipline, investors remain skeptical, said Bobby Tudor, chairman of Houston-based investment bank Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. That’s tightened the flow of new money into the industry, and it’s likely to chill deal-making as buyers and sellers alike wait for stock prices to rebound.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Reuters December 5, 2017

Exxon takes climate-change probe fight to Massachusetts top court

Exxon Mobil Corp urged Massachusetts’ top court on Tuesday to block the state’s attorney general from obtaining records to investigate whether the company for decades concealed its knowledge of the role fossil fuels have on climate change.

A lawyer for Exxon told justices on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that his arguments were focused only on whether Attorney General Maura Healey had jurisdiction to seek records to probe whether the oil company misled consumers and investors.

“We are not asking this court to weigh in on the causes of climate change,” Justin Anderson, Exxon’s lawyer, said.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Midland Reporter Telegram December 5, 2017

CO2 conference speakers: Oilfield experience provides key data

Basin oil and gas producers are just a few years into work understanding and developing residual oil zones – the zones of oil left behind millions of years ago when what ROZ experts call “Mother Nature’s waterfloods” swept hydrocarbons to the east. Speakers at Tuesday’s CO2 and ROZ conference updated attendees on the latest in data analysis, downhole equipment and activity related to ROZ development, with a focus on the horizontal San Andres formation.

“In this age of horizontal drilling, our industry is learning things about our reservoirs we could only speculate about before,” said Steve Melzer, director of the annual conference at the Horseshoe Pavilion. He said producers’ oilfield experience is providing information about ROZ, from coring and mud logging to drill stem testing and open-hole wireline logging.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 6, 2017

Tomlinson: Solar energy and oil find a way to work together

In unlikely bedfellows news, an oil production firm and a solar energy supplier have struck up an alliance in California to work together.

Aera Energy, one of California’s largest oil and gas producers, and GlassPoint Solar have announced plans to build one of the state’s largest solar energy projects to power oil field operations.

The project, called Belridge Solar, will have two parts, an 850 megawatt thermal facility to produce 12 million barrels of steam to help extract oil, and a 26.5 megawatt photovoltaic facility to generate electricity. Aera Energy wants to reduce onsite natural gas usage and reduce its carbon emissions from pumping oil.

click on headline to read more

___________

San Antonio Express News November 30, 2017
SAEN: Pipeline rupture highlights needed policy changes

It’s a horrifying story. One that could happen in many parts of rural Texas.

A natural gas pipeline explodes in a rural area, raining chemicals onto a young family’s home.

The family races away, but the parents and their young children are exposed to hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide and other volatile organic compounds. The family’s dream home is ruined. In the aftermath of the explosion, the family is financially stressed and tied up in litigation with the pipeline’s owners and associated contractors.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Oil Price December 4, 2017

Don’t Count On A Utah Shale Boom

Presidents tend to add land into protection to burnish their legacy – George W. Bush created a massive reserve in the Pacific Ocean around Hawaii in his second term, a Marine National Monument that was expanded under the Obama administration. There are not a ton of examples in which Presidents shrink national monuments, and even when control of the White House changes parties, the decisions to protect lands from prior administrations is generally respected. But, needless to say, the Trump administration is unlike any other.

Slashing the size of the national monuments will mean opening up a lot more territory for potential oil and gas exploration.

click on headline to read more

 

Utilities Stories

 

Victoria Advocate December 6, 2017

Merger means uncertain future for Goliad’s economy

If a merger goes through, the future of Goliad County’s largest taxpayer, a coal-fired plant, looks bleak.

In the spring, Dynegy plans to merge with Vistra after owning the Coleto Creek Power Plant for less than a year.

While neither company will speculate about the future of the plant, which employs 75 people, Vistra has a history of divesting itself of coal plants.

Vistra, based in Irving, is the parent company of TXU Energy and Luminant.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Co-Op News December 5, 2017

‘Built on the power of the co-operative’: Another alliance for Texas electric co-ops
Texas Electric Co-operatives has formed an alliance with Comanche Electric Cooperative (CECA), one of North Central Texas’ top electric co-ops.

The agreement brings approximately 5,000 miles of line and more than 16,000 meters in seven counties into areas already served by TEC alliance partnerships.

“This is an important alliance for TEC,” said Johnny Andrews, chief operating officer of TEC Manufacturing & Distribution Services.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Denton Record-Chronicle December 5, 2017

Denton Record-Chronicle: Denton must keep eye on energy sources

Burning coal to generate electricity is a dirty business that creates air pollution. Medical experts believe coal-fired power plants contribute to childhood asthma attacks and other lung diseases.

Burning natural gas to generate electricity is cleaner than using coal, but experts agree that the future belongs to wind power and solar power.

City government, which owns Denton Municipal Electric, is trying to position itself squarely in the middle of the power generation equation.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

PV Magazine December 5, 2017

Market report discusses microgrids past, present and future

The term “microgrid” evokes a modernistic, almost futuristic, package of technologies that can provide electricity for one or more customers in a clean, diverse and sustainable way. The use of renewables like PV, multiple energy sources, energy storage, ability to connect or disconnect from the grid based on power availability or pricing, and the like, warms the hearts of advocates of sustainability, clean energy and addressing climate change. Examples of such microgrids dot the headlines in trade and occasionally the public media.

However, the present market reality is quite different from this golden scenario. GTM Research has published a studywhich depicts the present microgrid market in a more pedestrian manner, while analyzing the way forward to the types of systems that realize all the benefits available.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

ProPublica November 29, 2017

White House May Share Nuclear Power Technology With Saudi Arabia

The Trump administration is holding talks on providing nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia — a move that critics say could upend decades of U.S. policy and lead to an arms race in the Middle East.

The Saudi government wants nuclear power to free up more oil for export, but current and former American officials suspect the country’s leaders also want to keep up with the enrichment capabilities of their rival, Iran.

click on headline to read more

 

Alternatives and Renewables Stories

 

 

Next Gen Transportation December 5, 2017

Partners Break Ground on Public ampCNG Station in Texas

On the heels of being awarded a carbon intensity (CI) score of -254.94 gCO2e/MJ by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), AMP Americas has broken ground on a new public-access ampCNG fueling station in Buda, Texas, with US Foods serving as the station’s anchor fleet.

Located at 1529 Turnersville Rd., adjacent to the US Foods distribution center in Buda, the ampCNG fast-fill compressed natural gas (CNG) station will have two dual-hose dispensers serving two lanes. The station is expected to open by February 2018 and will fuel US Foods’ Buda-based fleet of 50 CNG trucks.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Korea Times December 3, 2017

Scientists develop world’s first power-generating yarn

A group of scientists led by Hanyang University Professor Kim Seon-jeong have developed yarn that can produce electricity through contraction and relaxation a world first according to the Ministry of Science and ICT (MIST), Thursday.
Naming the invention the “twistron yarn,” the research team expect it can be used for electronics products such as wearable devices, smartphones and drones that will be able to operate for longer without an additional power supply.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Los Angeles Times December 4, 2017

LA Auto Show: While Detroit hits the gas pedal, Europeans embrace electrification

Petroleum products still power nearly all the cars driving the world’s highways, minus a nano-point or two for the rare alternative-fuel vehicle. But something new is stirring. Call it elektrifizierung.

That’s German for electrification. While big American companies — and to a large extent, the Koreans and the Japanese — keep their electric efforts low-key, European carmakers, led by the German Big Three, are aggressively dramatizing their strategic shift toward electrified powertrains at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Green Tech Media November 27, 2018

Tesla Fulfilled Its 100-Day Australia Battery Bet. What’s That Mean for the Industry?

Credit where credit is due: Elon Musk made a crazy, eye-catching promise, and he delivered.

After a series of regional blackouts that shook South Australia in September 2016 and February 2017, a fierce debate emerged over how to manage the grid. Musk inserted himself into the debate, saying on Twitter that he could deliver 100 megawatts ofstoragein 100 days or it would be free.

Musk later noted that the cost of losing that bet would have been around $50 million, Business Insider reports. That would have been a tough blow to a company that just posted its largest quarterly loss. But it won’t happen, because regulatory testing has begun ahead of the December 1 deadline.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Regulatory Stories

 

 

The Hill December 5, 2017

Wealthy outsiders threaten to shake up GOP Senate primaries

Two wealthy candidates threaten to shake up GOP Senate primaries in Indiana and West Virginia, races where the chance to take on vulnerable Democratic incumbents has already provoked bruising internal GOP fights.

Former Indiana state Rep. Mike Braun, who announced his bid over the summer, has injected enough of his own money into his bid to mount a competitive challenge to Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer.

And millionaire former coal executive Don Blankenship, fresh off a one-year prison sentence after being convicted of violating mine safety rules, is raising eyebrows with an impending bid in West Virginia.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

The Hill December 6, 2017

Trump appeals court decision against oil drilling rule delay

The Trump administration is appealing an October federal court decision that found it was “unlawful” to delay an Obama administration rule limiting methane pollution from oil and natural gas drilling on federal land.

Justice Department attorneys, representing the Interior Department, filed a brief notice in the District Court for the Northern District of California late Monday, saying they are asking the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit to review and overturn the ruling.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Bismarck Tribune December 1, 2017

Study aims to determine feasibility of underground carbon storage

A rare drilling rig is at work in central North Dakota this week, but crews aren’t looking for oil. …

Researchers will investigate the geology more than a mile underground to determine if it is suitable for the storage of carbon dioxide captured from coal-based energy facilities, said project manager Wes Peck.

“It’s all for the long-term benefit of coal country,” Peck said.

The study will not involve the injection of carbon dioxide, but it will provide researchers with more information about the geology. Researchers will then take that information for sophisticated computer modeling.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Dallas Morning News December 5, 2017

Exide’s nearly $2.7 million cost to close Frisco site is ‘grossly insufficient,’ city says

Five years and one bankruptcy later, Exide Technologies is still trying to get out of Frisco.

Its buildings have all been torn down except the onsite wastewater treatment facility. Its proposed closure plan for the site near downtown has been submitted for review. Its obligatory legal notice seeking public comment on the hundreds of pages of technical documents has been sent.

In addition, its federal civil suit against the city for breach of contract recently received a green light to proceed.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips December 6, 2017

Lead Stories

 

Inside Climate News December 5, 2017

Instrument of Power: How Fossil Fuel Donors Shaped the Anti-Climate Agenda of a Powerful Congressional Committee

Sixteen-term Republican Lamar Smith has used his power as chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee for the past five years to do battle on behalf of the fossil fuel industry. Embracing the arguments of a small group of climate contrarians, Smith acknowledges that warming is happening but says more research is needed to determine the amount and causes, and whether it does more good than harm.

Smith’s critics say he misrepresents facts, cleverly casts doubt on legitimate studies by claiming they are based on “secret data” and uses his subpoena power to help industry battle state and federal regulators and environmental groups. The result is that a panel with vast jurisdiction over all government non-military science, research and development has become an instrument of attack on mainstream climate science.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Associated Press December 5, 2017

Trump decision on Jerusalem could have deep repercussions

U.S. officials say President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Wednesday and instruct the State Department to begin the multi-year process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city. … Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday could have deep repercussions across the region.

Any recognition of Israel’s control over the city will be welcomed by Israel, a close American ally, and be popular with pro-Israel evangelical Christian voters who make up a key part of Trump’s base. But it could also trigger violence in the region, derail a developing U.S. Mideast peace plan before it even gets off the ground and infuriate key allies in the Arab world and in the West.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Dallas Morning News December 5, 2017

Has your water been tainted by fracking? Scientists who said it was safe now say they were censored

Six years ago, Bryan Latkanich agreed to let an energy company tap natural gas beneath his property using fracking. Soon after, the well water at his property in rural Deemston, Pa., started tasting metallic. He developed stomach problems, and his 7 year-old son one day emerged from a bath covered in bleeding sores.

Testing by state regulators and a researcher at nearby Duquesne University showed the well water had deteriorated since gas extraction started — but found no proof of the cause. The state recently began more testing.

Latkanich is a single parent, jobless and blind in his right eye from brain surgery. “I worry about my son getting sick, about my getting sick and what would happen to him if I did,” he said. “I keep asking myself, ‘How do we get out?’”

click on headline to read more

___________

 

San Antonio Express News December 5, 2017

Uresti says prosecutors withheld steamy texts that could help criminal case

Lawyers for indicted state Sen. Carlos Uresti say steamy text messages sent between one of his co-defendants and Denise Cantu of Harlingen were wrongfully withheld and cast doubt on her credibility as the government’s star witness in his upcoming criminal trial. Uresti contends that federal prosecutors failed to obey court rules by timely turning over the text messages, which he believes may help exonerate him.

Uresti’s legal team, led by Tab Turner, filed a court motion Monday to force prosecutors to disclose any other information that might help his case.

Uresti, Stan Bates and Gary Cain were indicted in May on 22 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud and other crimes for their roles in a now-defunct oil field services company called FourWinds Logistics.

click on headline to read more

 

Oil and Gas Stories

 

CNBC December 6, 2017

Oil dips on rising US fuel stocks, but OPEC’s supply cuts offer support

Oil prices dipped on Wednesday, as refined product inventories in the United States rose in what the market interpreted as a sign of lacklustre demand.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were down 24 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $62.62 a barrel as of 0456 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $57.38 a barrel, down 24 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last settlement.

Traders said prices fell after an American Petroleum Institute (API) report late on Tuesday that showed a 9.2 million barrel rise in gasoline stocks in the week ended Dec. 1, and an increase of 4.3 million barrels in distillate inventories, which include motor diesel and heating oil.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Houston Chronicle December 5, 2017

Oil companies clamp down on methane leaks

Many of the country’s largest oil and gas drillers said Tuesday they will voluntarily reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, even as the Trump administration takes steps to roll back existing environmental regulations targeting those emissions.

Under a voluntary program announced by the American Petroleum Institute, 26 companies would begin implementing new standards that include employing advanced leak detection technology and replacing older equipment prone to leaks across their U.S. operations.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Bloomberg December 5, 2017

Goldman’s an Oil Bull in 2018 With 9% Total Returns Forecast

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicts oil prices will retain their strength, at least through 2018.

The bank raised its forecast for U.S. West Texas Intermediate as well as global benchmark Brent crude, saying OPEC and its allies showed a stronger commitment than expected to extending their output curbs at the producer group’s meeting last week. It expects positive total returns of 9 percent from crude over the next 12 months, according to a Dec. 4 report.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Dallas Morning News December 5, 2017

Services announced for Dallas entrepreneur and philanthropist Al Hill Jr.

A memorial service for Dallas entrepreneur and philanthropist Al G. Hill Jr. will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday at Highland Park Presbyterian Church, 3821 University Blvd. in Dallas.

Hill, the oldest grandson of legendary Texas oilman H.L. Hunt, died in his sleep Saturday night at his Highland Park home. He was 72.

Hill was an oilman, developer, feature film producer, charter jet operator and thoroughbred racehorse owner.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Texas Tribune December 6, 2017

How repealing net neutrality could hurt small Texas businesses

When PDQ Resharpening opened in 1999, it had just one customer. In the years since, co-owner Shane Killingsworth said, the Houston-based drill-bit sharpening business has expanded tenfold. He credits that successful growth largely to one resource: fast internet access.

For Killingsworth, fast internet is critical for attracting new customers and processing company payments. Without speedy access, he said, much of the company’s business would be stalled.

Like many other small business owners across Texas, Killingsworth is worried his livelihood could be in jeopardy if the Federal Communications Commission follows through on Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to repeal net neutrality, an Obama-era policy that requires internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast to treat all traffic that flows through their networks equally, regardless of the content’s source.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Associated Press December 1, 2017

Studies Find Dangerous Bacteria Near Texas Fracking Sites

Two new studies from University of Texas at Arlington researchers show harmful bacteria levels in groundwater near hydraulically fractured gas drilling sites.

The studies published in the peer-reviewed journal Science of the Total Environment show antibiotic-resistant bacteria exist in private water wells in the Barnett Shale and Eagle Ford Shale regions of Texas.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 5, 2017

Statoil greenlights $6b Arctic project

Statoil ASA gave the final go-ahead to a flagship Arctic oil project after slashing costs by half.

While expected, the move by Norway’s biggest oil company is a boost to a region seen as key to arresting a decline in the country’s production.

In a striking illustration of how oil companies have adapted to lower prices, Statoil cut estimated investments at the Johan Castberg project to about 49 billion kroner ($6 billion) from an initial forecast of more than 100 billion kroner, it said on Tuesday, reiterating a figure given in June. The field in the Barents Sea is due to start production in 2022.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Financial Post December 1, 2017

Enbridge shares climb after company announces $2.3 billion in asset sales

Enbridge Inc shares jumped as much as 6.2 per cent on Thursday after North America’s largest energy infrastructure company announced plans to sell $3 billion (US$2.3 billion) of noncore assets to focus on its central business.

The company is also raising $1.5 billion by selling new shares to pay down debt. It has identified $22 billion worth of projects it intends to complete through 2020.

The Calgary-based company said it has identified another $7 billion in noncore assets to divest including unregulated gas gathering and processing businesses and onshore renewables in the United States and Canada.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Economics 21 December 4, 2017

Energy Production Roars While Transportation Whimpers

Weekly U.S. field production of crude oil reached 9.682 million barrels per day in the fourth week of November, and the past three weeks have seen the highest level of production in decades from regions ranging from Texas to North Dakota. These higher levels of production are welcome news, but are already straining the capacity of energy transportation infrastructure.

Transportation limits have already increased the cost of moving crude oil from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast from its typical price of $3.50 per barrel. The constraints have led to an increase in crude oil inventories in Cushing as producers struggle to find adequate transportation capacity.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Temple Daily Telegram December 4, 2017

State excess revenue drained by Harvey relief

A combination of factors has left the state without a lot of wiggle room in the budget over the next couple years, but state Rep. Hugh Shine, R-Temple, said he hopes continued growth of the Texas economy will make up the difference. … “There is some bright news. The Texas economy has seemingly leveled out and the oil industry has seemed to bottom out as well,” Shine said. “We all know that oil and gas revenue dropped precipitously going into the last session because of a dip in the fracking industry. If the oil and gas industry does pick up and stabilize a little more, that can help us close the gap to some extent on the revenue side.”

click on headline to read more

___________

 

NASDAQ December 4, 2017

Magellan to Build Pipeline with Expandable Capacity

Energy infrastructure provider Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P. MMP recently launched an open season to gauge the demand for a new pipeline it is planning to build. The pipeline will carry Permian and Eagle Ford Basin crude and condensate to various market locations in Corpus Christi and Houston, TX. The pipeline, which will also connect the partnership’s existing crude oil terminals in the Texas markets, will give potential customers an opportunity to come out with binding commitments by Feb 1, 2018.

The pipeline, with a diameter of 24-inch and around 375 miles long, will run from Crane to Three Rivers, TX. Its initial shipping capacity is expected to be around 350,000 barrels per day (bpd). Per the partnership, the capacity can be expanded up to 600,000 bpd. The new pipeline is expected to come online by 2019-end.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Oil Price December 5, 2017

The ‘Mega’ Oil Field That Will Never Boom

2017 will most likely witness a continuation in the decline of conventional oil discoveries. This year has seen no major onshore discovery, pretty much all significant finds were confined to offshore areas of the Americas, where Mexico’s continental shelf unearthed two highly promising formations, the Ixachi (1.5 BBbl) and Zama (1.4 BBbl), whilst Alaska’s Horseshoe discovery gave rise to hopes that this once-prolific region might be back in the game again. Europe’s headway has been incomparably paler – it seems that the biggest find will be Statoil’s Verbier field which is estimated to contain up to 0.13 BBbl. In stark contrast with the above, China’s CNPC announced last week that its latest discovery, the Mahu field located within the Junggar Basin of Xinjiang province, is estimated to hold between 0.52 and 1.24 billion tons of crude (4-9 BBbl), by far the largest find of recent years – provided that one is to believe that this oil is actually recoverable.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Rebusiness Online December 5, 2017

Joint Venture Developing $820M Marine Storage Facility along Houston Ship Channel

A joint venture between Valero Energy Corp. and Magellan Midstream Partners has started construction of Phase I of an $820 million marine storage facility located along the Houston Ship Channel in Pasadena.

The facility will handle petroleum products including multiple grades of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, as well as renewable fuels. Phase I of the development will include 1 million barrels of storage and a new marine dock capable of handling Panamax-sized ships or barges with up to a 40-foot draft.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 4, 2017
Tomlinson: OPEC deal maintains the status quo, fails to address key problems

Saudi Arabia convinced Russia to go along with a nine-month extension of production quotas through the end of 2018, but the pop in crude oil prices will likely be short-lived and offer little relief for nations dependent on oil income.

Nations responsible for about half of the world’s oil production agreed last year to hold 2 percent off the market until crude inventories drop to five-year averages. Those cuts have worked, but they have also raised prices, prompting more production from U.S. companies that are not part of the deal.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Oil Price December 3, 2017

The Man Behind The Oil Price Rally

Last Sunday premiered the newly formed Islamic anti-terrorism coalition, putting together leaders from Sunni Arab nations to denounce and combat fundamentalist terrorism throughout the Middle East and the world. It was another bold initiative towards the West of the young and energetic Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, coming on the heels of other bold moves that have looked to consolidate political and religious power in the Kingdom.

Together, all of these initiatives couldn’t be more transparent. They represent a movement of the most economically powerful nation in OPEC towards social, cultural and economic change, the realization of the Saudi “Vision 2030”. It is a top-down Arab Spring movement that likely has a better chance of success than the populist movements that resulted in more chaos than change in 2010.

click on headline to read more

 

 

Utilities Stories

 

Utility Dive December 5, 2017

As grid modernization accelerates, which states are in the lead, and why?

Grid modernization is not just a New York-California issue anymore. Committed and proposed expenditures are accelerating into the billions across the country, with no sign of a slowdown in sight.

The grid’s vulnerability to increasingly extreme weather and its consequences is apparent to everybody, and it must be strengthened, Centerpoint Energy CEO Scott Prochazka said. “Electricity is about 5% of GDP, but it is the first 5% because reliable energy supports every other aspect of the economy,” he noted.

In Texas’s response to recent hurricanes, “other states can see the value of having grid modernization in place before it is needed,” Prochazka said.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

PV Magazine December 5, 2017

National laboratories issue study on growing flexibility and variability of power generators

A study by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL) and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) grapples with the growth of “variable renewable energy (VRE)”, specifically, solar and wind power that impacts wholesale pricing in the various regional transmission organizations (RTO) of the United States.

The growth of solar and wind power has highlighted the issue of negative pricing on the wholesale markets, where in some instances the availability of wind or solar power depresses prices to the point where wholesalers pay their utility customers to take the electricity off their hands. This situation has led to accusations that solar and wind power are “unfairly” making market conditions difficult for fossil fuel and nuclear power plants.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

The Conversation December 4, 2017

The obscure federal agency that soon could raise your electric bill: 5 questions answered on FERC

On or before Dec. 11, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected to take action on a controversial proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry that seeks to prevent noncompetitive coal and nuclear power plants from retiring prematurely. Depending on how such a rule is structured, analyses have estimated that it could cost ratepayers in affected regions up to several billion dollars yearly. … Secretary Perry has asserted that “the resiliency of the electric grid is threatened by the premature retirements of…fuel-secure traditional baseload resources.” While exact details are not known, the rule Perry has proposed would “make whole” electric generators that can store 90 days of fuel on-site.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Utility Dive November 24, 2017

With artificial intelligence, it’s a brave new world for utilities

“There are many different technologies and use cases, and it is important to be specific about what the technology is we’re discussing,” said David Groarke, managing director at Indigo Advisory Group. “Utilities have been using AI for years, in terms of machine learning.”

Gorarke says there are several technologies that utilities now use to manage the grid that have some level of machine learning. On the utility side of the meter, self-healing grids are able to move power around damaged equipment to keep customer lights on. Behind the meter, in-home consumer devices are able to react to human preferences and energy price signals to maintain comfort and control cost. The Nest learning thermostat and a legion like it has been around for years, and some of those same ideas are now being used with water heaters, electric vehicle charging and HVAC systems.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Electrek December 5, 2017

How coal and nuclear became $70 billion welfare queens

The coal and nuclear industry are lobbying the federal government for extra payments to store fuel on site because their current cost structures cannot compete in the US power markets. The Trump administration has suggested a $70 billion tax on US electricity consumers that could bring about an additional 27,000 deaths.

Murray Energy Corporation, a coal company, CEO Bob Murray says of the tax, ‘It’s the single greatest action that has been taken in decades to support low-cost reliable electric power in the United States. It has to happen.’

click on headline to read more

 

Alternatives and Renewables Stories

 

American Journal of Transporation December 5, 2017

Fitch: Tax reform could stunt U.S. renewables growth in 2018

Uncertainties around tax reform and other policies in the Trump administration have the potential to stall momentum for U.S. renewable projects headed into next year, according to Fitch Ratings in its 2018 outlook report.

“Recently proposed revisions to the U.S. tax code would reduce the value of production tax credits and in turn diminish the value of new renewable energy projects,” said Senior Director Gregory Remec. “Separately, the Trump administration’s possible import tariff on solar photovoltaic panels is likely to stall the development of new renewable energy projects and may significantly reduce the growth rate of renewable generation capacity.”

click on headline to read more

 

Regulatory Stories

 

Houston Chronicle December 4, 2017

Environmental groups sue to force EPA to declare ozone-plagued areas

Ten environmental and public health groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday, accusing federal officials of dragging their feet on designating major metropolitan areas – including Houston – out of compliance with clean air regulations.

The lawsuit, filed after the groups threatened a legal challenge two months ago, asks the court to force the EPA to declare which areas do not comply with the regulations, specifically those regarding ozone levels. The designation starts the clock for states to come up with plans to clean up the air in those areas.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

MacLean’s December 5, 2017

Milke: A smart road map to lower carbon emissions? Look to Texas, of all places

A recent analysis from the U.S. Energy Information Administration noted that carbon emissions in 2015 fell by a record amount in the Lone Star State. Emissions were down a record 231-million metric tonnes with more than 60 per cent of the reduction occurring in just ten states, with Texas in the lead among the reducing states.

Much of the reduction is due to a drop in coal-fired electricity across America, and a spike in its replacement: natural gas-fired power. “Power plant operators reduced generation from existing coal-fired units in response to competition from lower-priced natural gas,” wrote the EIA in mid-November. In Texas, electricity fired by coal dropped by more than in other states, while its replacement rose more than any other state, year-over-year. That was accomplished without a carbon tax or regulatory-overkill and job losses.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Inside Climate News December 5, 2017

Judge Orders Dakota Access Pipeline Spill Response Plan, with Tribe’s Input

Six months after oil began flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline, a federal judge has ordered the pipeline’s owner to develop a final spill response plan for the section that crosses beneath the Missouri River half a mile upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation—and to work with the tribe to write the plan.

The judge also directed the company, Energy Transfer Partners LP, to commission an independent audit of its own prior risk analysis and to produce bi-monthly reports of any repairs or incidents occurring at Lake Oahe, the site of the contested river crossing that was the focal point of months of anti-pipeline protests that ended earlier this year.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Inside Climate News December

Gustin: Tax Bill Impact: What Happens to Renewable Energy?

The Senate bill contains a provision that has raised alarm across the clean energy industry: The Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) provision would subject tax credits given to companies with operations overseas to a new, 100 percent tax. That provision, according to a letter sent to the Senate by clean energy groups this week, would send investors fleeing and put $12 billion in clean-energy investments at risk. It says the impact would be “devastating.” …

The Senate proposal says nothing about solar credits, so it would effectively maintain the current timeline on phasing out the Investment Tax Credit for solar developers and homeowners, which remains at 30 percent through 2019, then lowers every year until 2022, when it stays at 10 percent indefinitely. Congress approved this timetable in 2015, with the industry’s support.

The House version maintains the current phase-down timetable, but at the end of 2021, the credit for homeowners drops to zero and the credit for developers drops to 10 percent. The 10 percent credit terminates altogether in 2027.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

 

Austin American Statesman December 5, 2017

Energy Secretary Rick Perry holds hawk, gets his feet in the sand during trip to Saudi Arabia

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry traveled to Saudi Arabia over the weekend and managed to sneak in a few fun photo opportunities.

Perry traveled to the country to meet with leaders to discuss collaborations between the two countries regarding fossil fuel energy.

Perry and Khalid al Falih, the Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, signed a memorandum of understanding to encourage the exchange of resources like research and technology.

click on headline to read more

 

__________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips December 5, 2017

Lead Stories
Houston Chronicle December 1, 2017
MIT study suggests U.S. vastly overstates oil output forecasts

Turns out, America’s decadelong shale boom might just end up being a little too good to be true.

There’s no denying that fracking has turned the U.S. into a force in the global oil and gas markets, which has more than a few people abuzz about the prospect of energy independence.

But now, researchers at MIT have uncovered one potentially game-changingdetail: a flaw in the Energy Department’s official forecast, which may vastly overstate oil and gas production in the years to come.

click on headline to read more

___________

Tufts University (MA) November 30, 2017

Researchers discover breakthrough process for directly converting methane to methanol

The direct oxidation of methane—found in natural gas—into methanol at low temperatures has long been a holy grail. Now, researchers at Tufts have found a breakthrough way to accomplish the feat using a heterogeneous catalyst and cheap molecular oxygen, according to a paper published today in the journal Nature by a team led by Tufts University chemical engineers.

Methanol is a key feedstock for the production of chemicals, some of which are used to make products such as plastics, plywood and paints. Methanol also can fuel vehicles or be reformed to produce high-grade hydrogen for fuel cells.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Bloomberg December 4, 2017

America Crowns a New Pollution King

For the first time in 40 years, power plants are no longer the biggest source of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. That dubious distinction now belongs to the transport sector: cars, trucks, planes, trains and boats.

The big reversal didn’t happen because transportation emissions have been increasing. In fact, since 2000 the U.S. has experienced the flattest stretch of transportation-related pollution in modern record keeping, according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The big change has come from the cleanup of America’s electric grid.

click headline to read more

___________

 

Texas Public Radio December 4, 2017

Venezuela Will Create New ‘Petro’ Cryptocurrency, President Maduro Says

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro says his country will create a cryptocurrency system called the “petro,” backed by oil reserves and other natural resources, in his latest attempt to cope with an abysmal national economy and multiple rounds of U.S. sanctions.

Unveiling the petro plan on his weekly national TV program Sundays with Maduro, the president said the cryptocurrency (in Spanish, criptomoneda) could help Venezuela evade international sanctions.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Wall St. Journal December 4, 2017

EnCap Amasses New $7 Billion Fund to Invest in the Oil Patch

EnCap Investments LP has raised $7 billion for one of the biggest energy-focused private-equity funds amassed this year.

The Houston firm wrapped up its latest fund at the end of November, just as recent gains in energy prices have been stoking new optimism for an oil industry working through a fragile recovery.

The fund, EnCap Energy Capital Fund XI LP, closed ahead of its $6.5 billion goal and follows a $6.5 billion predecessor launched in 2015, which is now fully committed to companies, executives said.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Bloomberg December 4, 2017

Big Shale Turns OPEC Ally From Foe With Focus on Oil Returns

Don’t expect Big Shale to rush and fill the hole left by OPEC in the oil market.

Executives from three of the biggest independent U.S. drillers say they won’t increase activity just because prices rise after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies agreed to extend output curbs. The emphasis, instead, will be on maintaining spending discipline and generating profits to return to investors, according to Pioneer Natural Resources Co., Parsley Energy Inc. and Newfield Exploration Co.
click on headline to read more
___________

Oil and Gas Stories

 

CNBC December 5, 2017

Oil prices climb on expected drop in US crude stocks

Oil markets nudged higher on Tuesday, buoyed by expectations of a drop in U.S. crude stockpiles and after last week’s deal between OPECand other crude producers to extend output curbs.

International benchmark Brent crude futures were trading up 6 cents, or 0.1 percent, from their last close at $62.51 per barrel by 0410 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 12 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $57.59 per barrel.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 4, 2017

Fitch warns of potential Citgo default

Fitch Ratings warned Monday that Citgo Petroleum is a default risk following the recent arrests of the Houston refining company’s top leadership in Venezuela.

The major credit ratings agency downgraded Citgo to a negative watch list with a “CCC” rating that describes Citgo as a substantial credit risk with a real possibility of defaulting. Citgo previously held a “B-” as a highly speculative risk that was still functioning OK financially.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Reuters December 4, 2017

Exxon’s Beaumont, Texas refinery crude unit may be shut until late January: sources

The small crude distillation unit (CDU), damaged in a fire last week, at ExxonMobil Corp’s 362,300 barrel-per-day (bpd) Beaumont, Texas, refinery may remain shut for repairs until late January, sources familiar with plant operations said on Monday.

Exxon spokeswoman Charlotte Huffaker said maintenance activities were continuing at the Beaumont refinery, but declined to discuss the status of individual units.

The 110,000 bpd crude distillation unit was heavily damaged due to the high heat of the fire on Tuesday morning, the sources said.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Forbes November 20, 2017

Natural Gas Shale In The Haynesville Ripe For Dealmaking

About 10 years ago, the Haynesville Shale in East Texas and northwest Louisiana was hopping with operators looking to plumb for natural gas. But when natural gas prices sank to new lows about five years ago, companies began shunning it for more promising gas prospects in the Marcellus and Utica Shales in Appalachia – and to pursue oil riches in West Texas’ and New Mexico’s Permian Basin.

Now the Haynesville is back with rig counts trebling and production hitting four-year highs, thanks to rising natural gas prices and new petrochemical, fertilizer and export facilities popping up along the Gulf Coast. And that leads some observers to think the region could be ripe for some dealmaking.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

101 Corpus Christi December 4, 2017

Construction on the EPIC NGL Pipeline project designed to link oil and gas form the Permian Basin to the Port of Corpus Christi began in late November. The scope of the 650-mile pipeline has increased since it was first announced in September.

Initially, EPIC, which stands for Eagle Ford, Permian, Ingleside and Corpus, was to move 220,000 barrels of natural gas liquids a day from the West Texas shale play. In its new iteration, the pipeline will move 375,000 barrels a day, running parallel to part of a 730-mile pipeline designed to move 440,000 barrels a day of crude oil and condensate.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

 

 

Reuters December 3, 2017

Exxon eyes Egypt’s offshore oil and gas – sources

Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) is considering a foray into Egypt offshore oil and gas, seeking to replicate rivals’ success in the country and boost its reserves, officials and industry sources said.

Officials from the world’s largest listed oil producer recently held talks with Egypt’s petroleum ministry to discuss investments in oil and gas production, known as upstream operations, Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla told Reuters.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 4, 2017

ConocoPhillips to recover $337 million in Ecuador dispute

ConocoPhillips said Monday that it has reached an agreement to recover more than $300 million from the government of Ecuador, which expropriated two of Conoco’s significant oil assets in the country.

The settlement follows a 2012 arbitration finding that Ecuador violated the U.S.-Ecuador bilateral investment treaty.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Bloomberg December 4, 2017

Noble’s Star Gasoline Trader Sinenko Said to Join Gunvor

Gunvor Group Ltd. has wooed Noble Group Ltd.’s star gasoline trader to join its expanding U.S. operations as an exodus from the struggling Asian trading house continues amid asset sales and a debt restructuring.

Dmitri Sinenko, one of Noble’s top performing oil traders, has agreed to join Gunvor’s U.S. operations, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the hiring hasn’t been announced.
Sinenko is widely seen by rivals as one of the top U.S. gasoline traders, famous for taking large positions on the Colonial Pipeline that links the refining corridor in the Gulf of Mexico to the consumer markets of the East Coast.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

 

International Business Times December 2, 2017

Seismologists Say Shifts In Gravity May Detect Earthquakes Faster Than Seismic Waves

Earthquakes are particularly troublesome among natural disasters because, unlike hurricanes and tornadoes, they cannot be reliably predicted or measured until after they have occurred. The best we can do is assess the magnitude of an earthquake as quickly as possible and allocate resources to relief efforts based on that data. Unfortunately, measuring magnitude using current methods takes long enough to muddy the process a bit.

However, according to a new Scientific American report, that could change in the near future. Seismologists hypothesize that studying minor shifts in the Earth’s gravitational field could help accurately measure devastating earthquakes faster than studying seismic waves, created by the energy of an earthquake. The difference is only a matter of minutes, but that is enough time to save lives when facing large enough earthquakes.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

CBC November 29, 2017

Alberta’s beleaguered energy sector is making a comeback

The trucks, and the traffic, have returned to Rocky Mountain House.

The Alberta town, about two hours northwest of Calgary, is booming again, more than three years after the price of oil began to slide and took the province’s energy sector along with it. … Those trucks are part of a move by major energy companies, including Chevron, Shell and Encana, to stake their place in the Duvernay, a formation that stretches across much of central Alberta and is estimated to hold more than three billion barrels of marketable crude, six billion barrels of natural gas liquids (such as propane and butane) and more than 75 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the National Energy Board.

click on headline to read more

 

Utilities Stories

 

San Antonio Express News December 4, 2017

Shutdowns of Texas coal plants may delay demise of others

The dismantling of three Texas coal plants and closure of two others will tighten the state’s power generation market and could save some from the brink of insolvency, industry analysts say.

Texas’ coal plants have been struggling to compete against cheaper power from wind and natural gas, which have brought down power prices across the state. For many industry analysts it was not a matter of if coal plants would shut down, but when.

Irving-based Luminant, a subsidiary of Vistra Energy, is shutting down three coal-fired power plants with a combined generation capacity of more than 4,100 megawatts — enough power for more than 830,000 homes in the heat of summer, the company said in October.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

SmartCities Dive December 4, 2017

Utility of the Year: Austin Energy

This year alone, Austin Energy has worked to set ambitious clean energy goals, add storage, support distributed generation and electric vehicles, and advance customer service offerings — all while restoring power in areas hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

“We’re comparing ourselves not necessarily to other utilities, but other service providers,” Deborah Kimberly, vice president of customer energy solutions, told Utility Dive in an interview earlier this year. And, as the eighth-largest publicly owned utility with more than 460,000 customers, that mentality is crucial.

click on headline to read more

___________

Wolf Street December 3, 2017

US Demand for Electricity Falls Further: What Does it Mean?

Layoffs at GE Power, for example.

The weekend started Friday night with layoff news from GE’s power division, in two locations.

First, there was Greenville County, South Carolina, where GE Power is one of the largest employers with 3,400 workers.

“Based on the current challenges in the power industry and a significant decline in orders, GE Power continues to transform our new, combined business to better meet the needs of our customers,” GE’s statement said in flawless corporate speak: “As we have said, we are working to reduce costs and simplify our structure to better align our product solutions, and these steps will include layoffs.”

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Platts December 4, 2017

ERCOT Stakeholders OK $246.7M in Freeport Reliability Projects

ERCOT stakeholders unanimously endorsed almost $250 million in transmission projects during last week’s Technical Advisory Committee meeting, sending the package to the Board of Directors for its Dec. 12 meeting.

The two projects will address “significant” industrial growth in the Freeport area, a seaport south of Houston on the Gulf of Mexico. Newly committed industrial loads are expected to push the area past 2.2 GW by 2022, surpassing the heavily populated Rio Grande Valley.

The market “thinks about big meaty load pockets like the [Dallas-Fort Worth] area, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, but we haven’t really thought about Freeport,” said Jeff Billo, ERCOT’s senior manager of transmission planning.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Green Tech Media November 27, 2017

A Look Inside Ideal Power’s Austin Lab

When hurricanes tore through the Caribbean earlier this fall, the team at Austin, Texas-based Ideal Power was finalizing a solar-plus-storage microgrid project in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Those hurricanes came through and stripped the PV panels right off the roof,” said Mike Barron, Ideal’s senior firmware design engineer. “It was going to be kind of a showcase for us.”

The project, which includes six of Ideal’s conversion units, now likely won’t be on-line for several weeks. In the meantime, the converters are increasing efficiency of some generators on the island by allowing them to run at full capacity and store extra power that’s not immediately used.

click on headline to read more

Alternatives and Renewables Stories

 

Forbes December 4, 2017

Helman: Why An Oil Company Plans To Build California’s Biggest Solar Energy Project

The Belridge oil field in the San Joaquin Valley of California has produced about 1.7 billion barrels of heavy crude since its discovery in 1911. Thanks to advances in solar power, its next 500 million barrels will be a little bit greener.

Here in the middle of the 22-mile long oilfield Aera Energyis set to spend an estimated $250 million to build California’s largest solar energy project. The centerpiece will be 630 acres of glass houses, like greenhouses on farms. Hung inside the glass boxes will be solar collectors — basically flimsy mirrors made from sheets of aluminum foil and suspended by wires. As the sun moves across the sky, small motors pull the wires to adjust the mirrors’ pitch. The reflected rays are concentrated on a network of pipes carrying water throughout the glass block, creating steam. The plan at Belridge is to use the sun’s power to make 12 million barrels of steam per year.

click on headline to read more

___________

Solar Industry Magazine December 1, 2017

UT Austin Helping Bring Clean Energy To Mexican Grid

The University of Texas at Austin (UT) recently signed a partnership agreement with Monterrey Tech, a university in Mexico, to develop a reliable, clean, sustainable and affordable electric power sector for Mexico, UT has announced.

The UT-Monterrey Tech partnership will make it easier to transfer and share knowledge and best practices, leveraging the strengths of both institutions to meet Mexico’s fast-growing demand for electricity, according to UT. The signing of the agreement was witnessed by Guillermo Ignacio García Alcocer, president of Mexico’s Comisión Reguladora de Energía (the Energy Regulatory Commission).

click on headline to read more

___________

 

The Guardian (UK) December 1, 2017

Electric cars already cheaper to own and run than petrol or diesel – study

Electric cars are already cheaper to own and run than petrol or diesel cars in the UK, US and Japan, new research shows.

The lower cost is a key factor driving the rapid rise in electric car sales now underway, say the researchers. At the moment the cost is partly because of government support, but electric cars are expected to become the cheapest option without subsidies in a few years.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Oil Price December 4, 2017

Oil Refiners And Farmers Battle Over Biofuels

President Donald Trump has agreed to meet representatives of the U.S. oil refining industry and oil-supporting lawmakers to discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard Program—a meeting that could set the stage for negotiations over the U.S. biofuels policy that has been pitting the oil refining industry against the Midwest farm lobby.

“The president was briefed, and has agreed on a meeting. Now it is just a matter of finding an hour window,” a source told Reuters last week, adding that he was told by the White House that the meeting would likely take place in the week of December 11.

click on headline to read more

 

Regulatory Stories

 

Argus December 4, 2017

Texas Requests RFS Waiver

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should exempt more than a quarter of US refining capacity from federal biofuel blending mandates, Texas governor Greg Abbott requested late last week.

The governor sought a formal waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for the 5.1mn b/d of his state’s refining capacity. Higher compliance costs put refiners, small retailers and their associated labor forces at risk, Abbott wrote in his request to the EPA.

“The time is ripe for EPA to grant substantive relief from the unique, adverse impacts the RFS program is having on the state of Texas,” Abbott wrote.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 4, 2017

TCEQ to manage $209M VW emissions settlement

The $209 million coming to Texas from the Volkswagen emissions scandal will be doled out by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Gov. Greg Abbott declared Monday.

The agency will oversee the state’s portion of the Environmental Mitigation Trust, set up after the automaker of Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche brands settled claims that it cheated U.S. vehicle emissions standards.

TCEQ Commissioner Jon Niermann was named as the primary administrator for the state. The state formally made the declaration last month.
click on headline to read more
___________

 

Beaumont Enterprise December 4, 2017
Thousands still await clean water after Harvey

More than three months after Tropical Storm Harvey overflowed drainage districts, cut off water and prompted hundreds of boil-water notices across the Gulf Coast, access to safe water still seems a pipe dream for some.

Thirteen boil-water notices remain in effect across Harvey’s affected areas, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reported Friday.

Seven counties, including Orange, Newton, Matagorda, Liberty, Jim Wells, Harris and Angelina, are struggling to bounce back after Harvey’s 50-plus inches swamped water systems, subdivisions and mobile home parks across Southeast Texas.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 4, 2017

Tribal request for Dakota Access spill response plan granted

The Army Corps of Engineers and the developer of the Dakota Access pipeline must complete an oil spill response plan for the stretch of pipe beneath the Missouri River in North Dakota, a federal judge ruled Monday. … Completion of a response plan and additional pipeline monitoring are warranted while the Corps determines the pipeline’s impact on the tribes, the judge said in his ruling. He cited in part the spill of 210,000 gallons (800,000 liters) of oil from the Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota last month. He ordered the environmental impact study in June.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 4, 2017

Perry signs carbon capture agreement with Saudi Arabia

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has signed a deal with the Saudi Arabian government to allow its ministry of energy to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Energy on technologies designed to reduce the carbon dioxide output of fossil fuels.

The Department of Energy said Monday the memorandum of understanding between the two countries would extend to carbon capture, chemical looping and oxy-combustion, as well as, “the energy-water nexus.”

click on headline to read more

___________

 

The Hill December 4, 2017

Major conservation group blasts GOP tax bill for allowing Arctic drilling: ‘Simply shameful’

A major conservation group is blasting the newly passed Senate GOP tax bill for allowing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), calling the bill “simply shameful.”

“Opening the Arctic to drilling as part of this tax plan is simply shameful. The Arctic Refuge isn’t a bank—drilling there won’t pay for the tax cuts the Senate just passed,” National Audubon Society President and CEO David Yarnold said in a statement Saturday.

“The American people don’t support drilling in the Arctic and it’s up to the House to reject this flawed bill.”

click on headline to read more

______________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips December 4, 2017

Lead Stories

 

Bloomberg December 3, 2017

What We Know About Corporate Winners and Losers in U.S. Tax Bill

Fossil Fuels: Lowering the corporate tax rate and changes to cost-recovery provisions will help spur investment and create jobs, according to the American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s main lobbying group.

The Senate plan would also open a portion of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and natural gas drilling — a move that lawmakers estimate could yield $1 billion in revenue over the next decade. A final tax plan may also increase sales from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help boost short-term revenues.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

The Hill December 1, 2017

Graham: US oil and gas boom will actually help spur energy revolution

The surge in and abundance of American oil and gas may seem to be a step backward in the face of calls for radical global cleansing. After all, natural gas is still a hydrocarbon, but keep in mind that most of our gas will be exported to China, India and Southwest Asia to help them drop dependency on far dirtier coal. That transition will reduce carbon emissions abroad, and the economic boost at home will drive technological advances not just in energy, but in sciences and infrastructure.

The overall increases in national fuel stocks is a singular gift of entrepreneurial energy, break-through technology and a resulting fracking revolution that all had its birth here in Texas — beginning in the Permian Basin decades ago with some of the original engineering research supported by the brightest minds of Texas A&M in College Station.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle November 29, 2017

U.S. oil production surged in September as Texas rebounded from Harvey

The nation’s oil production climbed nearly 300,000 barrels a day in September, reaching the highest level since its most recent peak in April 2015, the Energy Department said Thursday.

Energy companies pumped 9.48 million barrels of oil a day in September, up 3.2 percent compared to the 9.19 million barrels a day produced in August.

Drillers in Texas, rebounding from the crippling effects of Hurricane Harvey, boosted output in September to 3.57 million barrels a day, up 5.7 percent from 3.38 million barrels a day the month before.

click on headline to read more

__________

 

Grist December 1, 2017

Convicted coal baron Don Blankenship is running for U.S. Senate.

He was released from federal prison in May.

Blankenship filed Tuesday to run in West Virginia’s Republican primary. If he beats the competition, he could face Democratic Senator Joe Manchin in the general election.

Formerly the CEO of Massey Energy, Blankenship spent years advocating for the coal industry. A 2016 poll found he was the “most hated figure” in West Virginia. There’s good reason for that.

click on headline to read more

Oil and Gas Stories

 

CNBC December 4, 2017

Oil prices fall after US drillers add rigs

Oil fell on Monday after U.S. shale drillers added more rigs last week, but prices held not far off their highest since mid-2015, supported by an extension of output cuts agreed last week by OPEC and other producers.

Drillers in the United States added two oil rigs in the week to Dec. 1, bringing the total count up to 749, the highest since September, energy services firm Baker Hughes said in its closely followed report late on Friday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate was down 21 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $58.15 a barrel at 0112 GMT. Brent futures were 22 cents, or 0.4 percent, lower at $63.51 a barrel.

click on headline to read more

__________

 

US News December 1, 2017

US Rig Count Rises by 6 This Week to 929, Texas up 4

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. went up by six this week to 929.

That’s a significant rise from 597 rigs that were active this time a year ago.

According to Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes, 749 rigs were drilling for oil and 180 for natural gas this week. Baker Hughes released its tabulation Friday.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Dallas Morning News December 3, 2017

Businessman Al G. Hill Jr., eldest grandson of oilman H.L. Hunt, dies at 72

Dallas entrepreneur and philanthropist Al G. Hill Jr. died in his sleep at his Highland Park home Saturday night, family members said. He was 72.

Hill was the oldest grandson of legendary Texas oilman H.L. Hunt. The landmark Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge west of downtown is named for Hill’s mother, who died in 2007.

In 2008, the family sold her company, Hunt Petroleum, to XTO Energy for $4.2 billion. …

Hill was politically active throughout his adult life. “He backed political candidates from state reps to governors to presidents of the United States,” O’Brien said.

Former President George W. Bush made numerous visits to Hill’s home before and after his presidency.

click on headline to read more

____________

Houston Chronicle December 1, 2017

SBM Offshore to pay $238 million in criminal penalties for foreign bribes

SBM Offshore N.V. , the Netherlands-based company that makes offshore oil drilling equipment, and its wholly owned U.S. subsidiary, Houston-based SBM Offshore USA, agreed to pay $238 million in criminal penalties for the role SBM played bribing foreign officials in Brazil, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan and Iraq.

SBM USA pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a plea deal that resolves the lingering criminal charges against the energy services company. SBM had set aside $238 million to pay for what it called “improper sales practices,” according to a company press release in November, after the Justice Department reopened an earlier investigation into bribery allegations.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Bloomberg December 1, 2017

OPEC’s Easy Win Masks Tougher Oil-Market Choices Still to Come

The group of oil nations agreed to extend year-old production cuts through the end of 2018 to help boost prices, no small achievement. …

If the cuts succeed in meeting their stated goal of bringing global inventories back down to their five-year average level, how will the deal be unwound? And if they don’t, will the deal be extended in perpetuity?

Along with the growing global economy, the production cuts have helped push up oil prices. But that has left OPEC and its allies with a quandary: How to keep prices high without stimulating further growth in U.S. shale oil production.
click on headline to read more
____________

 

UPI December 1, 2017

Texas looks to port overhaul to keep pace with oil and gas exports

Texas needs capital support to expand the port infrastructure necessary to help keep up with the increase in U.S. oil and gas exports, a commissioner said.

The port at Corpus Christi is the fourth largest sea port in the country by tonnage, the largest crude oil export terminal and, by 2020, could be one of the largest points for liquefied natural gas leaving the United States.

The port authority there started working on improvements to the regional shipping channel in the 1990s. A partnership agreement was signed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in September for improvements, but the Texas Railroad Commission, the state’s energy regulator, told UPI they were still waiting for funding.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Inside Climate News December 1, 2017

Judge Questions Exxon’s Attempt to Block Climate Fraud Investigations

ExxonMobil drew tough questions and skeptical responses from a federal judge on Thursday as it urged her to shut down two state investigations into whether the oil giant misled investors and the public about climate change risks. The judge’s inquiries suggested the company had failed to build a strong enough case to halt the probes.

U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni pressed Exxon’s lawyers to demonstrate how the investigations by the attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York are politically motivated efforts to suppress its free speech, as the company claims.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Associated Press December 2, 2017

Hole in pipeline leaks oil into Louisiana marsh

he U.S. Coast Guard says a hole in a pipeline has leaked oil into a marsh about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of New Orleans.

XTO Energy spokesman Jeremy Eikenberry said Friday that the leak occurred Nov. 22 on a flow line, which transports product from wells to a nearby storage facility. The Fort Worth, Texas-based XTO owns the pipeline.

The Coast Guard reports that about 1,260 gallons (4,679 liters) of oil have been recovered from the marsh near Pointe a la Hache and the leak has been secured.

This article appeared in the Los Angeles Times

click on headline to read more

___________

 

New York Times November 30, 2017

Score One for Corn: In Battle Over Biofuel, a Rare Setback for Big Oil

America’s cars run partly on fuels derived from corn and soy. That’s because of a decade-old federal mandate beloved by Midwestern farmers but opposed by an unusual coalition of oil refiners and environmentalists.

On Thursday, the Trump administration sided with the farmers and announced that it would stick closely to the current rules and quotas for fuel: Refineries must blend about 20 billion gallons of biofuel — much of it ethanol made from corn — into the nation’s gasoline supply, a level largely unchanged from last year.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Argus November 30, 2017

BridgeTex wins $299mn take-or-pay default case

A former shipper on the 400,000 b/d BridgeTex crude pipeline from west Texas to Houston must pay $299mn in damages for defaulting on a 30,000 b/d take-or-pay commitment, a Texas district judge has ruled.

Stampede Energy breached its contract to ship crude on the line, judge Randy Wilson ruled at the end of a bench trial on 14 November.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Seeking Alpha November 30, 2017

Turcan: Energy Transfer’s Growing NGLs Hub Is Worth Checking Out

Largely due to the fracking boom, domestic natural gas liquids (abbreviated NGLs) production has skyrocketed over the past decade. Natural gas liquids include hydrocarbons like ethane, butane, propane, and natural gasoline. Energy Transfer Partners LP (NYSE:ETP) and its general partner Energy Transfer Equity LP (NYSE:ETE) are investing heavily in expanding the midstream family’s presence at the massive Mont Belvieu NGLs hub down in Texas. ..

Energy Transfer Partners LP, and through its material economic stake in ETP, Energy Transfer Equity LP, own four fractionators at Mont Belvieu through the Lone Star venture. For reference, Energy Transfer Partners owns all of Lone Star NGL LLC (I’ll get into the growth side of things later on).

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Daily Texan December 1, 2017

Environment leaders talk about future of Texas resources

The population in Texas is expected to nearly double by 2070, according to Texas’ 2017 State Water Plan, and that means a not so excellent future for a state with already strained resources and vulnerability to natural disasters.

On Wednesday night, urban planning and environment experts discussed the future of Texas through the research initiative Planet Texas 2050 at the Paramount Theatre as part of the Environmental Science Institute’s 110th Hot Science Cool Talks. Panelists included UT mechanical engineering professor Michael Webber, urban revitalization strategist Majora Carter and leading climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe.

click on headline to read more

 

Utilities Stories

Houston Chronicle December 1, 2017

Competition can be a good thing – until you get it

Nuclear and coal-fired power plants are fighting to stay in business across the country as they compete with rock-bottom natural gas prices and surging renewable energy. In Texas, some of the nation’s largest merchant power companies, struggling with the same economics, are pushing for changes to the state’s wholesale power market to boost their earnings. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is championing the cause of coal and nuclear plants nationally. He has argued that keeping them in operation is critical to protecting the integrity of the power grid and called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to boost wholesale prices paid to coal and nuclear plants to keep them from shutting down.

click on headline to read more

____________

Houston Chronicle November 28, 2017

Falcon Steel America to open large factory in Conroe

Falcon Steel America plans to reopen a Conroe factory that shut down abruptly last year amid financial woes and was later used as a distribution center for emergency supplies after Hurricane Harvey. …

The 54-year-old company manufactures transmission towers, electric poles and electric substations, as well as stairs and handrails for major commercial projects like Dallas Cowboy’s AT&T Stadium.

The new Conroe facility will increase Falcon Steel’s production capacity by 60 percent to 65,000 tons of steel products annually. Although recent hurricanes damaged few transmission lines nationally, there is growing demand for new transmission lines with the rise of renewable energy.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

KXXV Waco November 30, 2017

Central Texas men help bring electricity to Bolivian villages

Two Bartlett Electric Cooperative employees spent two weeks this month helping bring electricity to three villages in Bolivia.

Chris Allen and Kirby Dawson are linemen for Bartlett Electric Cooperative who volunteered in Bolivia earlier this month.

“We’re all called to serve at some level. We’re all given talents to do something, and we’re all given opportunities every day whether that be in Bolivia or Bartlett,” Chris Allen said.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Haaretz (Israel) December 3, 2017

U.S. Firms Courting Saudi Arabia to Build Nuclear Reactors; Rick Perry to Visit Riyadh

U.S. firms attracted by Saudi Arabia’s plans to build nuclear reactors are pushing Washington to restart talks with Riyadh on an agreement to help the kingdom develop atomic energy, three industry sources said.
Saudi Arabia has welcomed the lobbying, they said, though it is likely to worry regional rival Iran at a time when tensions are already high in the Middle East.
One of the sources also said Riyadh had told Washington it does not want to forfeit the possibility of one day enriching uranium – a process that can have military uses – though this is a standard condition of U.S. civil nuclear cooperation pacts.

click on headline to read more

Alternatives and Renewables Stories

Automotive News December 1, 2017

Tesla removed from German subsidies program

A German government agency has removed Tesla from the list of electric cars eligible for subsidies, sparking a row with the U.S. automaker over whether its Model S sedan is too expensive to qualify for the program.

Tesla customers cannot order the Model S base version without extra features that push the car above the 60,000-euro ($71,500) price limit, a spokesman for the German Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Controls (BAFA) said on Friday.

Germany last year launched the incentive program worth about 1 billion euros, partly financed by the German auto industry, to boost electric-car sales. A price cap was included to exempt premium models.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Austin American Statesman November 29, 2017

Liebowicz: Shared autonomous vehicles could do more harm than good

The next revolution in transportation is expected to be shared autonomous vehicles, with personal cars yielding to driverless cars summoned on demand. Uber passengers in San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Phoenix can already hail driverless cars, and Bay Area Lyft riders will soon have the same opportunity. …

It’s true that shared autonomous vehicles have the potential to make road travel faster, easier and cleaner. Yet, there are reasons to suspect they could actually lead to heavier traffic, dirtier air and more greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation accounts for 27 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, so the environmental stakes are high. Now is the time to ensure that these shared autonomous vehicles contribute to a sustainable transportation future.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

CitiLab November 29, 2017

Where It Pays to Drive Electric

A new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that EV drivers save almost $800 a year, depending on where, when, and how they charge. … The savings aren’t evenly dispersed throughout the United States. In Houston, Texas, annual savings using the standard electric rate is $443; in Denver, $772; and in New York, $1,061. This is due to geographical variations in fuel prices (gas is much cheaper in Houston than in New York, thanks to Texas’ low gas taxes and close proximity to oil infrastructure) and electricity costs. Nationwide, however, electricity costs are much less volatile than gas prices: In 15 years, electricity has been priced between the equivalent of $.88 to $1.17 per gallon over 15 years, while gasoline has varied from $2.00 to $4.50 per gallon in the same time period.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

UPI November 30, 2017

U.S. wind turbines getting taller and more efficient

U.S. federal data show installed wind turbines are taller and more efficient than in the past, though hydroelectric power still holds a slight edge.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that the average height and power generating capacity for wind turbines installed in the country are taller and more efficient that in years past.

“Since 2012, the average height of wind turbines installed in the United States has been about 280 feet, or 80 meters. Before 2006, few wind turbines were as tall as 280 feet,” the federal brief found. “Wind speed typically increases with altitude and increases over open areas without windbreaks such as trees or buildings.”

click on headline to read more

Regulatory Stories

 

Forbes November 30, 2017

Get Paid Watching The Grass Grow: Carbon Sequestration, Texas-Style

A planner working on flood control in Houston believes he has come upon a way—that conservatives will love—to remove a billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Jim Blackburn sees carbon in the soil as a private-property right that landowners should be compensated for, considering the service they are providing to the ecosystem by storing it there.

“We think we can set up a system that every red state in the nation would accept in a heartbeat,” said Blackburn, an environmental lawyer and planner widely quoted for his work on Houston’s flooding. “Whether we can get it accepted in California, well, that’s a different question.”

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Houston Chronicle December 1, 2017

Another candidate joins race to replace Gene Green in Congress

A health care company CEO is the latest candidate to announce he is running to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston.

Tahir Javed, CEO of Riceland Health Care in Winnie, late Friday released a statement saying he had officially filed papers with the Harris County Democratic Party to get into the growing Democratic primary.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Victoria Advocate November 30, 2017

Environmental group: Crossroads legislators need to improve

An environmental advocacy group is recognizing Crossroads legislators for protecting the air but not for reforming how the oil and gas industry is regulated.

The Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter recently graded legislators.

If they didn’t vote the way the group wanted them to, the legislators’ grades slipped.

Specifically, state Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, and state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, earned points for supporting the Low-Income Vehicle Repair and Replacement Program and for extending the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan beyond its original end date in 2019, respectively.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Houston Chronicle December 2, 2017

Tillerson’s transition into politics breaks down

After a career spent through the ranks of the Texas oil industry to arrive at the CEO’s suite at one of the world’s largest oil companies, Tillerson’s grand attempt to transition into political life has run repeatedly into turbulence, most recently shaken by a White House leak that chief of staff John Kelly has drawn up a plan to replace Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, a former congressman who has developed a close relationship with the president. Both Tillerson and Trump – Tillerson in a brief comment to reporters, Trump in a tweet – have denied efforts are afoot to push the secretary of state out of office, but many in Washington believe its only a matter of time, perhaps weeks, before Tillerson makes his exit.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Texas Public Radio December 1, 2017

Deteriorating Air Quality In San Antonio Could Mean More Respiratory Deaths

If San Antonio’s air quality continues to decline, it could lead to more annual deaths due to respiratory illnesses, according to a study commissioned by San Antonio, which looks at what impact both lower and higher ozone levels have on the health of residents in Bexar County.

The study is simply named “How Ozone Pollution Affects Public Health in San Antonio” was commissioned by the City Council in response to the Alamo Area Council of Government’s study called the Cost of Non-Attainment – Non-attainment refers to falling out of favorable ozone standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Reuters December 1, 2017

Trump plans to meet oil industry reps on U.S. biofuel policy: sources

U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to meet with representatives of the oil refining industry and their legislative backers to discuss the nation’s biofuels program, according to two sources briefed on the matter.

The White House meeting could set the stage for negotiations over possible legislation to overhaul the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard – a 2005 law that requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of biofuels like ethanol into the nation’s gasoline each year, the sources said, asking not to be named.

click on headline to read more

 

____________

 

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips December 1, 2017

 

LEAD STORIES

 

Bloomberg November 30, 2017

Million-Barrel Oil Hedging Surge Signals Shale Boom Here to Stay

Oil explorers took advantage of a market rally to lock in prices for almost 1 million barrels a day’s worth of future output, signaling the shale boom’s staying power as OPEC ponders the extension of its supply curbs.

New hedging contracts in the third quarter covered 897,000 barrels a day of annualized production, a 147 percent increase over the second quarter, according to an analysis of 33 companies released Tuesday by industry researcher Wood MacKenzie Ltd. It was the biggest jump in crude hedging volumes since Wood Mackenzie began tracking such activity two years ago.

Click on headline to read more

__________

 

Associated Press November 30, 2017

US exporting dirty fuel to already pollution-choked India

U.S. oil refineries that are unable to sell a dirty fuel waste product at home are exporting vast quantities of it to India instead.

Petroleum coke, the bottom-of-the-barrel leftover from refining Canadian tar sands crude and other heavy oils, is cheaper and burns hotter than coal. But it also contains more planet-warming carbon and far more heart- and lung-damaging sulfur — a key reason few American companies use it.

Refineries instead are sending it around the world, especially to energy-hungry India, which last year got almost a fourth of all the fuel-grade “petcoke” the U.S. shipped out, an Associated Press investigation found. In 2016, the U.S. sent more than 8 million metric tons of petcoke to India. That’s about 20 times more than in 2010, and enough to fill the Empire State Building eight times.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

Click on headline to read more

__________

 

Bloomberg December 1, 2017

Goldman Says Oil Market’s Too Jittery When There’s No Need to Be

While OPEC and its allies including Russia didn’t finalize details on how they would wind down output curbs that’ll continue until the end of 2018, they pledged to be “agile and responsive” and review their progress on shrinking inventories at a meeting in June, the bank said in a report. That indicates a reduced risk of both unexpected increases in supply as well as excess draws in stockpiles, according to Goldman.

“This leads us to reiterate our view that long-dated implied volatility remains too rich,” analysts including Damien Courvalin and Jeffrey Currie wrote in the Nov. 30 report, referring to a measure of investor anxiety.
Click on headline to read more
___________

 

E&E News November 30, 2017

In Texas, specter of FERC jurisdiction stirs concern

Invoking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Texas is a good way to prompt a reaction, especially when discussing the state’s main power grid.

“You just need to be aware that FERC is a four-letter dirty word around here,” Craven Crowell, chairman of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, quipped at ERCOT’s last board meeting.

Crowell’s remarks to a visiting presenter were in jest, but the sentiment is both real and relevant. State regulators, not FERC, carry the primary responsibility for overseeing the ERCOT region. That setup gives Texas a measure of control it cherishes — and worries it could lose.

Click on headline to read more

 

OIL AND GAS STORIES

 

CNBC December 1, 2017

Oil prices gain after OPEC extension of output cut

Oil futures rose on Friday after OPEC and other major producers agreed to extend their production curbs in a widely expected move aimed at ending a persistent glut in global supplies.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporters (OPEC) and non-OPEC producers led by Russia on Thursday agreed to maintain the output cuts until the end of 2018, while also signalling a possible early exit from the deal if the market overheats.

U.S. crude futures were up 18 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $57.58, as of 0514 GMT. Brent February crude futures rose 24 cents to $62.87.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle November 30, 2017

OPEC agrees to continue oil production cuts through 2018

Oil producing countries have agreed to extend through 2018 production cuts that were set to expire in March — a move designed to prop up global crude prices.

At a Thursday meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna, Austria, OPEC producers and other nations agreed to continue cutting 1.8 million barrels of daily oil production in an effort to keep prices stable amid a glut of fresh U.S. shale.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

Wall St. Journal November 30, 2017

Why the Oil Recovery Is About More Than OPEC Cuts

Nearly a year into an OPEC-led agreement to curb global oil production, crude prices have risen to their highest levels since 2015. The price of Brent crude—the global benchmark—has climbed roughly 34% since year-to-date lows in June, to settle around $62 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. standard, has jumped nearly 30% in that period, sustaining levels over $55 a barrel.

But prices have also been lifted by rising global demand and geopolitical risks that have threatened supply disruptions. Those factors could keep oil prices rising no matter what OPEC does at its meeting on Thursday.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

Bloomberg November 28, 2017

Oil Drilling in Alaska Refuge Hits Snag Over Budget Protocol

A bid to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling faces a hold up over an arcane budget rule, a development that may mean it can’t be included in the tax overhaul legislation.

Senate Democrats objected to the provision opening the Alaska’s pristine coastal plain to oil drilling, saying measures to fast-track environmental approvals violate the so-called Byrd rule, according to congressional aides. That rule, named after former West Virginia Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, is designed to limit budget procedures to provisions that are mainly fiscal in nature.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

KBMT Beaumont November 30, 2017

ExxonMobil refinery fire caused by leak in crude unit

A fire at the ExxonMobil refinery was caused by a leak at process equipment in the crude unit according to an initial TCEQ report.

According to the Southeast Texas Alerting System, the fire broke out around 6:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.

A neighbor who lives across the street complains he was never notified.

“What if the plant was to blow up, they talking about staying inside and we don’t know nothing about what’s going on everybody be injured or somebody be dead,” said resident George Lincoln.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Bloomberg November 29, 2017

U.S. Oil Owes Mexico for Success as Crudes Ride Together to Asia

U.S. crude may owe supply from Mexico for helping it capture a share of the world’s biggest oil market this year.

The total volume of U.S. and Mexican crude that were loaded into a single ship for export has surged more than fivefold to 11.8 million barrels so far this year, from 2.1 million barrels in 2016, data from vessel-tracking and intelligence company Kpler show. All the cargoes sailed to Asia, according to shipping information on Bloomberg.

Clilck on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle November 28, 2017

Shell Midstream buying pipelines, terminals for $825M

Houston’s Shell Midstream Partners is going on a buying spree, acquiring $825 million worth of pipelines and terminals from its Royal Dutch Shell parent.

The deals designed to beef up the three-year-old Shell Midstream business give the Houston pipelines firm more ownership in Gulf Coast and Gulf of Mexico pipelines, as well as a slew of terminals from the Houston area to Washington state.

The drop-down acquisitions from the parent Shell and other Shell subsidiaries give Shell Midstream majority ownership of the Mars and Odyssey oil pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico.
Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Natural Gas Intelligence November 29, 2017

NextDecade Might Start Rio Grande LNG Project With Two Trains

NextDecade Corp. said it is considering a plan to use two production trains for its proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in South Texas, but it still plans to eventually have six trains running at the facility near the Mexican border.

The Woodlands, TX-based company said it could make a final investment decision on its Rio Grande LNG projectwith as few as two trains, which would have the capacity to export up to 9 million metric tons/year (mmty) of LNG.

NextDecade said the project, to be built on a 1,000-acre site in the Port of Brownsville, was scalable, and that a full complement of six trains would be capable of exporting 27 mmty — roughly the equivalent of 3.6 Bcf/d — over a 30-year period.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Reuters November 27, 2017

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Oil and Gas Investor November 15, 2017

Oilfield Talk Of ‘Big Data’ Needs More Than Just ‘Talk’

U.S. independents are talking more and more about deploying big data, data analytics and the internet of things, particularly in their Lower 48 resource plays. “And, frankly, a lot of this talk is just that: It’s talk,” said Lee Tillman, Marathon Oil Corp. president and CEO.

If industry is “going to innovate like a tech company, it’s going to take more,” he told attendees at Hart Energy’s annual Executive Oil Conference.

Oil and gas development has evolved in its more than 150 years, but “we’re at a bit of a crossroads right now where the traditional incremental approach to innovation we’ve been using is simply not enough.”

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

 

The Hill November 29, 2017

Arnold: $60 oil means supply and demand are finding balance

News this week of oil prices hovering near $60 a barrel simply reflects the intersection of supply and demand. Demand is gaining strength as the global economy strengthens — supported by oil prices that are about half of their 2014 peak.

OPEC countries, led by Saudi Arabia and other large producers like Russia, have been more decisive and effective in controlling production. This is not to say that every large producer has cut back; however, the net effect has strengthened prices — but not to the point of killing off rising demand.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle November 29, 2017

Environment groups want pipeline company’s lawsuit dismissed

Environmental groups being sued by the developer of the Dakota Access pipeline have asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

Netherlands and U.S.-based Greenpeace and Netherlands-based BankTrack argue in court documents that their opposition to the $3.8 billion project to move North Dakota oil to Illinois is protected free speech, not an illegal effort to undermine the developer. Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners in August filed a lawsuit against Greenpeace, BankTrack and Earth First, alleging they disseminated false and misleading information about the Dakota Access project, interfered with its construction and damaged the company’s reputation and finances through illegal acts.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Dallas Morning News November 29, 2017

On his road to billions, T. Boone Pickens was a creative paper boy making 26 cents a day

T. Boone Pickens got a penny a paper a day for throwing the Holdenville Daily News.“My first route was 28 papers, so I made 28 cents a day, six days a week, with no expenses,” says the chairman of BP Capital. “Let me tell you, 28 cents a day when I was 12 years old meant real money in my pocket. This was during the Depression.”Like H. Ross Perot, his finesse at collecting impressed the publisher, who allowed Pickens to add routes as they opened.Click on headline to read more

___________

 

The Hill November 22, 2017

Driessen: Keystone XL is not perfect, but it’s our best energy option

Earlier this week, the Nebraska Public Service Commission voted 3-2 to approve Nebraska’s share of the $8 billion, 1,200-mile Keystone XL Pipeline route, seemingly clearing its final regulatory hurdle and allowing construction to move forward. However, more obstacles loom before it can bring North Dakota and Canadian crude oil to Texas refineries.

Commissioners who voted against approval have concerns and objections, some landowners still object to the pipeline crossing their lands, other landowners may not even be aware that the new route will cross their properties, and environmentalists threaten more lawsuits.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

Houston Chronicle November 30, 2017

Citgo names new CEO as arrests in Venezuela continue

Houston-based Citgo Petroleum officially named a cousin of the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez as its new chief executive Thursday as a purge of Venezuela’s energy establishment reached the top tiers of government.

Asdrubal Chavez, a former oil minister, was installed as the Citgo CEO following the arrests last week of Citgo’s previous CEO and five other executives on corruption charges. On Thursday, officials of the government of President Nicolas Maduro said they’ve made more arrests, imprisoning the former heads of the Venezuelan oil ministry and the state-owned oil company, PDVSA.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Reuters November 29, 2017

Exxon nears deal to explore for oil and gas offshore Mauritania

Exxon Mobil is close to signing a deal to explore for oil and gas offshore Mauritania, its first foray into the West African country, Mauritania’s oil, energy and mines director said on Wednesday.

… Interest has surged in oil and gas fields offshore of Mauritania and neighbour Senegal since big discoveries by Cairn Energy and Kosmos Energy, the latter now partnered with BP, in separate projects over the last three years. Both are expected to start production early next decade.

London-based BP is already developing a major gas project and France’s Total has bought into several exploration licences in both countries.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

New York Times November 30, 2017

Erdogan Helped Turks Evade Iran Sanctions, Reza Zarrab Says

Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey personally ordered that two Turkish banks be allowed to participate in an oil-for-gold scheme that violated United States sanctions on Iran, according to testimony on Thursday by a Turkish-Iranian gold trader in a federal trial in Manhattan.

The gold trader, Reza Zarrab, who helped orchestrate the billion-dollar scheme, recently pleaded guilty to conspiring to evade the sanctions and has become a witness for American prosecutors.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

Oil Price November 27, 2017

Parnell: 54 Things You Didn’t Know About Natural Gas

Every once in a while, I will realize that I have spent way too much time talking about oil, complaining about pipelines, Permania, free money and the impending “End of Big Oil because of Electric Vehicles”. And it’s on those days that my attention turns to oil and coal’s neglected stepsister who we know as natural gas. And in the spirit of American Thanksgiving, I would like to say that I, for one, am thankful for natural gas, the current turkey of the energy sector.

Like oil, natural gas is a prolific fossil fuel with many uses, however I feel that it floats unnoticed under the radar, particularly because it is so much easier to carpet bomb oil and coal into submission (as opposed to cute and cuddly natural gas) in the great anti-fossil fuel war of attrition.

Click on headline to read more

 

UTILITIES STORIES

 

Ft. Worth Star Telegram November 29, 2017

Lippencott: Coal subsidies derail the Texas clean energy market

Trump Digs Coal” became one of the most recognizable slogans of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, and candidate Donald Trump’s promises to scrap the controversial Clean Power Plan (CPP) and bring back coal jobs struck a chord in Midwestern mining states.

The vision of an unfettered, resurgent U.S. coal industry resonated with working class voters, helping to tilt the electoral map Trump’s way.

The Trump Administration is following through on its promises to scuttle the CPP, withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, and abolish other environmental regulations that are odious to the coal industry. However, the coal industry has continued to struggle against strong economic headwinds, primarily market competition from sustained low (sub-$4/mmBtu) natural gas prices.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

KUT Austin November 30, 2017

Coal Plant Closures Could Raise Electricity Rates In Austin. Or Maybe Not.

The announcement that three coal power plants in Texas plan to close next year is likely good news for the environment, but bad news for the people who worked at the plants. As for what it means for your electric bill if you live in Austin, that’s complicated.

That was basically the message Austin Energy, the city’s publicly owned electric utility, delivered this month to a city oversight committee.

Click on headline to read more

_____________

 

Wall St Journal November 30, 2017

Electricity Prices Plummet as Gas, Wind Gain Traction and Demand Stalls

The rapid rise of wind and natural gas as sources of electricity is roiling U.S. power markets, forcing more companies to close older generating plants.

Wholesale electricity prices are falling near historic lows in parts of the country with competitive power markets, as demand for electricity remains stagnant while newer, less-expensive generating facilities continue to come online.

The changing American electricity landscape is pressuring power companies to shed unprofitable plants and reshape their portfolios to favor the new winners. Texas provides a clear example.

Click on headline to read more

_____________

 

Texas Monthly November 28, 2017

Holleman: Coal Belt to Sun Belt?

The state’s biggest electricity generator, Luminant, recently announced the closing of three coal-fired power plants in Texas, but out of the coal ashes could rise a phoenix.

The blighted land around these power plants presents a unique opportunity for clean energy investment, specifically utility-scale solar.

For forty years, these “mine mouth” power plants, those that generate power from coal mined on site, have used the vast and shallow belts of lignite coal that underlay sections of eastern Texas to provide reliable and cheap, but dirty, electricity. In their wake, they leave behind thousands of acres of contaminated land surrounding the plants, some of which has already been reclaimed.

And this land is particularly well suited for large solar farms.

Click on headline to read more

 

ALTERNATIVES AND RENEWABLES STORIES

 

Daily Texan November 29, 2017

UT joins forces with Mexico in search for clean energy

A gray blanket settles over a rapidly expanding Mexico City as factories and automobiles continue to pump noxious levels of carbon dioxide emissions into the air. A few months ago, the city’s government surpassed the recommended ozone limits set by the World Health Organization — the first time in a decade.

Reinforcing a 50-year relationship, UT signed an agreement with Nuevo Leon university Monterrey Tech earlier this month. The partnership aims to help Mexico in its goals to develop a clean and sustainable model of renewable energy and electric power.

Jorge Pinon, director of the UT Latin American and Caribbean Energy program, said a reason for Mexico’s high pollution levels lies in the country’s shortage of clean and renewable energy sources.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

Associated Press November 30, 2017

GM to launch self-driving vehicles in big U.S. cities in 2019

General Motors Co. expects to carry passengers and deliver goods with self-driving vehicles in big cities sometime in 2019, telling investors it’s moving quickly and plans to be ahead of other automakers and tech companies.

The Detroit automaker made the announcement at an investor presentation Thursday in San Francisco, saying that based on its current rate of change, it expects “commercial launch at scale” of the autonomous vehicles within the next year or so. The vehicles would not have human backup drivers, the company said.

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

Straits Times November 25, 2017

Hydrogen as global energy by 2050?

The most abundant element may supply almost a fifth of global energy by 2050 and eliminate enough emissions to cancel out all the pollution in the United States, according to a group of industrial companies from Royal Dutch Shell to Toyota Motor.

Fuel-cell vehicles running on hydrogen, extracted from water using wind and solar power, may be used to power everything from cars to factories, according to the Hydrogen Council, a group that also includes German carmaker BMW, mining giant Anglo American and French energy company Engie.

The group estimated that hydrogen has the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 6 gigatons a year, more than the 5.5 gigatons the US released last year.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

Automotive News November 29, 2017

Why is Tesla struggling with the Model 3? Welding woes may be the bottleneck

What’s behind Tesla’s manufacturing woes? It could be something as simple as steel.

Based on details in a Wall Street Journal report and in a video of the production line posted on Twitter by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, experts say the electric vehicle maker appears to be struggling with welding together a mostly steel vehicle, as opposed to the primarily aluminum bodies of the Model S and Model X.

The company fell short of its third-quarter production target for the Model 3 — the lower-cost vehicle intended to mark Tesla’s entry into the mass market.

Click on headline to read more

 

___________

 

Green Tech Media November 28, 2017

Is 3-D Printing the Solution for Ultra-Tall Wind Turbine Towers?

If you’ve ever driven alongside a truck hauling wind turbine components, the limitations are immediately obvious. The enormity of the blades and tower segments make it difficult to transport the materials on highways to the project site.

A California startup thinks it’s found a workaround. RCAM Technologies was recently awarded a $1.25 million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to develop and test 3-D printing technology enabling the construction of concrete turbine towers in place at the project site.

The average tower height for turbines installed in the United States is just over 80 meters. RCAM Technologies, founded by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) alumnus Jason Cotrell, wants to use reinforced concrete additive manufacturing technology — a form of 3-D printing — to erect towers 140 meters or higher.

Click on headline to read more

 

REGULATORY STORIES

 

Fox News November 29, 2017

Paul: Why Trump must tackle the renewable fuel standard

President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will have an opportunity in coming weeks to increase manufacturing jobs and bolster U.S. exports by simply cutting back on the red tape of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Although every source of energy – wind, solar, renewable, carbon-based and the rest – has a place on the market, the RFS includes a government-imposed requirement mandating that a specified amount of renewable fuels are mixed into at least 15 billion gallons of America’s diesel fuel and gasoline annually.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Governing November 30, 2017

The Only Oil-and-Gas State Not Taxing Drilling

If your state is the only oil and gas producer in the nation that doesn’t have a severance tax, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on you to enact one. But given the amount of money involved, it’s easier to talk about creating such a tax than actually imposing it. In Pennsylvania, that talk has blossomed into a fight over more than just money; it now involves lobbying, environmental protection and the next campaign for governor.

Pennsylvania became the first place in the world to successfully drill for oil back in the 1850s. Over the past decade, however, natural gas has overtaken oil as the big game in the state.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

The Hill November 28, 2017

Ruth: White House environmental council nominee doesn’t back American farmers

The experience that I have gleaned from a lifetime in agriculture has taught me that even the most successful farming operations face adversities. The vagaries of weather, volatile commodity markets, mechanical woes and, occasionally, just bad luck, come with the job. These setbacks underscore the role of government policies that can promote financial stability, improved production, stronger ecosystem services and wider margins.

Over the past decade, government policies like the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, which sets biofuel blending targets for our nation’s transportation fuel supply, have helped farmers like me and other growers here in Nebraska maintain a viable agricultural industry. They have enabled stable demand and growth that allows for more intergenerational operations like mine, all while promoting sustainability.

Click on headline to read more

 

_____________

 

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips 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.

Click on headline to read more

__________

 

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.”

Click on headline to read more

__________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

__________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

__________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.”

Click on headline to read more

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

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

 

___________

 

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.
Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

 

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.
Click on headline to read more
___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.”

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.
Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

__________

 

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.”

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.
Click on headline to read more

__________

 

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.”

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.

Click headline to read more

____________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

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.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

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.

Click on headline to read more

__________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips December 6, 2017

Lead Stories

 

Inside Climate News December 5, 2017

Instrument of Power: How Fossil Fuel Donors Shaped the Anti-Climate Agenda of a Powerful Congressional Committee

Sixteen-term Republican Lamar Smith has used his power as chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee for the past five years to do battle on behalf of the fossil fuel industry. Embracing the arguments of a small group of climate contrarians, Smith acknowledges that warming is happening but says more research is needed to determine the amount and causes, and whether it does more good than harm.

Smith’s critics say he misrepresents facts, cleverly casts doubt on legitimate studies by claiming they are based on “secret data” and uses his subpoena power to help industry battle state and federal regulators and environmental groups. The result is that a panel with vast jurisdiction over all government non-military science, research and development has become an instrument of attack on mainstream climate science.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Associated Press December 5, 2017

Trump decision on Jerusalem could have deep repercussions

U.S. officials say President Donald Trump will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Wednesday and instruct the State Department to begin the multi-year process of moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city. … Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday could have deep repercussions across the region.

Any recognition of Israel’s control over the city will be welcomed by Israel, a close American ally, and be popular with pro-Israel evangelical Christian voters who make up a key part of Trump’s base. But it could also trigger violence in the region, derail a developing U.S. Mideast peace plan before it even gets off the ground and infuriate key allies in the Arab world and in the West.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Dallas Morning News December 5, 2017

Has your water been tainted by fracking? Scientists who said it was safe now say they were censored

Six years ago, Bryan Latkanich agreed to let an energy company tap natural gas beneath his property using fracking. Soon after, the well water at his property in rural Deemston, Pa., started tasting metallic. He developed stomach problems, and his 7 year-old son one day emerged from a bath covered in bleeding sores.

Testing by state regulators and a researcher at nearby Duquesne University showed the well water had deteriorated since gas extraction started — but found no proof of the cause. The state recently began more testing.

Latkanich is a single parent, jobless and blind in his right eye from brain surgery. “I worry about my son getting sick, about my getting sick and what would happen to him if I did,” he said. “I keep asking myself, ‘How do we get out?’”

click on headline to read more

___________

 

San Antonio Express News December 5, 2017

Uresti says prosecutors withheld steamy texts that could help criminal case

Lawyers for indicted state Sen. Carlos Uresti say steamy text messages sent between one of his co-defendants and Denise Cantu of Harlingen were wrongfully withheld and cast doubt on her credibility as the government’s star witness in his upcoming criminal trial. Uresti contends that federal prosecutors failed to obey court rules by timely turning over the text messages, which he believes may help exonerate him.

Uresti’s legal team, led by Tab Turner, filed a court motion Monday to force prosecutors to disclose any other information that might help his case.

Uresti, Stan Bates and Gary Cain were indicted in May on 22 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud and other crimes for their roles in a now-defunct oil field services company called FourWinds Logistics.

click on headline to read more

 

Oil and Gas Stories

 

CNBC December 6, 2017

Oil dips on rising US fuel stocks, but OPEC’s supply cuts offer support

Oil prices dipped on Wednesday, as refined product inventories in the United States rose in what the market interpreted as a sign of lacklustre demand.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were down 24 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $62.62 a barrel as of 0456 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $57.38 a barrel, down 24 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last settlement.

Traders said prices fell after an American Petroleum Institute (API) report late on Tuesday that showed a 9.2 million barrel rise in gasoline stocks in the week ended Dec. 1, and an increase of 4.3 million barrels in distillate inventories, which include motor diesel and heating oil.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Houston Chronicle December 5, 2017

Oil companies clamp down on methane leaks

Many of the country’s largest oil and gas drillers said Tuesday they will voluntarily reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, even as the Trump administration takes steps to roll back existing environmental regulations targeting those emissions.

Under a voluntary program announced by the American Petroleum Institute, 26 companies would begin implementing new standards that include employing advanced leak detection technology and replacing older equipment prone to leaks across their U.S. operations.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Bloomberg December 5, 2017

Goldman’s an Oil Bull in 2018 With 9% Total Returns Forecast

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicts oil prices will retain their strength, at least through 2018.

The bank raised its forecast for U.S. West Texas Intermediate as well as global benchmark Brent crude, saying OPEC and its allies showed a stronger commitment than expected to extending their output curbs at the producer group’s meeting last week. It expects positive total returns of 9 percent from crude over the next 12 months, according to a Dec. 4 report.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Dallas Morning News December 5, 2017

Services announced for Dallas entrepreneur and philanthropist Al Hill Jr.

A memorial service for Dallas entrepreneur and philanthropist Al G. Hill Jr. will be held at 3 p.m. Thursday at Highland Park Presbyterian Church, 3821 University Blvd. in Dallas.

Hill, the oldest grandson of legendary Texas oilman H.L. Hunt, died in his sleep Saturday night at his Highland Park home. He was 72.

Hill was an oilman, developer, feature film producer, charter jet operator and thoroughbred racehorse owner.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Texas Tribune December 6, 2017

How repealing net neutrality could hurt small Texas businesses

When PDQ Resharpening opened in 1999, it had just one customer. In the years since, co-owner Shane Killingsworth said, the Houston-based drill-bit sharpening business has expanded tenfold. He credits that successful growth largely to one resource: fast internet access.

For Killingsworth, fast internet is critical for attracting new customers and processing company payments. Without speedy access, he said, much of the company’s business would be stalled.

Like many other small business owners across Texas, Killingsworth is worried his livelihood could be in jeopardy if the Federal Communications Commission follows through on Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to repeal net neutrality, an Obama-era policy that requires internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast to treat all traffic that flows through their networks equally, regardless of the content’s source.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Associated Press December 1, 2017

Studies Find Dangerous Bacteria Near Texas Fracking Sites

Two new studies from University of Texas at Arlington researchers show harmful bacteria levels in groundwater near hydraulically fractured gas drilling sites.

The studies published in the peer-reviewed journal Science of the Total Environment show antibiotic-resistant bacteria exist in private water wells in the Barnett Shale and Eagle Ford Shale regions of Texas.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 5, 2017

Statoil greenlights $6b Arctic project

Statoil ASA gave the final go-ahead to a flagship Arctic oil project after slashing costs by half.

While expected, the move by Norway’s biggest oil company is a boost to a region seen as key to arresting a decline in the country’s production.

In a striking illustration of how oil companies have adapted to lower prices, Statoil cut estimated investments at the Johan Castberg project to about 49 billion kroner ($6 billion) from an initial forecast of more than 100 billion kroner, it said on Tuesday, reiterating a figure given in June. The field in the Barents Sea is due to start production in 2022.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Financial Post December 1, 2017

Enbridge shares climb after company announces $2.3 billion in asset sales

Enbridge Inc shares jumped as much as 6.2 per cent on Thursday after North America’s largest energy infrastructure company announced plans to sell $3 billion (US$2.3 billion) of noncore assets to focus on its central business.

The company is also raising $1.5 billion by selling new shares to pay down debt. It has identified $22 billion worth of projects it intends to complete through 2020.

The Calgary-based company said it has identified another $7 billion in noncore assets to divest including unregulated gas gathering and processing businesses and onshore renewables in the United States and Canada.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Economics 21 December 4, 2017

Energy Production Roars While Transportation Whimpers

Weekly U.S. field production of crude oil reached 9.682 million barrels per day in the fourth week of November, and the past three weeks have seen the highest level of production in decades from regions ranging from Texas to North Dakota. These higher levels of production are welcome news, but are already straining the capacity of energy transportation infrastructure.

Transportation limits have already increased the cost of moving crude oil from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast from its typical price of $3.50 per barrel. The constraints have led to an increase in crude oil inventories in Cushing as producers struggle to find adequate transportation capacity.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Temple Daily Telegram December 4, 2017

State excess revenue drained by Harvey relief

A combination of factors has left the state without a lot of wiggle room in the budget over the next couple years, but state Rep. Hugh Shine, R-Temple, said he hopes continued growth of the Texas economy will make up the difference. … “There is some bright news. The Texas economy has seemingly leveled out and the oil industry has seemed to bottom out as well,” Shine said. “We all know that oil and gas revenue dropped precipitously going into the last session because of a dip in the fracking industry. If the oil and gas industry does pick up and stabilize a little more, that can help us close the gap to some extent on the revenue side.”

click on headline to read more

___________

 

NASDAQ December 4, 2017

Magellan to Build Pipeline with Expandable Capacity

Energy infrastructure provider Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P. MMP recently launched an open season to gauge the demand for a new pipeline it is planning to build. The pipeline will carry Permian and Eagle Ford Basin crude and condensate to various market locations in Corpus Christi and Houston, TX. The pipeline, which will also connect the partnership’s existing crude oil terminals in the Texas markets, will give potential customers an opportunity to come out with binding commitments by Feb 1, 2018.

The pipeline, with a diameter of 24-inch and around 375 miles long, will run from Crane to Three Rivers, TX. Its initial shipping capacity is expected to be around 350,000 barrels per day (bpd). Per the partnership, the capacity can be expanded up to 600,000 bpd. The new pipeline is expected to come online by 2019-end.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Oil Price December 5, 2017

The ‘Mega’ Oil Field That Will Never Boom

2017 will most likely witness a continuation in the decline of conventional oil discoveries. This year has seen no major onshore discovery, pretty much all significant finds were confined to offshore areas of the Americas, where Mexico’s continental shelf unearthed two highly promising formations, the Ixachi (1.5 BBbl) and Zama (1.4 BBbl), whilst Alaska’s Horseshoe discovery gave rise to hopes that this once-prolific region might be back in the game again. Europe’s headway has been incomparably paler – it seems that the biggest find will be Statoil’s Verbier field which is estimated to contain up to 0.13 BBbl. In stark contrast with the above, China’s CNPC announced last week that its latest discovery, the Mahu field located within the Junggar Basin of Xinjiang province, is estimated to hold between 0.52 and 1.24 billion tons of crude (4-9 BBbl), by far the largest find of recent years – provided that one is to believe that this oil is actually recoverable.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Rebusiness Online December 5, 2017

Joint Venture Developing $820M Marine Storage Facility along Houston Ship Channel

A joint venture between Valero Energy Corp. and Magellan Midstream Partners has started construction of Phase I of an $820 million marine storage facility located along the Houston Ship Channel in Pasadena.

The facility will handle petroleum products including multiple grades of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, as well as renewable fuels. Phase I of the development will include 1 million barrels of storage and a new marine dock capable of handling Panamax-sized ships or barges with up to a 40-foot draft.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 4, 2017
Tomlinson: OPEC deal maintains the status quo, fails to address key problems

Saudi Arabia convinced Russia to go along with a nine-month extension of production quotas through the end of 2018, but the pop in crude oil prices will likely be short-lived and offer little relief for nations dependent on oil income.

Nations responsible for about half of the world’s oil production agreed last year to hold 2 percent off the market until crude inventories drop to five-year averages. Those cuts have worked, but they have also raised prices, prompting more production from U.S. companies that are not part of the deal.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Oil Price December 3, 2017

The Man Behind The Oil Price Rally

Last Sunday premiered the newly formed Islamic anti-terrorism coalition, putting together leaders from Sunni Arab nations to denounce and combat fundamentalist terrorism throughout the Middle East and the world. It was another bold initiative towards the West of the young and energetic Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, coming on the heels of other bold moves that have looked to consolidate political and religious power in the Kingdom.

Together, all of these initiatives couldn’t be more transparent. They represent a movement of the most economically powerful nation in OPEC towards social, cultural and economic change, the realization of the Saudi “Vision 2030”. It is a top-down Arab Spring movement that likely has a better chance of success than the populist movements that resulted in more chaos than change in 2010.

click on headline to read more

 

 

Utilities Stories

 

Utility Dive December 5, 2017

As grid modernization accelerates, which states are in the lead, and why?

Grid modernization is not just a New York-California issue anymore. Committed and proposed expenditures are accelerating into the billions across the country, with no sign of a slowdown in sight.

The grid’s vulnerability to increasingly extreme weather and its consequences is apparent to everybody, and it must be strengthened, Centerpoint Energy CEO Scott Prochazka said. “Electricity is about 5% of GDP, but it is the first 5% because reliable energy supports every other aspect of the economy,” he noted.

In Texas’s response to recent hurricanes, “other states can see the value of having grid modernization in place before it is needed,” Prochazka said.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

PV Magazine December 5, 2017

National laboratories issue study on growing flexibility and variability of power generators

A study by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL) and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) grapples with the growth of “variable renewable energy (VRE)”, specifically, solar and wind power that impacts wholesale pricing in the various regional transmission organizations (RTO) of the United States.

The growth of solar and wind power has highlighted the issue of negative pricing on the wholesale markets, where in some instances the availability of wind or solar power depresses prices to the point where wholesalers pay their utility customers to take the electricity off their hands. This situation has led to accusations that solar and wind power are “unfairly” making market conditions difficult for fossil fuel and nuclear power plants.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

The Conversation December 4, 2017

The obscure federal agency that soon could raise your electric bill: 5 questions answered on FERC

On or before Dec. 11, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected to take action on a controversial proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry that seeks to prevent noncompetitive coal and nuclear power plants from retiring prematurely. Depending on how such a rule is structured, analyses have estimated that it could cost ratepayers in affected regions up to several billion dollars yearly. … Secretary Perry has asserted that “the resiliency of the electric grid is threatened by the premature retirements of…fuel-secure traditional baseload resources.” While exact details are not known, the rule Perry has proposed would “make whole” electric generators that can store 90 days of fuel on-site.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Utility Dive November 24, 2017

With artificial intelligence, it’s a brave new world for utilities

“There are many different technologies and use cases, and it is important to be specific about what the technology is we’re discussing,” said David Groarke, managing director at Indigo Advisory Group. “Utilities have been using AI for years, in terms of machine learning.”

Gorarke says there are several technologies that utilities now use to manage the grid that have some level of machine learning. On the utility side of the meter, self-healing grids are able to move power around damaged equipment to keep customer lights on. Behind the meter, in-home consumer devices are able to react to human preferences and energy price signals to maintain comfort and control cost. The Nest learning thermostat and a legion like it has been around for years, and some of those same ideas are now being used with water heaters, electric vehicle charging and HVAC systems.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Electrek December 5, 2017

How coal and nuclear became $70 billion welfare queens

The coal and nuclear industry are lobbying the federal government for extra payments to store fuel on site because their current cost structures cannot compete in the US power markets. The Trump administration has suggested a $70 billion tax on US electricity consumers that could bring about an additional 27,000 deaths.

Murray Energy Corporation, a coal company, CEO Bob Murray says of the tax, ‘It’s the single greatest action that has been taken in decades to support low-cost reliable electric power in the United States. It has to happen.’

click on headline to read more

 

Alternatives and Renewables Stories

 

American Journal of Transporation December 5, 2017

Fitch: Tax reform could stunt U.S. renewables growth in 2018

Uncertainties around tax reform and other policies in the Trump administration have the potential to stall momentum for U.S. renewable projects headed into next year, according to Fitch Ratings in its 2018 outlook report.

“Recently proposed revisions to the U.S. tax code would reduce the value of production tax credits and in turn diminish the value of new renewable energy projects,” said Senior Director Gregory Remec. “Separately, the Trump administration’s possible import tariff on solar photovoltaic panels is likely to stall the development of new renewable energy projects and may significantly reduce the growth rate of renewable generation capacity.”

click on headline to read more

 

Regulatory Stories

 

Houston Chronicle December 4, 2017

Environmental groups sue to force EPA to declare ozone-plagued areas

Ten environmental and public health groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday, accusing federal officials of dragging their feet on designating major metropolitan areas – including Houston – out of compliance with clean air regulations.

The lawsuit, filed after the groups threatened a legal challenge two months ago, asks the court to force the EPA to declare which areas do not comply with the regulations, specifically those regarding ozone levels. The designation starts the clock for states to come up with plans to clean up the air in those areas.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

MacLean’s December 5, 2017

Milke: A smart road map to lower carbon emissions? Look to Texas, of all places

A recent analysis from the U.S. Energy Information Administration noted that carbon emissions in 2015 fell by a record amount in the Lone Star State. Emissions were down a record 231-million metric tonnes with more than 60 per cent of the reduction occurring in just ten states, with Texas in the lead among the reducing states.

Much of the reduction is due to a drop in coal-fired electricity across America, and a spike in its replacement: natural gas-fired power. “Power plant operators reduced generation from existing coal-fired units in response to competition from lower-priced natural gas,” wrote the EIA in mid-November. In Texas, electricity fired by coal dropped by more than in other states, while its replacement rose more than any other state, year-over-year. That was accomplished without a carbon tax or regulatory-overkill and job losses.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Inside Climate News December 5, 2017

Judge Orders Dakota Access Pipeline Spill Response Plan, with Tribe’s Input

Six months after oil began flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline, a federal judge has ordered the pipeline’s owner to develop a final spill response plan for the section that crosses beneath the Missouri River half a mile upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation—and to work with the tribe to write the plan.

The judge also directed the company, Energy Transfer Partners LP, to commission an independent audit of its own prior risk analysis and to produce bi-monthly reports of any repairs or incidents occurring at Lake Oahe, the site of the contested river crossing that was the focal point of months of anti-pipeline protests that ended earlier this year.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Inside Climate News December

Gustin: Tax Bill Impact: What Happens to Renewable Energy?

The Senate bill contains a provision that has raised alarm across the clean energy industry: The Base Erosion Anti-Abuse Tax (BEAT) provision would subject tax credits given to companies with operations overseas to a new, 100 percent tax. That provision, according to a letter sent to the Senate by clean energy groups this week, would send investors fleeing and put $12 billion in clean-energy investments at risk. It says the impact would be “devastating.” …

The Senate proposal says nothing about solar credits, so it would effectively maintain the current timeline on phasing out the Investment Tax Credit for solar developers and homeowners, which remains at 30 percent through 2019, then lowers every year until 2022, when it stays at 10 percent indefinitely. Congress approved this timetable in 2015, with the industry’s support.

The House version maintains the current phase-down timetable, but at the end of 2021, the credit for homeowners drops to zero and the credit for developers drops to 10 percent. The 10 percent credit terminates altogether in 2027.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

 

Austin American Statesman December 5, 2017

Energy Secretary Rick Perry holds hawk, gets his feet in the sand during trip to Saudi Arabia

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry traveled to Saudi Arabia over the weekend and managed to sneak in a few fun photo opportunities.

Perry traveled to the country to meet with leaders to discuss collaborations between the two countries regarding fossil fuel energy.

Perry and Khalid al Falih, the Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, signed a memorandum of understanding to encourage the exchange of resources like research and technology.

click on headline to read more

_______________

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips December 5, 2017

Lead Stories
Houston Chronicle December 1, 2017
MIT study suggests U.S. vastly overstates oil output forecasts

Turns out, America’s decadelong shale boom might just end up being a little too good to be true.

There’s no denying that fracking has turned the U.S. into a force in the global oil and gas markets, which has more than a few people abuzz about the prospect of energy independence.

But now, researchers at MIT have uncovered one potentially game-changingdetail: a flaw in the Energy Department’s official forecast, which may vastly overstate oil and gas production in the years to come.

click on headline to read more

___________

Tufts University (MA) November 30, 2017

Researchers discover breakthrough process for directly converting methane to methanol

The direct oxidation of methane—found in natural gas—into methanol at low temperatures has long been a holy grail. Now, researchers at Tufts have found a breakthrough way to accomplish the feat using a heterogeneous catalyst and cheap molecular oxygen, according to a paper published today in the journal Nature by a team led by Tufts University chemical engineers.

Methanol is a key feedstock for the production of chemicals, some of which are used to make products such as plastics, plywood and paints. Methanol also can fuel vehicles or be reformed to produce high-grade hydrogen for fuel cells.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Bloomberg December 4, 2017

America Crowns a New Pollution King

For the first time in 40 years, power plants are no longer the biggest source of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. That dubious distinction now belongs to the transport sector: cars, trucks, planes, trains and boats.

The big reversal didn’t happen because transportation emissions have been increasing. In fact, since 2000 the U.S. has experienced the flattest stretch of transportation-related pollution in modern record keeping, according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The big change has come from the cleanup of America’s electric grid.

click headline to read more

___________

 

Texas Public Radio December 4, 2017

Venezuela Will Create New ‘Petro’ Cryptocurrency, President Maduro Says

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro says his country will create a cryptocurrency system called the “petro,” backed by oil reserves and other natural resources, in his latest attempt to cope with an abysmal national economy and multiple rounds of U.S. sanctions.

Unveiling the petro plan on his weekly national TV program Sundays with Maduro, the president said the cryptocurrency (in Spanish, criptomoneda) could help Venezuela evade international sanctions.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Wall St. Journal December 4, 2017

EnCap Amasses New $7 Billion Fund to Invest in the Oil Patch

EnCap Investments LP has raised $7 billion for one of the biggest energy-focused private-equity funds amassed this year.

The Houston firm wrapped up its latest fund at the end of November, just as recent gains in energy prices have been stoking new optimism for an oil industry working through a fragile recovery.

The fund, EnCap Energy Capital Fund XI LP, closed ahead of its $6.5 billion goal and follows a $6.5 billion predecessor launched in 2015, which is now fully committed to companies, executives said.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Bloomberg December 4, 2017

Big Shale Turns OPEC Ally From Foe With Focus on Oil Returns

Don’t expect Big Shale to rush and fill the hole left by OPEC in the oil market.

Executives from three of the biggest independent U.S. drillers say they won’t increase activity just because prices rise after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies agreed to extend output curbs. The emphasis, instead, will be on maintaining spending discipline and generating profits to return to investors, according to Pioneer Natural Resources Co., Parsley Energy Inc. and Newfield Exploration Co.
click on headline to read more
___________

Oil and Gas Stories

 

CNBC December 5, 2017

Oil prices climb on expected drop in US crude stocks

Oil markets nudged higher on Tuesday, buoyed by expectations of a drop in U.S. crude stockpiles and after last week’s deal between OPECand other crude producers to extend output curbs.

International benchmark Brent crude futures were trading up 6 cents, or 0.1 percent, from their last close at $62.51 per barrel by 0410 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 12 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $57.59 per barrel.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 4, 2017

Fitch warns of potential Citgo default

Fitch Ratings warned Monday that Citgo Petroleum is a default risk following the recent arrests of the Houston refining company’s top leadership in Venezuela.

The major credit ratings agency downgraded Citgo to a negative watch list with a “CCC” rating that describes Citgo as a substantial credit risk with a real possibility of defaulting. Citgo previously held a “B-” as a highly speculative risk that was still functioning OK financially.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Reuters December 4, 2017

Exxon’s Beaumont, Texas refinery crude unit may be shut until late January: sources

The small crude distillation unit (CDU), damaged in a fire last week, at ExxonMobil Corp’s 362,300 barrel-per-day (bpd) Beaumont, Texas, refinery may remain shut for repairs until late January, sources familiar with plant operations said on Monday.

Exxon spokeswoman Charlotte Huffaker said maintenance activities were continuing at the Beaumont refinery, but declined to discuss the status of individual units.

The 110,000 bpd crude distillation unit was heavily damaged due to the high heat of the fire on Tuesday morning, the sources said.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Forbes November 20, 2017

Natural Gas Shale In The Haynesville Ripe For Dealmaking

About 10 years ago, the Haynesville Shale in East Texas and northwest Louisiana was hopping with operators looking to plumb for natural gas. But when natural gas prices sank to new lows about five years ago, companies began shunning it for more promising gas prospects in the Marcellus and Utica Shales in Appalachia – and to pursue oil riches in West Texas’ and New Mexico’s Permian Basin.

Now the Haynesville is back with rig counts trebling and production hitting four-year highs, thanks to rising natural gas prices and new petrochemical, fertilizer and export facilities popping up along the Gulf Coast. And that leads some observers to think the region could be ripe for some dealmaking.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

101 Corpus Christi December 4, 2017

Construction on the EPIC NGL Pipeline project designed to link oil and gas form the Permian Basin to the Port of Corpus Christi began in late November. The scope of the 650-mile pipeline has increased since it was first announced in September.

Initially, EPIC, which stands for Eagle Ford, Permian, Ingleside and Corpus, was to move 220,000 barrels of natural gas liquids a day from the West Texas shale play. In its new iteration, the pipeline will move 375,000 barrels a day, running parallel to part of a 730-mile pipeline designed to move 440,000 barrels a day of crude oil and condensate.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

 

 

Reuters December 3, 2017

Exxon eyes Egypt’s offshore oil and gas – sources

Exxon Mobil (XOM.N) is considering a foray into Egypt offshore oil and gas, seeking to replicate rivals’ success in the country and boost its reserves, officials and industry sources said.

Officials from the world’s largest listed oil producer recently held talks with Egypt’s petroleum ministry to discuss investments in oil and gas production, known as upstream operations, Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla told Reuters.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 4, 2017

ConocoPhillips to recover $337 million in Ecuador dispute

ConocoPhillips said Monday that it has reached an agreement to recover more than $300 million from the government of Ecuador, which expropriated two of Conoco’s significant oil assets in the country.

The settlement follows a 2012 arbitration finding that Ecuador violated the U.S.-Ecuador bilateral investment treaty.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Bloomberg December 4, 2017

Noble’s Star Gasoline Trader Sinenko Said to Join Gunvor

Gunvor Group Ltd. has wooed Noble Group Ltd.’s star gasoline trader to join its expanding U.S. operations as an exodus from the struggling Asian trading house continues amid asset sales and a debt restructuring.

Dmitri Sinenko, one of Noble’s top performing oil traders, has agreed to join Gunvor’s U.S. operations, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the hiring hasn’t been announced.
Sinenko is widely seen by rivals as one of the top U.S. gasoline traders, famous for taking large positions on the Colonial Pipeline that links the refining corridor in the Gulf of Mexico to the consumer markets of the East Coast.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

 

International Business Times December 2, 2017

Seismologists Say Shifts In Gravity May Detect Earthquakes Faster Than Seismic Waves

Earthquakes are particularly troublesome among natural disasters because, unlike hurricanes and tornadoes, they cannot be reliably predicted or measured until after they have occurred. The best we can do is assess the magnitude of an earthquake as quickly as possible and allocate resources to relief efforts based on that data. Unfortunately, measuring magnitude using current methods takes long enough to muddy the process a bit.

However, according to a new Scientific American report, that could change in the near future. Seismologists hypothesize that studying minor shifts in the Earth’s gravitational field could help accurately measure devastating earthquakes faster than studying seismic waves, created by the energy of an earthquake. The difference is only a matter of minutes, but that is enough time to save lives when facing large enough earthquakes.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

CBC November 29, 2017

Alberta’s beleaguered energy sector is making a comeback

The trucks, and the traffic, have returned to Rocky Mountain House.

The Alberta town, about two hours northwest of Calgary, is booming again, more than three years after the price of oil began to slide and took the province’s energy sector along with it. … Those trucks are part of a move by major energy companies, including Chevron, Shell and Encana, to stake their place in the Duvernay, a formation that stretches across much of central Alberta and is estimated to hold more than three billion barrels of marketable crude, six billion barrels of natural gas liquids (such as propane and butane) and more than 75 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the National Energy Board.

click on headline to read more

 

Utilities Stories

 

San Antonio Express News December 4, 2017

Shutdowns of Texas coal plants may delay demise of others

The dismantling of three Texas coal plants and closure of two others will tighten the state’s power generation market and could save some from the brink of insolvency, industry analysts say.

Texas’ coal plants have been struggling to compete against cheaper power from wind and natural gas, which have brought down power prices across the state. For many industry analysts it was not a matter of if coal plants would shut down, but when.

Irving-based Luminant, a subsidiary of Vistra Energy, is shutting down three coal-fired power plants with a combined generation capacity of more than 4,100 megawatts — enough power for more than 830,000 homes in the heat of summer, the company said in October.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

SmartCities Dive December 4, 2017

Utility of the Year: Austin Energy

This year alone, Austin Energy has worked to set ambitious clean energy goals, add storage, support distributed generation and electric vehicles, and advance customer service offerings — all while restoring power in areas hit by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

“We’re comparing ourselves not necessarily to other utilities, but other service providers,” Deborah Kimberly, vice president of customer energy solutions, told Utility Dive in an interview earlier this year. And, as the eighth-largest publicly owned utility with more than 460,000 customers, that mentality is crucial.

click on headline to read more

___________

Wolf Street December 3, 2017

US Demand for Electricity Falls Further: What Does it Mean?

Layoffs at GE Power, for example.

The weekend started Friday night with layoff news from GE’s power division, in two locations.

First, there was Greenville County, South Carolina, where GE Power is one of the largest employers with 3,400 workers.

“Based on the current challenges in the power industry and a significant decline in orders, GE Power continues to transform our new, combined business to better meet the needs of our customers,” GE’s statement said in flawless corporate speak: “As we have said, we are working to reduce costs and simplify our structure to better align our product solutions, and these steps will include layoffs.”

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Platts December 4, 2017

ERCOT Stakeholders OK $246.7M in Freeport Reliability Projects

ERCOT stakeholders unanimously endorsed almost $250 million in transmission projects during last week’s Technical Advisory Committee meeting, sending the package to the Board of Directors for its Dec. 12 meeting.

The two projects will address “significant” industrial growth in the Freeport area, a seaport south of Houston on the Gulf of Mexico. Newly committed industrial loads are expected to push the area past 2.2 GW by 2022, surpassing the heavily populated Rio Grande Valley.

The market “thinks about big meaty load pockets like the [Dallas-Fort Worth] area, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, but we haven’t really thought about Freeport,” said Jeff Billo, ERCOT’s senior manager of transmission planning.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Green Tech Media November 27, 2017

A Look Inside Ideal Power’s Austin Lab

When hurricanes tore through the Caribbean earlier this fall, the team at Austin, Texas-based Ideal Power was finalizing a solar-plus-storage microgrid project in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Those hurricanes came through and stripped the PV panels right off the roof,” said Mike Barron, Ideal’s senior firmware design engineer. “It was going to be kind of a showcase for us.”

The project, which includes six of Ideal’s conversion units, now likely won’t be on-line for several weeks. In the meantime, the converters are increasing efficiency of some generators on the island by allowing them to run at full capacity and store extra power that’s not immediately used.

click on headline to read more

Alternatives and Renewables Stories

 

Forbes December 4, 2017

Helman: Why An Oil Company Plans To Build California’s Biggest Solar Energy Project

The Belridge oil field in the San Joaquin Valley of California has produced about 1.7 billion barrels of heavy crude since its discovery in 1911. Thanks to advances in solar power, its next 500 million barrels will be a little bit greener.

Here in the middle of the 22-mile long oilfield Aera Energyis set to spend an estimated $250 million to build California’s largest solar energy project. The centerpiece will be 630 acres of glass houses, like greenhouses on farms. Hung inside the glass boxes will be solar collectors — basically flimsy mirrors made from sheets of aluminum foil and suspended by wires. As the sun moves across the sky, small motors pull the wires to adjust the mirrors’ pitch. The reflected rays are concentrated on a network of pipes carrying water throughout the glass block, creating steam. The plan at Belridge is to use the sun’s power to make 12 million barrels of steam per year.

click on headline to read more

___________

Solar Industry Magazine December 1, 2017

UT Austin Helping Bring Clean Energy To Mexican Grid

The University of Texas at Austin (UT) recently signed a partnership agreement with Monterrey Tech, a university in Mexico, to develop a reliable, clean, sustainable and affordable electric power sector for Mexico, UT has announced.

The UT-Monterrey Tech partnership will make it easier to transfer and share knowledge and best practices, leveraging the strengths of both institutions to meet Mexico’s fast-growing demand for electricity, according to UT. The signing of the agreement was witnessed by Guillermo Ignacio García Alcocer, president of Mexico’s Comisión Reguladora de Energía (the Energy Regulatory Commission).

click on headline to read more

___________

 

The Guardian (UK) December 1, 2017

Electric cars already cheaper to own and run than petrol or diesel – study

Electric cars are already cheaper to own and run than petrol or diesel cars in the UK, US and Japan, new research shows.

The lower cost is a key factor driving the rapid rise in electric car sales now underway, say the researchers. At the moment the cost is partly because of government support, but electric cars are expected to become the cheapest option without subsidies in a few years.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Oil Price December 4, 2017

Oil Refiners And Farmers Battle Over Biofuels

President Donald Trump has agreed to meet representatives of the U.S. oil refining industry and oil-supporting lawmakers to discuss the Renewable Fuel Standard Program—a meeting that could set the stage for negotiations over the U.S. biofuels policy that has been pitting the oil refining industry against the Midwest farm lobby.

“The president was briefed, and has agreed on a meeting. Now it is just a matter of finding an hour window,” a source told Reuters last week, adding that he was told by the White House that the meeting would likely take place in the week of December 11.

click on headline to read more

 

Regulatory Stories

 

Argus December 4, 2017

Texas Requests RFS Waiver

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should exempt more than a quarter of US refining capacity from federal biofuel blending mandates, Texas governor Greg Abbott requested late last week.

The governor sought a formal waiver of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for the 5.1mn b/d of his state’s refining capacity. Higher compliance costs put refiners, small retailers and their associated labor forces at risk, Abbott wrote in his request to the EPA.

“The time is ripe for EPA to grant substantive relief from the unique, adverse impacts the RFS program is having on the state of Texas,” Abbott wrote.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 4, 2017

TCEQ to manage $209M VW emissions settlement

The $209 million coming to Texas from the Volkswagen emissions scandal will be doled out by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Gov. Greg Abbott declared Monday.

The agency will oversee the state’s portion of the Environmental Mitigation Trust, set up after the automaker of Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche brands settled claims that it cheated U.S. vehicle emissions standards.

TCEQ Commissioner Jon Niermann was named as the primary administrator for the state. The state formally made the declaration last month.
click on headline to read more
___________
Beaumont Enterprise December 4, 2017
Thousands still await clean water after Harvey

More than three months after Tropical Storm Harvey overflowed drainage districts, cut off water and prompted hundreds of boil-water notices across the Gulf Coast, access to safe water still seems a pipe dream for some.

Thirteen boil-water notices remain in effect across Harvey’s affected areas, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reported Friday.

Seven counties, including Orange, Newton, Matagorda, Liberty, Jim Wells, Harris and Angelina, are struggling to bounce back after Harvey’s 50-plus inches swamped water systems, subdivisions and mobile home parks across Southeast Texas.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 4, 2017

Tribal request for Dakota Access spill response plan granted

The Army Corps of Engineers and the developer of the Dakota Access pipeline must complete an oil spill response plan for the stretch of pipe beneath the Missouri River in North Dakota, a federal judge ruled Monday. … Completion of a response plan and additional pipeline monitoring are warranted while the Corps determines the pipeline’s impact on the tribes, the judge said in his ruling. He cited in part the spill of 210,000 gallons (800,000 liters) of oil from the Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota last month. He ordered the environmental impact study in June.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle December 4, 2017

Perry signs carbon capture agreement with Saudi Arabia

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has signed a deal with the Saudi Arabian government to allow its ministry of energy to collaborate with the U.S. Department of Energy on technologies designed to reduce the carbon dioxide output of fossil fuels.

The Department of Energy said Monday the memorandum of understanding between the two countries would extend to carbon capture, chemical looping and oxy-combustion, as well as, “the energy-water nexus.”

click on headline to read more

___________

 

The Hill December 4, 2017

Major conservation group blasts GOP tax bill for allowing Arctic drilling: ‘Simply shameful’

A major conservation group is blasting the newly passed Senate GOP tax bill for allowing oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), calling the bill “simply shameful.”

“Opening the Arctic to drilling as part of this tax plan is simply shameful. The Arctic Refuge isn’t a bank—drilling there won’t pay for the tax cuts the Senate just passed,” National Audubon Society President and CEO David Yarnold said in a statement Saturday.

“The American people don’t support drilling in the Arctic and it’s up to the House to reject this flawed bill.”

click on headline to read more

 

__________
The Texas Energy Report NewsClips  December 4, 2017

Lead Stories

 

Bloomberg  December 3, 2017

What We Know About Corporate Winners and Losers in U.S. Tax Bill

Fossil Fuels: Lowering the corporate tax rate and changes to cost-recovery provisions will help spur investment and create jobs, according to the American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s main lobbying group.

The Senate plan would also open a portion of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and natural gas drilling — a move that lawmakers estimate could yield $1 billion in revenue over the next decade. A final tax plan may also increase sales from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help boost short-term revenues.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

The Hill  December 1, 2017

Graham: US oil and gas boom will actually help spur energy revolution

The surge in and abundance of American oil and gas may seem to be a step backward in the face of calls for radical global cleansing. After all, natural gas is still a hydrocarbon, but keep in mind that most of our gas will be exported to China, India and Southwest Asia to help them drop dependency on far dirtier coal. That transition will reduce carbon emissions abroad, and the economic boost at home will drive technological advances not just in energy, but in sciences and infrastructure.

The overall increases in national fuel stocks is a singular gift of entrepreneurial energy, break-through technology and a resulting fracking revolution that all had its birth here in Texas — beginning in the Permian Basin decades ago with some of the original engineering research supported by the brightest minds of Texas A&M in College Station.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle  November 29, 2017

U.S. oil production surged in September as Texas rebounded from Harvey

The nation’s oil production climbed nearly 300,000 barrels a day in September, reaching the highest level since its most recent peak in April 2015, the Energy Department said Thursday.

Energy companies pumped 9.48 million barrels of oil a day in September, up 3.2 percent compared to the 9.19 million barrels a day produced in August.

Drillers in Texas, rebounding from the crippling effects of Hurricane Harvey, boosted output in September to 3.57 million barrels a day, up 5.7 percent from 3.38 million barrels a day the month before.

click on headline to read more

__________

 

Grist  December 1, 2017

Convicted coal baron Don Blankenship is running for U.S. Senate.

He was released from federal prison in May.

Blankenship filed Tuesday to run in West Virginia’s Republican primary. If he beats the competition, he could face Democratic Senator Joe Manchin in the general election.

Formerly the CEO of Massey Energy, Blankenship spent years advocating for the coal industry. A 2016 poll found he was the “most hated figure” in West Virginia. There’s good reason for that.

click on headline to read more

Oil and Gas Stories

 

CNBC  December 4, 2017

Oil prices fall after US drillers add rigs

Oil fell on Monday after U.S. shale drillers added more rigs last week, but prices held not far off their highest since mid-2015, supported by an extension of output cuts agreed last week by OPEC and other producers.

Drillers in the United States added two oil rigs in the week to Dec. 1, bringing the total count up to 749, the highest since September, energy services firm Baker Hughes said in its closely followed report late on Friday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate was down 21 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $58.15 a barrel at 0112 GMT. Brent futures were 22 cents, or 0.4 percent, lower at $63.51 a barrel.

click on headline to read more

__________

 

US News   December 1, 2017

US Rig Count Rises by 6 This Week to 929, Texas up 4

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. went up by six this week to 929.

That’s a significant rise from 597 rigs that were active this time a year ago.

According to Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes, 749 rigs were drilling for oil and 180 for natural gas this week. Baker Hughes released its tabulation Friday.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Dallas Morning News   December 3, 2017

Businessman Al G. Hill Jr., eldest grandson of oilman H.L. Hunt, dies at 72

Dallas entrepreneur and philanthropist Al G. Hill Jr. died in his sleep at his Highland Park home Saturday night, family members said. He was 72.

Hill was the oldest grandson of legendary Texas oilman H.L. Hunt. The landmark Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge west of downtown is named for Hill’s mother, who died in 2007.

In 2008, the family sold her company, Hunt Petroleum, to XTO Energy for $4.2 billion. …

Hill was politically active throughout his adult life. “He backed political candidates from state reps to governors to presidents of the United States,”  O’Brien said.

Former President George W. Bush made numerous visits to Hill’s home before and after his presidency.

click on headline to read more

____________

Houston Chronicle  December 1, 2017

SBM Offshore to pay $238 million in criminal penalties for foreign bribes

SBM Offshore N.V. , the Netherlands-based company that makes offshore oil drilling equipment, and its wholly owned U.S. subsidiary, Houston-based SBM Offshore USA, agreed to pay $238 million in criminal penalties for the role SBM played bribing foreign officials in Brazil, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan and Iraq.

SBM USA pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a plea deal that resolves the lingering criminal charges against the energy services company. SBM had set aside $238 million to pay for what it called “improper sales practices,” according to a company press release in November, after the Justice Department reopened an earlier investigation into bribery allegations.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Bloomberg  December 1, 2017

OPEC’s Easy Win Masks Tougher Oil-Market Choices Still to Come

The group of oil nations agreed to extend year-old production cuts through the end of 2018 to help boost prices, no small achievement. …

If the cuts succeed in meeting their stated goal of bringing global inventories back down to their five-year average level, how will the deal be unwound? And if they don’t, will the deal be extended in perpetuity?

 Along with the growing global economy, the production cuts have helped push up oil prices. But that has left OPEC and its allies with a quandary: How to keep prices high without stimulating further growth in U.S. shale oil production.
click on headline to read more
____________

 

UPI  December 1, 2017

Texas looks to port overhaul to keep pace with oil and gas exports

Texas needs capital support to expand the port infrastructure necessary to help keep up with the increase in U.S. oil and gas exports, a commissioner said.

The port at Corpus Christi is the fourth largest sea port in the country by tonnage, the largest crude oil export terminal and, by 2020, could be one of the largest points for liquefied natural gas leaving the United States.

The port authority there started working on improvements to the regional shipping channel in the 1990s. A partnership agreement was signed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in September for improvements, but the Texas Railroad Commission, the state’s energy regulator, told UPI they were still waiting for funding.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Inside Climate News  December 1, 2017

Judge Questions Exxon’s Attempt to Block Climate Fraud Investigations

ExxonMobil drew tough questions and skeptical responses from a federal judge on Thursday as it urged her to shut down two state investigations into whether the oil giant misled investors and the public about climate change risks. The judge’s inquiries suggested the company had failed to build a strong enough case to halt the probes.

U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni pressed Exxon’s lawyers to demonstrate how the investigations by the attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York are politically motivated efforts to suppress its free speech, as the company claims.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Associated Press  December 2, 2017

Hole in pipeline leaks oil into Louisiana marsh

he U.S. Coast Guard says a hole in a pipeline has leaked oil into a marsh about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of New Orleans.

XTO Energy spokesman Jeremy Eikenberry said Friday that the leak occurred Nov. 22 on a flow line, which transports product from wells to a nearby storage facility. The Fort Worth, Texas-based XTO owns the pipeline.

The Coast Guard reports that about 1,260 gallons (4,679 liters) of oil have been recovered from the marsh near Pointe a la Hache and the leak has been secured.

This article appeared in the Los Angeles Times

click on headline to read more

___________

 

New York Times   November 30, 2017

Score One for Corn: In Battle Over Biofuel, a Rare Setback for Big Oil

America’s cars run partly on fuels derived from corn and soy. That’s because of a decade-old federal mandate beloved by Midwestern farmers but opposed by an unusual coalition of oil refiners and environmentalists.

On Thursday, the Trump administration sided with the farmers and announced that it would stick closely to the current rules and quotas for fuel: Refineries must blend about 20 billion gallons of biofuel — much of it ethanol made from corn — into the nation’s gasoline supply, a level largely unchanged from last year.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Argus  November 30, 2017

BridgeTex wins $299mn take-or-pay default case

A former shipper on the 400,000 b/d BridgeTex crude pipeline from west Texas to Houston must pay $299mn in damages for defaulting on a 30,000 b/d take-or-pay commitment, a Texas district judge has ruled.

Stampede Energy breached its contract to ship crude on the line, judge Randy Wilson ruled at the end of a bench trial on 14 November.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Seeking Alpha  November 30, 2017

Turcan: Energy Transfer’s Growing NGLs Hub Is Worth Checking Out

Largely due to the fracking boom, domestic natural gas liquids (abbreviated NGLs) production has skyrocketed over the past decade. Natural gas liquids include hydrocarbons like ethane, butane, propane, and natural gasoline. Energy Transfer Partners LP (NYSE:ETP) and its general partner Energy Transfer Equity LP (NYSE:ETE) are investing heavily in expanding the midstream family’s presence at the massive Mont Belvieu NGLs hub down in Texas. ..

Energy Transfer Partners LP, and through its material economic stake in ETP, Energy Transfer Equity LP, own four fractionators at Mont Belvieu through the Lone Star venture. For reference, Energy Transfer Partners owns all of Lone Star NGL LLC (I’ll get into the growth side of things later on).

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Daily Texan  December 1, 2017

Environment leaders talk about future of Texas resources

The population in Texas is expected to nearly double by 2070, according to Texas’ 2017 State Water Plan, and that means a not so excellent future for a state with already strained resources and vulnerability to natural disasters.

On Wednesday night, urban planning and environment experts discussed the future of Texas through the research initiative Planet Texas 2050 at the Paramount Theatre as part of the Environmental Science Institute’s 110th Hot Science Cool Talks. Panelists included UT mechanical engineering professor Michael Webber, urban revitalization strategist Majora Carter and leading climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe.

click on headline to read more

 

Utilities Stories

Houston Chronicle  December 1, 2017

Competition can be a good thing – until you get it

Nuclear and coal-fired power plants are fighting to stay in business across the country as they compete with rock-bottom natural gas prices and surging renewable energy. In Texas, some of the nation’s largest merchant power companies, struggling with the same economics, are pushing for changes to the state’s wholesale power market to boost their earnings. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is championing the cause of coal and nuclear plants nationally. He has argued that keeping them in operation is critical to protecting the integrity of the power grid and called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to boost wholesale prices paid to coal and nuclear plants to keep them from shutting down.

click on headline to read more

____________

Houston Chronicle   November 28, 2017

Falcon Steel America to open large factory in Conroe

Falcon Steel America plans to reopen a Conroe factory that shut down abruptly last year amid financial woes and was later used as a distribution center for emergency supplies after Hurricane Harvey. …

The 54-year-old company manufactures transmission towers, electric poles and electric substations, as well as stairs and handrails for major commercial projects like Dallas Cowboy’s AT&T Stadium.

The new Conroe facility will increase Falcon Steel’s production capacity by 60 percent to 65,000 tons of steel products annually. Although recent hurricanes damaged few transmission lines nationally, there is growing demand for new transmission lines with the rise of renewable energy.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

KXXV Waco  November 30, 2017

Central Texas men help bring electricity to Bolivian villages

Two Bartlett Electric Cooperative employees spent two weeks this month helping bring electricity to three villages in Bolivia.

Chris Allen and Kirby Dawson are linemen for Bartlett Electric Cooperative who volunteered in Bolivia earlier this month.

“We’re all called to serve at some level. We’re all given talents to do something, and we’re all given opportunities every day whether that be in Bolivia or Bartlett,” Chris Allen said.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Haaretz (Israel)  December 3, 2017

U.S. Firms Courting Saudi Arabia to Build Nuclear Reactors; Rick Perry to Visit Riyadh

U.S. firms attracted by Saudi Arabia’s plans to build nuclear reactors are pushing Washington to restart talks with Riyadh on an agreement to help the kingdom develop atomic energy, three industry sources said.
Saudi Arabia has welcomed the lobbying, they said, though it is likely to worry regional rival Iran at a time when tensions are already high in the Middle East.
One of the sources also said Riyadh had told Washington it does not want to forfeit the possibility of one day enriching uranium – a process that can have military uses – though this is a standard condition of U.S. civil nuclear cooperation pacts.

click on headline to read more

Alternatives and Renewables Stories

Automotive News  December 1, 2017

Tesla removed from German subsidies program

A German government agency has removed Tesla from the list of electric cars eligible for subsidies, sparking a row with the U.S. automaker over whether its Model S sedan is too expensive to qualify for the program.

Tesla customers cannot order the Model S base version without extra features that push the car above the 60,000-euro ($71,500) price limit, a spokesman for the German Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Controls (BAFA) said on Friday.

Germany last year launched the incentive program worth about 1 billion euros, partly financed by the German auto industry, to boost electric-car sales. A price cap was included to exempt premium models.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

Austin American Statesman  November 29, 2017

Liebowicz: Shared autonomous vehicles could do more harm than good

The next revolution in transportation is expected to be shared autonomous vehicles, with personal cars yielding to driverless cars summoned on demand. Uber passengers in San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Phoenix can already hail driverless cars, and Bay Area Lyft riders will soon have the same opportunity. …

It’s true that shared autonomous vehicles have the potential to make road travel faster, easier and cleaner. Yet, there are reasons to suspect they could actually lead to heavier traffic, dirtier air and more greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation accounts for 27 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, so the environmental stakes are high. Now is the time to ensure that these shared autonomous vehicles contribute to a sustainable transportation future.

click on headline to read more

___________

 

CitiLab  November 29, 2017

Where It Pays to Drive Electric

A new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that EV drivers save almost $800 a year, depending on where, when, and how they charge. … The savings aren’t evenly dispersed throughout the United States. In Houston, Texas, annual savings using the standard electric rate is $443; in Denver, $772; and in New York, $1,061. This is due to geographical variations in fuel prices (gas is much cheaper in Houston than in New York, thanks to Texas’ low gas taxes and close proximity to oil infrastructure) and electricity costs. Nationwide, however, electricity costs are much less volatile than gas prices: In 15 years, electricity has been priced between the equivalent of $.88 to $1.17 per gallon over 15 years, while gasoline has varied from $2.00 to $4.50 per gallon in the same time period.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

UPI  November 30, 2017

U.S. wind turbines getting taller and more efficient

U.S. federal data show installed wind turbines are taller and more efficient than in the past, though hydroelectric power still holds a slight edge.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that the average height and power generating capacity for wind turbines installed in the country are taller and more efficient that in years past.

“Since 2012, the average height of wind turbines installed in the United States has been about 280 feet, or 80 meters. Before 2006, few wind turbines were as tall as 280 feet,” the federal brief found. “Wind speed typically increases with altitude and increases over open areas without windbreaks such as trees or buildings.”

click on headline to read more

Regulatory Stories

 

Forbes  November 30, 2017

Get Paid Watching The Grass Grow: Carbon Sequestration, Texas-Style

A planner working on flood control in Houston believes he has come upon a way—that conservatives will love—to remove a billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Jim Blackburn sees carbon in the soil as a private-property right that landowners should be compensated for, considering the service they are providing to the ecosystem by storing it there.

“We think we can set up a system that every red state in the nation would accept in a heartbeat,” said Blackburn, an environmental lawyer and planner widely quoted for his work on Houston’s flooding. “Whether we can get it accepted in California, well, that’s a different question.”

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Houston Chronicle  December 1, 2017

Another candidate joins race to replace Gene Green in Congress

A health care company CEO is the latest candidate to announce he is running to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston.

Tahir Javed, CEO of Riceland Health Care in Winnie, late Friday released a statement saying he had officially filed papers with the Harris County Democratic Party to get into the growing Democratic primary.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Victoria Advocate   November 30, 2017

Environmental group: Crossroads legislators need to improve

An environmental advocacy group is recognizing Crossroads legislators for protecting the air but not for reforming how the oil and gas industry is regulated.

The Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter recently graded legislators.

If they didn’t vote the way the group wanted them to, the legislators’ grades slipped.

Specifically, state Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, and state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, earned points for supporting the Low-Income Vehicle Repair and Replacement Program and for extending the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan beyond its original end date in 2019, respectively.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Houston Chronicle   December 2, 2017

Tillerson’s transition into politics breaks down

After a career spent through the ranks of the Texas oil industry to arrive at the CEO’s suite at one of the world’s largest oil companies, Tillerson’s grand attempt to transition into political life has run repeatedly into turbulence, most recently shaken by a White House leak that chief of staff John Kelly has drawn up a plan to replace Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, a former congressman who has developed a close relationship with the president. Both Tillerson and Trump – Tillerson in a brief comment to reporters, Trump in a tweet – have denied efforts are afoot to push the secretary of state out of office, but many in Washington believe its only a matter of time, perhaps weeks, before Tillerson makes his exit.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Texas Public Radio  December 1, 2017

Deteriorating Air Quality In San Antonio Could Mean More Respiratory Deaths

If San Antonio’s air quality continues to decline, it could lead to more annual deaths due to respiratory illnesses, according to a study commissioned by San Antonio, which looks at what impact both lower and higher ozone levels have on the health of residents in Bexar County.

The study is simply named “How Ozone Pollution Affects Public Health in San Antonio” was commissioned by the City Council in response to the Alamo Area Council of Government’s study called the Cost of Non-Attainment – Non-attainment refers to falling out of favorable ozone standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

click on headline to read more

____________

 

Reuters  December 1, 2017

Trump plans to meet oil industry reps on U.S. biofuel policy: sources

U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to meet with representatives of the oil refining industry and their legislative backers to discuss the nation’s biofuels program, according to two sources briefed on the matter.

The White House meeting could set the stage for negotiations over possible legislation to overhaul the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard – a 2005 law that requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of biofuels like ethanol into the nation’s gasoline each year, the sources said, asking not to be named.

click on headline to read more

____________

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips December 1, 2017

 

LEAD STORIES

 

Bloomberg November 30, 2017

Million-Barrel Oil Hedging Surge Signals Shale Boom Here to Stay

Oil explorers took advantage of a market rally to lock in prices for almost 1 million barrels a day’s worth of future output, signaling the shale boom’s staying power as OPEC ponders the extension of its supply curbs.

New hedging contracts in the third quarter covered 897,000 barrels a day of annualized production, a 147 percent increase over the second quarter, according to an analysis of 33 companies released Tuesday by industry researcher Wood MacKenzie Ltd. It was the biggest jump in crude hedging volumes since Wood Mackenzie began tracking such activity two years ago.

Click on headline to read more

__________

 

Associated Press November 30, 2017

US exporting dirty fuel to already pollution-choked India

U.S. oil refineries that are unable to sell a dirty fuel waste product at home are exporting vast quantities of it to India instead.

Petroleum coke, the bottom-of-the-barrel leftover from refining Canadian tar sands crude and other heavy oils, is cheaper and burns hotter than coal. But it also contains more planet-warming carbon and far more heart- and lung-damaging sulfur — a key reason few American companies use it.

Refineries instead are sending it around the world, especially to energy-hungry India, which last year got almost a fourth of all the fuel-grade “petcoke” the U.S. shipped out, an Associated Press investigation found. In 2016, the U.S. sent more than 8 million metric tons of petcoke to India. That’s about 20 times more than in 2010, and enough to fill the Empire State Building eight times.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

Click on headline to read more

__________

 

Bloomberg December 1, 2017

Goldman Says Oil Market’s Too Jittery When There’s No Need to Be

While OPEC and its allies including Russia didn’t finalize details on how they would wind down output curbs that’ll continue until the end of 2018, they pledged to be “agile and responsive” and review their progress on shrinking inventories at a meeting in June, the bank said in a report. That indicates a reduced risk of both unexpected increases in supply as well as excess draws in stockpiles, according to Goldman.

“This leads us to reiterate our view that long-dated implied volatility remains too rich,” analysts including Damien Courvalin and Jeffrey Currie wrote in the Nov. 30 report, referring to a measure of investor anxiety.
Click on headline to read more
___________

 

E&E News November 30, 2017

In Texas, specter of FERC jurisdiction stirs concern

Invoking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in Texas is a good way to prompt a reaction, especially when discussing the state’s main power grid.

“You just need to be aware that FERC is a four-letter dirty word around here,” Craven Crowell, chairman of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, quipped at ERCOT’s last board meeting.

Crowell’s remarks to a visiting presenter were in jest, but the sentiment is both real and relevant. State regulators, not FERC, carry the primary responsibility for overseeing the ERCOT region. That setup gives Texas a measure of control it cherishes — and worries it could lose.

Click on headline to read more

 

OIL AND GAS STORIES

 

CNBC December 1, 2017

Oil prices gain after OPEC extension of output cut

Oil futures rose on Friday after OPEC and other major producers agreed to extend their production curbs in a widely expected move aimed at ending a persistent glut in global supplies.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporters (OPEC) and non-OPEC producers led by Russia on Thursday agreed to maintain the output cuts until the end of 2018, while also signalling a possible early exit from the deal if the market overheats.

U.S. crude futures were up 18 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $57.58, as of 0514 GMT. Brent February crude futures rose 24 cents to $62.87.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle November 30, 2017

OPEC agrees to continue oil production cuts through 2018

Oil producing countries have agreed to extend through 2018 production cuts that were set to expire in March — a move designed to prop up global crude prices.

At a Thursday meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna, Austria, OPEC producers and other nations agreed to continue cutting 1.8 million barrels of daily oil production in an effort to keep prices stable amid a glut of fresh U.S. shale.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

Wall St. Journal November 30, 2017

Why the Oil Recovery Is About More Than OPEC Cuts

Nearly a year into an OPEC-led agreement to curb global oil production, crude prices have risen to their highest levels since 2015. The price of Brent crude—the global benchmark—has climbed roughly 34% since year-to-date lows in June, to settle around $62 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. standard, has jumped nearly 30% in that period, sustaining levels over $55 a barrel.

But prices have also been lifted by rising global demand and geopolitical risks that have threatened supply disruptions. Those factors could keep oil prices rising no matter what OPEC does at its meeting on Thursday.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

Bloomberg November 28, 2017

Oil Drilling in Alaska Refuge Hits Snag Over Budget Protocol

A bid to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling faces a hold up over an arcane budget rule, a development that may mean it can’t be included in the tax overhaul legislation.

Senate Democrats objected to the provision opening the Alaska’s pristine coastal plain to oil drilling, saying measures to fast-track environmental approvals violate the so-called Byrd rule, according to congressional aides. That rule, named after former West Virginia Democratic Senator Robert Byrd, is designed to limit budget procedures to provisions that are mainly fiscal in nature.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

KBMT Beaumont November 30, 2017

ExxonMobil refinery fire caused by leak in crude unit

A fire at the ExxonMobil refinery was caused by a leak at process equipment in the crude unit according to an initial TCEQ report.

According to the Southeast Texas Alerting System, the fire broke out around 6:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.

A neighbor who lives across the street complains he was never notified.

“What if the plant was to blow up, they talking about staying inside and we don’t know nothing about what’s going on everybody be injured or somebody be dead,” said resident George Lincoln.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Bloomberg November 29, 2017

U.S. Oil Owes Mexico for Success as Crudes Ride Together to Asia

U.S. crude may owe supply from Mexico for helping it capture a share of the world’s biggest oil market this year.

The total volume of U.S. and Mexican crude that were loaded into a single ship for export has surged more than fivefold to 11.8 million barrels so far this year, from 2.1 million barrels in 2016, data from vessel-tracking and intelligence company Kpler show. All the cargoes sailed to Asia, according to shipping information on Bloomberg.

Clilck on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle November 28, 2017

Shell Midstream buying pipelines, terminals for $825M

Houston’s Shell Midstream Partners is going on a buying spree, acquiring $825 million worth of pipelines and terminals from its Royal Dutch Shell parent.

The deals designed to beef up the three-year-old Shell Midstream business give the Houston pipelines firm more ownership in Gulf Coast and Gulf of Mexico pipelines, as well as a slew of terminals from the Houston area to Washington state.

The drop-down acquisitions from the parent Shell and other Shell subsidiaries give Shell Midstream majority ownership of the Mars and Odyssey oil pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico.
Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Natural Gas Intelligence November 29, 2017

NextDecade Might Start Rio Grande LNG Project With Two Trains

NextDecade Corp. said it is considering a plan to use two production trains for its proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in South Texas, but it still plans to eventually have six trains running at the facility near the Mexican border.

The Woodlands, TX-based company said it could make a final investment decision on its Rio Grande LNG projectwith as few as two trains, which would have the capacity to export up to 9 million metric tons/year (mmty) of LNG.

NextDecade said the project, to be built on a 1,000-acre site in the Port of Brownsville, was scalable, and that a full complement of six trains would be capable of exporting 27 mmty — roughly the equivalent of 3.6 Bcf/d — over a 30-year period.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Reuters November 27, 2017

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.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Oil and Gas Investor November 15, 2017

Oilfield Talk Of ‘Big Data’ Needs More Than Just ‘Talk’

U.S. independents are talking more and more about deploying big data, data analytics and the internet of things, particularly in their Lower 48 resource plays. “And, frankly, a lot of this talk is just that: It’s talk,” said Lee Tillman, Marathon Oil Corp. president and CEO.

If industry is “going to innovate like a tech company, it’s going to take more,” he told attendees at Hart Energy’s annual Executive Oil Conference.

Oil and gas development has evolved in its more than 150 years, but “we’re at a bit of a crossroads right now where the traditional incremental approach to innovation we’ve been using is simply not enough.”

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

 

The Hill November 29, 2017

Arnold: $60 oil means supply and demand are finding balance

News this week of oil prices hovering near $60 a barrel simply reflects the intersection of supply and demand. Demand is gaining strength as the global economy strengthens — supported by oil prices that are about half of their 2014 peak.

OPEC countries, led by Saudi Arabia and other large producers like Russia, have been more decisive and effective in controlling production. This is not to say that every large producer has cut back; however, the net effect has strengthened prices — but not to the point of killing off rising demand.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Houston Chronicle November 29, 2017

Environment groups want pipeline company’s lawsuit dismissed

Environmental groups being sued by the developer of the Dakota Access pipeline have asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

Netherlands and U.S.-based Greenpeace and Netherlands-based BankTrack argue in court documents that their opposition to the $3.8 billion project to move North Dakota oil to Illinois is protected free speech, not an illegal effort to undermine the developer. Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners in August filed a lawsuit against Greenpeace, BankTrack and Earth First, alleging they disseminated false and misleading information about the Dakota Access project, interfered with its construction and damaged the company’s reputation and finances through illegal acts.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Dallas Morning News November 29, 2017

On his road to billions, T. Boone Pickens was a creative paper boy making 26 cents a day

T. Boone Pickens got a penny a paper a day for throwing the Holdenville Daily News.“My first route was 28 papers, so I made 28 cents a day, six days a week, with no expenses,” says the chairman of BP Capital. “Let me tell you, 28 cents a day when I was 12 years old meant real money in my pocket. This was during the Depression.”Like H. Ross Perot, his finesse at collecting impressed the publisher, who allowed Pickens to add routes as they opened.Click on headline to read more

___________

 

The Hill November 22, 2017

Driessen: Keystone XL is not perfect, but it’s our best energy option

Earlier this week, the Nebraska Public Service Commission voted 3-2 to approve Nebraska’s share of the $8 billion, 1,200-mile Keystone XL Pipeline route, seemingly clearing its final regulatory hurdle and allowing construction to move forward. However, more obstacles loom before it can bring North Dakota and Canadian crude oil to Texas refineries.

Commissioners who voted against approval have concerns and objections, some landowners still object to the pipeline crossing their lands, other landowners may not even be aware that the new route will cross their properties, and environmentalists threaten more lawsuits.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

Houston Chronicle November 30, 2017

Citgo names new CEO as arrests in Venezuela continue

Houston-based Citgo Petroleum officially named a cousin of the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez as its new chief executive Thursday as a purge of Venezuela’s energy establishment reached the top tiers of government.

Asdrubal Chavez, a former oil minister, was installed as the Citgo CEO following the arrests last week of Citgo’s previous CEO and five other executives on corruption charges. On Thursday, officials of the government of President Nicolas Maduro said they’ve made more arrests, imprisoning the former heads of the Venezuelan oil ministry and the state-owned oil company, PDVSA.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Reuters November 29, 2017

Exxon nears deal to explore for oil and gas offshore Mauritania

Exxon Mobil is close to signing a deal to explore for oil and gas offshore Mauritania, its first foray into the West African country, Mauritania’s oil, energy and mines director said on Wednesday.

… Interest has surged in oil and gas fields offshore of Mauritania and neighbour Senegal since big discoveries by Cairn Energy and Kosmos Energy, the latter now partnered with BP, in separate projects over the last three years. Both are expected to start production early next decade.

London-based BP is already developing a major gas project and France’s Total has bought into several exploration licences in both countries.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

New York Times November 30, 2017

Erdogan Helped Turks Evade Iran Sanctions, Reza Zarrab Says

Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey personally ordered that two Turkish banks be allowed to participate in an oil-for-gold scheme that violated United States sanctions on Iran, according to testimony on Thursday by a Turkish-Iranian gold trader in a federal trial in Manhattan.

The gold trader, Reza Zarrab, who helped orchestrate the billion-dollar scheme, recently pleaded guilty to conspiring to evade the sanctions and has become a witness for American prosecutors.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

Oil Price November 27, 2017

Parnell: 54 Things You Didn’t Know About Natural Gas

Every once in a while, I will realize that I have spent way too much time talking about oil, complaining about pipelines, Permania, free money and the impending “End of Big Oil because of Electric Vehicles”. And it’s on those days that my attention turns to oil and coal’s neglected stepsister who we know as natural gas. And in the spirit of American Thanksgiving, I would like to say that I, for one, am thankful for natural gas, the current turkey of the energy sector.

Like oil, natural gas is a prolific fossil fuel with many uses, however I feel that it floats unnoticed under the radar, particularly because it is so much easier to carpet bomb oil and coal into submission (as opposed to cute and cuddly natural gas) in the great anti-fossil fuel war of attrition.

Click on headline to read more

 

UTILITIES STORIES

 

Ft. Worth Star Telegram November 29, 2017

Lippencott: Coal subsidies derail the Texas clean energy market

Trump Digs Coal” became one of the most recognizable slogans of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, and candidate Donald Trump’s promises to scrap the controversial Clean Power Plan (CPP) and bring back coal jobs struck a chord in Midwestern mining states.

The vision of an unfettered, resurgent U.S. coal industry resonated with working class voters, helping to tilt the electoral map Trump’s way.

The Trump Administration is following through on its promises to scuttle the CPP, withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, and abolish other environmental regulations that are odious to the coal industry. However, the coal industry has continued to struggle against strong economic headwinds, primarily market competition from sustained low (sub-$4/mmBtu) natural gas prices.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

KUT Austin November 30, 2017

Coal Plant Closures Could Raise Electricity Rates In Austin. Or Maybe Not.

The announcement that three coal power plants in Texas plan to close next year is likely good news for the environment, but bad news for the people who worked at the plants. As for what it means for your electric bill if you live in Austin, that’s complicated.

That was basically the message Austin Energy, the city’s publicly owned electric utility, delivered this month to a city oversight committee.

Click on headline to read more

_____________

 

Wall St Journal November 30, 2017

Electricity Prices Plummet as Gas, Wind Gain Traction and Demand Stalls

The rapid rise of wind and natural gas as sources of electricity is roiling U.S. power markets, forcing more companies to close older generating plants.

Wholesale electricity prices are falling near historic lows in parts of the country with competitive power markets, as demand for electricity remains stagnant while newer, less-expensive generating facilities continue to come online.

The changing American electricity landscape is pressuring power companies to shed unprofitable plants and reshape their portfolios to favor the new winners. Texas provides a clear example.

Click on headline to read more

_____________

 

Texas Monthly November 28, 2017

Holleman: Coal Belt to Sun Belt?

The state’s biggest electricity generator, Luminant, recently announced the closing of three coal-fired power plants in Texas, but out of the coal ashes could rise a phoenix.

The blighted land around these power plants presents a unique opportunity for clean energy investment, specifically utility-scale solar.

For forty years, these “mine mouth” power plants, those that generate power from coal mined on site, have used the vast and shallow belts of lignite coal that underlay sections of eastern Texas to provide reliable and cheap, but dirty, electricity. In their wake, they leave behind thousands of acres of contaminated land surrounding the plants, some of which has already been reclaimed.

And this land is particularly well suited for large solar farms.

Click on headline to read more

 

ALTERNATIVES AND RENEWABLES STORIES

 

Daily Texan November 29, 2017

UT joins forces with Mexico in search for clean energy

A gray blanket settles over a rapidly expanding Mexico City as factories and automobiles continue to pump noxious levels of carbon dioxide emissions into the air. A few months ago, the city’s government surpassed the recommended ozone limits set by the World Health Organization — the first time in a decade.

Reinforcing a 50-year relationship, UT signed an agreement with Nuevo Leon university Monterrey Tech earlier this month. The partnership aims to help Mexico in its goals to develop a clean and sustainable model of renewable energy and electric power.

Jorge Pinon, director of the UT Latin American and Caribbean Energy program, said a reason for Mexico’s high pollution levels lies in the country’s shortage of clean and renewable energy sources.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

Associated Press November 30, 2017

GM to launch self-driving vehicles in big U.S. cities in 2019

General Motors Co. expects to carry passengers and deliver goods with self-driving vehicles in big cities sometime in 2019, telling investors it’s moving quickly and plans to be ahead of other automakers and tech companies.

The Detroit automaker made the announcement at an investor presentation Thursday in San Francisco, saying that based on its current rate of change, it expects “commercial launch at scale” of the autonomous vehicles within the next year or so. The vehicles would not have human backup drivers, the company said.

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

Straits Times November 25, 2017

Hydrogen as global energy by 2050?

The most abundant element may supply almost a fifth of global energy by 2050 and eliminate enough emissions to cancel out all the pollution in the United States, according to a group of industrial companies from Royal Dutch Shell to Toyota Motor.

Fuel-cell vehicles running on hydrogen, extracted from water using wind and solar power, may be used to power everything from cars to factories, according to the Hydrogen Council, a group that also includes German carmaker BMW, mining giant Anglo American and French energy company Engie.

The group estimated that hydrogen has the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 6 gigatons a year, more than the 5.5 gigatons the US released last year.

Click on headline to read more

____________

 

Automotive News November 29, 2017

Why is Tesla struggling with the Model 3? Welding woes may be the bottleneck

What’s behind Tesla’s manufacturing woes? It could be something as simple as steel.

Based on details in a Wall Street Journal report and in a video of the production line posted on Twitter by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, experts say the electric vehicle maker appears to be struggling with welding together a mostly steel vehicle, as opposed to the primarily aluminum bodies of the Model S and Model X.

The company fell short of its third-quarter production target for the Model 3 — the lower-cost vehicle intended to mark Tesla’s entry into the mass market.

Click on headline to read more

 

___________

 

Green Tech Media November 28, 2017

Is 3-D Printing the Solution for Ultra-Tall Wind Turbine Towers?

If you’ve ever driven alongside a truck hauling wind turbine components, the limitations are immediately obvious. The enormity of the blades and tower segments make it difficult to transport the materials on highways to the project site.

A California startup thinks it’s found a workaround. RCAM Technologies was recently awarded a $1.25 million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to develop and test 3-D printing technology enabling the construction of concrete turbine towers in place at the project site.

The average tower height for turbines installed in the United States is just over 80 meters. RCAM Technologies, founded by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) alumnus Jason Cotrell, wants to use reinforced concrete additive manufacturing technology — a form of 3-D printing — to erect towers 140 meters or higher.

Click on headline to read more

 

REGULATORY STORIES

 

Fox News November 29, 2017

Paul: Why Trump must tackle the renewable fuel standard

President Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will have an opportunity in coming weeks to increase manufacturing jobs and bolster U.S. exports by simply cutting back on the red tape of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Although every source of energy – wind, solar, renewable, carbon-based and the rest – has a place on the market, the RFS includes a government-imposed requirement mandating that a specified amount of renewable fuels are mixed into at least 15 billion gallons of America’s diesel fuel and gasoline annually.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

Governing November 30, 2017

The Only Oil-and-Gas State Not Taxing Drilling

If your state is the only oil and gas producer in the nation that doesn’t have a severance tax, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on you to enact one. But given the amount of money involved, it’s easier to talk about creating such a tax than actually imposing it. In Pennsylvania, that talk has blossomed into a fight over more than just money; it now involves lobbying, environmental protection and the next campaign for governor.

Pennsylvania became the first place in the world to successfully drill for oil back in the 1850s. Over the past decade, however, natural gas has overtaken oil as the big game in the state.

Click on headline to read more

___________

 

The Hill November 28, 2017

Ruth: White House environmental council nominee doesn’t back American farmers

The experience that I have gleaned from a lifetime in agriculture has taught me that even the most successful farming operations face adversities. The vagaries of weather, volatile commodity markets, mechanical woes and, occasionally, just bad luck, come with the job. These setbacks underscore the role of government policies that can promote financial stability, improved production, stronger ecosystem services and wider margins.

Over the past decade, government policies like the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, which sets biofuel blending targets for our nation’s transportation fuel supply, have helped farmers like me and other growers here in Nebraska maintain a viable agricultural industry. They have enabled stable demand and growth that allows for more intergenerational operations like mine, all while promoting sustainability.

Click on headline to read more

 

_____________

 

 

Click here for The Texas Energy Report NewsClips Archives