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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – December 6, 2019

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Lead Stories

 

Houston Chronicle* – December 5, 2019

Digital roughnecks: Oil and gas workforce changing as tech’s role grows

Scrum master. Agile coach. Data scientist. Cloud architect.

Jobs in the oil and natural gas industry are changing as technology plays an ever larger role in extracting fossil fuels beneath the ground and under the sea. A younger, diverse class of tech workers holding these and other titles, such as big data engineer or user experience designer, are increasingly replacing roughnecks, roustabouts and other blue collar workers who toil under the hot Texas sun or on platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

Energy companies, fighting to stay profitable with oil prices stuck in the $50 to $60 range, are making a major push to digitize and automate operations, allowing drilling in West Texas or in the middle of the ocean to be operated and monitored from control rooms in Houston. That push is driving the growth of six-figure tech jobs that prize skills such as coding, design, data analysis and computer system architecture over physical prowess.

Also see: Experts discuss the digital transformation of the oil and gas industry

 

 

D Magazine – December 5, 2019

Risks to Texas Prosperity in 2020 and Beyond

Inside the state, it’s hard to find many signs of trouble ahead, particularly for the next year or so. Labor shortages vex some industries, and housing prices are way up in DFW and other energized MSAs, but the highly touted Texas Model still offers a clear path to continuing prosperity. What got us here should help keep us going—at least for 2020. But Texas and DFW can’t sail on sublimely ignoring what dangers lurk outside the state.

The oil and gas industry illustrates the inside/outside dichotomy. Within Texas, producers have seen spectacular success in recent years, sending Texas output to new heights and pushing the nation to the brink of energy independence. From outside the state, however, the oil industry faces three challenges unlikely to go away anytime soon—the low global oil and gas prices brought on by newfound abundance, the declining prices for solar, wind, and other competitive sources of alternative energy, and the growing political clout of anti-fossil fuel forces in the rest of the country and overseas.

The Texas economy is probably strong enough to shake off some potential shocks—just as it did with the 2014 plunge in oil prices. It’s not hard, though, to envision scenarios that would set Texas’ economy reeling. Here’s just one: Trade wars intensify, with tit-for-tat retaliation, throwing the world into recession. If all that happens, Texas probably won’t continue to grow while the rest of the nation suffers—not this time, not with the state’s economy more like the rest of the United States in terms of production and employment.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – December 5, 2019

Aramco Valued at $1.7 Trillion in World’s Biggest IPO

Saudi Aramco priced its initial public offering Thursday at the high end of the targeted range to give the oil giant a total value of $1.7 trillion in the world’s biggest-ever IPO.

The state-controlled Saudi Arabian Oil Co., commonly known as Aramco, said it would sell 3 billion shares, or a 1.5% stake of the company, at 32 Saudi riyals ($8.53), or at the top of the targeted range of 30 to 32 riyals for a total of $25.6 billion. That exceeds the $25 billion IPO in 2014 of Chinese online commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. , the current record holder.

Still, the share sale falls well short of the initial $2 trillion valuation targeted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The shortfall also risks over exposing Saudi Arabia’s middle-class investors to the future stock-market performance of one company, as many institutional investors outside the country and the surrounding region passed on the offering as too expensive, according to people involved in the IPO process.

 

 

The Oklahoman* – December 5, 2019

Shareholders approve deals to take Roan Resources private and to merge SemGroup with Energy Transfer LP

“Energy Transfer issued approximately 57.6 million of its common units to SemGroup stockholders. ET-SemGroup’s Houston Fuel Oil Terminal strengthens ET’s crude oil transportation, terminalling and export capabilities, and provides Energy Transfer a strategic position on the Houston Ship Channel.” — Energy Transfer

The number of Oklahoma based, publicly traded companies is declining by two.

On Wednesday, shareholders of Roan Resources overwhelming approved its $1 billion merger agreement with privately held Citizen Energy Operating LLC, headquartered in Tulsa.

The same day, SemGroup Corp. and Energy Transfer LP shareholders approved a $1.5 billion deal to combine those firms under Energy Transfer’s flag.

According to a filing made by Roan Resources after markets closed Wednesday, Roan will continue on as the surviving company after its merger, though it will be privately held.

Earlier, details of its announced deal proposed an all-cash transaction where Citizen Energy would buy Roan using equity from its parent, Warburg Pincus LLC, and financial support from other investors to pay Roan shareholders $1.52 per share.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – December 6, 2019

Oil drops as market awaits ratification of OPEC+ supply cut

Oil slipped in early Asian trade on Friday, with U.S. crude moving further away from a two-month high after OPEC agreed to increase output curbs in early 2020 but failed to promise further steps after March.

Brent futures were down 21 cents, or 0.3%, at $63.18 by 0258 GMT.

West Texas Intermediate oil futures fell 14 cents, or 0.2%, to $58.29 a barrel. They hit $59.12 a barrel on Thursday, the highest since the end of September.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies including Russia – a grouping known as OPEC+ – agreed to more output cuts to avert oversupply early next year as economic growth stagnates amid the U.S.-China trade war.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – December 5, 2019

Saudi-Russia Committee Recommends Deeper Oil Cuts

An oil producers’ committee led by Saudi Arabia and Russia recommended deepening crude-production cuts by 42% next year, according to Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, signaling the plan is likely to be adopted Thursday by OPEC.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is meeting in Vienna to decide whether to extend or deepen collective production curbs of 1.2 million barrels a day. Non-OPEC allies led by Russia would then endorse the proposal Friday.

A select group is advising the alliance to reduce production by a further 500,000 barrels a day, OPEC officials said.

 

 

Beaumont Enterprise – December 5, 2019

Vapor cloud cited in TPC explosion by Chemical Safety Board

A vapor cloud over a butadiene unit exploded in the early morning of Nov. 27, setting off the catastrophic explosion at the TPC Group blast that ignited a nearly week-long fire at the plant and led to the release of chemicals including 1,3-butadiene and asbestos, the Chemical Safety Board reported this afternoon.

The three workers injured in the initial explosion were on the unit when they observed an issue.

“They reported a loss of process fluid from the unit and tried to evacuate the scene,” CSB member Manuel Ehrlich said, shedding the first light on what caused the catastrophic explosions that damaged nearby homes, set off nearly a week-long fire at the plant and led to the release of chemicals including 1,3-butadiene and asbestos.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – December 5, 2019

Frack to the Future: Houston’s economy is emulating the 1980s oil bust

Fracking Bust: The Sequel.

At least, that’s how Greater Houston Partnership’s lead economist Patrick Jankowski sees Houston right now. With an over-saturated real estate market, an overbuilt industrial market and a bleak outlook for oil and gas, history may not be repeating itself, but it looks pretty close, Jankowski wrote in his annual economic forecast report for the region.

“There was a downturn in the ‘80s, and things got better in ‘85, and then another downturn in ‘86,” he said. “We had a downturn (in 2016), then 2017, 2018 looked pretty good, and now we’re seeing another downturn. It’s a very similar pattern.” ….

Houston’s economy is tied to the energy market, and the energy market is not doing so hot. Energy makes up 9 percent of the local economy, and the sector is set to lose a net 4,000 jobs next year, according to Greater Houston Partnership’s forecast.

 

 

Reuters – December 5, 2019

Kinder Morgan expects earnings to increase slightly in 2020

U.S. pipeline operator Kinder Morgan Inc (KMI.N) on Thursday said it expects core earnings to increase slightly next year and signaled it would move to cut its debt load and increase its dividend.

Investors this year have pushed U.S. oil and gas pipeline companies to improve their financial health and deliver positive free cash flow. Low energy prices have pressured pipeline earnings and some projects have stalled as U.S. shale drillers idled rigs.

Kinder Morgan said it expected adjusted pre-tax earnings of $7.6 billion next year, in line with Wall Street estimates but slightly up from a recent forecast of $7.56 billion in the third quarter.

 

 

Rigzone – December 5, 2019

Energy Transfer Expands Pipeline Network

Energy Transfer LP reported Thursday that it has added crude oil and natural gas liquids gathering and transmission pipelines in the DJ Basin in Colorado and Anadarko Basin in Oklahoma and Kansas as well as natural gas gathering and processing assets in Western Canada’s Alberta Basin.

The larger pipeline network, along with a major crude oil terminal near Houston, come with the completion Thursday of Energy Transfer’s approximately $5 billion cash and stock acquisition of SemGroup Corp. During a special meeting Wednesday, holders of a majority of Tulsa-based SemGroup’s stock voted to approve the deal, Dallas-based Energy Transfer said in a written statement.

 

 

Fox News – December 5, 2019

Exxon’s days as dog of the Dow are over: Bank of America

Exxon Mobil has been one of the dogs of the Dow Jones Industrial Average this year, but 2020 will be a different story, according to a Bank of America analyst who named the energy giant his top major oil pick for 2020.

The Irving, Texas-based company, whose shares have risen less than 1 percent this year, is the fourth-worst performer among the 30 members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

Like its rivals, Exxon has been pummeled by low crude prices, but Bank of America analyst Doug Leggate expects it will benefit next year as higher production makes up for oil hovering around $54 a barrel, down from a 2014 peak of about $107. Leggate expects Exxon shares to surge 47 percent to $100 in 2020.

An inflection point in Exxon’s production in the oil-rich Permian basin, located in the southwestern U.S., “is well underway,” and the first oil production from operations in Guyana, confirmed for December, “kickstarts what we expect to be seven to eight years of growth,” Leggate wrote. The two developments will help lift cash flow by 50 percent from 2019, he said.

 

 

WALA (AL) – Deember 5, 2019

Gulf oil spill: The new flood of BP lawsuits hitting Mobile’s federal court

Nearly a decade after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a new wave of lawsuits against BP is hitting the federal courts.

The new litigation is the result of a court ruling that blocks thousands of people from a medical settlement negotiated after the 2010 environmental disaster. It threatens to clog court dockets for years. It also means plaintiffs like Sherry Carney might have to wait a long time for their day in court.

“It was a fine line between life and death; I can tell you that,” Carney said, reflecting on how the oil spill changed her life.

Carney was a Dauphin Island city councilwoman at the time. She said she had planned to make her house on the island’s fragile west end her “forever home.” But she said that months of breathing in toxic fumes took a toll on her health.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – December 5, 2019

Huntsman buys Houston spray foam company for $350M

The Woodlands-based Huntsman Corp. said Thursday it will pay $350 million in cash to buy the Houston spray foam business Icynene-Lapolla.

Icynene-Lapolla specializes in manufacturing polyurethane spray foam insulation systems mostly for insulation and roofing applications in homes and commercial buildings. Canada-based Icynene and Houston’s Lapolla merged two years ago to create a larger spray foam player spread across North America.

“As the demand for energy efficiency continues to grow, both in residential and commercial construction, this combination of companies will provide Huntsman with the largest global array of spray foam technology, integration of raw materials and associates,” said Huntsman Chief Executive Peter Huntsman.

 

 

Merced Sun Star (CA) – December 5, 2019

Offshore drilling creates these new dangers onshore, environmental report says

Devastating oil spills of the Deepwater Horizon variety aren’t the only risk posed by expanded offshore drilling in waters off the United States, a new environmental report says.

New oil and gas drilling along the country’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts — which the Trump administration proposed but put on hold — would spur a flurry of energy development on dry land, raising the risk of broken pipelines and refinery pollution in coastal areas, according to a report released Wednesday by Environment America, a coalition of 29 state environmental groups.

“Whether it causes oil spills off our coast or pollution on our shores, offshore drilling is dirty and dangerous,” report co-author Kelsey Lamp, oceans advocate for Environment America Research & Policy Center, said in a news release.

 

 

The Algemeiner (NY) – December 4, 2019

Israel’s Leviathan Field to Start Supplying Gas This Month

Leviathan, Israel’s largest offshore natural-gas field, will start supplying the local market by the end of December, followed by exports to Egypt and Jordan soon after, Reuters reported on Monday.

“Within two to three weeks, we will open the wells and start to supply the gas,” said Binyamin Zomer, vice president for regional affairs at Texas-based Noble Energy.

“Before the end of the year, we will start supplying the domestic market, and in the weeks right after that, we will export to Egypt and Jordan,” Zomer told the annual Israel Energy and Business Convention, according to the report.

Noble Energy discovered the Leviathan field, located in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Haifa, in 2010.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – December 2, 2019

Drilling Down: Top 10 drilling rig companies in Texas and their customers

Some 368 horizontal drilling rigs are in operation in Texas, and more than half of them belong to three drilling companies.

In figures exclusively provided to the Houston Chronicle, the Austin oilfield data firm Enverus reports that Tulsa-based Helmerich & Payne is the top drilling rig operator in Texas with 117 horizontal rigs deployed across the state.

Nabor Industries, a drilling rig operator headquartered in Bermuda with principal offices in Houston, ranks second with 42 active horizontal rigs. Calgary oilfield service company Ensign Energy Services ranks third with 33 horizontal drilling rigs deployed in Texas.

 

Utilities

 

S&P Global Platts – December 5, 2019

ERCOT power reserve margin to be 10.6% in summer 2020, up from 10.5% in previous forecast

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas forecast planning reserve margin for summer 2020 increased by 0.1 percentage point in its latest long-term resource adequacy report, reflecting a lower forecast peakload and renewable capacity increases.

In the Capacity, Demand, and Reserves Report released Thursday, ERCOT forecast a planning reserve margin of 10.6%, up from the May CDR Report’s summer 2020 forecast of 10.5%. The planning reserve margin is the percentage by which total resources are expected to exceed forecast peakload.

In forward trading on the Intercontinental Exchange on Thursday morning, ERCOT North Hub July-August on-peak packages were essentially flat at about $147/MWh.

 

 

KVUE (Austin) – December 5, 2019

Austin Energy working with Austin’s airport to harness solar power

Austin Energy announced on Twitter they are working with the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to buy 1.8 MW of solar power from panels on top of the airport’s new parking garage in a power purchase agreement.

This new batch of solar power will be used to support Austin Energy’s residential solar power option, Community Solar.

The program aims to provide Austin Energy’s residential customers with an option for clean energy.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – December 5, 2019

New power seller from London is opening operations in Texas

Bulb, a retail electricity seller based in London, announced it will begin selling electricity in Texas in the first half of 2020.

The company says it will offer just one rate plan and will not charge cancellation fees.

Bulb was founded four years ago and provides electricity to 1.5 million consumers in the United Kingdom.

 

 

Think GeoEnergy – December 5, 2019

With $1m grant from DOE, University of Texas pushes geothermal entrepreneurship

As announced on the website of the University of Texas at Austin, the Cockrell School of Engineering is launching a unique initiative that aims to make the school a national hub for geothermal energy expertise and startups. The initiative has been made possible with a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The new Geothermal Entrepreneurship Organization (GEO) will bring together engineers, researchers and entrepreneurs to develop technologies and launch companies to help advance the geothermal energy industry.

The organization, led by Jamie Beard and Bob Metcalfe of the Cockrell School’s Innovation Center, aims to leverage areas of excellence in geosystems and drilling engineering at UT to spur geothermal technology development and maturation. The effort will engage all groups with relevant expertise within the Cockrell School, UT’s Jackson School of Geosciences, the Bureau of Economic Geology, the College of Natural Sciences and the university’s more than 20 energy research centers.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

WFAA (DFW) – December 4, 2019

‘The Great Place’ goes green: Fort Hood’s mission to reduce environmental impact

In a place as massive as Fort Hood, where soldiers train for real-world missions, there’s another battle with a big impact.

The Army post known as “The Great Place” is working to become a green place. It’s one of the largest military installations in the world, with a population bigger than most cities spread across a vast 350-square-mile area.

“About five times as big as Washington, D.C.,” said Timi Dutchuk, chief of environmental programs at Ford Hood.

A post that large has an outsize environmental impact, and Dutchuk and her colleagues are working to reduce it without compromising Fort Hood’s larger training mission. The primary motivation is to reduce costs and improve efficiency, but it also helps reduce the facility’s carbon emissions.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – December 4, 2019

Electric vehicles to make up 50% of new autos by 2040: Platts Analytics

Around half of all light-duty vehicles produced by automakers will be electric by 2040, S&P Global Platts Analytics said Wednesday, although EVs on the road will only be around 23% owing to fleet turnover.

In its Long Term Electric Vehicle outlook Platts Analytics said EVs will start to gain market share as unit costs, primarily driven by the price of a battery pack, start to come down and make mass market ownership more viable.

“Platts Analytics anticipates that plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) adoption will accelerate in the long term, displacing internal combustion engine vehicles and eventually comprising a majority of global light duty vehicle sales,” it said. “As PEV fleets grow, they will displace oil product demand while driving incremental power load demand.”

 

Regulatory

 

Texas Monitor – December 5, 2019

High-speed rail company wants the best of both worlds: private records and public land-grab power

Texas Central Partners is a private company hoping to build a high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston. In 2014, the company needed to share some documents with the state transportation agency. But it didn’t want those documents to become discoverable by the public.

So Texas Central executed a nondisclosure agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation, allowing it to withhold records. The agreement is based on a 2015 state Supreme Court ruling, known as the Boeing decision, that allows private businesses with government contracts to withhold from public release records that allegedly contain trade secrets.

To build the 240-mile line, Texas Central also needs to buy a lot of land, including some from people who don’t want to sell. And so, Texas Central has also claimed in court documents that the partnership is, in some ways, a public entity – which, it argues, should give it the right to use eminent domain to take land, at an allegedly fair market price.

 

 

Dallas Morning News* – December 5, 2019

Thomas O. McGarity: The Port Neches disaster shows the risk of Trump rolling back environmental regulations

It is too soon to tell whether the TCP plant was in compliance with the Obama administration regulations. We do know that it has been out of compliance with its permit requirements in 12 of the last 36 quarters, and that it released more than 61,000 pounds of butadiene, a known human carcinogen, in 2018.

Ironically, the Donald Trump administration gutted the Obama administration regulations a week before the explosion as part of its ongoing effort to roll back regulations that many petrochemical businesses don’t like. …

It is a good idea to revisit rules periodically to see if they are still working, and all of the recent presidential administrations have undertaken such lookbacks. But the Trump administration’s wholesale assault on regulations designed to protect neighbors, workers and the environment is unprecedented and dangerous.

As the 2020 elections approach, many issues will be on the agenda. The fate of the regulatory programs that protect us from irresponsible companies should be high on the list.

 

 

Common Dreams – December 5, 2019

People Who Want to Ban Fracking Immediately, Says Joe Biden, ‘Oughta Vote for Someone Else’

If you want a candidate committed to banning fracking in the United States immediately, find another candidate than Joe Biden.

That’s the advice of Biden himself, given to an activist from the Sunrise Movement in a video posted online Thursday after the two discussed the former vice president’s adviser Heather Zichal and Biden’s plans for the future of fracking.

In the video of the interaction posted on Twitter by Sunrise Thursday afternoon, Biden appears confused about Zichal’s connections to the natural gas industry, protesting that the adviser “worked for us in the administration.”

“No, no, I know,” the Sunrise activist patiently explains as Biden grabs him by the shoulders. “But she also worked—”

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – December 5, 2019

Subscriber’s Edition

Asterisk * indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at website because it’s password protected

 

Lead Stories

 

Bloomberg News/Japan Times – December 4, 2019

Report from Exxon Mobil-owned firm in 1991 shows the cost of curbing CO2

Back in 1991, when climate policy was in its infancy, an Exxon subsidiary came to a startling and prescient conclusion about how to curb carbon-dioxide emissions that cause global warming: It would require a heavy price on carbon dioxide pollution before the companies creating emissions would change, the researchers concluded, at a level far higher than almost any in use today.

Calgary-based Imperial Oil Ltd., which has ties to Exxon Mobil’s predecessors going back to the end of the 19th century, hired an outside research firm to look at how environmental taxes might affect both carbon dioxide pollution and the Canadian economy. Cutting emissions would only be possible with a price per ton of about 55 Canadian dollars, or roughly C$95 ($72) in today’s money, and, the researchers argued, the economic impacts would be vast.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – December 4, 2019

Bob Metcalfe, Jamie Beard: Innovations in deep geothermal wells could solve global energy crisis “within a decade”

Geothermal heat has the potential to solve the looming global energy crisis, not only in the short term but for good. But first, we must prioritize research and development that enables access to enough geothermal heat to meet demand. The potential return on investment? Near limitless and clean power for the entire world.

Energy is one of those game changers that, when solved, will offer a cascade of solutions to other equally pressing problems — such as access to fresh water, carbon emissions, even poverty. But energy cannot just be clean. It must also be abundant, ubiquitous, cheap and most importantly, in constant supply. This reliable flow of power is referred to as baseload.

As our economy and society have been framed around the idea that energy is somehow finite and subject to the ebb and flow of market forces, we continue to overlook the potential of a clean, baseload energy source that lies literally beneath our feet: geothermal.

 

 

Texas Tribune – December 4, 2019

Report: Texas ranks second in budget cuts for environmental protection

In the past decade, a historic industrial buildout has taken hold in Texas — thanks to the fracking revolution — that has created vast wealth and greatly increased the need for government permitting of new facilities as well as pollution monitoring.

But during the same time period, Texas lawmakers cut funding to the state agency responsible for doing those things by 35%, according to a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit founded by former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials. That funding reduction, adjusted for inflation, came even as the state budget grew by 41%.

Among the 30 states that have cut spending to environmental agencies between 2008 and 2018, the report found that Texas ranks second in the size of reductions. In fiscal year 2008, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) had $578 million at its disposal in today’s dollars; Last year, it had $374 million.

 

 

Yahoo! News/Oil Price – November 26, 2019

The World Is Getting Windier And Renewables Will Benefit

Renewable energy just got some major investment tailwinds–quite literally. In fact, the biggest breakthrough in wind power generation right now isn’t technological–it’s natural, and it costs nothing.

For three decades, from about 1980 until 2010, wind speeds around the world were slowing down. Now, researchers say that the world is going to keep getting windier for the next 10 years.

In other words, climate change itself is an answer to climate change through a reversal of the process known as “global terrestrial stilling”.

According to a new study by Princeton University, this reversal has come about due to changing ocean-atmosphere dynamics–or shifting ocean circulation patterns–that have seen wind energy potential increase by approximately 17% between 2010 and 2017.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – December 5, 2019

Oil slips as OPEC+ prepares to discuss deeper output cuts

Oil prices fell in muted trading ahead of OPEC talks in Vienna later on Thursday, trimming some of the sharp gains made the previous session on both the possibility of producers agreeing further output cuts and a sharp drop in U.S. crude inventories.

Brent crude futures dipped 10 cents, or 0.2%, to $62.90 a barrel by 0547 GMT. Brent surged 3.6% on Wednesday.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 22 cents, or 0.4%, to $58.21 a barrel. They settled up 4.2% on Wednesday.

Prices are now back roughly to the levels of a week ago, before they plunged on a lack of progress on resolving a 17-month-old China-U.S. trade war that has hit global growth and demand for oil.

 

 

MarketWatch – December 4, 2019

EIA reports a 4.9 million-barrel weekly fall in U.S. crude-oil supplies

The Energy Information Administration on Wednesday reported that U.S. crude supplies fell by 4.9 million barrels for the week ended Nov. 29. That followed increases in each of the past five weeks.

Analysts polled by S&P Global Platts forecast a fall of 700,000 barrels. The American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday reported a 3.7 million-barrel decline, according to sources.

The EIA data showed supply increases of 3.4 million barrels for gasoline and 3.1 million barrels for distillates.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – December 4, 2019

Port Neches must shelter-in-place; PN-G schools canceled

“I mean, this is getting ridiculous at this point,” Port Neches-Groves ISD Superintendent Mike Gonzales said after his district canceled classes for the rest of the week.

The district, which had resumed classes Tuesday after the Nov. 27 TPC Group explosions rocked Port Neches, was notified Wednesday night along with town residents that another shelter-in-place order had been called for the city.

The unified command responding to the incident made the call shortly after 6 p.m. after a monitor near the site detected a large concentration of 1,3-butadiene. Lower temperatures and south winds predicted through the night pushed officials to take precautions.

 

 

Nasdaq – December 4, 2019

Oil companies swap stakes in Mexico as government holds off on auctions

With Mexico’s government insisting that energy companies increase oil and gas output before it auctions off more of the country’s vast reserves or offers more partnerships with state-run Pemex, firms ranging from foreign majors to local players are scrambling to buy and sell blocks they already own.

The negotiations are creating a dynamic secondary market for oil acreage, which could be the only investment opportunity left for firms until leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador unblocks his predecessor’s flagship energy reform that has seen no new licensing rounds since 2018.

Companies selling stakes include large foreign producers that were awarded blocks in previous rounds such as China’s CNOOC 0883.HK and Germany’s Wintershall Dea WINT.UL. Smaller firms including Hokchi Energy and Grupo Diavaz are also trying to share a portion of their assets.

 

 

Yahoo! News – December 4, 2019

Bad Oil News Piles Up In The Permian And For Companies Serving It: Dallas Fed

Even as U.S. crude and total petroleum production continue to set records, that is happening while surrounded by cutbacks in operations that are leading to less spending and fewer jobs. That’s obvious in the recently released data and analysis from the Dallas Fed, contained in both the Permian Basin Economic Indicators and the bank’s Energy Indicators.

The most stunning number comes in its figure for October employment. The Fed reported that in October, the employment category of mining, logging and construction in the Permian Basin of west Texas was down 13.9% year-on-year. That sector, despite its name, is overwhelmingly oil & gas-related. For the first 10 months of the year, the Fed reported employment in the Permian Basin was down just 400 jobs, but that is because of growth in other sectors and oil and gas growth earlier in the year. Through the first 10 months of 2018, total employment was up 16,700 jobs.

 

 

KHOU (Houston) – December 4, 2019

Recent oil and gas layoffs may be indicator of things to come in 2020

“It’s going to be a bleak holiday season for many oil field employees,” said University of Houston Energy Fellow Ed Hirs.

Hirs predicted similar predicaments in 2020 based, in part, on an oil oversupply, ongoing trade war, and resulting impact on prices.

“And, to be fair, everyone in oil and gas is an optimist,” Hirs said. “So you postpone layoffs until the last possible minute.”

A number of Houston companies tied to the oil and gas industry have reportedly laid off hundreds of workers so far this year.

Hirs believes many of them may be adjusting to life with leaner payrolls.

“Certainly, we’re going to have to go forward with a lower level of activity for the next couple of years,” Hirs said.

 

 

Dallas Morning News* – December 4, 2019

Pennsylvania prosecutor accuses Energy Transfer of ‘buy-a-badge’ security scheme

A county prosecutor in Pennsylvania is accusing Dallas-based Energy Transfer, the owner of multibillion-dollar pipelines carrying highly volatile natural gas liquids across the state, of illegally using uniformed state constables as a private security force in what he called a “buy-a-badge” scheme.

Chester County District Attorney Thomas Hogan’s office also charged a security manager for Energy Transfer and four men associated with security subcontractors that helped recruit constables to patrol the Mariner East pipelines.

The charges include dealing in the proceeds of unlawful activities and bribery.

Energy Transfer, a multibillion-dollar firm that owns sprawling interests in oil and gas pipelines and storage and processing facilities, said in a statement that the charges have no merit, although it acknowledged that the constables were hired at its expense.

 

 

York Daily Record (PA) – December 4, 2019

Pa.’s Mariner East pipeline illegally paid constables to act as armed security guards, DA says

The Mariner East pipeline continues to be at the center of a scandal following news that their security personnel hired armed Pennsylvania constables to secure the property in an elaborate “buy-a-badge” scheme.

On Tuesday, Chester County District Attorney Thomas P. Hogan said he filed criminal charges against employees of the pipeline’s parent company, Energy Transfer LP of Dallas, Texas, for bribery, conspiracy and related offenses.

“This is a pretty simple case,” Hogan said in a statement. “State Constables sold their badges and official authority. Energy Transfer bought those badges and authority, then used them as a weapon to intimidate citizens.”

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – December 4, 2019

Audubon: Commonwealth LNG could destroy habitat of rare, elusive marsh bird

Environmentalists are raising concerns that building a new liquefied natural gas export terminal along the mouth of the Calcasieu Ship Channel in southwest Louisiana could harm a shy and elusive marsh bird that is expected to be added to the endangered species list.

In a public letter filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Tuesday, the Audubon Society of Louisiana wrote that the proposed [Houston-based] Commonwealth LNG export terminal could destroy habitat for the eastern black rail, a rare marsh bird that fits in the palm of the average person’s hand.

Described as “shy and elusive” by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the rail is one of 41 species of animals that have been nominated to be added to the agency’s endangered species list next year.

 

 

Oil Price – December 2, 2019

Visualizing The US Shale Slowdown: Charts

There continues to be much speculation and information pointing to a potential slowing of US oil production. However the latest production data from the EIA continues to point higher, albeit at a slower rate.

US C + C production reached a new high of 12,463 kb/d in September according to the November EIA 914 report. Looking forward to October production, the November Monthly Energy Review (MER) estimates US production for October to be 12,600 kb/d, an estimated increase of 137 kb/d, shown in red as the last data point.

The initial growth estimate for 2019 indicates a slower growth rate for 2019 vs 2018. In 2018, growth to September 2018 was 1,432 kb/d. For 2019 it is 426 kb/d, ~30% of the 2018 growth rate. So while US production is growing, yearly growth is slowing.

 

 

Reuters/Business Times – December 4, 2019

Exxon’s Texas refinery shuts large crude unit to repair leak

Exxon Mobil Corp shut the large crude distillation unit (CDU) at its 369,024 barrel-per-day (bpd) Beaumont, Texas, refinery on Wednesday, said sources familiar with plant operations.

Also, Exxon restarted the 65,000-bpd hydrocracker on Wednesday after finishing a two-month multi-unit overhaul that also included the 80,000 bpd reformer, which restarted last week, the sources said.

Exxon spokesman Jeremy Eikenberry declined to discuss the status of individual units at the Beaumont refinery, but said the company continues to meet its contractual commitments.

 

 

Carlsbad Current Argus – December 4, 2019

BLM: Thousands of acres of New Mexico public land offered up for oil and gas drilling

A 10-day protest period for the sale of public land to the oil and gas industry in three states was scheduled to begin on Monday.

The federal Bureau of Land Management is hoping to auction off leases of public land to the oil and gas industry to produce fossil fuels on public land.

The BLM posted notice of the sale Monday, and it was planned for Feb. 6, 2020.

 

 

NASDAQ – December 4, 2019

Brazil’s Petrobras says its value could increase by almost half by 2021

Brazilian state-run oil firm Petrobras PETR4.SA expects to boost its equity value by roughly 45% by 2021, in large part through cost cuts and the divestment of non-core assets, it said in a presentation released on Wednesday.

Capital expenditure from 2020 to 2024 will be concentrated in Brazil’s offshore “pre-salt” formation, with a special emphasis on its Buzios field, said Petroleo Brasileiro SA PETR4.SA, as the firm is formally known.

The presentation, which was accompanied by comments from Petrobras executives at the firm’s New York Investors’ Day, was the first time the firm has offered details on its five-year business plan, released last week.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 29, 2019

Saudi Arabia signals it’s had enough of OPEC+ quota cheats

For the last year, Saudi Arabia has largely turned a blind eye to cheaters within the OPEC+ alliance, cutting its own output more than agreed to offset over-production from the likes of Iraq and even Russia. Now, Riyadh’s had enough.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, who took over from Khalid Al-Falih in September, will likely use his first OPEC meeting as Saudi oil minister next week to signal OPEC’s dominant producer is no longer willing to compensate for other members’ non-compliance, according to people familiar with the kingdom’s thinking. OPEC meets in Vienna on Dec. 5, followed by the larger OPEC+ alliance, which includes Russia, the next day.

“Saudi Arabia is taking a harder line than in the past,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at consultant Energy Aspects Ltd. in London. “Riyadh is making very clear that they don’t want to shoulder all the cuts alone.”

 

 

The Hill – November 29, 2019

From rust to robust: Appalachia’s shale region is reshaping American energy

The U.S. has surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil and natural gas producer — an accomplishment important not only to America’s foreign policy but also to the father and mother in Steubenville, Ohio, working to provide for their family.

America’s energy abundance has positively transformed our country’s energy outlook by delivering shared economic, environmental and security benefits for all. Consumers, from families to manufacturers, continue to be the clear winners.

Over the span of 2008 to 2018, natural gas end-users, which include American households, businesses, manufacturers and electric power generators, have realized an incredible $1.1 trillion in savings, according to a recently released economic analysis.

 

 

CNBC – November 29, 2019

Falling oil prices may be misreading a tenuous situation in Iraq

The resignation of Iraq’s prime minister helped trigger a drop in oil prices, but analysts say that may not be the right response by investors, as Iraq’s future may have just become even more uncertain.

Iraq is the second-largest oil producer in OPEC, with output nearing 5 million barrels a day, and analysts had said that anti-government protests in the country could ultimately impact oil exports if they continued.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi announced his resignation Friday after the country’s top cleric criticized the government following a deadly day of protests. Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani urged Iraq’s Parliament to stop the country from “sliding into chaos, violence and destruction,” according to news reports.

 

Utilities

 

S&P Global Platts – December 4, 2019

FERC clears MISO interconnection reforms targeting recent influx in speculative projects

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s plan to crack down on developers testing the waters with speculative power projects that are increasingly clogging the grid operator’s interconnection queue.

FERC’s Tuesday order (ER20-41) allows MISO to amend its generator interconnection procedures with more stringent site control requirements. FERC also gave the nod to MISO’s proposal to revise its milestone payment provisions and refund rules in a manner expected to introduce more meaningful risk into the generator interconnection process.

Only 21% of the record high number of projects entering MISO’s generator interconnection queue in recent years have historically achieved commercial operation, MISO has said. The high dropout rate, particularly during the definitive planning phase (DPP) when MISO determines the need for transmission network upgrades to accommodate interconnection of new generation facilities, prompted MISO’s filing.

 

 

Courthouse News – December 4, 2019

Green Groups Lose Ground in Fight Against Texas Nuke Waste Plan

As a plan to ship highly radioactive waste from the nation’s nuclear power plants to a remote corner of the West Texas desert slogs its way through government bureaucracy, environmental groups’ hopes of having a say in the matter appear to be vanishing.

The years-long process surrounding the plan is nearing a crucial juncture, one where regulators may soon decide whether to approve the idea without formally considering concerns from critics.

“Are we being ignored? Yeah, we’re being ignored big time,” said Terry Lodge, an attorney for the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development – or SEED – Coalition.

 

 

Huntsville Item – December 4, 2019

City officials looking to fight proposed CenterPoint Texas rate increase

Huntsville officials are voicing concerns about CenterPoint Energy’s proposed natural-gas rate increase

CenterPoint Texas, which provides natural gas for 189,000 customers in East Texas, wants to add $6.8 million in natural gas revenue in 2020. That would result in a rate increase ranging from $1.41 to $8.19 per month for the city of Huntsville’s 4,404 residential customers. ….

On Tuesday, the Huntsville City Council held the first reading of an ordinance that will partner it with 10-20 cities in the region as they fight the proposed rates.

“The city has historically hired the Lawton Law Firm alongside other neighboring cities to review all gas and electric rate increases,” city attorney Leonard Schneider said. “The proposed rate increase really only affects residential customers.”

City officials are hoping that the negotiations will result in a lower rate increase. However, if no deal is reached the application would go before the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – December 4, 2019

Coal plants close as they get too costly to operate

Coal-fired power plants in the United States are closing because they’re more expensive to operate and maintain than cheaper forms of power such as natural gas-fueled generation, according to a new government study.

The Department of Energy reported that coal plants have been facing a general decline as low natural gas prices have made natural gas-fueled generators more competitive.

U.S. coal-fired electric generating capacity peaked at nearly 318 gigawatts in 2011 but declined to 257 gigawatts in 2017. One gigawatt provides enough electricity for about 700,000 homes.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Texas Public Radio – December 2, 2019

Chew On This: Farmers Are Using Food Waste To Make Electricity

“We presently take in about a 100 tons [of food waste], which is about three tractor-trailer loads, every day,” [Deerfield Mass. Way Farm Inc. owner Peter] Melnik says.

In addition to all the food waste from Whole Foods, he gets whey from a Cabot Creamery in the area, as well as waste from a local brewery and a juice plant.

In the digester, he combines all of this waste with manure from his cows. The mixture cooks at about 105 degrees Fahrenheit. As the methane is released, it rises to the top of a large red tank with a black bubble-shaped dome.

“We capture the gas in that bubble. Then we suck it into a big motor,” Melnik explains. Unlike other engines that run on diesel or gasoline, this engine runs on methane.

“This turns a big generator, which is creating one megawatt of electricity” continuously, Melnik says — enough to power more than just his farm. “We only use about 10 percent of what we make, and the rest is fed onto the [electricity] grid,” Melnik explains. It’s enough to power about 1,500 homes.

 

Regulatory

 

Port Aransas South Jetty – December 4, 2019

TCEQ hears comments for Lone Star Ports, LLC, air quality permit application

More than 25 people spoke in opposition to an air quality permit application for a Lone Star Ports, LLC, marine oil terminal proposed for Harbor Island during a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) hearing.

No one spoke in favor of the project at the hearing, which was held at Port Royal Ocean Resort and Conference Center tonight, Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Folks said they opposed the project citing environmental concerns, air quality and quality of life.

“We don’t want that thing in our damn town,” John Donovan said during the formal comment period of the hearing. Donovan is a spokesman for the Port Aransas Conservancy, a citizens group that was formed to oppose industrial projects on Harbor Island.

 

 

Washington Times – December 4, 2019

US business group: Fracking ban would have dire consequences

Campaign pledges made by Democratic presidential candidates to ban hydraulic fracturing by the oil and natural gas sector would have dire economic consequences for New Mexico and the rest of the United States if implemented, said the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute.

Marty Durbin is in New Mexico to highlight the results of a study that shows there would be billions of dollars in lost tax revenue and thousands of layoffs if a ban was imposed on fracking, a technique used to extract oil and gas. Durbin was among the speakers Wednesday at business luncheon in Albuquerque.

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Lead Stories

 

KVUE (Austin) – December 3, 2019

Kinder Morgan says Hill Country pipeline construction could start in January

Allen Fore, Kinder Morgan vice president, said roughly 100 miles of pipeline is under construction in West Texas.

The more than 400-mile pipeline would carry natural gas from West Texas to an area near Katy, Texas, near Houston.

Fore said the company is preparing for construction in the Hill Country.

“We’re finalizing land acquisition,” he said. “We’re over 95%, so the land has been acquired for the properties. We have over 1,000 landowners that are part of this, so that’s significant progress there.”

He said there has been some kickback from property owners, typically ones in the Hill Country.

“A lot of the landowners, this is the first time they’ve experienced pipelines and negotiations and evaluations and those types of things,” said Fore.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – December 3, 2019

House report details Rick Perry’s involvement in Trump’s Ukraine ‘scheme’

Rick Perry was one of several senior Trump administration officials who knew about and approved of President Donald Trump’s attempt to “use the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 election,” according to a report by Democrats running an impeachment inquiry into the president.

The report, the culmination of weeks of public and private hearings by the House Intelligence committee, says the president “subverted” foreign policy toward Ukraine and “undermined” national security when he pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to announce investigations into Trump’s political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as debunked theories that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.

Trump’s so-called scheme was “undertaken with the knowledge and approval of” senior administration officials, including Perry, the former Texas governor who stepped down as U.S. Secretary of Energy earlier this week.

 

 

Bloomberg News/Houma Courier (LA) – November 30, 2019

U.S. posts first month in 70 years as a net oil exporter

The U.S. solidified its status as an energy producer by posting the first full month as a net exporter of crude and petroleum products since government records began in 1949.

The nation exported 89,000 barrels a day more than it imported in September, according to data from the Energy Information Administration Friday. While the U.S. has previously reported net exports on a weekly basis, today’s figures mark a key milestone that few would have predicted just a decade ago, before the onset of the shale boom.

President Donald Trump has touted American energy independence, saying that the nation is moving away from relying on foreign oil. While the net exports show decreasing reliance on imports, the U.S. still continues to buy heavy crude oil from other nations to meet the needs of its refineries. It also buys refined products when they are available for a lower cost from foreign suppliers.

 

 

Texas Public Radio – December 3, 2019

San Antonio Launches Survey To Find Out Where The Internet Gaps Are

The city’s Office of Innovation is preparing a survey to find out who doesn’t have Internet service in the area.

But in a poor city like San Antonio where aging infrastructure and neglected neighborhoods are only now being addressed, it’s unclear what that will mean. One idea that has been trotted out in the past was employing unused broadband infrastructure owned by CPS energy. The Texas Legislature passed a law that makes the legality of the energy provider selling internet questionable.

The city has connected some of its public buildings and emergency operations to the “dark” fiber optic cable.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg said a study like this in San Antonio and other communities will provide the data to potentially challenge that law.

 

 

Associated Press/Capital Public Radio (CA) – December 2, 2019

Technology Meant to Detect Blackouts Could Help Prevent Wildfires In California

B. Don Russell wasn’t thinking about preventing a wildfire when he developed a tool to detect power line problems before blackouts and bigger disasters.

The electrical engineering professor at Texas A&M University figured he might save a life if his creation could prevent someone from being electrocuted by a downed live wire.

But fire prevention may be his product’s biggest selling point in California and other places that have experienced devastating wildland blazes blamed on electrical equipment.

“If we can find things when they start to fail, if we can find things that are in the process of degrading before a catastrophic event occurs, such as a downed line that might electrocute someone or a fire starting or even an outage for their customers, that’s kind of the Holy Grail,” Russell said.

The technology he bills as a one-of-a kind diagnostic tool called Distribution Fault Anticipation is now in use in Texas and being tested in California by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison. The utilities have been blamed for some of the most destructive and deadliest fires in California.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters – December 4, 2019

Oil gains before OPEC meetings, helped by decline in U.S. inventories

Oil gained on Wednesday ahead of meetings this week where OPEC and its allies are expected to extend production curbs to support the market, while industry data showing that U.S. crude stockpiles fell more than expected helped to lift prices.

Brent crude futures were up 44 cents, or 0.7%, at $61.26 a barrel by 0706 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up by 38 cents, or 0.7%, at $56.48.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies that include Russia – a group known as OPEC+ – are preparing to approve deeper crude output cuts this week, when they meet in Vienna, according to Iraq, the group’s second-biggest producer.

 

 

Reuters/Nasdaq – December 3, 2019

Fire extinguished at TPC Group’s chemical plant at Port Neches, Texas

A fire at the TPC Group’s TPCL.UL Port Neches, Texas, chemical plant has been extinguished, a statement from the Unified Command said on Tuesday.

“However, an all clear has not yet been issued. Response measures are ongoing,” the statement said.

The site has been on fire since Nov. 27 following a massive explosion that injured three workers and caused evacuations out of fear of further explosions.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – December 3, 2019

Halliburton shifts strategies in Oklahoma amid ongoing shale slump

Houston oilfield service giant Halliburton is shifting strategies sand relocating some of its field operations in Oklahoma amid the ongoing shale slump.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, the company reported that it is relocating the majority of its El Reno operations to its Duncan field camp, about 80 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. The announcement came after the company, facing reduced demand for its services, said it would close its El Reno field camp near Oklahoma City and lay off its 800 employees.

Most of the employees laid off at the El Reno field camp were offered jobs at other Halliburton locations, [company spokeswoman Emily] Mir said.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – December 3, 2019

Basic Energy Services delisted from New York Stock Exchange

Fort Worth oilfield service company Basic Energy Services is now a penny stock after being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, Basic Energy Services announced that the company’s stock is trading on the OTC Markets QX Best Markets Index under the stock ticker symbol BASX.

Previously traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the stock ticker symbol BAS, the company received a Nov. 6 delisting warning from the New York Stock Exchange after its stock had been trading below $1 per share for more than 30 trading days.

 

 

E&E News/OklahomaWatch – December 2, 2019

EPA May Allow Disposal of Oil Waste in Waterways. Is Public at Risk?

Historically, the industry has disposed of wastewater, also known as produced water or salt water, in deep injection wells. Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico are exploring the idea of allowing oil companies to recycle the fluid and either transfer it to other users or release it into surface water like streams and rivers.

Both sides agree it could happen quickly, although the regulations on releasing treated wastewater into surface water will likely vary from state to state. Oklahoma has already asked EPA for authority to issue permits for oil field waste disposal, and both Texas and New Mexico enacted laws this spring that require their environmental agencies to explore the idea.

“I don’t see it far off at all,” said Bud Ground, director of regulatory affairs at the Oklahoma Petroleum Alliance.

So far, a few other states have allowed disposal of oil and gas wastewater into rivers and streams, but it’s been limited. The changes that are happening in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico could bring the practice into the heart of the nation’s oil-producing region.

 

 

CNBC – December 3, 2019

JP Morgan expects bigger OPEC production cuts and no more ‘free passes’ for U.S. shale drillers

Many analysts expect OPEC and its partners to extend their current production agreement by three months when they meet later this week, but J.P. Morgan analysts expect further cuts of another 300,000 barrels a day.

The J.P. Morgan analysts said their base case now is that the deal will be for cuts of 1.5 million barrels a day, extended through June. The ongoing agreement between OPEC, Russia and other non-OPEC producers is for a 1.2 million barrel a day reduction. That deal was set to expire in March.

OPEC and Russia and other producers, or OPEC plus, meet Thursday and Friday in Vienna.

The J.P. Morgan analysts said they held a conference call with Jaafar Altaie, managing director and founder of Manaar Energy, on the OPEC plus outlook. Their main takeaway from the call is that Manaar expects OPEC to agree to deeper cuts. Manaar expects Saudi Arabia’s oil minister to commit to production of 10 million barrels a day, down from its current quota of 10.3 million barrels a day.

 

 

KSAT – December 3, 2019

Retired Texas shrimper wins record-breaking $50 million settlement from plastics manufacturing giant

A federal judge on Tuesday approved a historic settlement agreement between Taiwanese-based plastics manufacturer Formosa and a scrappy environmental activist represented by indigent legal services nonprofit Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid.

TRLA said the $50 million settlement is the largest in U.S. history involving a private citizen’s lawsuit against an industrial polluter under federal clean air and water laws. The money will be poured into a trust over the next five years and used to pay for programs supporting pollution mitigation, habitat restoration, public education and other environmental efforts on the middle Texas Gulf Coast.

 

 

Houston Chronicle*- December 3, 2019

Frack sand supplier U.S. Silica raises prices on its other products

Citing rising demand and production costs, Katy frac sand company U.S. Silica is raising the price of its non-frac sand products.

In a Tuesday morning statement, U.S. Silicia that it is raising prices for most of its products used to make everything from paints and roofing materials to chemicals, building products and kitty litter.

Depending on the product and grade, price increases will be as much as 6 percent. The company is also increasing prices of whole grain sand used to make glass by 5 percent.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – December 3, 2019

Cheniere seeks to resume service on one storage tank at Sabine Pass in near term

Cheniere Energy wants to prioritize returning to service one of two storage tanks that have been offline for almost two years at its Sabine Pass LNG export terminal in Louisiana as global demand is expected to pick up through the winter.

The company said in a letter to US regulators released Tuesday that the approach would allow it to utilize the first tank in the near term while it continues to work to meet requirements needed to resume service on the second tank. …

A mishap that caused an inadvertent release of gas in January 2018 led to the shutdown of the two tanks at Sabine Pass. Cheniere said in August that repairs were complete and that it expected both storage tanks to be operational by the end of this year if there were no further regulatory delays.

 

 

Associated Press/KERA – December 3, 2019

Earthquake Rattles Prague, Oklahoma, Site Of Past 5.7 Temblor

The U.S. Geological Survey has reported a magnitude 3.8 earthquake in Oklahoma near Prague, where a magnitude 5.7 quake struck eight years ago.

Prague City Manager Jim Greff says there are no reports of injury or damage from the quake recorded at 6:12 a.m. Monday about 43 miles east of Oklahoma City. The quake was reportedly felt 91 miles away in Bartlesville. …

Greff said the quake “brings back memories” of the November 2011 quake, the strongest in recorded state history until a magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck near Pawnee in 2016.

 

 

Dallas Morning News* – December 1, 2019

Mexico stands by Lopez Obrador, poll says, even as violence soars, economy crumbles

As Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador marks his first year in office on Sunday, Mexicans’ romance with the left-leaning populist leader remains strong.

But a new poll conducted by Mexico City’s Reforma newspaper, co-sponsored by The Dallas Morning News and The Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center at Southern Methodist University, shows signs of fading enthusiasm as the nation faces weariness over shocking violence and slowing economic growth.

Additionally, Mexicans are divided in their opinions about the U.S. They overwhelmingly dislike Donald Trump, but more are planning to migrate north, according to the poll. Only 45% of people polled said they feel safe shopping in the U.S., while 44% said they felt unsafe.

 

 

Financial Times* – November 27, 2019

Jim Krane: Houston, you have a problem: climate change

In some ways, Texas’ energy industry is its own worst enemy. This year, Permian basin oil producers are on pace to flare or vent almost 7bn cubic meters of natural gas, data from Rystad Energy show.

That’s as much as Norway consumes. And that’s just the Permian. There’s more wanton waste of gas in Texas’ Eagle Ford shale. In Texas, flaring and venting is done without penalty, via routine permits handed out by the Texas Railroad Commission.

At its core, flaring is deliberate aggravation of climate change. Companies do this because they and regulators agree that responsible capture and marketing of natural gas should not get in the way of increased oil production.

When regulators let companies pollute like it’s 1959, they invite dramatic proposals like Ms Warren’s fracking ban.

 

Utilities

 

S&P Global Platts – December 3, 2019

Natural gas trade group backs principle of carbon pricing in power markets

A US trade group representing large natural gas suppliers came out in favor of a carbon price as a key method of reducing carbon emissions in power markets now and enabling drastic cuts or eliminating emissions in the future.

The position, which the Natural Gas Supply Association announced Tuesday, comes as an increasing number of states are adopting ambitious carbon reduction goals and renewable portfolio standards, and the gas industry is striving to show it can remain part of decarbonizing energy markets.

NGSA is stopping short of laying out a detailed plan, but is backing the high-level principle of a carbon pricing model broadly applied to all emitting sectors and across broad geographic areas.

 

 

Dallas Observer – December 2, 2019

What Happens When You Buy Green Energy?

Through the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Chariot purchases energy credits from energy producers in the state. Energy producers must register with the Texas Public Utilities Commission to be certified as renewable energy generators, according to Don Tucker, the council’s manager of settlement and metering. Companies producing wind, solar, hydro power, natural gas from landfill decomposition or energy from biodegradable materials can be considered for renewable energy credits status. The council evaluates these companies and decides what percentage of their energy production qualifies as renewable.

After they are certified, energy generators register with the council, which has been appointed by the utilities commission as the manager of the renewable energy credit trading program. Energy providers also register with the council, and after that can enter into contracts with energy producers to purchase renewable energy credits directly from them.

The council tracks credits, which are reported to them by companies and on-site monitors. The council then certifies and awards the credits to the energy generators so that those companies can then sell them to energy providers. After that provider has used up the credit, it is considered retired and cannot be used elsewhere in the system, Tucker said.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – December 2, 2019

Overpowered: Why a US gas-building spree continues despite electricity glut

When the Inland Empire Energy Center was announced in 2005, it was touted as a breakthrough power plant that would fill a critical shortfall in California’s electricity supply for decades to come. Located in Riverside, Calif., and based on a vaunted new gas turbine technology from General Electric Co., the 730-MW, $500 million power plant came online in 2009.

Only eight years later, however, in March 2017, GE shut down one of the plant’s two operating units. And in June 2019, the company said it would close the plant for good, only 10 years after starting it up.

Inland Empire was powered by a legacy technology that is “uneconomical to support further,” a GE spokesperson said.

 

 

E&E News/Energy News Network – December 2, 2019

How one company could transform energy in Southern states

From a perch near the Gulf of Mexico, Entergy Corp. is positioning itself as a utility company of the future — even if critics lament what that could mean for electricity choices and costs in the South.

The company, Louisiana’s largest power provider, is exploring a different type of model where a utility extends its control of generation to homes and businesses while still investing in big, central station plants.

The concept could inform electricity trends beyond the parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Arkansas that Entergy serves through its regulated utilities.

“Innovation and new technologies will be an important part of our business as we continue to explore solutions to improve our customers’ everyday lives,” Entergy CEO Leo Denault said on a recent earnings conference call.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Network World – November 13, 2019

Space-sourced power could beam electricity where needed

Capturing solar energy in space and then beaming it down to Earth could provide consistent electricity supplies in places that have never seen it before. Should the as-yet untested idea work and be scalable, it has applications in IoT-sensor deployments, wireless mobile network mast installs and remote edge data centers.

The radical idea is that super-efficient solar cells collect the sun’s power in space, convert it to radio waves, and then squirt the energy down to Earth, where it is converted into usable power. The defense industry, which is championing the concept, wants to use the satellite-based tech to provide remote power for forward-operating bases that currently require difficult and sometimes dangerous-to-obtain, escorted fuel deliveries to power electricity generators.

 

Regulatory

 

Laredo Morning Times – December 3, 2019

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick: It’s time to ratify the USMCA

There is no question that principled conservative policies over the past two decades have made the Texas economy one of the strongest in the nation and the world.

Thanks to low taxes, reasonable regulation and our fair court system, Texas has experienced month after month of consecutive job growth and the accolades for our business climate continue to roll in. The state’s gross domestic product grew by 4.7 percent in the second quarter — more than twice the national rate — and Texas was named the “best state to do business” by CEO Magazine for the 15th year in a row. We are the best state for women entrepreneurs, and one of the leading states for innovation and business expansion.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – December 1, 2019

Climate change threatens nearly 80% of Superfund sites in Houston area, GAO says

Rising seas and more intense flooding caused by climate change could put nearly 80 percent of the Superfund sites in the Houston area at greater risk of releasing toxic pollutants into waterways and nearby communities, data from a congressional watchdog agency show.

A report by the Government Accountability Office found that more frequent or intense extreme-weather events such as flooding, storm surge and wildfires could affect 60 percent of the contaminated sites nationwide — and 67 percent in Texas — overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The GAO recommended that the federal agency do more to manage the risks from climate change.

The EPA largely rejected the report’s recommendations.

 

 

Associated Press/Daily Independent – December 3, 2019

Senate approves successor to Rick Perry as energy secretary

President Donald Trump’s pick to succeed Rick Perry as energy secretary won easy Senate confirmation Monday, despite a Democratic senator’s objections that the nominee hadn’t fully answered questions related to the Trump impeachment investigation.

Several other Democrats joined Republicans in approving Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette’s promotion, 70-15.

Confirmation of Brouillette, who’d been responsible for day-to-day operations at the Energy Department for two years under Perry, came a day after Perry’s resignation became effective.

 

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The Texas Energy Report* – December 2, 2019

Layoffs Sweep Oil Services Companies

Nearly 1,000 employees have lost jobs in the latest round of cuts at oil services companies in Texas and Oklahoma.

Houston-based fracking contractor Superior Energy Services has cut 112 employees from a Permian Basin unit based in Ector County. …

Meanwhile, National Oilwell Varco said on Monday it will suspend operations at a Houston-area plant, laying off 85 people in the process. …

And the second-biggest US oilfield service company, Halliburton said on Monday it’s laying off more than 800 people at its operation in the Oklahoma City suburb.of El Reno.

 

 

Bloomberg News/Washington Post* – December 2, 2019

Liam Denning: Apache Offers Thrills to Investors Prizing Boredom

In a week when oil stocks seem stuck in the familiar (if somewhat erratic) steps of a Viennese waltz, Apache Corp. is dancing to a different tune. And falling over.

With OPEC+ meeting this week, Saudi-ology, along with Kremlinology, Iraqi-ology and all the other -ologies, dominate. Rumors the group would agree to deeper production cuts proved more soothing to oil markets than a slice of sachertorte on Monday morning. Except for Apache.

The exploration and production company issued an update on an exploratory well it has been drilling off the coast of Suriname. Needless to say, it wasn’t a barnstormer. Apache essentially said the well had reached its target depth and the company was evaluating two distinct plays and planned on drilling a bit further to assess a third. No mention of hitting a significant deposit of hydrocarbons. On the other hand, no mention of it being a dry hole either. Ambiguity reigns — and, as monarchs go, ambiguity faces some decidedly restless subjects.

This is the kind of thing for which people used to own oil stocks. The binary outcome of a well that could make or break an E&P company was what really got the punters going, not debates about whether OPEC could manage to get Brent toward $65 rather than $60 a barrel.

Indeed, this is Apache’s problem. Block 58 in Suriname’s waters sits very close to Exxon Mobil Corp.’s wildly successful Stabroek discoveries offshore Guyana. A little geographic extrapolation has offered support to Apache’s stock in recent months; a stock which otherwise isn’t exactly brimming with reasons to own it.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – December 2, 2019

Brent Oil Set to Disappear as Crude-Price Benchmark Lives On

The world’s most famous oil and gas field—and the backbone of global crude pricing—has dried up. Soon the Brent benchmark will have no Brent oil.

Royal Dutch Shell RDS.B -0.36% PLC is expected next year to plug the last remaining Brent oil wells, located in the North Sea’s East Shetland Basin, about 115 miles northeast of Scotland’s Shetland Islands. The closures mark the end of an era, as the industry shifts its focus to smaller oil finds near existing infrastructure.

Many companies are shutting down platforms above massive fields discovered in the 1970s, but Brent stands apart as one of the first and most significant of these finds. The field has generated billions of dollars for Shell, its partner in the field, Exxon Mobil Corp. and the U.K. government.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – December 2, 2019

Texas is expected to double its solar energy output next year

Texas is expected to double its solar electricity output next year and then again the year after that, further transforming the state’s energy mix and pressuring traditional power generators that bet heavily on natural gas-fired power plants.

Solar developers are taking advantage of ample land, abundant sunshine and federal renewable energy tax subsidies before they drop from 30 percent this year to 10 percent for commercial projects and disappear entirely for rooftop installations in 2022.

Energy experts predict that as the solar industry grows, it will disrupt the status quo much as low-cost wind generators did, driving down power prices and profits of coal, natural gas and nuclear generation. Solar, however, may pose an even greater threat because unlike wind, it produces the most power when demand is highest — hot, sunny summer afternoons.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – December 3, 2019

Oil rises for a second day as Saudi Arabia pushes supply cut

Oil prices rose for a second day on Tuesday as Saudi Arabia, the de facto OPEC leader and the world’s biggest oil exporter, is pushing producers to deepen a supply cut agreement when suppliers meet this week, potentially lowering supply in 2020.

Brent futures rose 19 cents, or 0.3%, to $61.11 a barrel by 0218 GMT, after gaining 0.7% on Monday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was up by 21 cents, or 0.4%, at $56.17 a barrel. The contract rose 1.4% on Monday.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, are discussing a plan to increase its existing 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) supply cut by 400,000 bpd and extend the pact until June, two sources familiar with the matter said.

 

 

Reuters – November 29, 2019

Oil to be stuck in a rut in 2020 as slowing demand fuels glut: Reuters poll

Oil prices will remain subdued in 2020 as growth concerns weigh on demand and fuel a glut of crude, a Reuters poll showed on Friday ahead of production-policy talks among OPEC and its allies [this] week.

The poll of 42 economists and analysts forecast Brent LCOc1 to average $62.50 a barrel next year, little changed from last month’s $62.38 outlook, which was the lowest prediction for 2020 in about two years.

The benchmark has averaged about $64 per barrel so far this year.

“There is simply too much oil in the market,” LBBW analyst Frank Schallenberger said.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies face stiffening competition in 2020, the International Energy Agency said this month, predicting non-OPEC supply growth to surge next year.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – December 2, 2019

US oil output breaks record, but growth is stalling: EIA

Year-on-year growth in US oil output, which was averaging over 2.1 million b/d a year ago, has fallen by more than half as domestic production continues to break records, but at a significantly slower pace than 2018, new government data shows.

US oil output averaged a record 12.47 million b/d in September, up 965,000 b/d from September 2018, according to the latest US Energy Information Administration data. In September 2018, US oil production averaged nearly 11.5 million b/d, which was up about 1.99 million b/d from September 2017, according to EIA.

“Without a substantial oil price increase, we have likely hit peak growth even as peak production remains in the future,” said Jamie Webster, senior director at Boston Consulting Group’s Center for Energy Impact.

 

 

KBMT (Beaumont) – December 12, 2019

Tanks Ruptured In TPC explosion

At the time of the explosion, 88 tanks were in use at the plant.

71 sphere tanks, used to store materials that are under pressure, were being used on Wednesday. Additionally, 17 American Petroleum Institution tanks were in use at the plant.

What’s inside these tanks vary.

Chemicals in sphere tanks have a “moderate to high volatility,” or evaporate at a lower temperature.

Materials inside API tanks takes are slow vapor storage and are not under pressure.

Two API tanks ruptured. The tanks stored NMP, which is a solvent used to separate various products. It has a low volatility.

 

 

Reuters/New York Times* – December 2, 2019

Global oil refiners have upgraded processing units and adjusted operations to raise output of low-sulphur residual fuels and marine gasoil (MGO) to prepare for stricter shipping fuel standards that kick in on Jan. 1.

The new International Maritime Organization (IMO) rules prohibit ships from using fuels containing more than 0.5% sulphur, compared with 3.5% through the end of December, unless they are equipped with exhaust-cleaning “scrubbers”.

The shipping industry consumes about 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of marine bunker fuels, and the rule changes will impact more than 50,000 merchant ships globally, opening a significant new market for fuel producers.

 

 

Bloomberg News* – December 2, 2019

Faded Texas Oil Field Offers Austerity Lesson for U.S. Shale

At EOG Resources Inc.’s Francisco lease in the heart of the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas, a half dozen cows laze in the shade of a tree next to black oil-storage tanks. A small flare burns atop a steel pylon, like a memorial to the boom days gone by.

There are six wells on the parcel of land — three drilled in 2013 and three from 2016 — and together they churn out just 130 barrels of crude daily, worth about $7,150 at current prices, according to data from ShaleProfile Analytics. Output is down more than 95% from peak levels, the data show.

Yet wells like these may be a harbinger of the U.S. shale industry’s future if investors are successful in forcing independent explorers to prize profits over production. In the wake of the oil price crash that began in 2014, new drilling in the Eagle Ford dwindled as management teams cut budgets, and output in the region is now down about 20% from pre-crash levels.

That austerity finally began to pay off this year as the Eagle Ford as a whole generated free cash flow for the first time, according to IHS Markit.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 27, 2019

Reporter’s Notebook: Natural gas producers in sad state

When it comes to the Houston energy sector, crude oil is king. But it’s called the oil AND gas industry for a reason.

After all, the shale boom started with natural gas more than a decade ago. Since then, a flood of natural gas has launched a burgeoning liquefied natural gas industry, provided the feedstock that triggered the petrochemical boom and almost put coal out of business.

But the natural gas sector is suffering, even more than oil producers stuck in the purgatory of $50 to $60 a barrel oil.

Natural gas prices have plunged about 35 percent in the past 12 months. The U.S. benchmark’s average price in October of $2.33 per million British thermal units was the lowest October average in 21 years.

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Claims Journal – December 2, 2019

Texas Court Erases $13M From Jury Award for Offshore Oil Well Claim

A Texas appellate court shaved $13.6 million off of a jury’s award against Lloyds’ of London syndicates to the owner of a Gulf of Mexico oil well and platform that was destroyed by Hurricane Rita in 2005.

The 1st District Court of Appeals in Houston ruled that the evidence presented at trial did not support a jury’s finding that Lloyd’s had violated the state’s Prompt Payment Act and erased $9,932,726.87 in penalties. The court also reversed the jury’s finding that Lloyd’s had committed unfair or deceptive acts, striking $3,640,351.84 in penalties.

 

 

Forbes – November 19, 2019

David Blackmon: How Privately Owned Oil Giant Hilcorp Took Over From BP In Alaska

When you think about it, Houston-based Hilcorp is exactly the kind of company you would expect to be the successor to BP on Alaska’s North Slope. With the massive Prudhoe Bay field having long ago reach its peak level of production and settled into a long-term phase of decline, it was inevitable that the major, integrated companies who discovered it and managed it through its first 40-plus years of production would eventually reach a point at which it makes more sense within their respective business plans to sell operations there and focus capital budgets on multiple other opportunities around the globe.

Whenever majors enter into the divesting phase of their mature assets, they typically are acquired by large independent producers, companies with the capitalization needed to enable them to take over such major assets. Few U.S. independents are larger or as well-capitalized as Hilcorp, and fewer still have Hilcorp’s strong track record of taking over mature fields and deploying innovative techniques to wring higher production from them and improve their operations.

 

 

Victoria Advocate *- November 30, 2019

Greenhouse gas emissions increase in Crossroads for first time in 4 years

Greenhouse gases emitted by Crossroads facilities increased in 2018 after four years of consecutive decreases.

Industry data suggests emissions went up as U.S. oil and gas production surged, which has boosted plastics production, oil refining and natural gas liquefaction.

U.S. crude oil production increased by 17% in 2018, setting a new record of almost 11 million barrels per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Natural gas production also increased by 12% to 28.5 billion cubic feet per day, setting a record high for the second year in a row.

 

 

World Oil/Bloomberg News – November 27, 2019

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he’s hunting for more Haynesville assets

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is doubling down on a forlorn corner of the U.S. shale patch, calling Louisiana’s Haynesville play the best for low-cost hydrocarbons and saying he’s hunting for more acreage there.

The billionaire owner of America’s Team is no stranger to contrarian investments. The serial entrepreneur generated enough money in the oil business to buy the National Football League club in 1989 at a time when it was bleeding cash and built it into the world’s most valuable franchise.

Jerry Jones, owner and president of Dallas Cowboys, speaks during the Skybridge Alternatives (SALT) conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

 

Utilities

 

Beaumont Enterprise – December 2, 2019

SETX residents face possible gas rate hike

Residents in Southeast Texas would see their gas bills rise next summer if a plan by Centerpoint Energy gets final approval.

Industry and other businesses, however, would benefit from a slight rate decrease under the same proposal.

The requested increase, about 12.5% for the average residential customer once taxes are included, is needed to help Centerpoint recoup expenses incurred as the result of 2017’s Tropical Storm Harvey and to cover its increasing costs of providing services, the company claims.

 

 

Guardian (UK) – December 2, 2019

Coal power becoming ‘uninsurable’ as firms refuse cover

The number of insurers withdrawing cover for coal projects more than doubled this year and for the first time US companies have taken action, leaving Lloyd’s of London and Asian insurers as the “last resort” for fossil fuels, according to a new report.

The report, which rates the world’s 35 biggest insurers on their actions on fossil fuels, declares that coal – the biggest single contributor to climate change – “is on the way to becoming uninsurable” as most coal projects cannot be financed, built or operated without insurance.

Ten firms moved to restrict the insurance cover they offer to companies that build or operate coal power plants in 2019, taking the global total to 17, said the Unfriend Coal campaign, which includes 13 environmental groups such as Greenpeace, Client Earth and Urgewald, a German NGO. The report will be launched at an insurance and climate risk conference in London on Monday, as the UN climate summit gets underway in Madrid.

 

 

Utility Dive – November 26, 2019

How alternative storage solutions are breaking into the lithium-ion-dominated market

There are a large number of energy storage systems besides electrochemical batteries, including thermal, kinetic and gravity, among other technologies. In November 2018, Switzerland-based Energy Vault rolled out its utility-scale gravity system, one of the newest entrants to the energy-storage market.

The Energy Vault system consists of a crane with two to six arms mounted on a lattice-steel tower 90 to 140 meters tall. Operating on the same principle as a pumped-hydro system, the crane hoists 35 metric ton concrete “bricks” into stacks surrounding the tower to charge the system. To discharge stored energy, software algorithms direct the crane to lower bricks to the ground.

Typically, an Energy Vault system would be powered by a nearby solar farm or other renewable energy. The system can respond in milliseconds to fluctuations in power demand or other support required by the grid operator, CEO and co-founder Robert Piconi told Utility Dive via email. And like pumped hydro, the system offers long-duration energy storage.

 

 

Phys Org – November 14, 2019

New material breaks world record for turning heat into electricity

A new type of material generates electrical current very efficiently from temperature differences. This allows sensors and small processors to supply themselves with energy wirelessly.

Thermoelectric materials can convert heat into . This is due to the so-called Seebeck effect: If there is a temperature difference between the two ends of such a material, electrical voltage can be generated and current can start to flow. The amount of electrical energy that can be generated at a given temperature difference is measured by the so-called ZT value: The higher the ZT value of a material, the better its thermoelectric properties.

The best thermoelectrics to date were measured at ZT values of around 2.5 to 2.8. Scientists at TU Wien (Vienna) have now succeeded in developing a completely new material with a ZT value of 5 to 6. It is a of iron, vanadium, tungsten and aluminum applied to a silicon crystal.

The new material is so effective that it could be used to provide energy for sensors or even small computer processors.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Channel3000 – November 26, 2019

Solar, wind, hydro power could soon surpass coal

Coal, long the king of America’s electric grid, will soon get toppled by renewable energy.

Solar and wind power are growing so rapidly that for the first time ever, the United States will likely get more power in 2021 from renewable energy than from coal, according to projections from the Institute for Energy Economic and Financial Analysis.

This milestone is being driven by the gangbusters growth for solar and wind as well as the stunning collapse of coal. And it comes as the United Nations warned on Tuesday that countries are not doing enough to keep the planet’s temperature from rising to near-catastrophic levels.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 18, 2019

Ford’s Big Bet: New Electric SUV to Wear Mustang Logo

Ford F -0.44% Motor Co. is counting on the Mustang name—a badge long worn by its powerful, muscle car—to spark the auto maker’s transition to an electric future.

Ford is expanding the Mustang nameplate beyond its traditional two-door sports car for the first time in the vehicle’s 55-year history, a bid to keep the famed insignia relevant at a time when interest in performance vehicles in the U.S. is waning.

A new all-electric SUV, unveiled by executives at an event in Los Angeles Sunday, will be called the Mustang Mach-E and wear the galloping pony logo.

The company is betting use of the popular Mustang name, combined with an SUV design that mimics the sports car’s sleek profile, will help it attract new buyers to the Ford brand. Analysts say it could bring both fresh interest and backlash from purists, and risks diluting a nameplate that has cultivated a loyal following for more than half a century.

 

Regulatory

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 29, 2019

U.S. to negotiate carbon trades under climate pact shunned by Trump

President Donald Trump may be withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, but the U.S. is still going to be a force at the negotiating table as international leaders gather in Madrid [this] week to map out rules for carbon trading as a way to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite Trump’s rejection of the global agreement to cut carbon emissions, U.S. officials have long advocated emissions-trading schemes on the world stage and the government wants a say in the structure of those carbon markets — a key issue before delegates at the annual United Nations climate summit that begins Monday.

 

 

Science Magazine – November 27, 2019

In unpublished paper, former White House climate adviser calls methane ‘irrelevant’ to climate

A climate skeptic with ties to the White House is back—this time as the co-author of a new paper that could help the Trump administration roll back climate rules.

William Happer, an emeritus Princeton University physics professor, previously worked within the White House to conduct a hostile review of climate science. While that effort didn’t go far, Happer at the same time worked on research into methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

Happer and his co-author, William van Wijngaarden, worked “quickly” to put together research that claims that fears of methane emissions as a driver of climate change are overwrought, said van Wijngaarden, a physicist at York University in Canada.

 

 

November 29, 2019

Houston Chronicle: Texas should lead in promoting carbon capture regulation

Few places can match Texas’ experience with oil and gas exploration. From Spindletop and the dawn of the oil era to George Mitchell and the rise of hydraulic fracturing, Texas has led the way in energy exploration innovation. Today, that spirit of innovation continues with new technologies that capture carbon dioxide to be stored or reused later.

To ensure that these technologies are used to their fullest, the state will also need to recapture some of the regulatory authority it has ceded to Washington, D.C. …

But with the Trump administration showing a willingness to devolve power back to the states, that is starting to change. In 2018, North Dakota became the first state to successfully regain primacy over Class VI wells, and several other states have applied for primacy in its wake. These developments have created an opportunity for states like Texas to regain some control over an important industry.

If Texas wants to continue to lead in energy, it should apply for primacy and show how states can do a better job promoting innovation and protecting the environment than the federal government.

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – December 2, 2019

Subscriber’s Edition

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Lead Stories

 

Bloomberg News* – November 27, 2019

Texas Oil Explorers Say Predictions of Growth Contradict Dire Reality

Texas wildcatters, after years eye-rolling at shale skeptics, are now saying global analysts are underestimating just how severe the industry’s slowdown is.

What’s ticking folks off these days is how the International Energy Agency in Paris and the Energy Information Administration in Washington still predict robust U.S. production growth next year, despite the dire reality on the ground. The IEA expects an increase of 900,000 barrels a day, while the EIA forecasts 1 million, which would mean practically replicating this year’s expansion.

Those projections don’t jibe with the vibe in Texas, home to about half of U.S. crude output. Capital-hungry producers are being starved of funding, stocks have plunged and there’s been zero appetite for public offerings, making the downturn potentially more enduring than previous price-related busts.

 

 

Bloomberg News/World Oil – November 27, 2019

Permian basin is now an anchor dragging down jobs in Texas, Dallas Fed says

The world’s biggest shale patch is now officially a drag on jobs creation in the Lone Star state.

Employment in the Permian basin of West Texas has fallen by 400 jobs through the first 10 months of the year, a massive change from the 16,700 jobs added through the same period last year, according to a report Wednesday from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

“Permian basin job growth has been sluggish this year,” according to the report. “This marks the first time since 2016 that Permian basin employment has lagged Texas job growth.”

 

 

Maritime Executive – November 27, 2019

Rystad: U.S. to Achieve Net Energy Independence Within Months

Norwegian market research consultancy Rystad Energy believes that the U.S. will become net energy independent within months, the firm said in a forecast released Tuesday.

“This milestone follows a strong period of growth in both hydrocarbon and renewable resources, and we forecast that the U.S. will have primary energy surplus – and not a deficit – by February or March 2020, depending on the intensity of the winter season,” says Sindre Knutsson, vice president of Rystad Energy’s gas markets team.“By 2030 total primary energy production will outpace primary energy demand by about 30 percent.”

Rystad expects that the next benchmark monthly release from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) will show that on average, the U.S. has been self-sufficient in primary energy over the course of a one-year period. It would be the first time that this has occurred since Ronald Reagan’s first term in office.

 

 

Fox News – December 1, 2019

Port Neches plant explosion: Another burning tower falls, officials say no airborne asbestos found

Another distillation tower toppled late Saturday as fire continued to burn at the Port Neches, Texas, chemical plant that exploded Wednesday night.

Area residents have been cleared to return to the area since Friday, and officials said Saturday that they have found no measurable concentration of asbestos in the air. They say the fire continues to be contained, and that the falling tower had no impact outside the TPC Group facility.

Insurance adjusters are assessing the damage at homes Sunday.

The plant, which has been cited for environmental violations in the past, experienced two explosions that forced a mandatory evacuation for 50,000, while sparking fears of asbestos contamination.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 29, 2019

Chris Tomlinson: Immigration, health care and energy are THE issues

The biggest challenges facing Texas’ economic future also happen to be the most partisan political topics facing the country: immigration, health care and energy.

The lines between commercial and social issues have blurred over the last decade. Business owners and executives have seen two primary inputs, labor and energy, become lightning rods for activist consumers, profit-seeking shareholders and demagogic politicians.

The decidedly apolitical Center for Houston’s Future is nevertheless stepping into the fray.

“Our job is to look for trouble. Our job is to create debate, but do it in a fact-based way,” Brett Perlman, the center’s CEO, told me.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – December 2, 2019

Oil jumps above $61 on talk of further OPEC+ supply curbs

Oil jumped above $61 a barrel on Monday, supported by hints that OPEC and its allies may agree to deepen output cuts at a meeting this week and as rising manufacturing activity in China suggested stronger demand.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia are expected to extend output cuts this week and could increase the size of the curb by at least 400,000 barrels per day, two sources said.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, rose $1.20 to $61.69 a barrel by 0825 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude added $1.05 to $56.22.

The so-called OPEC+ group has coordinated output for three years to balance the market and support prices. Their current deal to cut supply by 1.2 million bpd that started in January expires at the end of March 2020.

“Any sign of discontent between the producers will send out negative signals and will put significant downward pressure on the oil price,” said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM. “We believe this is unlikely to happen.”

 

 

Odessa American – November 29, 2019

Basin rig count unchanged as oil prices drop

The rig count in the Permian Basin was unchanged this week, the latest count Friday by Baker Hughes shows, with 405 rigs active in the region. A year ago, 493 rigs were active in the region.

Nationally, the oil and gas rig count is down one from last week at 802 rigs. A year ago, 1076 rigs were active. The count shows that 668 rigs sought oil, down three from the previous week, and 131 explored for natural gas, up two from the previous week.

The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981. It bottomed out in May of 2016 at 404.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 29, 2019

Aramco IPO Draws Bids of $44.3 Billion, as Global Investors Steer Clear

Saudi Aramco’s share sale attracted bids worth $44.3 billion as of Friday, about 1.7 times the amount the kingdom’s government plans to raise in what is on course to be the world’s largest listing when it formally prices next week.

Subscriptions to the sale are overwhelmingly from Saudi investors and others in the region, according to the banks arranging the initial public offering, indicating a lukewarm response from international institutions that have balked at the energy giant’s valuation of $1.6 to $1.7 trillion set by the Saudi government.

The kingdom is seeking to sell 1.5% of the state-controlled company, known officially as Saudi Arabian Oil Co., and with most of the bids at the top end of the valuation the government is likely to raise $25.6 billion. That would beat out Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s 2014 IPO, which raised $25 billion.

 

 

The Hill – December 1, 2019

Perry ends final day as Energy secretary

Rick Perry concluded his final day as President Trump‘s Energy secretary on Sunday, thanking his family and the American people in a tweet for allowing him to serve at the agency.

Perry tweeted Sunday that it had been “the honor and privilege of a lifetime to serve in the @realDonaldTrump Administration,” adding in a video message attached to the tweet that it had been a “wonderful, fabulous trip” to serve at secretary.

“Well, today’s December the first and my last day as the secretary of Energy,” Perry said. “I want to tell everyone what a wonderful, fabulous trip it’s been for me and my family, and hopefully for the American people as we’ve become the number one oil- and gas-producing country in the world.”

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 29, 2019

The Last Prospector: A Texas Wildcatter Is Tempted by a Final Quest

Bill Armstrong, one of America’s last oil wildcatters, had a hunch there was one more fortune just waiting to be tapped.

Computer screens at his company, Armstrong Oil & Gas Inc., glowed with clues pointing to an undiscovered oil field on Alaska’s North Slope. The biggest oil explorers had long ago abandoned the area. And oil companies had already picked over what had been one of the world’s biggest discoveries.

Yet there was something showing on the computers, something beneath the ice and rock. Maybe an oil field worth many millions. The question was whether the 59-year-old Texan wanted to risk a fortune to find out. Prospecting for oil pays off only with a lucrative discovery and a deep-pocket buyer.

 

 

Reuters – November 27, 2019

Flood of cheap LNG from Qatar imperils rival North American projects

Proposed projects to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from North America face an uphill battle against Qatar, which announced plans to further ramp up production to hold onto its position as the world’s leading LNG exporter.

The United States is on track to overtake Qatar and Australia as the top LNG exporter by 2024, but now will only hold that title for a few years as Qatar announced this week it will boost production by 64% by 2027.

Qatar’s plans add another headwind for dozens of long-in-development projects already contending with the difficulty of finding customers due to the U.S.-China trade war and a glut of supply worldwide.

 

 

Reuters – November 29, 2019

U.S. suspends review of Phillips 66 oil export terminal application

U.S. maritime officials have suspended a review of oil refiner Phillips 66’s application for a U.S. Gulf Coast deepwater export terminal for additional information, but the company said on Friday it would continue outreach efforts to win over residents.

Phillips 66 is one of five companies that have applied for U.S. permits to build offshore facilities to load shale onto supertankers for export to Asia, Latin America and Europe.

The Maritime Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard issued so-called stop clock letters this month that temporarily halt reviews of its proposed Bluewater Texas Terminals, a 1.92 million barrel-per-day (bpd) project off Corpus Christi, Texas. They also suspended reviews of Sentinel Midstream LLC’s planned export terminal off Freeport, Texas, regulatory filings showed.

 

 

Beaumont Enterprise – November 30, 2019

Keystone, Motiva pipeline sections approved in Port Neches

Two of the pipeline sections at the center of a plan to connect Motiva to more crude from the Keystone pipeline by next year have been approved by the city of Port Neches.

The Port Neches City Council recently permitted two sections of crude oil pipeline through one of its existing corridors for Motiva and TC Energy, the company that owns and operates the Keystone Pipeline.

The section of pipeline permitted for Motiva will be 30 inches and the section for TC Energy is 36 inches.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 29, 2019

Trump administration plans to open national forests in Texas to more oil and gas drilling

Environmentalists and other opponents are fighting Trump administration plans to open more than 1.9 million acres of national forests and grasslands in Texas to more oil and natural gas drilling activity, which would include plans to drill thousands of feet under Lake Conroe — the principal drinking water source for thousands of people in suburban Montgomery County.

Seeking to overturn an Obama-era moratorium, the administration is proposing to lease large areas of Sam Houston National Forest, Davy Crockett National Forest, Angelina National Forest, Sabine National Forest, Caddo National Grasslands and LBJ National Grasslands to oil and natural gas companies.

The forests are part of the Haynesville shale of East Texas and Louisiana, and the grasslands are part of the Barnett shale of North Texas. Oil and gas companies have drilled on those lands for decades, but new leasing on them stopped in 2016, when the Obama administration bowed to pressure from environmentalists and other opponents concerned about the effects of hydraulic fracturing.

 

 

Denton Record Chronicle – November 30, 2019

Denton makes first major change to gas well rules in five years

Both politics and public health drove the Denton City Council’s 5-2 split decision to increase the distance between old gas wells and new homes earlier this month, the first major change to the city’s rules for gas wells in almost five years.

The vote followed about 90 minutes of compelling public testimony and another hour-plus of deliberations during the council’s regular meeting on Nov. 19. Both council members Gerard Hudspeth and Deb Armintor opposed the stiffer requirement — more than a year in the making — but for different reasons.

The decision could affect how thousands of acres of land on the city’s southwest side develop in the coming years. Hunter and Cole Ranches, for example, are dotted with old gas wells and miles of high-pressure pipelines. Developers plan to build 15,000 homes on the land over the next 10 years or so.

 

 

Reuters – November 27, 2019

Total Port Arthur, Texas, oil refinery cuts production to minimum: sources

Total SA began cutting production to minimum levels at its 225,500-barrel-per-day (bpd) Port Arthur, Texas, oil refinery on Wednesday night because of the threat of an explosion at a nearby petrochemical plant, said Gulf Coast market sources.

Total spokeswoman Marie Maitre said there was no change in operations at the Port Arthur refinery, which is located about 4 miles (6.4 km) from a raging fire at the TPC Group petrochemical plant in Port Neches, Texas.

 

Utilities

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 27, 2019

More generation capacity next summer will ease tight conditions

Electricity contracts for residential customers in Texas have become more expensive as high wholesale power prices during the hot weather this summer work their way down to the retail level, boosting the energy portion of one-year fixed-rate plans at least 20 percent compared to what they were a year ago, according to electricity shopping sites.

But an increase in new generation scheduled to come on-line next summer is expected to ease some of the supply constraints and perhaps, some of the high prices.

Market dynamics are already shifting for next summer, reflecting the anticipated addition of 2,000 megawatts of new wind projects, 1,500 megawatts of new natural-gas fueled generation and 600 megawatts of new solar energy, according to the research firm S&P Global Platts.

 

 

El Paso Times – November 28, 2019

US Rep. Veronica Escobar voices concerns about proposed sale of El Paso Electric

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, has concerns about the proposed El Paso Electric sale and is urging city and federal officials to do a publicly transparent review of the sale and to look at other options, including the possibility of the city buying the utility.

The City Council at its Dec. 10 meeting will hold a public discussion of municipalizing the electric utility, according to a city announcement. That comes after Escobar and Sunrise El Paso, an environmental group, asked the City Council to hold a public hearing on the proposed sale.

El Paso Mayor Dee Margo told the El Paso Times on Monday, after the City Council held a two-hour, closed-door meeting on the proposed sale, that the city can’t afford to acquire the utility.

 

 

Austin American Statesman* – November 29, 2019

Officials: Georgetown working to improve electric utility finances

The city of Georgetown expects to add more than $4 million to its electric utility reserves as part of an effort to lower prices for its energy customers, officials said.

City officials are still involved in calculations, City Manager David Morgan said Friday, but expect the utility to end fiscal year 2018-19 with more than $6 million in reserves.

Last fiscal year’s reserves were less than $2 million, he said. The city added money to its utility reserves by selling assets, increasing rates and decreasing expenses, according to a city new release this week.

It also raised more than $700,000 to add to the utility reserves by selling renewable energy credits, the release said. Since it sold the credits Georgetown lost its status this year as a 100% renewable electric utility, Morgan said.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Oil Price – November 26, 2019

The Fatal Flaw In A Perfect Energy Solution

More than thirty years ago a giant tower was built in Manzanares, Spain, to produce electricity in a way that at the time must have seen even more eccentric than it seems now, by harnessing the power of air movement. The Manzanares tower was, sadly, toppled by a storm. Decades ago, several other firms tried to replicate the idea, but none has succeeded. Why?

The idea behind the so-called solar wind towers is pretty straightforward. The more popular version is the solar updraft tower, which works as follows:

On the ground, around the hollow tower, there is a solar energy collector—a transparent surface suspended a little above ground—which heats the air underneath.

As the air heats up, it is drawn into the tower, also called a solar chimney, since hot air is lighter than cold air. It enters the tower and moves up it to escape through the top. In the process, it activates a number of wind turbines located around the base of the tower. The main benefit over other renewable technologies? Doing away with the intermittency of PV solar, since the air beneath the collector could stay hot even when the sun is not shining.

 

 

pv magazine – November 25, 2019

If solar and wind are so cheap, why are their haters making so much noise

The price of electricity is still going up a small bit, but recently it has been because of power grid upgrades in spite of the wholesale price of electricity going down. One nuclear proponent asked, “If solar and wind are so cheap, why are they making electricity so expensive?” – the answer is: they are cheap, and they aren’t making it more expensive – in fact, the data suggests the more wind and solar there is the lower pricing gets. With recent record low prices from US based solar+storage, and solar alone globally – expect these decreases to continue.

A study from the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Impact of wind, solar, and other factors on wholesale power prices: An Historical Analysis, has looked at the changes in the wholesale price of electricity across the United States between 2008 through 2017, from wind and solar power, as well other sources.

 

Regulatory

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 28, 2019

Power regulators weighing whether financial ties must be disclosed

Texas regulators are weighing whether to require electricity brokers to disclose their ties to retail electric providers, a move that could shine a brighter light on the brokerage websites millions of Texas consumers use to shop for power.

The proposed policy, which the commission will open to public comment, comes as more electricity sellers launch their own brokerage operations, creating a potential conflict of interest and concerns that the brokerages would favor their parent company over competitors in recommending plans to consumers. Some legal experts say consumers have a right to know whether the brokers they use have a financial interest in recommending one plan over another.

“It’s great if consumers would know if they’re being pitched a one-sided deal,” said Houston consumer lawyer Dana Karni.

 

 

Texas Observer – November 27, 2019

Justin Miller: Joe Barton Resurfaces with a Blueprint for How to Bail Out the Oil Industry and Worsen Climate Change

The legislation was marked with the number of the beast.

Joe Barton’s staffers, perhaps sensing some irony, insisted that he reintroduce his 2015 bill that proposed lifting the federal ban on crude oil exports. Were the bill to pass it would unleash a frenzied oil and gas boom in West Texas’ Permian Basin, which would, almost certainly, help fuel the effects of catastrophic climate change. So perhaps the bill’s original number—HR 666—would’ve been more appropriate.

Alas, Barton is a politician, not a poet, and he refiled his legislation, and, after an aggressive lobbying campaign, the ban was lifted.

After a private picture leaked in 2017, Barton opted not to run for the North Texas congressional seat he had held since 1985 and fell out of the public eye. But this week he reemerged with a lengthy retrospective in the Dallas Morning News humbly titled “I knew my bill to lift the ban on U.S. oil exports was important. I hardly expected it to change the world.” It’s an unusually revealing account of how Barton greased the congressional skids for one of the most consequential policies for oil and gas and the environment in modern political history.

 

 

Dallas Observer – November 27, 2019

Jim Shutze: Rick Perry Told Trump He’s God’s Chosen One Because Sinatra’s not Enough

Calm down. Of course Rick Perry told President Donald Trump he’s God’s chosen one. Perry’s from Texas. He’s doing what must be done to protect Big Awl, the oil bidness. Why do people think Perry’s even in D.C.?

But I forget. Most people outside of Texas probably don’t remember for sure who Rick Perry is. His biggest national moment came eight years ago in a presidential debate when he committed a gaffe, back when people still thought gaffes were bad, pre-Joe Biden.

Listen, Perry’s not crazy. He’s from Texas. He’s what he’s always been — a slick, good-looking farm boy from Paint Creek who’s going to tell the man whatever it takes to keep him from setting the rig on fire.

I met the ex-governor, soon-to-be-ex energy secretary, for the only time in 1990 when he was still in the Texas Legislature. Republicans were just beginning to cement their hold on the state capital, so Perry, a lifelong yellow dog Democrat, rebranded himself Republican. The man has never been a martyr.

 

 

Austin American Statesman/Herald Mail Media (PA) – November 30, 2019

Jonathan Tilove: Rick Perry redux: Heading back to Texas and into the headlines

On Nov. 21, 2016, Rick Perry met with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower to talk about joining his Cabinet. The next day, Perry appeared on the season finale of “Dancing with the Stars.”

It was a return visit by Perry, who had been voted off the show early in the season after his cha-cha to “God Blessed Texas,” quickstep to the “Green Acres” theme and staccato pasodoble in full matador garb — “Rick Perry playing the part of the fourth Amigo,” New York Magazine reported — failed to impress.

But if the former Aggie yell leader’s moves were more antic than artful, his dancing with the stars proved an effective audition to serve in the administration of America’s first reality star president. It was all so amply there — Perry’s gameness, guile and gusto.

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – November 27, 2019

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Lead Stories

 

Argus Media – November 25, 2019

Pipeline owner sues Texas over flaring

US midstream operator Williams is suing Texas regulators over an exemption it says will give oil producers a “blank check” to flare off associated natural gas whenever doing so would be profitable.

The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates oil and gas in the state, this summer gave US independent EXCO Resources a two-year exemption from the state’s prohibition on flaring for 130 wells in the Eagle Ford basin. The company said it would have to shut in the wells, reducing recovery of oil, if it were unable to flare the gas.

But Williams, which owns a gathering system that could service the wells by turning an existing valve, says regulators were incorrect that flaring is necessary. The pipeline operator, in a lawsuit filed last week, says the decision effectively guarantees an exemption to any operator requesting one and marks a shift from a state policy to ban flaring unless an operator shows it is a necessity.

 

 

HuffPost – November 22, 2019

Coal Knew, Too

In August, Chris Cherry, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, salvaged a large volume from a stack of vintage journals that a fellow faculty member was about to toss out. He was drawn to a 1966 copy of the industry publication Mining Congress Journal; his father-in-law had been in the industry and he thought it might be an interesting memento.

Cherry flipped it open to a passage from James R. Garvey, who was the president of Bituminous Coal Research Inc., a now-defunct coal mining and processing research organization.

“There is evidence that the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere is increasing rapidly as a result of the combustion of fossil fuels,” wrote Garvey. “If the future rate of increase continues as it is at the present, it has been predicted that, because the CO2 envelope reduces radiation, the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere will increase and that vast changes in the climates of the earth will result.”

“Such changes in temperature will cause melting of the polar icecaps, which, in turn, would result in the inundation of many coastal cities, including New York and London,” he continued.

 

 

Texas Public Radio – November26, 2019

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Are Still Rising, U.N. Report Says

Greenhouse gas emissions have risen steadily for the past decade despite the current and future threat posed by climate change, according to a new United Nations report.

The annual report compares how clean the world’s economies are to how clean they need to be to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change — a disparity known as the “emissions gap.”

However, this year’s report describes more of a chasm than a gap. Global emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases have continued to steadily increase over the past decade. In 2018, the report notes that global fossil fuel CO2 emissions from electricity generation and industry grew by 2%.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 22, 2019

Exxon Is One of the Most Innovative Companies. But It Still (Mostly) Shuns Renewables.

Exxon Mobil Corp. may not reside in Silicon Valley, create the latest tech devices or manage the world’s largest delivery service, but it is one of the most innovative U.S. companies, according to a new ranking of the country’s best-run corporations.

The oil giant is the only nontech company among the five most innovative in this year’s Management Top 250, a ranking from the Drucker Institute at Claremont Graduate University that uses the principles of the late management guru Peter Drucker to identify the most effectively managed companies.

Exxon ranks No. 5 for innovation, behind top-ranked Amazon.com Inc., which is followed by Microsoft Corp, Apple Inc. and International Business Machines Corp.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – November 27, 2019

Oil slips as US stocks rise, but hopes for US-China trade deal stem losses

Oil eased on Wednesday following an industry report showing a surprise build in U.S. crude stockpiles, but hopes surrounding the signing of the first phase of a U.S.-China trade deal prevented a bigger drop in prices.

Brent crude futures dropped 15 cents, or 0.23%, to $64.12 a barrel by 0421 GMT, while West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 16 cents, or 0.27%, to $58.25 per barrel.

Wednesday’s decline reversed two days of gains, with WTI climbing 1.1% through Tuesday and Brent gaining 1.4% during the period, on the expectation that China and the United States, the world’s two biggest crude oil users, would soon sign a preliminary agreement beginning an end to their 16-month trade war.

 

 

Bloomberg News/Houston Chronicle* – November 26, 2019

Biggest LNG producer targets 64% jump in capacity by 2027

Qatar, the world’s biggest supplier of liquefied natural gas, plans to boost output capacity by almost two thirds after it adds production facilities to exploit recently discovered reserves.

The Persian Gulf state will expand its LNG capacity to 126 million tons a year by 2027, thanks to gas from a newly explored section of the planet’s largest field, Energy Minister Saad Sherida Al Kaabi said at a news briefing in Doha. Qatar can currently produce 77 million tons of LNG annually and expects to raise capacity to 110 million tons by 2024.

Qatar’s massive North Field extends onshore into the area around the industrial city of Ras Laffan, Al Kaabi said on Monday. “Studies and well tests have also confirmed the ability to produce large quantities of gas from this new sector,” he said.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 25, 2019

Drilling Down: Shell drills on state-owned lands in Permian Basin

European oil major Royal Dutch Shell filed for six horizontal drilling permits with the Railroad Commission of Texas for projects on five leases split between Winkler and Loving counties in the Permian Basin.

Half of those wells target the Wolfcamp geological layer while the others target the Bone Spring formation. Total drilling depths of the projects range from 10,000 to 12,300 feet.

Three of the wells are on a pair of leases in Winkler County managed by the state-owned mineral rights company University Lands. Royalties from those three wells will go to the Permanent University Fund, or PUF, a public account supporting the University of Texas and Texas A&M University systems.

 

 

Financial Times* – November 25, 2019

Analysis: US energy independence has its costs

The energy independence sought by US presidents since the 1970s has been achieved. Opec is a shadow of its former self, but the key shift has been the end of US dependence on imports. Energy security is no longer an American concern. That removes one central argument for intervention in areas such as the Middle East, reinforcing the view that the US has nothing to gain from sending its troops to fight other people’s wars.

The irony of the conflict in Iraq, seen by some as a classic war for oil, is that the bulk of Iraq’s postwar oil production now flows to Asia. China has become the world’s largest single net importer of oil — at 10.7m b/d. The baton of concern about energy security has passed to Beijing.

Of course, the transition to self-sufficiency is not without its challenges and downsides. Plentiful supplies of fossil fuels make the transition to renewables and other technological advances in the use of energy less urgent. The US has lost its once all-embracing technical lead. Congress has maintained spending to the national laboratories and energy research institutes but there is no federal industrial policy to link their work to commercialisation or business development.

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Kallanish Energy* – November 22, 2019

NuStar kicks off open season on Permian expansion

NuStar Energy has kicked off a binding open season for additional capacity on its Midland Trunkline within the NuStar Permian Crude System in West Texas, Kallanish Energy reports.

The company is proposing to increase the capacity of the 20-inch pipeline from the Stanton Terminal to Midland Junction by adding pump upgrades that would boost capacity by 60,000 barrels per day, to the EPIC Pipeline at Midland Junction.

About 90% of that expanded capacity will be offered to shippers making long-term deals, said the San Antonio, Texas-based company. The open season runs through Dec. 20.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 26, 2019

Seadrill unveils its first hybrid-powered offshore drilling rig

Not only are offshore drilling rigs become smarter and more automated, they are becoming greener and more energy independent.

Seadrill, an offshore drilling rig operator headquartered in Bermuda with its principal offices in London and Houston, has unveiled the company’s first hybrid offshore drilling rig – one draws power from both diesel-fired generators and renewables-friendly battery storage technology.

In a Monday morning statement, Seadrill announced that the battery system for its West Mira offshore drilling rig were certified by the Norwegian registration and classification organization DNV GL as a battery energy storage system.

 

 

San Antonio Express News* – November 26, 2019

James Jackson: Oil terminal on Harbor Island would be a win for all

The Port of Corpus Christi plans a terminal on Harbor Island to bring 2.4 millions barrels per day for export. …

It’s time to recognize the Port of Corpus Christi for what it does best. The people of Port Aransas only stand to gain from projects like the Harbor Island Terminal and can find no better or more experienced partner to oversee the project.

If you care about maintaining the beauty of Port Aransas, using environmentally safe shipping, creating clean energy jobs and growing the local economy, join with the Port of Corpus Christi and the Clean Energy Business Network to let your fellow Texans know you support the project. Add your voice to the discussion for environmentally safe growth to maintain our precious habitat in Texas.

 

 

Reuters – November 25, 2019

Special Report: ‘Time to take out our swords’: Inside Iran’s plot to attack Saudi Arabia

Four months before a swarm of drones and missiles crippled the world’s biggest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia, Iranian security officials gathered at a heavily fortified compound in Tehran.

The group included the top echelons of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an elite branch of the Iranian military whose portfolio includes missile development and covert operations.

The main topic that day in May: How to punish the United States for pulling out of a landmark nuclear treaty and re-imposing economic sanctions on Iran, moves that have hit the Islamic Republic hard.

With Major General Hossein Salami, leader of the Revolutionary Guards, looking on, a senior commander took the floor.

“It is time to take out our swords and teach them a lesson,” the commander said, according to four people familiar with the meeting.

 

 

Beaumont Enterprise – November 24, 2019

PA campaign would target out-of-state workers for local plant jobs

Port Arthur, a city where the unemployment rate is twice the state average, appears poised to spend $36,850 to try to entice workers from other states to move here and take petrochemical jobs.

Community advocates say this likely will exacerbate an existing problem where residents who believe they’re qualified to work in the plants can’t get hired.

And it’s not clear where the jobs mentioned by the Economic Development Corp., which is heading the advertising effort, will come from as automation has slowly decreased the overall number of jobs working in plants and the expansion and construction efforts likely won’t be complete for a decade.

 

 

Dallas Morning News* – November 24, 2019

Joe Barton: I knew my bill to lift the ban on U.S. oil exports was important. I hardly expected it to change the world.

It was early 2014 and the Permian Basin was hot. New fracking and horizontal drilling technology had turned Midland and Odessa once again into boomtowns. But the producers had a problem: They needed new markets for all this new oil.

At the time, I represented Arlington in the U.S. Congress. I started hearing from oil companies about a new idea, to lift an old ban on oil exports. Initially, when ConocoPhillips chief economist and Washington office head Andrew Lundquist came to see me about lifting the ban, I opposed the idea, because I thought we should keep our oil in the U.S. But then I heard from Scott Sheffield, the chief executive of Pioneer Natural Resources. Pioneer was a major producer in the Permian, and if the crude oil export ban was not lifted, he said, Pioneer’s future was cloudy.

Both Conoco and Pioneer pointed out that there wasn’t a market for our growing domestic shale oil production, because our U.S. refineries were set up to process the heavier foreign oils. They also had very long-term contracts that would be difficult and expensive to get out of. I became convinced repealing the ban was the right economic thing to do. It was also a very good thing to do for our national security and foreign policy.

I agreed to try.

 

 

Dallas Morning News* – November 22, 2019

Texas soft power dominates the Persian Gulf

What happens when soft power metastasizes? There’s no better example than when a branch campus of a Texas university becomes a research-driven institution in its own right and can compete with its parent campus for international grants. Texas A&M’s Qatar campus, one of the U.S. universities housed at the Qatar Foundation, a key driver of Qatar’s development, has been the recipient of hundreds of grants given by the Qatar National Research Fund to study everything from emission-free co-production of carbon nanotubes and hydrogen via concentrated solar energy to nonlinear structural health monitoring. Its graduates have gone from earning their engineering degrees to getting Ph.D.s, writing textbooks and teaching at the Doha campus, which has been based at the Qatar Foundation’s Education City development for 16 years.

Not all the countries in the region have changed for the better. Saudi Arabia is still controlled by an autocratic regime so ensconced in power and immune from criticism that they seemingly didn’t realize the full import of having one of their own countrymen and a journalist working for an American newspaper murdered in their own consulate in Turkey. The lack of social mobility and wealth redistribution makes the country’s stability a matter of concern throughout the world.

That being said, the interaction between Gulf Arabs and Texas has produced benefits beyond all expectations.

 

 

Phys Org – November 22, 2019

Rice U. Expert: Reducing gas flaring will benefit economy and environment

“Flaring is a lost opportunity with compounding economic and environmental costs as well,” [Gabriel Collins, the Baker Botts Fellow in Energy and Environmental Regulatory Affairs at the Baker Institute] wrote. “Burning gas to heat a home, power an industrial process or generate electricity all emit CO2, but they also create value. But when gas is flared, CO2 and other combustion products are emitted, and no value is created. If unburned gas is vented, the environmental impacts are even worse since methane creates much stronger greenhouse effects than CO2 does. And in either case, the venting or flaring means that society lost an opportunity to supplant coal with cleaner, lower-emission natural gas.”

At current flaring and venting rates, if all wasted gas in the Permian Basin was captured and liquefied, it could fill a Q-Max LNG carrier (the world’s largest carrier size) every 10 days, Collins said. If that vessel went to China and discharged its cargo into a power plant, it could likely displace approximately 440,000 metric tons of coal burned to generate electricity.

 

 

CNN – November 14, 2019

Why Tesla doesn’t scare the fracking industry

“We use about 100 million barrels of oil in the world a day,” said Scott Sheffield, CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, one of the largest players in the oil and gas field known as the Permian Basin. “Roughly 25 million of that is used for gasoline automobiles. If we convert all 25 million barrels a day overnight to electric vehicles, we’re still going to need a lot of hydrocarbons.”

By 2040 more than half of new car sales will be electric vehicles, according to forecasts. But it will take a much longer time before they make up half of cars on the road, as gasoline powered cars slowly wear out and are scrapped.

Much of the world’s expanding population is in parts of the world where electric vehicles will have trouble taking hold, Sheffield said.

 

 

Pennsylvania Business Report – November 19, 2019

Pennsylvania sees largest year-over-year rise in 2018 natural gas production: EIA

Fueled in part by growth in Pennsylvania’s natural gas production, the United States set a new record-high average for natural gas production of 83.8 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a new report. …

Pennsylvania, which overlays the Appalachian Basin, had the largest year-over-year increase in natural gas production for 2018, increasing by 2.0 Bcf/d, EIA said.

Ohio, which also overlays the Appalachian region, had the third-largest year-over-year increase, growing 1.7 Bcf/d.

The Haynesville shale formation in Louisiana and the Permian Basin in western Texas and eastern New Mexico also had production increases.

 

Utilities

 

Daily Energy Insider – November 26, 2019

PUCT approves AEP Texas, Oncor transaction

The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) has approved an agreement enabling AEP Texas to purchase Oncor Electric Delivery’s distribution assets in the Rio Grande Valley.

The acquisition focuses on the southernmost part of Oncor’s service territory. The proposed transaction between AEP Texas and Oncor closed on Nov. 21, 2019, and the transition of Oncor’s customers to AEP Texas is slated to begin on Dec. 3, 2019.

The Sale, Transfer or Merger joint application requested the sale and purchase of distribution assets from Oncor to AEP Texas in and around the cities of McAllen and Mission in Hidalgo County, including the Sharyland Plantation community.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 26, 2019

US coal-fired power generation falls 11.2% on year to 85.9 TWh in September

US coal-fired power generation totaled 85.9 TWh in September, down 8.8% from August, US Energy Information Administration data showed Tuesday.

From the year-ago month coal generation was down 11.2%, the smallest drop year on year in seven weeks.

From the five-year average of about 110 TWh produced in September, generation was at a 22.3% deficit this year, the lowest deficit in seven weeks, as well.

Out of total power generation, coal took a 23.9% share, up 0.4 percentage points from August.

 

 

Sacramento Bee – November 26, 2019

PG&E is testing technology that could prevent wildfires its equipment causes

California utilities are experimenting with a new technology that proponents say could help prevent both electricity shutoffs and equipment failure-related wildfires.

The technology comes as the Pacific Gas & Electric faces intense criticism over its Public Safety Power Shutoff program, which has led to hundreds of thousands of Californians being left without power, often for days at a time, in an effort to prevent failing equipment from starting wildfires.

Distribution Fault Anticipation, as the technology is called, uses a predictive algorithm to assess electric systems and identify potential equipment failures, not unlike how a modern vehicle’s on-board computer works by “telling you everything there is to know of what’s wrong with the car,” said B. Don Russell.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

KTSM – November 26, 2019

El Paso company turning used cooking oil into a sustainable energy

Taking waste oil and converting it into biodiesel fuel is what El Paso based Rio Valley Bio-Fuels does. They buy leftover cooking oil, agriculture oils and animal fat then convert it into biodiesel.

“We’re producing 15 to 16 million gallons of biodiesel a year. Now that’s a lot of used cooking oil from restaurants,” said Jed Smith, the Chief Operating Officer of Rio Valley Biofuels.

That biodiesel is then shipped throughout the Southwest. Rio Valley says their biofuel is a renewable, clean-burning diesel replacement, which they say is being used by truck stops, school buses, government vehicles, farms and businesses. They say when comparing their biodiesel fuel to petroleum-based diesel fuel, biofuel reduces the lifecycle of greenhouse gases by 86 percent.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 26, 2019

Neste leads the pack in sustainable jet fuel production

Jeremy Baines, president of Neste U.S., said the company is sourcing $200 million of waste and feedstock from restaurants and manufacturers in the United States each year to create the potentially game-changing clean jet fuels. Neste currently produces up to 34 million gallons of jet fuel annually.

“Sustainable aviation fuel is an untapped market,” said Baines, who joined Neste’s London offices in 2004 and came to the U.S. in 2016 to lead the company’s North American sales. He became president of the company’s U.S. operations in September. “There is nobody else in that space today.”

To produce the fuels, Neste contracts with waste collection companies that take used cooking oil from restaurants and waste from animal and vegetable processing plants in the U.S. Those providers sell the used oils to Neste.

Regulatory

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 26, 2019

Some Democrats swear off oil and gas money, risking ‘third rail’ of Texas politics

Living in the refinery town of Pasadena, Sema Hernandez has seen the oil and gas industry up close.

Hernandez knows how the sight of flares and the sound of sirens puts her neighbors on edge. She has studied cancer clusters and disasters such as the Texas City refinery explosion. She has asked doctors about the dangers the chemicals pose to her kids.

She says her ex-husband, who worked as a contractor for many gas-and-oil outfits in the Houston area, told her of the shortcuts the companies take. And, through him, she’s seen the jobs in the industry disappear, just as fast as they came.

“That’s the one thing about fossil fuel jobs,” said Hernandez, a progressive Democrat running for the second time for U.S. Senate. “They’re not permanent jobs. They are temporary jobs.”

 

 

Texas Tribune – November 27, 2019

As experienced Texas congressmen retire, will the state’s sway in Congress decline?

“Regardless of who in the party is in control, the fact that these members are leaving, obviously that weakens the influence of the delegation,” said Richard Cohen, chief author of The Almanac of American Politics, adding that the delegation “has been known to carry its weight.”

The Democrats flipping the House in 2018 was perhaps the biggest blow to Texas’ clout in Congress. Before Republicans lost the majority, Texans had six committee chairmanships. Now they have one: U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, who chairs the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. And the wave of new Democrats washed out some powerful Texas Republicans.

Then-U.S. Rep. John Culberson, a Republican member of the House Appropriations Committee from 2012 to 2018, lost his seat to Democrat Lizzie Fletcher. Former U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, a Republican from Dallas, was chairman of the House Rules Committee when Democrat Colin Allred defeated him. (Sessions is seeking to return to Congress in 2020, running for a different seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan.)

 

 

November 26, 2019

Houston Chronicle: Global warming makes Superfund sites more dangerous

Everyone in Texas should pay attention to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office’s criticism of the Environmental Protection Agency for downplaying how climate change could cause massive flooding that would spell disaster for people living near Superfund sites.

That’s not a theory. It happened two years ago in Texas when torrential rains from Hurricane Harvey flooded or damaged 13 Superfund sites. “At one site on the San Jacinto River in Texas, floodwater eroded part of the structure containing such substances, including dioxins, which are highly toxic and can cause cancer and liver and nerve damage,” said the GAO report.

Harvey also flooded the old U.S. Oil Recovery site in Pasadena, which, before it closed in 2010, was a waste processing plant for the petroleum industry. Pollution at the plant was so bad that a Harris County grand jury later indicted its owner, Klaus Genssler, for improperly storing and releasing benzene, a known carcinogen. Genssler apparently fled the country and was never tried.

 

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Lead Stories

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 25, 2019

Texas manufacturing sector contracts for first time since 2016

Texas’ manufacturing sector contracted in November for the first time since the end of the last oil bust more than three years ago, according to a survey of Texas business executives by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Declining manufacturing activity in Texas reflects a broader industry slowdown across the nation and the world. Manufacturers have been hit particularly hard by the U.S.-China trade war, which has disrupted supply chains, raised costs and stoked uncertainty among business customers, which are holding off on new investment.

At the same time, the slowing energy sector is beginning to trickle through Texas economy as oil and gas companies cut capital spending plans and lay off workers. Oil and gas companies are big customers for Texas

 

 

CNN – November 25, 2019

Carl Icahn wants to fire Occidental’s entire board of directors

Carl Icahn is escalating his war with Occidental Petroleum.

The legendary investor now wants to replace Occidental’s entire 10-person board of directors, a person familiar with the matter told CNN Business. Icahn was previously only pushing to replace four members of the oil giant’s board.

Icahn’s stepped-up proxy fight includes a bid to remove Vicki Hollub, the oil giant’s CEO, from her seat on the board, the person said.

If Icahn’s slate of directors wins election, they would probably quickly oust Hollub, who is under fire for Occidental’s sinking stock price and risky takeover of rival Anadarko Petroleum. Icahn has repeatedly slammed Hollub, though he has stopped short of calling on her to be removed as CEO.

 

 

KUT – November 25, 2019

Hill Country Landowners Say Kinder Morgan Is Lowballing Them. Special Courts Are Agreeing.

Now, as building starts on the pipeline, some landowners are rejecting Kinder Morgan’s offers and winning awards vastly greater through a legal process called a condemnation hearing. It’s a unique proceeding where three local volunteers appointed by a district judge hear arguments about the land’s value and make a decision.

In [Fredericksburg landowner Kay] Pence’s case, an offer of $45,000 for a 3-acre strip of land turned into an award of $1.2 million after the hearing. In Blanco County, a landowner who was told by Kinder Morgan that his land was worth $20,000 was awarded $1.3 million. Another landowner in Gillespie County turned an offer of $85,000 into an $11 million award.

Kinder Morgan has appealed some of the awards. But pipeline opponents are pointing to the results of these hearings as evidence the company is undervaluing Hill Country land.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 25, 2019

Rick Perry says Trump is God’s ‘chosen one’

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry says President Donald Trump is God’s “chosen one” to lead the nation, comparing the president to several Old Testament kings.

“God used imperfect people all through history,” Perry, a former Texas governor, said in an interview with Fox News over the weekend. “King David wasn’t perfect, Saul wasn’t perfect, Solomon wasn’t perfect.”

Perry told Fox News that he gave the president a one-page memo of “imperfect” Old Testament kings who were sent by God to do great things. He framed his thinking as part of his evangelical beliefs — noting that he also thought former President Barack Obama was chosen by God.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 25, 2019

Reports of Pemex cyberattack has U.S. companies taking precautions

American oil companies operating south of the border are stepping up their cybersecurity measures after reports of a ransomware attack that allegedly knocked out computers at Mexico’s state-run oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex.

Mexican media outlets have been reporting over the past two weeks that a ransomware attack prompted Pemex to shut down all computers at its Mexico City headquarters as a measure to prevent the computer virus from spreading, which meant that employees had to work with clipboards, pens and paper spreadsheets. Hackers, the media reports state, are allegedly demanding 860 bitcoins, worth around $6 million, as a ransom to unlock the company’s computers.

Pemex officials did not respond to Houston Chronicle inquiries about the incident but denied that the attacks took place in a pair of tweets issued last week. One stated that the state-run oil company was “operating as normal” while the other denounced forged bulletins circulating on social media.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – November 26, 2019

Oil prices steady as US-China trade deal talks seek breakthrough

Oil prices were steady on Tuesday, hanging onto gains from the previous session, after comments from the United States and China kept alive hopes that the world’s two largest economies are soon to agree on ending their trade war.

Brent crude futures were down 1 cent at $63.64 at 0331 GMT, after rising 0.4% in the previous session.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell 5 cents at $57.96, having risen 0.4% on Monday.

Top trade negotiators from China and the United States held a phone call on Tuesday morning, China’s Commerce Ministry said, as the two sides try to hammer out a preliminary “phase one” deal in a trade war that has dragged on for 16 months.

 

 

Bloomberg News/Houston Chronicle* – November 25, 2019

Gas ‘witch’s brew’ has U.S. exporters facing worst scenario

A global glut of natural gas has gotten so massive that U.S. exporters could soon face their worst-case scenario: Halting shipments to get supply and demand back in balance.

Prices for the heating and power-plant fuel may collapse in Europe and Asia next year to levels that would force U.S. liquefied natural gas suppliers to curb output, Citigroup Inc. said in a note to clients last week. Morgan Stanley sees as much as 2.7 billion cubic feet a day of American exports curtailed around the second or third quarter, assuming normal weather. That’s about half the volume now being sent abroad.

China’s demand for U.S. LNG has plunged amid the trade war, while Europe’s gas storage is almost full and tankers carrying the fuel are taking unusually long journeys in search of better prices. That’s created a “toxic witch’s brew” that’s making it harder to find a home for American exports, according to Madeline Jowdy, senior director of global gas and LNG for S&P Global Platts in New York.

 

 

Heartland Institute – November 25, 2019

Texas Railroad Commission establishes safety rules for some pipelines

The Texas Railroad Commission (TRC), the agency that regulates Texas’ oil and gas industry, rejected proposals from commission staff to impose stringent regulations on gathering lines, which are usually small pipelines carrying oil and gas from wells to processing sites.

Texas Railroad Commission staff proposed requirements that small gathering lines must be marked and surveyed for leaks, gathering line owners must inform Texans living near lines of their proximity to the lines, the state must set a maximum pressure for the lines, and the owners must check for corrosion regularly. TRC staff proposed gathering lines larger than 12 inches in diameter would face the same regulations as long-haul transmission pipelines.

Oil and gas operators opposed the TRC staff’s proposals, saying they would provide limited safety benefits while raising costs for oil and gas operations and costing jobs. They also pointed out the TRC staff’s proposals were far more stringent than the federal rules currently under consideration.

The Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA) requested any rulemaking affecting gathering lines be postponed until after new federal rules emerge from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

 

 

Kilgore News Herald – November 25, 2019

Comptroller transfers $3.3 billion to state highway, rainy day funds

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Monday he recently completed the transfer of $3.33 billion into the State Highway Fund (SHF) and the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF; commonly known as the “Rainy Day Fund”). Each fund received more than $1.66 billion, or 50 percent of the total transfer.

The transfer amounts are based on crude oil and natural gas production tax revenues in excess of 1987 collections. If either tax generates more revenue than the 1987 threshold, an amount equal to 75 percent of the excess is transferred.

In November 2014, voters approved a constitutional amendment allocating at least half of these severance taxes to the ESF, with the remainder going to the SHF for use on non-toll highway construction, maintenance and right-of-way acquisition.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 25, 2019

ConocoPhillips plans major Alaska investments, asset sale

ConocoPhillips is increasingly bullish about its western North Slope Alaska projects, where recent drilling has increased resource estimates and lowered expected costs of supply.

Alaska is currently one of the best exploration prospects in the world, company officials said.

Still, the projected $15 billion to $17 billion needed for new Alaska development over the next 10 years is causing ConocoPhillips to search for a partner to share risks. The company plans to divest 25 percent of all of its Alaska assets outside a partial ownership of the Prudhoe Bay field by 2021.

 

 

Hellenic Shipping News – November 25, 2019

More and more West Texas crude heading Down Under

The US is quickly becoming a top supplier of crude for Australia, with the first full laden VLCC with WTI en route to Australia.

Like a microcosm of the overall US crude oil export growth phenomenon, Australian refineries are increasingly importing crude oil from the US, quickly making the it one of the main suppliers for the island continent.

Through July this year, Australia imported 75.55 million barrels of crude, with just 1.83 million of those barrels, or 2.4%, coming from the US.

But the latest Australian petroleum statistics from the Australian government’s Department of the Environment and Energy shows US crude inflows surged to account for almost 23% of total imports in August in September.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 25, 2019

Commonwealth LNG lands supply deal for one-third of proposed production

The proposed Commonwealth LNG export terminal in southwest Louisiana has landed a marketing and supply deal that will account for more than a third of the facility’s planned production.

In a Monday morning statement, the Houston liquefied natural gas company announced a deal with Gunvor, a global LNG marketing and trading firm headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

Commonwealth LNG is seeking permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build a brand new liquefied natural gas export terminal at the mouth of the Calcasieu Ship Channel along the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 25, 2019

State permit for Texas LNG remains up in the air

Houston liquefied natural gas company Texas LNG landed a federal permit for its proposed export terminal at the Port of Brownsville but its state permit remains tied up in a legal process that may take at least another four months to sort out.

After more than three years of review, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted Texas LNG a permit authorizing the plant to make up to 4 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas per year.

Before construction can begin, the company must secure customers, financing and obtain permits from nearly a dozen state and federal agencies. But the company may not be able to obtain a state air pollution permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality until March.

 

 

November 25, 2019

Brownsville Herald: LNG companies advance, official actions should start

Although the companies are still working toward the final OK, FERC approval should inspire local officials to begin planning for the now-greater possibility of their construction.

That begins with reviewing infrastructure that will support the delivery of LNG to the terminals. What, if any, will be the procedure and schedule for inspecting pipelines to ensure they are properly maintained and don’t leak? Do they need to budget for the equipment that might be needed to handle the minute chance of a gas-fed leak or fire?

Port officials and Valley lawmakers also should review existing maritime laws to see which ones might be outdated and hinder LNG operations. One that has drawn particular attention is the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, known as the Jones Act, which regulates the use of vessels operating under foreign flags between U.S. ports. The act prevents a foreign-owned tanker to make a delivery to Puerto Rico, for example, on its way to a final European destination.

 

 

NASDAQ – November 25, 2019

EIA Reports Season’s First Natural Gas Storage Withdrawal

The U.S. Energy Department’s weekly inventory release showed a larger-than-expected decrease in natural gas supplies – the season’s first withdrawal. However, the positive sentiment was overwhelmed by the lack of meaningful demand amid strong production, which led prices to trickle down.

Stockpiles held in underground storage in the lower 48 states fell by 94 billion cubic feet (Bcf) for the week ended Nov 15, above the guidance (of 91 Bcf fall). The decrease was also higher than the five-year (2014-2018) average net shrinkage of 32 Bcf but came below last year’s drop of109 Bcf for the reported week.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 22, 2019

The historic West Mansion — a remnant of Houston’s cattle ranching, oil and space eras — is razed

The West Mansion — once the very image of Texas wealth, one of the biggest, grandest houses built in Texas in the 1920s and ’30s — began falling to a backhoe Thursday, stunning Clear Lake-area fans of history and architecture.

Never mind that the mansion was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a Texas Historic Landmark. Or that, in its incarnation as the first home of the Lunar Planetary Institute, it had been the place where scientists first studied rocks brought back from the Moon.

“In preservation, the only real protections are local,” lamented David Bush of Preservation Houston. “And Pasadena, where the mansion is, has no local protections at all.”

Owner Hakeem Olajuwon, a basketball legend in Houston for his stints with the University of Houston and the Rockets, was unavailable for comment Friday.

 

Utilities

 

Daily Energy Insider – November 25, 2019

Public Utility Commission of Texas approves CenterPoint Energy project

CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric’s Bailey-Jones Creek Project, a 345-kilovolt (kV) electric transmission line, has received Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) approval.

The electric transmission line connects the company’s Bailey Substation in Wharton County to its Jones Creek Substation in Brazoria County.

“The Bailey-Jones Creek Project will maintain transmission grid reliability, provide for future load growth, and support operational flexibility to perform routine maintenance in the Freeport area,” Tracy Bridge, executive vice president and Electric Division president for CenterPoint Energy, said.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Financial Post – November 22, 2019

Sweden is Becoming Europe’s Texas for Wind Power

In a remote area almost eight times the size of Manhattan covered by millions of young fir trees, Europe’s biggest onshore wind park is emerging.

Workers are installing turbines perched atop 130-meter tall towers at a rate of about two a week at the site in northern Sweden, where the temperature regularly dips below minus 10 Celsius (14 Fahrenheit) and the sun is hardly seen for months on end during winter. So far, more than 170 of the machines scatter across the sparse landscape owned by some of the nation’s biggest forest companies.

 

Regulatory

 

E&E News – November 22, 2019

Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top Russia expert, said she recommended that Perry lead the U.S. delegation to Zelenskiy’s May 20 inauguration, “given his role as secretary of Energy and also his deep knowledge of the energy industry.”

Herself the daughter of a coal miner, Hill called Perry an “extraordinarily good advocate of U.S. interests, particularly in the energy sphere,” noting that energy is an “Achilles’ heel” for the nascent democracy.

“Ukraine remains, for now, the main transit point for Russian oil and gas and pipelines to Europe, and this has been manipulated repeatedly, especially since 2006, by the Russian government,” she said.

Hill spent much of her testimony warning against Russian interference in U.S. politics and agreed with Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) when he asked about whether a ban on fracking in the United States would play into Russia’s hands. She said she sat next to Russian President Vladimir Putin at a conference at which he made that point.

 

 

The Hill – November 25, 2019

Majority believe US government is doing ‘too little’ to fight climate change: study

A majority of Americans believe the government must do more to address pollution and climate concerns, according to a new study.

The federal government must do more to protect clean water, air quality, animals, open lands and reduce the effects of climate change, according to a majority of respondents in the survey released Monday by the Pew Research Center.

The survey broke down along party lines, with 90 percent of those who identified as Democrats saying they believe the federal government is doing “too little” to address climate change and just 39 percent of self-identifying Republicans saying the same.

 

 

CityLab – November 18, 2019

Why Is California Approving So Many New Oil Wells?

“California is a leader in the fight to transition away from fossil fuels,” Newsom said in a statement. “These bills put intentions into action … and fight against the Trump administration’s efforts to expand oil extraction in California.”

But since taking office in January, Newsom’s own department of energy management has approved 33 percent more new oil and gas drilling permits than were approved under Newsom’s predecessor Jerry Brown over the same period in 2018—a median of 174 permits to drill new oil, gas, and cyclic steam wells approved a month, based on Geologic Energy Management Division (CALGEM) reports analyzed by CityLab.

The rate of fracking permits approved also soared at the start of the year, up 109 percent through June.

The fact that fracking approvals in California had spiked in the new year was first reported in July by the FracTracker Alliance and Consumer Watchdog. Newsom responded quickly to the news, firing the head of the approving agency for employing regulators who owned stock in oil companies, and directing the department to stop approving fracking permits. Since June 28, California hasn’t cleared any new hydraulic fracturing projects. After publication of this story on Monday, the Los Angeles Times reported that Newsom announced he was fully stopping the permitting of new hydraulic fracturing pending independent scientific review. He also said he’d issue a moratorium on “new permits for steam-injected oil drilling.”

 

 

Defense News – November 22, 2019

Congress to target Russian pipeline in defense bill

Congress’s must-pass defense policy bill will be the vehicle to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin’s $11 billion project to deliver natural gas to Europe via a new pipeline from Russia to Germany, a top U.S. lawmaker revealed Friday.

Sanctions on companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline have been added to the draft 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch told Defense News on the sidelines of the Halifax International Security Forum.

The inclusion of the sanctions in the bill is a strong sign, but House and Senate lawmakers have yet to reach a final deal on the massive bill.

 

__________________________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – November 25, 2019

Subscriber’s Edition

Asterisk * indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at website because it’s password protected

 

Lead Stories

 

Spectrum News (Austin) – November 22, 2019

Air Quality Concerns Persist in Small Texas Town Following Explosion

Some families living in a rural area southeast of San Antonio are demanding answers. …

A blowout at a Devon Energy natural gas well – about three miles from Vargas’s farm – caused a large plume of smoke. Local law enforcement evacuated a two-mile radius in the hours after the blast. The blowout happened November 1. Twenty days later, it’s still burning.

According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, an air monitor 18 miles away showed elevated levels of the carcinogen Benzene in the three days after the blowout. The TCEQ says the measurements are well below what it calls the “short-term health comparison level.” …

In a statement, Devon Energy says: “Progress is being made on cleanup of nearby roadways, properties and infrastructure and environmental assessment and remediation remain a top priority.”

The TCEQ says it has not detected levels exceeding what it says are “short-term health exposure outside the two-mile evacuation zone.”

 

 

WFAA (DFW) – November 22, 2019

Verify: Wastewater injection well may have leaked undetected for years in West Texas

A wastewater well, used in hydraulic fracturing, may have leaked, undetected, for years, according to a new study from SMU in the journal Nature.

A team, led by geophysicist Dr. Zhong Lu, used satellite imagery to identify the site and conclude it had leaked over the course of 4 years, between 2007 and 2011, possibly polluting a rural water supply used for agricultural purposes. …

The regulator here is the Texas Railroad Commission. In response to these new findings, a spokesperson writes, “the academic paper you reference is a hypothesis… and not evidence that a leak is occurring.”

However, the state can’t say the well has never leaked because it appears regulators did not check during the period of 2007-11.

Inspection records, provided to WFAA-TV by the TRRC, show inspectors left blank a checklist item called “Pressure on Bradenhead.” The commission says a check of pressure on Bradenhead, which was not performed, is how it would identify underground leaks.

Dr. Lu says he hopes regulators, like the Texas Railroad Commission, will one day show interest in the science he’s developed and use it as an early warning system to detect toxic leaks.

 

 

Carlsbad Current Argus – November 22, 2019

Concho Resources sells assets in New Mexico

A Texas-based major oil and gas producer in the Permian Basin is selling its New Mexico Shelf assets, as it plans to explore and develop new acreage in the region.

Midland-based Concho Resources announced the $925 million sale of the land to Spur Energy Partners, while the company’s board of directors initiated a repurchase program of up $1.5 billion of Concho’s common stock shares, read a news release.

The divestiture included about 100,000 gross acres, and Concho’s New Mexico Shelf assets averaged about 25,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, the release read.

 

 

Austin American Statesman* – November 22, 2019

Solar provider countersues Georgetown for $1 million

In October, the city of Georgetown sued its solar provider, claiming Buckthorn Westex LLC had breached its contract by never revealing information about the expected performance of its facility. The city sought more than $1 million in damages and a cancellation of the 25-year contract in that lawsuit.

Now Buckthorn has filed a countersuit seeking up to $1 million against the city, saying Georgetown is responsible for a breach of the contract because it has withheld money owed to Buckthorn since March.

According to Buckthorn’s counterclaim, the city sent a default notice to Buckthorn in March saying that company had used the wrong methodology to calculate amounts the city owed the solar provider.

But when Buckthorn used the methodology that the city was referring to, the counterclaim said, it resulted in more money owed by the city.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – November 25, 2019

Oil gains on fresh hopes for US-China trade talks

Oil prices rose on Monday as positive noises from Washington over the weekend rekindled hopes in global markets that the United States and China could soon sign an interim deal to end their bitter trade war.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 18 cents, or 0.31% to $57.95 a barrel by 0626 GMT, having ended last week little changed after tracking ups and downs in the trade talks process.

Brent crude futures were at $63.66, up 27 cents or 0.43%, the benchmark having also finished little changed last week.

“It is still all about trade talks,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney. “It seems to be dominating markets action at the moment.”

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 22, 2019

U.S. rig count dips ahead of traditional holiday slump

Less than a week before Thanksgiving, there are now 803 active drilling rigs in the United Sates, weekly figures released on Friday by Houston oilfield service company Baker Hughes show.

The figures mark three less active drilling rigs than the prior week.

Alaska was the biggest loser in this week’s rig count. The Last Frontier lost three and now only have 5 active drilling rigs in operation.

Texas and its four shale plays lost two and now have 406 active drilling rigs deployed at sites across the state.

With 405 rigs in operation, the Permian Basin of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico now accounts for more than half of the nation’s drilling activity.

 

 

Associated Press/KVIA – November 22, 2019

2 earthquakes, including magnitude 3.6, strike Oklahoma and felt in Texas

No reports of injury or damage

The U.S. Geological Survey reports two earthquakes, including one of magnitude 3.6, were recorded in northern Oklahoma and felt across southern Kansas and as far away as north Texas.

The first quake occurred at 11:44 p.m. Thursday, followed by a magnitude 2.5 quake about 30 minutes later. Both were near Fairmont, about 63 miles (100 kilometers) north of Oklahoma City.

The larger quake was reported felt in Newton, Kansas, 168 miles (270 kilometers) to the north, and in Mineral Wells, Texas, 247 miles (398 kilometers) to the south.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 24, 2019

Ukraine Energy Official Says Giuliani Associates Tried to Recruit Him

Two associates of Rudy Giuliani tried to recruit a top Ukrainian energy official in March in a proposed takeover of the state oil-and-gas company, describing the company’s chief executive and the then-U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch as part of “this Soros cartel” working against President Trump.

“You’re a Republican, right?” Andrew Favorov, the head of natural gas for state-run Naftogaz, recalled the men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, asking him, after their reference to investor and Democratic donor George Soros. “We want you to be our guy.”

Mr. Favorov said he met voluntarily this week with New York federal prosecutors as part of an investigation into the activities of Messrs. Fruman, Parnas and Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal attorney. Prosecutors last month arrested Messrs. Fruman and Parnas on campaign-finance charges stemming from alleged efforts to leverage political connections and campaign donations—some from foreign donors—to benefit their own business interests and to assist Mr. Giuliani in efforts to oust Ms. Yovanovitch.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 22, 2019

Rep. Joaquin Castro calls for investigation of Rick Perry’s Ukraine dealings

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro says he will press for an investigation of Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s involvement in the award of a potentially lucrative oil and gas exploration contract with Ukraine.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Castro added to his comments on Thursday during the impeachment hearings when he asserted that a “culture of corruption” had spread throughout the Trump administration.

“Secretary Perry handed over a list of energy advisers who he said that (Ukranian) President (Volodymyr) Zelenskiy could trust. A week later, two Texans go and bid for a huge oil and gas contract, a 50-year contract. And then shortly after get awarded that contract even though they didn’t put forward the highest bid,” Castro said.

 

 

Argus Media – November 22, 2019

Phillips 66 starts Gray Oak crude-line service: Update

Phillips 66 has started initial service on its 900,000 b/d Gray Oak pipeline from the Permian basin to Corpus Christi, Texas.

The company also said today that full service on the line will start in the first quarter of 2020, as planned. …

Gray Oak stretches from the Permian basin and the Eagle Ford shale in south Texas to Corpus Christi and to the Sweeny area south of Houston, including to Phillips 66’s 247,000 b/d Sweeny refinery. The initial service only includes the Corpus Christi destinations, Phillips 66 said last month.

Gray Oak is the latest pipeline to the US Gulf coast to cut spot tariffs, reflecting greater competition and narrowing price spreads.

 

 

Rio Grande Guardian – November 22, 2019

Port of Brownsville welcomes FERC approval of LNG projects

Brownsville Navigation District officials have welcomed a decision by a federal agency to give permitting approval for three liquefied natural gas terminals at the port.

Approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for LNG plants and export facilities to be run by Annova LNG, Texas LNG, and NextDecade Corp., came yesterday. It was expected.

FERC also gave permission for NextDecade to to build the Rio Bravo Pipeline, which will feed gas into its plant at the port.

“The Commission has now completed its work on applications for 11 LNG export projects in the past nine months, helping the United States expand the availability of natural gas for our global allies who need access to an efficient, affordable and environmentally friendly fuel for power generation,” FERC chair Neil Chatterjee said in a statement.

 

 

MarketWatch – November 22, 2019

U.S. Silica to layoff 230 employees, idle mines as part of cost-cutting move

Houston area’s U.S. Silica Holdings Inc. said Friday it is cutting 230 jobs, or about 10% of its workforce, in an effort to “improve efficiencies” given challenges in its energy markets. The stock is still inactive in premarket trading.

The job cuts include corporate employees and job losses from the idling of the mines in Utica, Illinois and Tyler, Texas. Other facilities that will be impacted, but not idled, are those in Crane County, Texas, Sparta, Wisconsin and Festus, Missouri.

The company expects to incur about $1.7 million in severance costs in the fourth quarter of 2019, while the expected savings from the job cuts and other cost reduction actions are about $20 million a year.

 

 

Financial Post – November 23, 2019

Egypt signs energy accords at conference in new capital

Egypt said it had signed several energy accords at a conference in its partially built new capital on Saturday, including a $430-million deal for Texas-based Noble Energy to pump natural gas through the East Mediterranean Gas Co’s pipeline.

Under the agreement, with financing from the U.S. International Development Finance Corp, Noble will also manufacture petroleum products in partnership with Egypt’s Dolphinus Holdings.

The cabinet detailed the plans on the last day of an Africa investment forum, one of the first major events to be held on the site of the new administrative capital being built in the desert east of Cairo.

 

 

Diesel & Gas Turbine Worldwide – November 21, 2019

ExxonMobil, GE Launch Gas Turbine Oil

ExxonMobil and GE announced the launch of Mobil SHC 918 EE gas turbine oil, a new technology that can improve turbine bearing efficiency by up to 15% compared to conventional ISO VG 32 turbine oils.

Designed for use in multi-shaft 7HA, 9HA, 6FA.01 and 7FA GE gas turbines, the turbine oil is designed to help power plant operators reduce production costs and deliver on sustainability goals through lowered carbon dioxide emissions.

Improving turbine energy efficiency is a significant focus for the power generation industry. Improving efficiency can help reduce fuel costs, which can account for up to 80% of total running costs, and extend component life by reducing operating temperatures. These improvements can lead to lower capital expenditures and maintenance costs.

 

Utilities

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 24, 2019

Utilities Targeted in Cyberattacks Identified

More than a dozen U.S. utilities that were targets in a recent wave of cyberattacks have been identified by The Wall Street Journal. Some of the utilities, most of which are relatively small, are located near dams, locks and other critical infrastructure.

These electricity providers were singled out in a hacking campaign that was brought to light in August by researchers at a Silicon Valley cybersecurity company. But little was known about the attacks until now.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing the attacks and has contacted some, but not all, of the utilities, according to some of the utilities. It is possible that the hacking campaign is ongoing, according to security researchers.

Utilities said the FBI provided information that helped them scan their computer networks to see if firewalls—their first-line defenses—had been probed and whether malware-laced emails had been sent to their employees. The FBI declined to comment.

 

 

Greentech Media – November 22, 2019

Converting homes to all-electric heating would save money and slash emissions in the Lone Star State, a study finds.

What would happen if you converted all the single-family homes in Texas from natural gas to electric heating?

According to a paper from Pecan Street, an Austin-based energy research organization, the transition would reduce climate-warming pollution, save Texas households up to $452 annually on their utility bills, and flip the state from a summer-peaking to a winter-peaking system. And that winter peak would be “nothing the grid couldn’t evolve to handle,” according to co-author Joshua Rhodes.

The report stems from the reality that buildings must be part of any comprehensive climate action plan.

“If we do want to decarbonize, eventually we do have to move into that space. It may not be the lowest-hanging fruit, but eventually we will have to get there,” said Rhodes.

 

 

 

San Antonio Express News* – November 22, 2019

UTPB nuclear engineering track receives national grant

The University of Texas of the Permian Basin has received a grant from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for scholarships for students who are on the nuclear track in mechanical engineering. …

Up to 40 students can benefit from the grant, he said.

“To qualify, students must have a 3.0 GPA and either be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident,” Nnanna said. “There is a service agreement — that upon graduation the applicant will look for jobs in nuclear energy — that needs to be signed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.”

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 22, 2019

Bets on Coal End Where They Started: In Bankruptcy

About 60% of the nation’s coal is mined by companies that have been through bankruptcy over the past five years, according to Joshua Macey, a Cornell Law School visiting assistant professor who has written about industry restructuring.

But the number of potential buyers for coal businesses is shrinking, creating a dilemma for courts that are charged with deciding what to do with troubled mines. Bankruptcy courts are often asked to weigh proposed asset sales involving buyers that may not have the financial or technical wherewithal to mine coal. But rejecting those deals can mean sticking states with abandoned, environmentally devastated lands and putting more miners out of work.

State regulators have the chance in bankruptcy court to oppose sales to undercapitalized or underprepared owners, said Peter Morgan, a lawyer for the Sierra Club, an environmental organization.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Hearland Institute – November 22, 2019

Federal report: Millions of dollars in fraudulent electric vehicle tax credit claims revealed

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) wrongly granted $73.8 million of electric vehicle (EV) tax credits for 16,510 tax returns that made fraudulent or mistaken claims for the credits between 2014 and 2018, a new report by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) states.

The TIGTA report makes clear individual filers and the IRS share the blame for these millions of dollars in wrongly granted tax credits. The IRS has, at present, no way of ensuring those claiming the electric-car tax credit aren’t doing so improperly—whether individuals claimed the credit without purchasing an EV, claimed it more than once, or claimed more money than they were allowed. IRS’s instructions for filing the claim are unclear and inadequate, TIGTA’s report says.

 

 

CityLab – November 22, 2019

Tesla Made a Pickup Truck for the End of the World

Elon Musk is having a complicated week. On Wednesday, a prototype of the Starship rocket—designed by his company SpaceX to eventually fly humans to the Moon and Mars—suffered a large explosion while it was being loaded with super-cooled fuel in Texas. And on Thursday evening, his other company, the maker of stylish electric vehicles Tesla, ran into a roadblock at another high-stakes launch.

Musk was onstage with Tesla’s lead designer, Franz von Holzhausen, for the debut of their newest model. Dubbed Cybertruck, the electric pickup, which will not begin production until late 2021, boasts a host of eye-popping specifications: The most expensive version should have a maximum range of 500 miles between charges, the ability to tow 14,000 pounds, and a 0-to-60 time of under 3 seconds. Musk also promised that the truck had unprecedented invulnerability. “You want a truck that’s really tough, not fake tough,” he told his audience. …

Cybertruck occupants, according to Tesla, are protected behind something called Armor Glass. Von Holzhausen returned with steel spheres and proceeded to chuck the balls at the truck’s side windows. Both pieces of glass cracked and cratered on impact. “Oh my fucking god,” said a clearly surprised Musk. “At least they didn’t go through.”

 

Regulatory

 

San Antonio Express News* – November 22, 2019

River authority board kills talk of aquifer protection tax

The San Antonio River Authority decided Wednesday not to pursue a property tax increase to help protect the Edwards Aquifer, even as city and county officials ramp up efforts to shift funds away from aquifer protection and toward public transit.

Resistance from developers influenced some SARA board members to block any study or public engagement on the issue, which would have increased the SARA tax on an average Bexar County homeowner from $38.64 to $90.60 a year. …

“We already know in our county what the constituents want,” responded Gaylon Oehlke of Karnes County. “And to go down there and do a study, it’s just going to stir them up.”

 

 

Go Tech Daily – November 23, 2019

Rick Perry states Trump admin designed US power as achievement like he did in Texas

Electricity Secretary Rick Perry told Fox News’ Ed Henry that the administration saved western nations billions of pounds and helped loosen Russia’s grip on Europe’s vitality supply as a result of its pursuit of organic fuel.

For the duration of an interview, the 1st element which aired on Saturday, Perry stated that “this president understood that American LNG could genuinely impact the emissions issue in Europe.”

According to Perry, President Trump especially directed him in the course of the transition to make American power thriving like it was for his home point out of Texas.

“This is what he explained when I was sitting in his office environment getting interviewed again in December of 2016 — he mentioned: ‘Perry, this is what I want you to do, I want you to go do for American electrical power what you did for Texas.’ And I explained, ‘I acquired it, Mr. President,’” Perry recalled. The former Texas governor plans to leave the administration by the close of the year.

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – November 22, 2019

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Lead Stories

 

Texas Tribune – November 21, 2019

In key vote, federal regulators OK controversial South Texas gas export facilities

Federal energy regulators on Thursday greenlighted three liquefied natural gas projects proposed for the Rio Grande Valley that a coalition of local residents and indigenous and environmental groups have fervently rallied against.

After several years of review, the three-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission voted to authorize permit applications to build LNG terminals at the Port of Brownsville that would receive natural gas produced in West and South Texas and convert it to liquid form so it can be exported around the world. Commissioners also approved a permit application from Houston-based Cheniere Energy to increase production capacity at its existing LNG terminal at the Port of Corpus Christi.

The Brownsville projects are known as Texas LNG Brownsville, Rio Grande LNG and Annova LNG. The first is a venture of an independent energy company by the same name. Rio Grande LNG is owned by Houston-based NextDecade, and Annova LNG is owned by out-of-state companies including Exelon, Black & Veatch, and Kiewit.

 

 

Bloomberg News/Financial Post – November 21, 2019

Billionaire Fracking Brothers Hammered by Permian Holdings

Farris and Dan Wilks hit pay dirt during the shale boom when they sold their Texas fracking company in 2011 for $3.5 billion, giving them ample resources to fund their interests in land, politics and religion.

But many of their more recent investments in the Permian Basin have turned to dust.

The brothers put some of their fortune into Cisco, Texas-based Wilks Brothers LLC to invest in various businesses, including natural gas producer Approach Resources Inc. The shale driller sought bankruptcy protection Monday after 4 1/2 years of losses, erasing more than $110 million of the Wilkses’ wealth.

That follows the recent implosion of at least two other firms in which they invested — Alta Mesa Resources Inc. and Halcon Resources Corp. — after the shale boom went bust for explorers that piled on debt as gluts of crude and gas depressed prices.

 

 

Reuters/Euronews – November 21, 2019

Exxon aims to sell $25 billion of assets to focus on mega-projects – sources

Exxon Mobil plans to sell up to $25 billion of oil and gas fields in Europe, Asia and Africa in its biggest asset sales for decades, seeking to free up cash to focus on a handful of mega-projects, according to three banking sources.

The sell-off would be a marked acceleration of the U.S. oil major’s previous divestment plans. It would represent an ambitious attempt by Chief Executive Darren Woods to catch up with competitors who carried out sweeping portfolio reviews and sold swathes of assets following the 2014 market crash.

Exxon’s shares have underperformed its major rivals’ in recent years. The disposals would help the company increase spending on new developments and appease investors unhappy with weak cash generation and oil output, which flatlined under Woods’ predecessor Rex Tillerson.

 

 

The Hill – November 21, 2019

America’s demand for coal drops to new low

U.S. power plants are expected to burn less coal in 2020 than they have in 42 years, according to new government projections. The amount of coal used to generate electricity next year is predicted to decrease by 14 percent to 545.8 million metric tons, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Coal’s steep decline has continued despite President Donald Trump’s attempts to revive the industry by relaxing or eliminating environmental regulations, CNN reports. Since 2016, coal consumption for power generation has fallen 27 percent.

At the federal level, President Trump is withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, but many states are still aggressively pursuing renewable energy in an attempt to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. In aggregate, these efforts are steering the country away from coal. Efforts in the two most populous states are driving the trend, with Texas and California set to account for 22 and 14 percent, respectively, of the nation’s non-hydroelectric renewable energy production in 2020.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – November 22, 2019

Oil falls from two-month high as US-China trade doubts dominate

Oil prices were toppled from their highest in nearly two months on Friday by doubts over future demand for crude as uncertainty continues to shroud a potential U.S.China trade deal, and along with it the health of the global economy.

That was more than enough to offset news of a likely extension of production cuts among major producers that drove prices higher in the previous session on the prospect of tight crude supply.

By 0159 GMT, Brent crude futures had slid 30 cents, or 0.5%, to $63.67 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate crude was at $58.24 a barrel, down 34 cents or 0.6%.

“The key factor for the demand outlook for oil is the (U.S.-China) trade negotiation currently going on,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets and Stockbroking in Sydney.

 

 

Dallas Morning News* – November 21, 2019

Energy Transfer’s Kelcy Warren makes a $45 million bet on his company’s stock

The billionaire boss of Dallas-based pipeline giant Energy Transfer is making a big bet on his company’s stock price, buying more than $45 million of shares this week.

Kelcy Warren’s stock buy occurred in three transactions Tuesday, according to a regulatory filing, and less than a week after the company’s stock had fallen to its year-to-date low of $11.18 a share. He bought just shy of 4 million shares at an average price of $11.37. Energy Transfer shares closed up nearly 5% Thursday at $11.91. …

Warren, the company’s chief executive, now owns around 255 million shares or nearly 10% of the company’s stock. His net worth is estimated at $4.3 billion by Forbes.

“In just the last 12 months, Kelcy has invested more than $180 million to purchase an estimated 13.5 million units,” Granado said.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 21, 2019

Interview: Executive says Shell to start fuel imports by ship into Mexico in mid-2020

Shell plans to start importing fuel to Mexico ship by the middle or second half of next year, as soon as two new private terminals come online, according to Murray Fonseca, Shell downstream director for Mexico.

The first cargo of fuel, from Shell’s 340,000 b/d refinery in Deer Park, Texas, on the Houston Ship Channel, arrived by train to a private terminal in the Mexican state of Guanajuato in early October, Fonseca said in an interview with S&P Global Platts. Shell co-owns the refinery in a 50-50 joint venture with Mexico’s state-owned Pemex.

However, Shell cargoes by ship will start once private terminals in Tuxpan, on Mexico’s East Coast, and Tula, in Mexico’s central region, become functional, Fonseca said. The terminals are expected to be operating by mid-2020.

 

 

World Oil – November 21, 2019

EIA increases U.S. crude oil production forecast

The U.S. Energy Information Administration revises the U.S. crude oil production forecast it publishes in each Short-Term Energy Outlook based mainly on two factors: updates to EIA’s published historical data and EIA’s crude oil price forecast. In the November 2019 STEO, EIA increased its forecast of U.S. crude oil production in 2019 by 30,000 bpd (0.2%) from the October STEO. EIA increased its 2020 crude oil production forecast by 119,000 bpd (0.9%) compared with the October STEO (Figure 1). The increases in crude oil production forecast in the November STEO were primarily driven by

  • EIA’s upward revision to historical production in the Lower 48 states of about 90,000 bpd for August, based on EIA’s most recent–October 31, 2019–914 monthly crude oil and natural gas production survey
  • Higher initial production for future wells that will be drilled in the Texas Permian region
  • Slightly higher crude oil price forecast for the November 2019–January 2020 time period than in the October STEO

 

 

Dallas Morning News* – November 21, 2019

Authorities raid Carrollton business accused of running fraudulent oil and gas scheme

The Texas State Securities Board and Carrollton police raided an investment business Thursday that’s accused of fraudulently selling oil and gas investments.

The state said it executed the search warrant at the Marsh Lane office of Premier Resources LLC under an emergency cease and desist order. The company was incorporated by Robert J. Mangiafico Jr. after he was paroled from prison in December 2017, according to the state.

Mangiafico had served four years of a 40-year prison sentence for stealing $655,000 from elderly widows in the Dallas area by selling them fake annuities. He pleaded guilty in 2013 in Collin County to charges of theft and money laundering.

 

 

Reuters – November 21, 2019

Fire contained at Texas oilfield site, one critically injured

One person was seriously injured in a Midland, Texas, explosion and fire on Thursday involving several storage tanks and a truck used in oilfield operations, city and hospital officials said.

The fire was contained at the property owned by petroleum and petroleum products distributor Oasis Transportation and Marketing Corp around 1:30 p.m. CST, according to Erin Bailey, a public information officer for Midland. Oasis did not immediately respond to a request for comment. …

A hot oiler truck, which is used to remove wax deposits from oil wells, caught on fire at the Oasis facility, Nye said.

Four or five frac tanks that typically hold water or proppant were also engulfed in the flames, and a firefighter truck caught fire after fuel spilled onto the ground and spread the blaze, CBS7 news reported.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 21, 2019

NuStar makes $400 million bet on export growth at Port of Corpus Christi

San Antonio pipeline operator NuStar Energy is making a $400 million bet on the Port of Corpus Christi.

In an investors presentation filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, the company laid its capital expenditure budget for next year.

NuStar exited Europe last November and the Caribbean in July, pocketing about $500 million in cash. The company, the presentation shows, is investing the lion’s share of that money into projects that will grow the company’s business.

 

 

Business and Industry Connection – November 21, 2019

Next Wave to build Ethylene-to-Alkylate production facility in Texas

Next Wave Energy Partners, LP has made a positive final investment decision (FID) to construct a new alkylate production facility, known as Project Traveler, which will be located adjacent to the Houston Ship Channel at Next Wave’s 53-acre site in Pasadena, Texas.

The project is expected to create up to 750 jobs during construction and approximately 30 direct permanent jobs once completed.

Next Wave will convert a portion of North America’s growing ethylene supply to alkylate by utilizing licensed and commercially proven process technologies at the facility, which will have a nameplate capacity of 28,000 barrels per day of alkylate. Next Wave expects initial production by mid-2022 and the total cost for the project was not disclosed.

 

 

Zacks* – November 21, 2019

Phillips 66 Partners to Slash Gray Oak Tariff Rates in Texas

Phillips 66 Partners LP recently filed for tariff cuts at the Gray Oak crude oil pipeline with state regulators in Texas, per Reuters. Committed and spot rates’ tariff drop from $4.75 a barrel set last October to $3.90 will likely take place within points in Texas.

Notably, the new rates are expected to take effect on Dec 1, 2019. The recent filing incorporated a new origin point at Santa Rita of Reagan County. The pipeline, with 900,000 barrel a day crude shipping capacity, is expected to commence full service in first-quarter 2020.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 21, 2019

Ex-Chevron CEO John Watson: Oil and gas around for long term

John Watson stepped down as CEO of Chevron last year at the age of 61. Now, settling into retirement in California, he was recently awarded the American Petroleum Institute’s highest honor, the Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement, for “exceptional leadership and service to the natural gas and oil industry, their community, and the nation.” In between board meetings at the agriculture giant Cargill and the University of California-Davis — and the occasional round of golf — Watson sat down to talk about the industry and his place in it. Edited excerpts follow. ….

Q: I could keep asking you questions, but is there anything else you felt like getting off your chest?

A: We’re living in a pretty polarized world these days, and something I always try to encourage API to do is be active in dialogue, particularly with people with views different from our own. The idea our industry shouldn’t be around isn’t well grounded, if you want people to have a good standard of living. One of the things I enjoyed most was talking to reporters and editorial boards. I liked the sparring, but I also tried to be respectful. I hope to do more of it, but maybe that’s just a retiree speaking.

 

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – November 21, 2019

Roundtable discussion focuses on cutting flaring, emissions

Flares continue to dot Permian Basin skies even as the region’s oil and gas operators seek ways to reduce those flares and emissions.

Such efforts were the focus of a recent Flaring, Emissions Reduction Roundtable event at the Petroleum Club, presented by Petroleum ETC.

Among the presenters was Jeff Voorhis, regulatory engineer with Cimarron Energy, which earlier this year acquired Midland-based Hy-Bon/EDI. …

Voorhis said the Railroad Commission is expected to start taking a harder stand on extending permits for flaring and venting under its Statewide Rule 32. Because there’s so much gas being flared, the agency needs to take a closer look at the issue.

“We need beneficial use of that gas because it’s essential,” he said. “Over $1.5 billion has been lost in Texas because of flaring. That’s a lot of dollars not going into the Permanent School Fund.”

Pipeline infrastructure is the best solution, if the gas can be cleaned up to pipeline quality, he said. If that’s not possible, other ways to make beneficial use of that stranded gas need to be found, he said. He pointed to another presenter at the event who is working with Pioneer Midstream on a project to use stranded gas to generate 50 megawatts of electricity for cryptocurrency.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 21, 2019

Shell starts recycling plastics in Louisiana

Royal Dutch Shell said Thursday it has started making petrochemical products from recycled plastic waste to eventually help combat the growing fears that the world is drowning in plastics.

The Anglo-Dutch energy giant said it is partnering with Atlanta-based Nexus Fuels to break down hard-to-recycle plastics into a liquid feedstock and then manufacture new high-end petrochemical products. The feedstock was delivered from Nexus to Shell’s chemicals plant in Norco, La. outside of New Orleans.

The rising global glut of plastic waste threatens the future of the petrochemical sector and Shell is now investing in recycling technologies, while other companies such as BP and Houston’s LyondellBasell are building recycling plants to help address the problems.

 

 

Longview News Journal* – November 16, 2019

Jim Keffer: Texas benefits from investing in safe pipelines

When I served as chairman of the Texas House Energy Resources Committee, we heard hundreds of hours of testimony on the need to increase our ability to safely and effectively move oil and gas from the Permian Basin, Eagle Ford and Barnett to our Gulf ports for export.

During my tenure, the Texas Legislature passed laws providing a balanced policy on oversight, regulations and safety, while bringing a common-sense approach promoting economic benefits to the local and state economies. Ensuring energy independence through thoughtful, market-based energy polices was a priority for me as a legislator. Now, I believe, both Texas and the nation must continue to invest in energy infrastructure and eliminate senseless barriers to energy pipeline development.

 

Utilities

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 21, 2019

Summer price spikes reaching residential electric bills

Electricity contracts for residential customers in Texas are getting more expensive as spikes in wholesale power prices during the extended stretch of triple-digit temperatures this summer filter down to the retail level.

Residential consumers who have renewed their fixed-rate electricity plans over the past three months are paying at least 20 percent more than they did a year ago for the energy portion of their bill, according to comparison shopping websites and retail electric providers tracking prices.

The higher prices, in part, reflect an effort by retail electric providers to recover the costs of buying power on the wholesale market when prices there surged as high as $9,000 per megawatt-hour, the maximum allowed by state rules. The higher prices also reflect regulatory changes that paid power generators surcharges during peak demand periods when supplies are tight.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 21, 2019

New instruments developing to hedge power market weather risk: Swiss Re

Electric Reliability Council of Texas market participants have several ways to mitigate wholesale power price risk that can result from unusual weather events, ranging from full-blown catastrophes to unusually mild temperatures, attendees of a Gulf Coast Power Association luncheon learned Thursday.

“We’re really on the front line of climate change,” said Brian Beebe, Swiss Re senior vice president and head of Americas origination.

North America had its largest losses from hurricanes in insurance history in 2017, totaling $92 billion, and California wildfires caused $14 billion in damages, Beebe said as part of a presentation entitled “Evolving Climate and Renewables Energy Risk Transfer Solutions in ERCOT.”

 

 

Forbes – November 20, 2019

Megan Mahajan: How To Reach U.S. Net Zero Emissions By 2050: Decarbonizing Electricity

Achieving net zero energy emissions by mid-century will require meeting electricity demand with low-carbon generation. Demand growth from electrifying buildings, vehicles, and certain industrial processes will further increase the need for zero-emission electricity.

Many policy options exist for decarbonizing U.S. electricity generation, but the most effective are clean energy standards (CES) or renewable portfolio standards (RPS). These policies require a certain share of generation to come from zero-carbon electricity by a specific date.

As states and regions begin to set standards in the 80-100% range, they have generally shifted to “clean” energy rather than “renewable” energy standards. This broadens the qualifying resources to include hydro, nuclear, or any other zero-carbon electricity source that can win on cost in the marketplace to begin operation before the policy end-date.

To fully decarbonize electricity generation, the net zero pathway sets a 100% CES by 2050. The challenge may seem daunting, but the U.S. is already at 38% clean electricity, and 29 states plus the District of Columbia have already established an RPS or CES. Nine of these states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, target 100% clean electricity by 2050 or earlier.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Energy Central – November 21, 2019

GE Renewable Energy lands 350MW order for onshore wind turbines in Texas

GE Renewable Energy has landed a 350MW order to supply turbines to an onshore wind power project in Texas.

The firm was selected by Innergex Renewable Energy to deliver 139 of its 2MW onshore wind turbines on 89-metre towers for the 350MW Foard City Wind Project.

The deal also includes a 20-year full-service agreement for GE Renewable Energy to maintain the turbines.

 

Regulatory

 

KRKF (Baton Rouge) – November 21, 2019

Bill Advances In Senate That Would Increase Louisiana’s [and Texas’s] Oil And Gas Royalties, Restoration Money

A bill that could increase the amount of royalty money Louisiana gets from offshore oil and gas drilling advanced in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

The bill, called the Conservation of America’s Shoreline Terrain and Aquatic Life Act, or COASTAL Act, is sponsored by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La). It would reduce how much oil and gas money goes to the federal government, and increase the amount that goes to states along the Gulf of Mexico — Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Right now, states get 37.5% of that money under an existing law known as the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, or GOMESA. Cassidy’s bill would amend GOMESA to increase the share going to Gulf states to 50%.

 

 

Dallas Morning News* – November 21, 2019

Joaquin Castro uses final impeachment hearing to accuse Rick Perry of Ukraine wrongdoing

San Antonio Rep. Joaquin Castro on Thursday used the final day of House impeachment hearings to accuse Energy Secretary Rick Perry of wrongdoing in Ukraine over his dealings with that country’s energy sector.

The attack – which Perry has previously rejected – was prompted by testimony from David Holmes, a State Department employee at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.

Holmes told the House Intelligence Committee that he accompanied Perry at times when the former Texas governor attended the May inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. He said he saw Perry give Zelenskiy a list of what Perry described as “people he trusts.”

 

 

Inside Climate News – November 17, 2019

US Suspends More Oil and Gas Leases Over What Could Be a Widespread Problem

The Trump administration’s relentless push to expand fossil fuel production on federal lands is hitting a new snag: its own refusal to consider the climate impacts of development.

The federal Bureau of Land Management’s Utah office in September voluntarily suspended 130 oil and gas leases after advocacy groups sued, arguing that BLM hadn’t adequately assessed the greenhouse gas emissions associated with drilling and extraction on those leases as required by law.

The move was unusual because BLM suspended the leases on its own, without waiting for a court to rule.

Some environmental advocates say it could indicate a larger problem for the bureau.

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – November 21, 2019

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Lead Stories

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 20, 2019

New study blames some fracking practices for Eagle Ford earthquakes

Earthquakes caused by hydraulic fracturing are more common in the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas than previously thought, a new study reveals.

Researchers with Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and the U.S. Geological Survey analyzed more than 2,800 earthquakes recorded in the South Texas shale play between 2014 and 2018.

In a recently published study, the researchers revealed that more than 2,400 of those earthquakes could be linked to hydraulic fracturing activity and that certain industry practices were more likely to trigger them.

 

 

Austin American Statesman* – November 20, 2019

Testimony points to Rick Perry’s Ukraine role

In his explosive testimony before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland repeatedly identified Energy Secretary Rick Perry as a central player in the impeachment inquiry.

The testimony giving new details about Perry’s role, especially his connection to President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, cast a shadow over the former Texas governor as he prepares to leave the Cabinet.

Perry has announced plans to step down from his post on Dec. 1, and the testimony interrupted what was something of a farewell tour of speeches and appearances, including leading a prayer at his last Cabinet meeting Tuesday. It also prompted a rebuke of Sondland’s version of events.

 

 

Bloomberg News/Houston Chronicle* – November 20, 2019

Exxon’s credit rating outlook lowered by Moody’s on cash burn

Exxon Mobil Corp. had the outlook on its top-notch debt rating lowered by Moody’s Investors Service Inc. to negative due to a “substantial” cash burn to fund growth.

The oil major’s credit metrics will probably weaken over the next few years as it pursues a rebuild of its upstream portfolio, as well as new chemical facilities and refinery upgrades, Moody’s said in a statement Tuesday. The outlook on its Aaa rating was reduced from stable.

“ExxonMobil’s negative outlook reflects the company’s substantial negative free cash flow and expected reliance on debt to fund its large growth capital spending program,” Peter Speer, a senior vice president at Moody’s, said in the statement. Debt will likely rise despite asset sales, he said.

 

 

Oil Price – November 19, 2019

Forget OPEC: China Now Moves The Oil Markets

There’s A New Whisperer in Town… and it’s not Iran, or even U.S. shale. The supreme market mover is China.

The residual effect of the U.S. shale boom changed all that. In the aftermath of the oil-price crisis that was largely caused by massive new output in U.S. shale plays, the market began to be moved more by weekly crude inventory data estimates from the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the “official” data on the same that would follow the next day from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Now, all those acronyms have been overshadowed in the market by the ongoing trade war, global economic data, and demand signals coming out of China.

The biggest surge in oil prices this year was prompted by September 14 attack on Saudi Aramco’s oil facilities, but that 15-percent surge could not be sustained as dramatic as the attacks were, and despite the fact that they took 5% of the world’s oil off the market instantly.

 

 

Oil Price – November 17, 2019

Julianne Geiger: The Five Biggest Enemies Of Oil & Gas

Enemy #1: The Oil and Gas Industry

Being one’s own worst enemy may sound cliché, but in this case it is particularly apt. The oil and gas industry has done a pretty good job of making itself out to be the bad guy. It has not performed its environmental duties admirably. Exxon, BP, Enbridge–all responsible for tarnishing the public perception for the industry at large. And we don’t even need to point out why. No one can forget.

We doubt if in hindsight, any of those responsible for sizeable environmental disasters would have made identical choices, but the fact remains, the environmental disasters that a handful of companies have perpetrated will likely be remembered forever. Is it even possible to rebrand?

We wouldn’t know, because the industry is doing precious little to try.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – November 21, 2019

Oil dips on concerns of delay in US-China trade deal until next year

Oil prices retreated on Thursday after gaining more than 2% in the previous session on bullish U.S. crude inventory data, as a fresh spat over fueled concerns of a further delay in any U.S.China trade deal.

The trade war between the world’s two biggest economies has hit global growth prospects and dominated the outlook for future oil demand. ….

Brent crude futures fell 20 cents, or 0.32%, to $62.20 a barrel by 0330 GMT. The international benchmark rose 2.5% on Wednesday.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures dropped 17 cents, or 0.3%, to $56.84 per barrel. U.S. crude closed up 3.4% in the previous session.

A smaller-than-expected build in weekly U.S. inventories, however, propelled oil prices higher on Wednesday.

Crude stocks at the U.S. delivery hub of Cushing, Oklahoma fell by 2.3 million barrels, while U.S. crude stocks rose by 1.4 million barrels in the week to Nov. 15, compared with expectations for an increase of 1.5 million barrels, data from the Energy Information Administration showed.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 20, 2019

Majority of families return home weeks after DeWitt County blowout

The majority of families evacuated following a Nov. 1 blowout at a Devon Energy gas well in the Eagle Ford Shale’s DeWitt County have returned home.

In a Monday afternoon statement, the Oklahoma exploration and production company reported that natural gas spewing from the well is being pipelined a safe distance away and burned off — allowing the majority of evacuated families to return home.

No injuries were reported following the Nov. 1 accident at one of the company’s natural gas well off Cotton Patch Road and FM 952 in DeWitt County that sent an unknown amount of natural gas into the surrounding countryside for nearly 20 days.

 

 

Financial Post – November 15, 2019

Legendary Oil Trader Says the End of Demand Growth in Sight

Andy Hall became arguably the most successful oil trader of his generation with his winning calls on the market. Now he’s predicting the biggest shift yet in the global crude market: the end of demand growth.

The view is not original, but it underscores a forecast from earlier this week from the Paris-based International Energy Agency saying that global oil demand will plateau in about a decade. That would end an expansion that dominated the past century.

“There’s a non-zero chance that by 2030, we will see a plateauing or decline in global oil consumption,” he said at an industry event in New York. “It’ll happen because of technology, electric cars, renewable energy.”

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 20, 2019

ISS flips and supports sweetened Callon-Carrizo deal

An influential proxy advisory firm said Wednesday it now supports the merger of Houston oil producers Callon Petroleum and Carrizo Oil & Gas after the deal was sweetened for hesitant Callon shareholders.

Callon plans to acquire Carrizo in a merger of near equals, but the deal was at risk of falling apart because of concerns Callon was paying too much and taking on too big of a debt load. Instead, the companies agreed last week to a reduced offer to buy Carrizo.

Major Callon shareholder Paulson & Co., which owned about 10 percent of the Callon shares, sold off half of its stake and removed its opposition. And, now, the proxy advisory firm ISS is supporting the deal after previously advising against it.

 

 

Reuters – November 0, 2019

Phillips 66 to cut tariffs for Gray Oak crude pipeline in Texas

Phillips 66 Partners LP proposed cutting tariff rates to $3.90 a barrel to ship crude on its new 900,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Gray Oak crude pipeline within points in Texas, according to filings on Wednesday.

The company proposed both spot rates and committed rates of $3.90 a barrel to transport crude within Texas, down from the $4.75 rate it had set last month.

The rates, set to come into effect by Dec. 1, would apply only to accelerated commissioning service and are pending approval with Texas state regulators. Phillips 66 did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

 

Dallas Morning News* – November 19, 2019

Alaskans are headed to Texas in latest look at moves

All those moving trucks headed to Texas show no sign of a slowdown.

And don’t be surprised to see some Alaska license plates on the road.

Texas was second most favorable destination for out-of-state moves in a new survey by LendingTree. The mortgage firm looked at where its customers were moving from and moving to….

“Alaskans looking to move overwhelmingly chose Texas as their top destination,” LendingTree found “Although Texas and Alaska have very different climates and ways of life, both have large oil and gas industries that make it easier for workers to transfer their skills from one job market to the other.”

 

 

CNN – November 20, 2019

The latest Keystone Pipeline oil leak is almost 10 times “worse” than initially thought

The amount of land impacted by an oil spill in North Dakota is almost 10 times larger than initially reported, officials say. The disclosure comes about a month after the Keystone 1 Pipeline leaked about 383,040 gallons of oil.

TC Energy, the company that owns the pipeline, shut down it down on October 29 after discovering that the oil had leaked from the pipe into the surrounding wetlands. The pipeline was returned to service on November 10 following approval by the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, TC Energy says.

Initial reports of the leak released by TC Energy and North Dakota’s Department of Environmental Quality estimated about 2,500 square yards of land were affected by the spill.

 

 

CNBC – November 20, 2019

Russia’s Putin says shale oil technologies are ‘barbaric’

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sharply criticized nations like the U.S. for ignoring the environmental impact of shale oil and gas production, describing it as a “barbaric” process that the Kremlin has no interest in pursuing.

Speaking at a business conference in Moscow Wednesday, Putin said: “Today’s technology of shale oil production and shale gas are without any doubt … barbaric.”

“These technologies destroy the environment,” he explained via a translation, before adding that the areas affected by the extraction process were typically left in a “precarious situation.”

“In spite of all of the economic benefits, we do not need it and we will never do this,” Putin said.

Related: Oil price will have a ‘significant influence’ on Russia’s growth story, wealth fund chief says

 

 

MENAFN – November 8, 2019

The 10 Highest Paying Jobs In Oil & Gas

#3 Construction Manager $145,000. CMs are responsible for delivering construction in compliance with HSE requirements and the schedule. They work closely with the project manager in leading teams to manage and control construction projects.

#2 Drilling Supervisor $148,476. Drilling supervisors are in charge of the drill operations and make sure drilling is completed on time. Unlike most of the other top jobs in the oil and gas industry, drilling supervisors often do not need a bachelor’s degree. However, years of experience are usually required. Some employers prefer degrees in drilling technology or mechanical engineering.

#1 Project Manager $157,795. The top paying job in the oil and gas industry is the Project Manager, and it’s no wonder. The PM is tasked with ensuring that an entire project from start to finish is on track, in budget, to specifications, and within safety guidelines.

 

Utilities

 

El Paso Times – November 20, 2019

El Paso Electric, J.P. Morgan-tied investment fund close to final deal with sale opponents

A state regulatory hearing on the proposed $4.3 billion sale of El Paso Electric has been postponed to Thursday because substantial progress has been made in negotiating a final deal.

The Public Utility Commission of Texas early Thursday morning approved a request by El Paso Electric; the Infrastructure Investments Fund, (IIF) which is planning to buy the utility; the city of El Paso; the PUC staff and the Texas Industrial Energy Consumers to postpone the start of the hearing from Wednesday to Thursday morning so negotiations can continue for a settlement of the case pending before the PUC.

Lino Mendiola, a lawyer for the J.P. Morgan Chase-advised investment fund, said during a pre-hearing conference in Austin on Wednesday that over many days of negotiations, the parties involved with the proposed sale have “closed the gap” on most of the issues tied to the proposed sale, and that the parties were close to coming up with a term sheet of conditions for the proposed sale.

 

 

Austin Monitor – November 20, 2019

Texas Gas Service proposes billing changes

Texas Gas Service, which serves 260,000 customers in Central Texas, including 220,000 within Austin’s city limits, is proposing a new rate design that will give customers new options for how their bills will be calculated.

Larry Graham, manager of community relations, and Stacey McTaggart, regulatory director for the company, told Council’s Audit and Finance Committee Wednesday that they would be filing a new rate plan for Austin and other cities in the area on Dec. 20. City Council, which has the authority to approve rate increases for Austin customers, will have 35 days to review Texas Gas Service’s proposal. Council must act by Jan. 24 to suspend implementation of the new rates and give itself an additional 90 days to review the proposal.

 

 

Power Engineering – November 20, 2019

Entergy, NRG operations chiefs highlight utility aims at POWERGEN

The utility perspective was front and center in Wednesday’s keynote at POWERGEN International. …

Entergy plans to complete two other gas-fired plants identical to the 980-MW St. Charles Power Station over the next two years. The company also has about 1.5 MW of utility-scale solar either in service or under development.

Solar projects include installation of rooftop panels in New Orleans and an 81-MW site in Arkansas.

[Entergy CEO Paul] Hinnenkamp noted that utilities need to think more like Uber and Amazon do in transportation and retail sales, proactively partnering with customers on their energy needs while helping them to use less of it.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 20, 2019

Should Cities Phase Out Gas Appliances and Require New Buildings to Be All Electric?

Local governments seeking to combat climate change have set their sights on a new target: homes and businesses that burn natural gas for things like heating and cooking.

This year, Berkeley, Calif., became the first city in the U.S. to ban natural-gas hookups in most new construction, meaning anyone building a home there after Jan. 1 will have to forgo the gas stove.

At least a dozen other cities in California quickly followed suit, and similar bans on new natural-gas hookups are being considered by local governments in other states, including Massachusetts, Vermont and Washington.

About one in four homes in the U.S. is all electric now, according to a U.S. Energy Information Administration survey. That number has been growing over the past decade, driven in part by changes to the types of equipment used in homes and faster population growth in warmer climates, the EIA says.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

pv magazine – November 20, 2019

The Queen of Texas solar

The Texas solar market has become the most dynamic and aggressive new market in the entire country, save for maybe Florida, and is redefining what it big means in this industry with big contracts, big battery project and especially big solar installations.

However, as the reality of development goes, most of those massive projects are in the fetal stage, being reported on when they’re announced, have land secured or break ground. Today, however, massive capacity has become a reality just West of Odessa, as Innergex Renewable Energy has completed the company’s 250 MWac/315 MWdc Phoebe solar farm.

Project documents don’t seem to point towards any evidence of the Phoebe project having a crown installed on-site, but there should be, as the installation now holds the distinction of being the largest completed solar project in Texas.

 

Regulatory

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 20, 2019

EPA Partly Rescinds Chemical-Handling Rules

The Environmental Protection Agency is rescinding rules that were central to the only safety updates the federal government imposed on chemical-storage sites after a fertilizer-warehouse explosion killed 15 people in Texas in 2013.

The changes will keep several safety measures in place, EPA officials say, but will remove mandates for expanded public access to details on chemicals at storage sites. Officials say terrorists could potentially exploit that information to blow up chemical warehouses.

The EPA also plans to ease requirements for safety drills and safety assessments—a move that, along with other changes, will save companies and emergency agencies an estimated $88 million a year.

EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler signed the new rules Wednesday evening.

 

 

Politico – November 19, 2019

Perry pops up in new impeachment transcripts

Perry bypassed the State Department as he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to overhaul its energy sector, according to the deposition of David Holmes, the political counselor at the U.S. embassy in Kyiv. Holmes told impeachment investigators that he saw Perry hand Zelensky a list of “trusted individuals” to consult, at the Ukrainian’s May 20 inauguration, although he did not see the list of names. The Energy Department told POLITICO last month that Perry suggested two Texans to advise the Ukraine government on energy matters.

State cut out of the loop: Holmes also said that, beginning with preparations for a June 5 party in Brussels hosted by Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland, Perry’s staff was “very aggressive” and excluded State Department personnel from meetings with Ukrainians “without giving explanations.” They began conducting their own dialogues with senior Ukrainian officials over WhatsApp. When embassy staff asked to discuss meetings, DOE staff became terse. “It was clear they knew what they wanted to do and were not — they were not giving us explanations for it,” Holmes testified.

 

 

Texas Tribune – November 20, 2019

South Texas is known for its moderates. A primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar could test that.

Not many people understand South Texas.

It’s one of the handful of blue pockets in the state, but unlike the others, it’s not clustered in an urban center. The congressional districts that represent it encompass small border cities and ranch lands alike. Like other heavily Hispanic areas, the number of young voters grows each election, and what that means for the Democratic Party is uncertain.

But a spirited primary campaign in the district long held by U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a moderate Democrat from Laredo, could test if and how the politics of the area are changing. Cuellar, who has served in Congress since 2004, isn’t too different from the other Democrats who represent the Rio Grande Valley in Washington and Austin. But now he’s being challenged by a former intern who is running on a progressive platform.

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – November 19, 2019

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Lead Stories

 

NASDAQ – November 19, 2019

The Worst Is Over For Oil Markets

“With consumption growth of just 830 thousand b/d YoY in 2019, global oil demand has easily expanded at the lowest rate since the global financial crisis 10 years ago,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note.

The slowdown was particularly concentrated in industrial sectors, which have been hit hard by the trade war. “The manufacturing downturn in 2019 has been so pronounced that we think it could aptly be labeled as the third global industrial recession in the past 10 years, following the activity drops witnessed in 2012 and 2016,” the bank said.

Or, put more succinctly, “The world has just lived through an industrial recession,” Bank of America concluded, and oil prices really only held up because of massive supply outages in 2019. The industrial slowdown spread around the world.

 

 

Carlsbad Current-Argus – November 18, 2019

U.S. oil production at all time high, reaches 12.8 million barrels per day in November

Production of U.S. crude oil rose to an all-time high in October, peaking at 12.6 million barrels per day last month and continuing to grow to 12.8 million barrels per day as of Nov. 8.

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed oil production consistently grew throughout 2019, up from January’s peak of 11.9 million barrels per day, crossing the 12 million barrel-per-day threshold in March.

By the end of August, production was about 12.5 million barrels per day, but dipped slightly to 12.4 million by the end of September, records show.

October’s rate of 12.6 million barrels per day was consistent throughout the month, with production climbing in the second week of November to 12.8 million barrels.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 19, 2019

Approach Resources Becomes Latest Energy Company to Declare Bankruptcy

Approach Resources Inc. filed for bankruptcy Monday, the latest in a string of chapter 11 filings by financially distressed oil-and-gas drilling companies grappling with a decline in commodity prices.

Fort Worth, Texas-based Approach said it will explore a restructuring of its balance sheet, a going-concern sale of its business and other alternatives while under chapter 11 protection. The company has drilling operations in West Texas, having acquired oil and gas properties in the Permian Basin since 2004.

More than 30 oil-and-gas producers filed for bankruptcy this year through September, according to a report by the law firm Haynes & Boone LLP, already surpassing the number of filings for each of the previous two years.

 

 

Forbes – November 19, 2019

University of Houston Energy Fellows: The Top Five Legal Barriers To Carbon Capture And Sequestration In Texas

#1 – Permitting for Class VI Wells

Texans have long relied on injections of CO2 to enhance oil production and temporarily store gas for future use. Getting permits for those injection wells, however, is a bit of a welter. If operators inject CO2 to wring more oil from a depleted or balky field, they must first obtain a Class II well permit from the Texas Railroad Commission. If their well injects that CO2 into state lands (including coastal or offshore formations), the General Land Office must approve the operation. And if the operators simply want to permanently store or sequester the CO2 underground, they need an entirely separate permit for a Class VI well from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through a different set of federal regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The blurry lines between these types of wells, including wells that start in one role and move to another, creates a tricky regulatory regime that forces operators to navigate in stop-step fashion. Texas can substantially clear up the permitting pathway by simply applying to take over the authority from EPA to issue permits for Class VI wells in the state. The Safe Drinking Water Act allows states to shoulder permitting programs if they meet certain minimum requirements, but the federal law doesn’t set out any mandates or deadlines to complete this process. While North Dakota has taken primacy to run its own Class VI well permit program (and Louisiana and Wyoming have applied for delegation of their programs), Texas has not yet submitted an official request to take over its Class VI program.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 19, 2019

Manufacturers Face New Threat From Fracking Slump

Slowing shale-drilling activity is the latest damper on U.S. manufacturers that had come to rely on a booming domestic energy market.

Advances in fracking and drilling transformed global energy markets over the past decade, raising U.S. oil-and-gas production to record levels. That has created big business for American factories supplying drillers with cranes, engines and pipes. The oil-and-gas industry bought $48 billion worth of manufactured products in 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis said, four times as much as was purchased in 2009.

The boon has left manufacturers more vulnerable to the energy industry’s next slump. Manufacturers have reported sales declines in recent weeks as lower energy prices prompted a slowdown in domestic production growth. The number of new wells in the U.S.—known as the drilling-rig count—fell by 20% in October from last year, hitting a two-year low.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – November 20, 2019

Oil prices extend losses on supply, trade war fears

Oil prices slipped for a third day on Wednesday as a surge in U.S. stocks reinforced concerns about lacklustre global economic growth, while hopes ebbed for any movement on the U.S.-China trade war.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures erased early gains to trade down 17 cents, or 0.31%, at $55.04 a barrel by 0930 GMT. Brent crude futures were at $60.70 a barrel, down 21 cents, or 0.34%.

Crude inventories in the United States rose by 6 million barrels last week to 445.9 million, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, said on Tuesday.

“The API data … showed U.S. inventories posted a rather robust increase last week, which if confirmed by the EIA report, could see oil prices continue to slide,” said Edward Moya, an analyst at brokerage OANDA.

 

 

Bloomberg News/Houston Chronicle* – November 19, 2019

Erik Larson: Exxon says N.Y. used fraud claims to score political points

You’d expect most companies accused of a longstanding fraudulent scheme to be thrilled if the government dropped those claims against them. Not so for Exxon Mobil Corp.

The energy giant unleashed a torrent of criticism against New York Attorney General Letitia James in court filings Monday, more than a week after the state sought to drop two out of four claims on the last day of a civil trial that has yet to be decided by the judge. Exxon says the government couldn’t prove the fraud claims and only made them “to score headlines and political points.”

New York had used the now-abandoned claims to allege Exxon intentionally misled investors for years about the company’s use of “proxy costs” to account for the risks of future climate-change regulations on its business, and that investors had relied on those false statements when buying Exxon stock.

New York Supreme Court Justice Barry Ostrager, who oversaw 11 days of testimony that ended Nov. 7, should block the attempt to drop the two claims and instead rule in favor of Exxon for the entire case to finally “set the record straight” after four years of disparaging comments from the state, the company said in the filing.

The attorney general “directly and repeatedly impugned the corporate reputation of Exxon Mobil and the personal reputations of its employees,” whose names were dragged “through the mud,” the company said. The state “cannot now erase these past four years because its fraud theory was completely debunked at trial,” Exxon said.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 19, 2019

What Would Happen if the U.S. Banned Fracking?

The Wall Street Journal hosted a conversation by email about these issues with Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute at the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity, and Sam Ori, executive director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. An edited transcript follows.

WSJ: What would happen if the next U.S. president significantly restricted fracking?

MS. SIEGEL: Banning fracking is one of the most important steps the next president can take to protect our country. The scientific reality is that fracking is enabling the extraction of oil and gas that we cannot afford to burn. …

MR. ORI: It’s worth starting with some context just to have a sense of the stakes here.

I think many Americans would be surprised to learn just how important oil from hydraulically fractured wells has become for the U.S. and global economies. Oil from fracked U.S. wells now accounts for about 8% of total global oil supplies. That is massive.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 19, 2019

Houston oilfield service company Baker Hughes has entered into a three-way agreement and partnership to boost the adoption of artificial intelligence technology in the oil and natural gas industry.

Baker Hughes, tech giant Microsoft and Silicon Valley artificial intelligence company C3.ai have signed an agreement to work together to develop and deploy the cost-cutting technology for industry customers across the globe, the companies announced on Tuesday morning.

“Companies that adopt this technology will be the next Amazon and those that don’t adopt will be the next Sears,” C3.ai founder and CEO Tom Siebel told the Houston Chronicle.

 

 

Reuters/WTVB – November 19, 2019

ConocoPhillips targets $50 billion free cash flow over next decade

ConocoPhillips unveiled a long-term plan on Tuesday to boost oil and gas production by about 3% per year, restrain annual spending to about $7 billion and return $50 billion to shareholders over the next decade.

The announcement comes as investors, frustrated by weak commodity prices for five years, have been pressuring oil and gas companies to cut back on drilling and shore up cash to return to shareholders.

The Houston-based company’s shares closed up a fraction at $57.17 on Tuesday.

ConocoPhillips has been one of the better-performing energy stocks, having dropped 8% this year, compared with a key industry index, the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ETF , which has sunk about 22%.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 19, 2019

Houston’s economy might not be as hot as it looks — and still needs oil

The Houston region’s economic growth might not be as strong as reported and seems likely to slow next year as the petrochemical expansion winds down and oil prices remain modest, according to a new forecast from the University of Houston.

Energy companies spent billions of dollars to build and expand chemical plants along the Houston Ship Channel to process cheap natural gas from Texas shale fields into plastics and other petrochemicals in recent years, creating thousands of construction and manufacturing jobs, said the forecast’s author, the economist Bill Gilmer, director of the Institute for Regional Forecasting at the UH’s Bauer College of Business. With the sector largely built out, the Houston area’s growth next year will depend primarily on prices and national economy, both of which have shown signs of weakening.

 

 

Rigzone – November 19, 2019

Texas College Steps Up Petchems Training

Located east of Houston amid the largest petrochemical manufacturing region in the United States, San Jacinto College (San Jac) has provided oil and gas workforce training for nearly six decades. In September of this year, the community college formally added another dimension to its educational offering: the $60 million LyondellBasell Center for Petrochemical, Energy and Technology (CPET).

Jim Griffin, associate vice chancellor and senior vice president at CPET, told Rigzone the facility was “designed by industry, for industry” over four-plus years prior to its recent grand opening. More than 20 companies contributed funding and expertise to develop a training facility that emphasizes aligning workforce education with industry requirements, he said.

“(W)e were able to not only develop a state-of-the art facility, but also develop curriculum that directly addresses the current needs of the workforce,” said Griffin.

 

 

Bloomberg News/Yahoo! News – November 19, 2019

Encana shareholder to vote against proposal to exit Canada

Encana Corp shareholder Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc said on Tuesday it will vote against the oil and gas company’s proposed exit from Canada to [Texas].

The investment firm, which owns a nearly 4% stake in Encana, said the move will cause significant losses for Canadian investors.

However, Encana said it was “disappointed” with Letko’s move as a redomicile would not harm Canadian investors.

Last month, the company said it would shift base from Calgary to the United States and become Ovintiv Inc next year, the latest company to move away from Canada that is battling with pipeline capacity shortages. …

Encana, once among Canada’s largest oil companies, has been shifting its focus to the United States and had earlier this year bought Texas-based Newfield Exploration Co for $5.5 billion.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 19, 2019

Are Oil-and-Gas Companies a Good Investment?

Investors have a dim view of oil companies right now. For many, the question is not when but whether that will change.

U.S. oil-and-gas output has risen to record highs in recent years, but the companies behind the American shale boom have struggled to generate returns for shareholders. That’s in part because producers long prioritized pumping more oil and natural gas over profits. And the business is capital-intensive: Shale wells produce a lot of oil and gas early on but decline quickly, requiring companies to continually invest in new wells just to maintain output. In many cases, shale companies also have struggled to meet production expectations they set for themselves, eroding investor confidence.

Meanwhile, mainstream investors are growing increasingly concerned about environmental, social and governance issues, including the risks that climate change poses for fossil-fuel companies. The University of California said in September that its endowment would soon have no fossil-fuel assets and that its pension funds would sell such assets because they posed a financial risk. Oil-and-gas companies, which a decade ago represented 10% of the S&P 500 by market capitalization, now make up just 4% of the index.

 

 

San Antonio Express News* – November 18, 2019

Bernard L. Weinstein: Use more natural gas, reduce greenhouse gases

Without question, cheap natural gas has been a boon to consumers and businesses, especially those who use it to heat their homes and offices or who buy their power from utilities or retail electric providers with lots of gas-fired generation in the mix.

Abundant natural gas has also spurred a huge increase in exports, both through pipelines to Canada and Mexico, and via liquefied natural gas, or LNG, tankers to other parts of the world. Nearly all the additional gas produced over the next several years is likely to be exported as global demand increases and more LNG export terminals come online. At present, five such facilities are in operation while the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved another dozen terminals, several of which are currently under construction. Within five years, the U.S. is projected to be the world’s largest exporter of LNG, surpassing Qatar, Russia and Australia.

Though often unmentioned, the growth in U.S. gas production has been good for the environment by helping to lower greenhouse gas emissions both here and abroad.

 

 

Carlsbad Current Argus* – November 13, 2019

Data: New Mexico’s GDP growth fueled by oil and gas, prices rise due to global optimism

Oil and gas production grew New Mexico’s economic output by the fourth-highest rate in the country this year, as the extraction industry boomed in the Permian Basin in the southeast corner of the state.

A report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce, showed New Mexico’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 4.1 percent in the second quarter of 2019, tied with Alaska and behind Texas at 4.7 percent and Wyoming at 4.2 percent.

Nationwide, GDP grew by 2 percent, records show, and New Mexico also grew by 4.1 percent during the first quarter of 2019.

 

 

Rigzone – November 19, 2019

California Bans High-Pressure Steam Oil Wells

California intensified its battle against fossil fuels by halting new permits for a key production technique following leaks at a Chevron Corp. facility in an area that has pumped crude for more than a century.

In his latest salvo against the petroleum industry, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered regulators to assess the safety of high-pressure steamflooding, according to a Department of Conservation statement on Tuesday. Hydraulic fracturing and other oil-production methods also will be examined.

“This marks the turning of the tide against the oil industry” in California, said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity.

 

Utilities

 

Rivard Report – November 19, 2019

CPS Energy Could Purchase New Gas Power as Soon as Next Summer

Faced with two natural gas plants reaching the end of their lifespan in the early 2020s, CPS Energy is prepared to begin buying power from an existing Texas natural gas plant as early as next summer.

However, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, a CPS Energy board member in his official capacity, is among those questioning the utility’s push for a new natural gas contract. CPS Energy officials have said they plan to use an open bidding process to replace some of their soon-to-be-lost gas capacity through solar and battery storage, but negotiate a new natural gas power supply behind closed doors with a handful of as-yet-unnamed energy companies.

At the utility’s October and November board meetings, Nirenberg questioned why CPS Energy would want to use an open bidding process to gather proposals for solar and battery storage while negotiating a separate deal for gas power.

 

 

Utility Dive – November 19, 2019

PJM taps former Texas utility, natural gas provider exec as CEO

PJM Interconnection’s Board of Managers has appointed Manu Asthana as its new president and CEO, effective Jan. 1, 2020, the grid operator announced Monday.

Most recently, Asthana served as president of Direct Energy Home, combining Direct Energy’s retail electricity and home-services businesses in North America. The electric and natural gas provider serves 3.4 million customers.

The grid operator has a lot on its plate in the near term, from applying federal regulatory orders to allow energy storage to compete in its market to progressing with its delayed capacity auction.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

DT (Africa) – November 19, 2019

The Fastest Growing Green Startups

Social entrepreneurship creates a green industry, which helps to solve environmental problems through the development of innovative startups solutions. Some companies go green either to reduce environmental harm or to gain consumer support. …

The Texas-based startup, Choose Energy, was founded in 2008 as a marketplace for clean technology and services. Choose Energy, launched with the vision of simplifying shopping for electricity and natural gas rates, plan terms and renewable energy options for the average consumer and small business. Choose Energy makes it easy for people to save money on energy costs by switching to a 100% green product such as wind power. In March of 2015, Choose Energy raised $14.2 million in a Series C funding round, and as of October 2018 had raised a total of $25.7 million. In 2017, Choose Energy was acquired by Red Ventures.

 

Regulatory

 

Dallas Morning News* – November 19, 2019

Trump, Texas Republicans heap praise on Rick Perry as he retires as energy secretary

Rick Perry ends his stint as energy secretary showered with praise by his boss and fellow Texas Republicans.

President Donald Trump turned to the former governor to open a Tuesday morning Cabinet meeting — Perry’s last — with a prayer in which Perry said all the officials in the room were there because they had been “ordained” to be there.

Trump lauded Perry, a former rival for the presidency who had described him in 2015 as a “cancer on conservatism.”

“You were a great governor of Texas, and you were a great secretary of energy,” Trump said.

On the House floor Monday night, eight Texas Republicans lavished praised on Perry for his tenure in state government and as energy secretary. They were led by freshman Rep. Chip Roy of Austin, a former Perry aide and ghostwriter of his 2010 anti-Washington campaign manifesto.

 

 

Associated Press/Global News – November 18, 2019

U.S. Congress wants review of Keystone pipeline in wake of North Dakota spill

Top U.S. House Democrats have called for a federal review of the Keystone pipeline and the agency that regulates it in the wake of 1.4-million-litre (383,000-gallon) spill in northeastern North Dakota, the latest of three spills along the line in as many years.

In a letter Monday to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the congressmen said the spills raise “serious questions” about pipeline owner TC Energy’s management of the line, and whether the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is providing adequate oversight.

“The public has a legitimate expectation that the Keystone Pipeline System managed by TC Energy operate safely and without repeated incidents that damage the environment and threaten the public’s health and security,” according to the letter signed by House Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Frank Pallone, of New Jersey; Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio, of Oregon; Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials subcommittee Chairman Dan Lipinski, of Illinois; and Energy subcommittee Chairman Bobby Rush of Illinois.

 

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Lead Stories

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 18, 2019

Big Oil majors looking to sell $27 billion in assets worldwide

The Big Oil majors aim to unload about $27 billion in oil and gas assets worldwide in order to cut costs and focus spending on their core projects.

U.S. giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron for instance are concentrating their oil and gas spending on West Texas’ booming Permian Basin, as well as Guyana for Exxon Mobil and Kazakhstan for Chevron, according to a new report from the Norwegian research firm Rystad Energy.

The United Kingdom’s BP aims to sell some assets in the U.S., including in New Mexico’s gassy San Juan Basin, after spending $10.5 billion to buy the Texas shale assets of BHP. Houston’s ConocoPhillips, for instance, already wants to sell its newer position in the Louisiana Austin Chalk for less than $1 billion, although other Houston firms Marathon Oil and EOG Resources are still operating in the region.

 

 

Seeking Alpha – November 18, 2019

Robert Boslego: Chevron Says Reports Of The Death Of Shale Oil Are Greatly Exaggerated

Chevron Corp (CVX) is in a race with Exxon Mobil (XOM) to be the first to pump one million barrels per day from the Permian Basin. Chevron produced 455,000 b/d in the third quarter, up 35 percent from the same period in 2018. Big Oil intends to dominate the Permian, as smaller companies deal with declining drilling activities, a challenging price environment, and a reluctant Wall Street unwilling to finance them.

Chevron has also been selling assets in the North Sea, Africa, and Asia and plans to sell another $10 billion worth to concentrate on projects in the Permian. It is using partnerships. Chevron’s joint venture with Cimarex Energy (XEC) is well-known. But it also has agreements with Concho Resources (CXO), Devon Energy (DVN), EOG Resources (EOG), and even arch-rivals Exxon Mobil and Occidental Petroleum (OXY), according to a Reuters report.

Its long-standing relationships provide it with “all of the data, all of the cost information” from wells across the basin. “It’s a huge advantage. Huge,” according to Jeff Gustavson, who oversees Chevron’s Permian operations, as reported by Reuters.

 

 

E&E News – November 18, 2019

This energy expert was on Perry’s list for Ukraine

He’s Rick Perry’s “other Texan.”

Robert Bensh was among the shortlist of energy experts that Rick Perry, the Energy secretary, submitted to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy as potential advisers to Naftogaz, the state-run fossil fuel company.

Bensh, who lives in Houston, has worked in Ukraine off and on for about two decades, investing in energy companies and running others. Congressional impeachment investigators have raised questions about Perry’s efforts to shape Naftogaz after evidence emerged suggesting the Energy secretary sought to expand the company’s board with American associates. Perry denies it, and Bensh said he has barely communicated with him.

“I would love to brag that he and I are pals and that he calls me every Saturday to talk about nuclear and wind and the upstream market,” Bensh said in an interview.

People have joked that he should make T-shirts that read “The Other Texan,” Bensh said, referring to his relative anonymity in the impeachment inquiry. Another energy executive from Perry’s home state, Michael Bleyzer, has gotten more media attention for appearing on Perry’s list of names.

 

 

Engineers Journal – November 18, 2019

New tools could improve the way cement seals oil wells

A key part of drilling and tapping new oil wells is the use of specialised cements to line the borehole and prevent collapse and leakage of the hole.


To keep these cements from hardening too quickly before they penetrate to the deepest levels of the well, they are mixed with chemicals called retarders that slow down the setting process.

It’s been hard to study the way these retarders work, however, because the process happens at extreme pressures and temperatures that are hard to reproduce at the surface.

Now, researchers at MIT and elsewhere have developed techniques for observing the setting process in microscopic detail, an advance that they say could lead to the development of new formulations specifically designed for the conditions of a given well location.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – November 19, 2019

Oil eases amid concern over US-China trade talks dragging on

U.S. oil prices fell for the second straight day on Tuesday amid market jitters over limited progress between China and the United States on rolling back trade tariffs, while rising U.S. inventories also jangled nerves.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude dropped 27 cents or 0.47% to $56.78 a barrel by 0549 GMT, slipping further away from an eight-week high hit last Friday when hopes for the trade deal rose.

Brent crude futures were down 20 cents, or 0.32%, at $62.24.

A Chinese government source was quoted by broadcaster CNBC on Monday as saying there was gloom in Beijing about prospects for a trade deal, with Chinese officials troubled by U.S. President Donald Trump’s comment that there was no agreement on phasing out tariffs.

 

 

Texas Public Radio – November 18, 2019

The U.S. Natural Gas Boom Is Fueling A Global Plastics Boom

America is producing so much ethane that more than 300 new petrochemical and plastics plants are either planned or are under construction around the U.S. President Trump has touted the economic benefits of this, recently telling workers at a Shell ethane plant in Pennsylvania that “we are reclaiming our noble heritage as a nation of builders.”

But there’s more ethane than existing U.S. plants can use, so in short order the U.S. has also become the world’s leading exporter of ethane. That’s feeding growing plastics industries in India and China, as well as Europe — including the Grangemouth plant — and those exports are expected to keep growing.

America’s ethane boom was a lucky break for the European chemical company INEOS. In 2011, its own supplies from the North Sea were running low, says Warren Wilczewski, an economist with the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

 

 

Yahoo! News – November 17, 2019

Fracking pioneer Aubrey McClendon ‘may have been running a Ponzi scheme, but he believed’

The end of McClendon’s life was also the end of an era for the fracking industry.

McClendon’s role in American energy policy is significant. Thanks to Chesapeake, the idea of energy independence has changed dramatically. Whether it’s right or wrong — some people like Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway argue the U.S. ought to use up other nations’ energy first — McClendon proved that there is a lot of oil and gas underground in the U.S.

Unfortunately, he also showed that it’s hard to square the basic math. If it costs $100 to get a barrel of oil out of the ground, or the equivalent amount of gas, but you can only sell it for $60, you simply won’t be able to make a profit or create free cash flow. While some individual wells have been known to do that, the industry by and large is waiting for the money to come in.

 

 

San Antonio Express News* – November 18, 2019

San Antonio-based EnCap makes $400M bet on rising oil prices

Ironwood Energy Partners II, a new offshoot of a San Antonio pipeline company, has landed a $400 million investment in a wager that oil prices will recover.

Ironwood is looking to acquire two crude-oil pipeline systems in South Texas’s Eagle Ford Shale.

Company officials said in a statement that San Antonio-based private equity firm EnCap Flatrock Midstream’s investment will enable the subsidiary to buy 137 miles of crude oil gathering pipeline in Dimmit and La Salle counties. Ironwood’s parent, Ironwood Midstream Energy Partners, already operates oil and gas gathering systems in the Permian Basin in West Texas and in the Eagle Ford.

 

 

Cheddar – November 18, 2019

Saudi Aramco’s Record IPO ‘Completely Irrelevant to Western Investors,’ Says Investment Firm Chairman

State-owned Saudi Aramco priced its forthcoming IPO and simultaneously shelved its plans for an international roadshow over the weekend, meaning the stock will not be marketed in the U.S., Europe, Japan, or Canada. The oil giant will instead rely on investors in the Gulf to raise about $25 billion in a float that will value Aramco as high as $1.7 trillion ー an eye-popping number that will instantly make it the world’s most valuable publicly traded company, but substantially less than the $2 trillion that Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman had originally eyed.

Even at a discount, the IPO is overpriced and a bad investment, said George Seay, the founder and chairman of Annandale Capital, a Texas-based global investment firm.

Aside from the fundamentals being out of whack ー Seay said he would never pay more than six times peak earnings for a piece of Aramco ー the money manager told Cheddar that the oil giant shouldn’t be on any U.S. investors’ Christmas lists, if only for the abysmal human rights record of its state owner.

 

 

Reuters/Oil & Gas 360 – November 18, 2019

Paulson gives up opposition to reduced Callon-Carrizo deal

Callon Petroleum Co shareholder Paulson & Co said on Monday it would now not oppose the U.S. shale producer’s purchase of smaller rival Carrizo Oil & Gas Inc, after the company last week sharply cut its offer.

Billionaire investor John Paulson’s hedge fund, which had earlier said the deal was too expensive, also reduced its stake in Callon but did not give any details on its latest holding. Paulson held 9.5% in the company as of Nov. 6.

The new terms value Carrizo at about $723 million, compared with the original offer of $1.2 billion in July. It provides Carrizo shareholders 1.75 Callon shares for each share held, down about 15% from the first bid.

Callon will pay up to $10 million of Carrizo’s expenses if Callon shareholders reject the deal.

 

 

San Antonio Express News* – November 18, 2019

Bankruptcy court approves settlement with wife of indicted San Antonio oilman

The wife of indicted San Antonio oil and gas businessman Brian Alfaro will pay $370,000 to a court-appointed receiver under a settlement “reluctantly” approved by a bankruptcy judge Monday.

U.S. Bankruptcy Craig Gargotta’s ruling also clears the way for receiver J. Scott Rose to begin selling some real estate owned by Kristi and Brian Alfaro, including a Port Aransas lakeside home valued at about $1 million.

Rose was appointed a year ago to recover assets on behalf of nine investors who won an $8 million court judgment against Brian Alfaro and his companies after the investors alleged that they had been defrauded in a Ponzi scheme. Alfaro was accused of spending investors’ money on expensive homes and exotic sports cars. …

Kristi Alfaro testified at a creditors meeting that one of her companies, Synergy E&P, has been paying her two oldest children, including one of whom is a full-time college student, wages of $1,500 a week.

 

 

Kallanish Energy – November 18, 2019

Consortium initiates open season for Whistler Pipeline

Whistler Pipeline LLC Friday announced the beginning of a binding open season for the remaining capacity on the Whistler Pipeline, Kallanish Energy reports.

The line will transport roughly 2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of natural gas through approximately 450 miles of 42-inch pipe from Waha, Texas, in the Permian Basin, to the Agua Dulce area in South Texas.

A roughly 50-mile, 36-inch lateral will provide connectivity for gas processors in the Midland Basin.

 

 

Seeking Alpha – November 13, 2019

Lipper Alpha Insight Earnings Roundup: U.S. Oil Majors

U.S. oil companies finished reporting 19Q3 earnings, posting a significant overall decline in YoY growth. Notables including Exxon (NYSE:XOM), Chevron (NYSE:CVX), and Occidental (NYSE:OXY) experienced a decline of 54.1%, 26.5%, and 93.8% in YoY earnings. Top-line revenue also declined 15.1%, 17.9%, and 4.9%, respectively.

Aggregate YoY earnings growth dropped 49.2%, while aggregate revenue declined 14.3%.

Exhibit 1 highlights aggregated results for the S&P 500 Integrated Oil & Gas and Oil & Gas Exploration & Production sub-industries.

 

 

November 18, 2019

Beaumont Enterprise: Oxbow needs more than minimal compliance

The irony about ongoing complaints regarding air pollution from the Oxbow Calcining plant in Port Arthur is that the plant probably is, as its manager maintains, in compliance with state regulations. The regulating agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, has even recognized the plant as a high-performer, its highest ranking for regulation compliance.

But as the plant’s neighbors in Port Arthur know, being in compliance with minimal regulations doesn’t necessarily mean that Oxbow isn’t polluting — especially if its monitors are not in the right location to measure whatever comes from the site. And there’s no doubt that many of these neighbors think the level of emissions is too high and too unhealthy.

Plant officials showed up for a public hearing last week with TCEQ, and they deserve credit for taking that step. It demonstrates some level of concern for what Port Arthur residents think and their desire to live in a safe environment.

But Oxbow officials need to take that concern one step further.

 

Utilities

 

Utility Dive – November 15, 2019

Texas proposes smart meter cost recovery for El Paso Electric, Entergy Texas, boosting AMI

The Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUCT) on Thursday authorized publication of a proposed rulemaking that would allow several utilities to recover the cost of smart meter deployments in rates, helping expand the rollout of advanced metering infrastructure.

The proposal would amend PUCT rules to address advanced metering and meter information networks in areas outside the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Texas rules already allow utilities within the grid operator’s territory to recover smart meter costs.

The proposed rule has support from utilities and environmental groups, though there is some difference of opinion over levels of required AMI and issues related to smart meter data collection.

 

 

El Paso Times* – November 16, 2019

El Paso Electric sale draws more opposition; utility, J.P. Morgan-tied buyer defend deal

The proposed, $4.3 billion sale of El Paso Electric to a J.P. Morgan Chase-advised investment fund has drawn additional opposition.

The Texas Office of Public Utility Counsel, the state agency representing residential and small commercial electric consumers, concluded the sale as proposed is not in the public interest and should not be approved unless more conditions are added.

An El Paso union representing about 400 of El Paso Electric’s 1,100 employees also is against the sale as proposed; and two large industrial companies in El Paso — Vinton Steel and Freeport-McMoRan — have concerns about the sale, according to documents recently filed with the Public Utility Commission of Texas, one of four government agencies that must approve the proposed sale for it to be completed.

The PUC is scheduled to hold a hearing on the proposed sale Wednesday to Friday, Nov. 20-22, in Austin to help it determine if the sale should be approved, modified, or denied.

 

 

Gainesville Daily Register – November 18, 2019

County OKs tax break for solar co

The company planning to build a solar farm in Gainesville is getting a tax break from the county on the facility.

Cooke County Commissioners this week approved a tax abatement requested by Lone Star Solar LLC, a subsidiary of Canadian renewable energy company Saturn Power Corp. Saturn has partnered with local electric cooperative PenTex Energy for the project on 16 acres next door to 4 County Road 404.

Commissioners agreed to abate half the property taxes on the new equipment for five years. The abatement was approved 4-0 at the Nov. 12 meeting with Precinct 1 Commissioner Gary Hollowell absent.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 18, 2019

Griddy CEO feels sick over big August bills but says price signals are future

The heat wave in August caused the wholesale electricity seller Griddy to lose customers when wholesale prices spiked but the episode taught the California-based company some important lessons about improving communications with customers.

Greg Craig, the CEO of Griddy, the retail electric provider that sells power on the wholesale spot market to Texas residential consumers, recently told a room full of electricity industry representatives that he wanted to address the “elephant in the room,” referring to the August heat wave that caused wholesale pries to spiral to $9,000 per megawatt hour, the maximum allowed in Texas.

 

 

Greentech Media – November 15, 2019

Texas: Where Distributed Energy’s Potential Exceeds Its Market Access

Texas, the country’s most competitive and freewheeling energy market, is also a major player in renewable energy, from its already mighty wind sector to its rapidly growing utility-scale solar sector.

But for distributed energy resources like rooftop solar, behind-the-meter batteries, grid-responsive electric vehicles or advanced energy management controls for homes and buildings, it’s a far less friendly market.

Outside of municipal utilities like those in Austin and San Antonio, and a handful of retail energy provider offerings from MP2 Energy (now part of Shell), Texas utilities don’t offer net metering, value-of-solar tariffs or other mechanisms for customer-owned solar to make money. That’s limited the spread of rooftop solar compared to states like California, Hawaii or Arizona that have seen it become a significant contributor to the grid at large.

 

 

CNBC – November 12, 2019

A rising number of US companies are flagging wildfire risk as suppression costs climb

California’s biggest utilities aren’t the only U.S. companies grappling with the increased force and frequency of wildfires.

The number of S&P 500 firms flagging “wildfire” as a potential risk factor in annual reports has increased dramatically over the past decade — from 9 in all of 2010 to 37 so far in 2019 — according to a CNBC analysis. In just the past year, at least 14 companies in the S&P 500, including Marriott and Monster Beverage, have added wildfires to their basket of concerns in 10-K filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. While many S&P 500 firms have included “fire” in the risk factor section of their 10-Ks, this analysis specifically accounts for “wildfire.”

In its latest 10-K filing, Houston, Texas-based power infrastructure company Quanta Services warned investors that its current insurance coverage might not sufficiently account for wildfire risk.

“Should our insurers determine to exclude coverage for wildfires in the future, due to the increased risk of such events in certain geographies or otherwise, we could be exposed to significant liabilities and a potential disruption of our operations,” Quanta Services executives said. “If our risk exposure increases as a result of adverse changes in our insurance coverage, we could be subject to increased claims and liabilities that could negatively affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Beaumont Enterprise – November 18, 2019

Green’ wind energy sending many giant blades to landfills

At a western Iowa wind farm, a demolition crew saws through red slashes marked on 120-foot turbine blades, cutting them into thirds before stuffing the thinnest piece inside the base’s hollow cavity, giving workers room to load more blades onto a flatbed trailer.

The work is part of MidAmerican Energy’s efforts to “repower” nearly 110 turbines, updating existing towers with longer blades, new hubs and refurbished generators. When the work is done, the wind farm will generate nearly 20% more energy, MidAmerican says.

But the upgrades for Iowa’s growing wind industry, which is already among the nation’s largest, are creating some unexpected challenges.

MidAmerican’s retired blades, destined for the Butler County Landfill near David City, Nebraska, about 130 miles away, are among hundreds that will land in dumps across Iowa and the nation. Critics of wind energy say the blades’ march to a landfill weakens the industry’s claim it’s an environmentally friendly source of energy.

 

Regulatory

 

Texas Observer – November 13, 2019

Justin Miller: Rick Perry Exports His Pay-to-Play Politics to Ukraine

It appears that Rick Perry exported his pay-to-play politics from the Texas governor’s mansion to the notoriously corrupt Ukrainian oil and gas sector, where, as President Donald Trump’s energy secretary, he has played an outsized role in opening up the industry to private investors.

As the Associated Press reported on Monday, two of Perry’s longtime political patrons won what could be an immensely profitable drilling contract on a sprawling patch of land owned by the Ukrainian government.

Per the AP, Perry traveled to Ukraine to attend the inauguration of President Volodymyr Zelensky in May. During the trip, Perry urged Zelensky to appoint all new members to the advisory board of the country’s massive state-owned natural gas company, Naftogaz, helpfully giving him a list of recommended energy advisors.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 18, 2019

New construction natural gas ban trend appears on East Coast

Lawmakers in a Boston suburb are set to vote to ban natural gas in new buildings, marking the Bay State’s first foray into a climate change policy that has unsettled the industry since it was pioneered in Berkeley, California, earlier this year.

The 240-seat Town Meeting in Brookline, Massachusetts, will consider the amendment to its bylaws during a Tuesday session. The proposed article would prohibit fossil fuel piping in new buildings or major renovations, effectively requiring electric appliances, heat and hot water systems in new construction.

The amendment’s co-sponsors say the measure is necessary to achieve the town’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

 

 

Associated Press/KIRO – November 18, 2019

GAO: 60% of Superfund sites at higher risk in climate change

The worsening wildfires, floods and hurricanes of climate change threaten at least 60% of U.S. Superfund sites, and efforts to strengthen the hazardous waste sites are stalling in some vulnerable regions as the Trump administration plays down the threat, a congressional watchdog agency says.

The Environmental Protection Agency responded to Monday’s report of the Government Accountability Office by rejecting many of its findings. That includes dismissing GAO investigators’ recommendation that the agency and Administrator Andrew Wheeler explicitly state that the EPA’s mission includes dealing with climate change and its increased risk of disasters breaching Superfund sites.

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – November 18, 2019

Subscriber’s Edition

Asterisk * indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at website because it’s password protected

 

Lead Stories

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 16, 2019

FERC poised to make permit decisions on four LNG export projects in Texas

Federal regulators appear poised to make permit decisions on the applications submitted by four liquefied natural gas export terminals in Texas.

After more than three years of review, commissioners with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have placed permit decisions for the four projects on the agenda for the agency’s Thursday morning meeting.

Three of the proposed projects are to build new LNG export terminals at the Port of Brownsville in the Rio Grande Valley while the fourth is for an expansion of Corpus Christi LNG, a South Texas export terminal owned by Houston liquefied natural gas company Cheniere Energy.

 

 

Reuters/New York Times – November 15, 2019

The U.S. shale industry plans another spending freeze next year, and a sharp slowdown in production growth, as prolific oil and natural gas output has pressured prices and squeezed profits.

Blistering growth in shale fields propelled U.S. crude output to a record 13 million barrels per day (bpd) this month.

As production swelled, U.S. crude futures dropped 7.5% in the third quarter on worries about global trade tensions. Investors have fled the sector as returns have lagged those of market indexes for years. Shale companies have been cutting spending under investor pressure to improve returns, and OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo said this week that U.S. shale supply could underperform in 2020.

 

 

WOAI (San Antonio) – November 14, 2019

Solar customers complain they’re being shortchanged when selling power back to CPS Energy

Would you sell your house or your car for just 20 percent of what you paid for it? Probably not. Some solar electricity customers complain that’s the lopsided deal they’re getting when they sell excess power back to CPS Energy.

Some customers who’ve installed solar panels produce more power than they use, so they sell it back to the CPS Energy grid. But the city owned utility pays them five times less for it, than it charges for electricity.

Anthony Trevino installed his solar panels about a year ago.

“We got the panels originally because we wanted to see if we couldn’t help do something for the environment, and to keep control of our electrical bills,” Trevino said. …

“Whether we like it or not they sell at retail and they buy at wholesale,” Trevino said.

 

 

Chief Investment Officer – November 17, 2019

Petraeus Says Saudi Arabia Is Running Out of Money

Saudi Arabia is in the throes of a fiscal crisis that is leading the country on a search for new revenue, including an upcoming initial public offering for Aramco, its sovereign oil company, former CIA chief David Petraeus told CNBC.

The kingdom, said Petraeus, who commanded troops in the Middle East as a US Army general, is going broke due to weak oil prices, so an IPO of Aramco stock is a lifeline. “It’s a fact that Saudi Arabia is gradually running out of money, they’d be the first to acknowledge that the sovereign wealth fund has been reduced,” he said. “The deficits each year, depending on the price of Brent crude, can be anywhere from $40 [billion] to $60 billion depending on some of their activities in countries in the region.”

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – November 18, 2019

Oil prices steady after last week’s gains, look to US-China talks

Oil prices were little changed on Monday following steady gains in the previous week with investors awaiting fresh clues over prospects for a trade deal between the United States and China, shrugging off concerns over steadily rising oil supplies.

Brent crude futures were at $63.30 a barrel at 0512 GMT, unchanged from the previous session. The contract rose 1.3% last week.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude were also unchanged at $57.72 a barrel, having gained 0.8% last week.

The “crude oil market is flat on Monday morning, as price consolidates after Friday’s big rally,” said Margaret Yang, market analyst at CMC Markets.

 

 

Beaumont Enterprise – November 15, 2019

U.S. rig count sees another big dip amid shale struggles

Operators shed more oil and gas drilling rigs in the U.S. this week, as a slowing energy sector causes producers to shrink.

The U.S. rig count fell by 11, according to the Baker Hughes rig count, bringing the nation’s total number of operating oil and gas rigs to 806, more than 200 fewer rigs than the same week a year ago. Texas’ Permian Basin led the declines, with the West Texas oilfield losing four net rigs.

The number of active oil and gas rigs in the U.S. has been falling through 2019 as companies have pulled rigs from operation due to a slowing global economy that have kept oil prices in a slump. At the same time, investors have lost patience with the shale industry, known for overspending, and have pulled back financial support.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 15, 2019

Occidental gets a break with Buffett stake, Icahn court defeat

Occidental Petroleum Corp. rose after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. bought an additional stake in the debt-laden oil producer and a Delaware judge ruled against activist investor Carl Icahn’s request for company files.

Occidental gained as much as 4.2% Friday after Berkshire disclosed the purchase of $332 million of shares in the third quarter. That makes it the 17th-largest investor in Occidental, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The stock is in addition to the $10 billion of preferred shares Buffett bought earlier in 2019 to help Occidental fund its takeover of Anadarko Petroleum Corp.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 16, 2019

ExxonMobil says transportation energy demand to rise by 25% in next 20 years

Transportation energy demand is expected to increase by 25% over the next 20 years, mostly driven by an increase in commerce and trade, ExxonMobil’s Marine Fuels Venture Manager Luca Volta said at a conference in Houston on Thursday.

Innovations are needed in the marine fuel mix to meet this new transportation energy demand.

This new fuel mix is critical to meeting the world’s energy needs in the near future, Volta said at a shipping conference hosted by the Norwegian Consulate General on the issue of decarbonizing the maritime industry.

 

 

Wall Street Journal – November 17, 2019

Aramco IPO Aims to Value Energy Giant at Up to $1.7 Trillion

Saudi Aramco said it is aiming for a valuation of $1.6 trillion to $1.7 trillion from the planned initial public offering of the state-owned energy giant, falling well short of the initial $2 trillion targeted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in what could still be the world’s biggest ever IPO.

In a statement Sunday, Aramco said that it aims to price the offering at between 30 and 32 Saudi Arabian riyal (between $8 and $8.52) a share and sell a stake of 1.5%, or 3 billion shares, in the IPO. At the midpoint of the price range, Aramco would raise almost $25 billion from the issue. In 2014, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. raised $25 billion with its IPO.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 15, 2019

Texas oil industry cutting payroll amid slowdown

Texas energy companies are cutting their workforces amid sluggish growth in the sector, the Texas Workforce Commission reported Friday.

Payroll employment in the mining and logging sector, which is dominated by the oil and gas industry, fell by 2,000 jobs in October. The sector has shed jobs through much of the second half of 2019.

Other indicators point to a slowdown for the Texas energy industry as well. The number of active oil and gas rigs in the United States fell by 11 this week as companies continue to pull rigs from operation because of a slowing global economy that has pressured energy demand and prices, which are mired between $50 and $60 per barrel. At the same time, as producers’ profits have suffered, investors have lost patience with the shale industry, known for overspending, and pulled their money out.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 15, 2019

Beleaguered Weatherford’s CFO replaced

Weatherford International said it is replacing its chief financial officer as the oil field services prepares to emerge from bankruptcy.

Weatherford, a Swiss company that has its principal offices in Houston, said Christoph Bausch stepped down as CFO on Thursday to pursue other opportunities. He will be succeeded by Christian Garcia, who most recently has worked as CFO for Visteon Corp. an automotive cockpit electronics company in Michigan.

Stuart Fraser, the chief accounting officer, will serve as interim CFO until Garcia assumes the job on Jan 6.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 16, 2019

McDermott stock remains stuck below $1 per share

Stock prices for Houston oilfield service company McDermott International have remained stuck below $1 per share for more than week.

Traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the stock ticker symbol MDR, McDermott slid below $1 per share on Nov. 8 and has yet to recover.

An important clock has been triggered by the stock price dip. Under New York Stock Exchange rules, companies whose stock trades below $1 per share for 30 days or more face being delisted from the exchange.

 

 

Reuters – November 17, 2019

Marathon Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas idles crude unit for inspection: source

A crude distillation unit remained idle at Marathon Petroleum Corp’s 585,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City, Texas, on Friday for an inspection as part of a preventative maintenance program, a source familiar with plant operations said.

The 225,000-bpd Pipestill 3B CDU was temporarily idled on Tuesday for the inspection and is expected to return to production sometime [this coming] week, the source said.

 

 

KBMT (Beaumont) – November 15, 2019

Oil spill cleanup underway near Port Arthur

The U.S. Coast Guard is on the scene of an oil spill near Port Arthur.

According to the Coast Guard, an offshore supply vessel and a tug vessel collided near the entrance to Sabine Pass Thursday.

Coast Guard officials as well as environmental exerts are on the scene working to clean up nearly 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel that was spilled.

The Coast Guard says the source of where the diesel spilled from has been secured and the scene is “contained.”

The cause of the collision is under investigation and no one was injured.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 15, 2019

Federal Prosecutors Probe Giuliani’s Links to Ukrainian Energy Projects

Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating whether Rudy Giuliani stood to profit personally from a Ukrainian natural-gas business pushed by two associates who also aided his efforts there to launch investigations that could benefit President Trump, people familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Giuliani’s associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, pitched their new company, and plans for a Poland-to-Ukraine pipeline carrying U.S. natural gas, in meetings with Ukrainian officials and energy executives this year, saying the project had the support of the Trump administration, according to people briefed on the meetings. In many of the same meetings, the two men also pushed for assistance on investigations into Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and alleged interference by Ukraine in the 2016 U.S. election, some of the people said.

 

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – November 17, 2019

Midland unemployment inches up to 2.1 percent

Labor market data released Friday by the Texas Workforce Commission indicate Midland’s dominant industrial sector – the energy industry – continues to contract, helping send unemployment slightly higher.

The commission said the October unemployment rate in its Midland metropolitan statistical area, which includes Midland and Martin counties, inched up to 2.1 percent from 2 percent in September and 2 percent in October 2018. Midland continued to report the state’s lowest unemployment, followed by Amarillo at 2.4 percent. Austin-Round Rock, College Station-Bryan and Lubbock tied for third at 2.6 percent each and Odessa dropped to fourth place at 2.7 percent.

 

 

CNN – November 6, 2019

Midland, Texas: America’s ultimate boomtown

From the moment you exit the plane at the city’s airport, called Midland International Air and Space Port despite its modest size, know you’re in an oil town. Virtually every advertisement in the terminal is for businesses providing services to the oil industry, not for any of the consumer products that fill most airport concourses.

“Patriot Premium threading services — delivering quality tubular products,” reads one sign.

“Get frack-grade water faster,” reads another.

The same focus on oil is true throughout the downtown. Outside of a bank on the city’s “Wall Street” is an electronic sign that lists not only time and temperature, but also current market prices for oil and gas, as well as oil rig counts both locally and nationwide. …

But even economic good times come with problems.

The roads in and around Midland are often clogged with traffic. Talk to the average person in town and that’s often what you’ll hear complaints about: A cross-town trip that might have taken 15 minutes a decade ago takes more than twice as long now. Midland Mayor Jerry Morales says the number of vehicles on the streets has increased by 33,000 in just the last five years.

 

 

KSWO (Lawton, OK) – November 7, 2019

Halliburton celebrates it’s 100th Anniversary

Halliburton is celebrating its 100 year anniversary, and to mark this special day, the founder’s grandson was in Duncan to speak on the company’s history.

Halliburton’s story starts in California, where he met his wife Vida.

Following World War One, they decided to take on a new adventure.

“Grandad and Grandmother out of California had heard about the oil and gas fields opening up in Texas,” said grandson Erle P. Halliburton III.

Arriving in Texas, Halliburton used the engineering skills he learned in the Navy to start his own business, even pawning his wife’s ring for equipment.

After it failed, they decided to pack up and move north to Stephens County.

 

Utilities

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 15, 2019

Reporter’s notebook: We’re paying more for power. Will new power plants follow?

Texas electricity generators laid it out last year in stark terms for consumers, legislators and regulators: Texas was heading into summer with record tight power reserves. If electricity prices didn’t go up, power companies would have no incentive to build new plants or fix up old ones to avoid power shortages and accommodate the growing population.

The three-member Public Utility Commission agreed after some hesitation to shift a demand curve upward so that on the hottest days when companies are getting paid to cut their electricity use, prices adders could still push prices up to $9,000 per megawatt hour, the maximum allowed in Texas. The heat wave in mid-August lasted several days, but was not out of the ordinary for Texas.

 

 

Bloomberg News/Yahoo! News* – November 16, 2019

The World’s Only $100 Billion Utility Owes Its Rise To Wind Power

Two decades ago, when coal ruled U.S. power generation, a Florida utility plowed some of its extra cash into a wind farm atop a desolate Oregon plateau.

It was the start of an unimaginably successful bet.

This year, that company — now named NextEra Energy Inc. — became the world’s first utility with a market capitalization of more than $100 billion, thanks largely to its clean-power business. It’s almost twice as valuable as the oil major ConocoPhillips and has developed enough wind and solar farms across the U.S. and Canada to power the entire nation of Greece. Shares have doubled in four years, outperforming virtually every other stock in the industry.

 

 

Governing/The Oklahoman – November 15, 2019

Oklahoma ‘Smart Grid’ to Protect Against Storms, Cyberattacks

Customers who take electricity from publicly regulated utilities are looking for reliable, affordable services.

Recent “Smart Grid” upgrades involving both hardware and software, some of which already have been deployed, boost utilities’ ability to meet their desire.

But much of that work hasn’t yet been done, and plans for future projects aren’t cheap.

Regulators will need to remain vigilant by conducting cost-benefit analyses as utilities request cost recovery measures to implement needed ongoing improvements, Oklahoma Corporation Commission officials said Thursday.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

San Antonio Express News* – November 17, 2019

19th Solar Fest shows San Antonians benefits of going green

Representatives from CPS Energy and from solar and home energy providers showed how homeowners can take advantage of the city’s 26 percent tax credit for installing solar panels.

CPS said it receives around 100 applications per week for residents trying to make use of its solar subsidy program, a sign that the popularity of solar energy is still growing.

And even if you aren’t a homeowner, you still might be able to utilize solar power and see a reduction in your monthly energy bill.

Along with CPS, Big Sun Community Solar has developed large solar arrays in places such as carports in large parking lots and other spaces.

 

Regulatory

 

Daily Beast – November 15, 2019

Giuliani Ally Pete Sessions Was Eyed for Top Slot in Ukraine

At the same time that Rudy Giuliani and his now-indicted pals were pushing for President Donald Trump to remove Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch from her post in Ukraine, Trump administration officials were eyeing potential contenders to take over her job.

One of the people in the mix, according to three sources familiar with the discussions, was Pete Sessions, a former congressman who called for Yovanovitch’s firing. He is also a longtime ally of the former New York Mayor, and is believed to have been the “beneficiary of approximately $3 million in independent expenditures” from a PAC funded in part by Giuliani’s indicted cronies, according to a federal indictment.

 

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – November 17, 2019

Craddick announces bid for re-election

The state representative who has represented Midland County for a half-century wants to keep going.

Tom Craddick announced late last week that he will see another term as the representative in House District 82. Midland is one of five counties in the district – Crane, Upton, Martin and Dawson are the others.

The Midland Republican was first elected in 1968 and is the longest serving representative in state government. In 2003, Craddick became the first Republican speaker of the House in more than 130 years. He currently serves as the chair of Land and Resource Management Committee. He also is on the Energy Resources Committee.

 

 

CNN – November 12, 2019

Dr. Ronny Jackson seriously considering a run for Congress

Dr. Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump’s former chief physician and one-time nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary, is seriously considering running for a Texas congressional seat, a source with knowledge of the matter confirmed to CNN.

Jackson, a Texas native, is mulling a run for the seat currently held by one-time Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry, the source said.
Thornberry, a Republican, announced in September he would leave Congress at the end of his term. In 2018, he won reelection by nearly 65 points.

 

 

Austin American Statesman* – November 17, 2019

Herman: Rick and Rudy, one final, tragic act?

There’s Rick. And there’s Rudy. Rick is 69. Rudy’s 75. Rick grew up in Paint Creek, a small Texas community about an hour north of Abilene. Rudy is originally from East Flatbush, a larger Brooklyn community that’s even farther from Abilene.

Rick’s dad served 30 years as a Haskell County commissioner. Rudy’s dad served a shorter term in Sing Sing as a convicted robber.

Somehow, Rick and Rudy communicate without a translator. And somehow, despite the defining differences, their diverse political paths crossed in a way that made them a political odd couple with enough in common to create a lasting bond.

Now, Rick Perry, ex-governor of Texas, and Rudy Giuliani, ex-mayor of New York City, are coupled in political intrigue that could bring down a man who did something neither Perry nor Giuliani were able to accomplish: become president of the United States of America.

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – November 15, 2019

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Lead Stories

 

Bloomberg News* – November 14, 2019

Billionaires Circle Distressed Assets in U.S. Oil and Gas Patch

Billionaires are circling the distressed U.S. oil and gas patch, looking to pick up assets on the cheap at a time when the state of the industry is scaring off other investors.

Sam Zell has teamed up with Tom Barrack Jr. to buy oil assets in California, Colorado and Texas at fire-sale prices from companies trying to get ahead of a coming credit crunch. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said his Comstock Resources Inc. is in talks to acquire natural gas assets in Louisiana from struggling Chesapeake Energy Corp.

“I compared it recently to the real estate industry in the early 1990s, where you had empty buildings all over the place, and nobody had cash to play,” Zell said in an interview on Bloomberg TV Thursday. “That’s very much what we’re seeing today.“

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 13, 2019

More modest batch of US natural gas pipelines seek to start service for winter 2019-20

Several US natural gas pipeline developers are seeking federal regulators’ permission to start service in time for the heating season in the eastern US and Midcontinent, but the capacity coming on tap pales in comparison to recent years.

Among those asking for the nod from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to start up this month include the 400,000 Dt/d Spire STL project in Illinois and Missouri; RH energytrans’ 55,000 Dt/d Risberg Line in Pennsylvania and Ohio; Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line’s 65,000 Dt/d Gateway Expansion in New Jersey; and the Lambertville East Expansion, a Texas Eastern Transmission compression project adding 60,000 Dt/d in New Jersey.

 

 

The Hill – November 13, 2019

Group launches six-figure pro-carbon tax ad campaign aimed at Congress

A bipartisan group backed by a number of environmental and fossil fuel companies is launching a six-figure digital ad campaign Wednesday aimed directly at Washington’s movers and shakers.

The 30-second online video titled “The Bipartisan Climate Solution” aims to sell a carbon tax as a win-win solution for Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

The campaign, pushed by Americans for Carbon Dividends, the political arm of the Climate Leadership Council, is being launched at a moment when lawmakers are feeling pressure from constituents to address climate change.

 

 

Yahoo! News – November 14, 2019

Hackers demand $5M in bitcoin from Mexico’s national oil company Pemex

Hackers have demanded 565 bitcoins, currently worth about $5 million, from Mexico’s national oil company Pemex in a cyberattack.

The hack, detected on Sunday by Pemex, has forced the company to shut down its computers across Mexico, Reuters reported Wednesday. A ransom note to Pemex, seen by the news agency, pointed to a darknet website affiliated with “DoppelPaymer,” a type of ransomware.

DoppelPaymer was also behind recent attacks on Chile’s Agriculture Ministry and the town of Edcouch in Texas, according to cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – November 15, 2019

Oil gains as hopes build for OPEC supply curbs, new optimism on US-China trade deal

Oil prices rose on Friday as OPEC’s outlook for oil demand next year fueled hopes that the producer group and its associates will keep a lid on supply when they meet to discuss policy on output next month.

Optimism that the United States and China could soon sign an agreement to end their trade war also seeped into the market after White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said a deal was “getting close,” citing what he called very constructive discussions with Beijing.

Brent crude futures were up 28 cents, or 0.5%, at $62.56 a barrel by 0441 GMT, having dropped 9 cents on Thursday.

West Texas Intermediate crude was up 28 cents, or 0.5%, at $57.05 a barrel, after falling 0.6% in the previous session.

 

 

Talk Business – November 13, 2019

46 natural gas pipeline projects to be completed in 2019

Natural gas pipeline capacity is expected to increase between 16 billion cubic feet per day and 17 billion cubic feet per day in the United States in 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Most of the new capacity will be used for additional takeaway capacity out of supply basins.

Of the 134 active natural gas pipeline projects, 46 have started operating or will start to operate in 2019. These projects increase deliveries by pipeline to Mexico or to liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities in the Gulf Coast region. More than 40%, or 7.2 billion cubic feet per day, of the new pipeline capacity delivers natural gas to locations in the South Central region, which includes states such as Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Many of the projects will provide additional takeaway capacity out of the Permian Basin in western Texas or enable additional Permian natural gas production to reach the interstate pipeline system.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 14, 2019

U.S. shale sector shrinking to survive

The U.S. shale industry is finally learning to live within its financial means, shrinking to survive amid an environment of depressed crude prices and Wall Street animosity toward nearly all things oil and gas.

The third quarter’s wave of earnings showed that companies are staying within budgets and planning to slice spending levels substantially more next year. Shale oil and gas production continues to rise — but at much slower rates — while drilling activity, as measured by the Baker Hughes rig count, has plunged by 25 percent in 12 months.

This newfound restraint by an energy sector known for overspending may lead to better long-term viability, but in the shorter term, it will mean weaker economic growth in Texas and more layoffs throughout the industry — from the Houston skyscrapers to West Texas oilfields. In a rarity for analysts and investors, energy executives were quizzed more about their plans to pay down heavy debt loads than the quality of their oil and gas acreage.

 

 

Wall Street Journal – November 14, 2019

OPEC Cuts U.S. Oil Output Growth Forecast

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries lowered its oil production growth forecast for non-cartel countries for 2020 on Thursday, citing a downward adjustment to its forecast for the U.S.

In its closely-scrutinized monthly oil market report, OPEC cut its 2020 non-OPEC production growth estimate by 34,000 barrels a day to 2.17 million barrels a day.

OPEC’s cut was relatively small but the move chimes with recent remarks from OPEC secretary-general Mohammed Barkindo, in which he cited slowing growth in U.S. output as being part of the cartel’s and its allies’ considerations regarding ongoing production cuts. OPEC and its allies are due to meet next month in Vienna.

 

 

Oil Price – November 12, 2019

Nick Cunningham: The EIA Is Grossly Overestimating U.S. Shale

The prevailing wisdom that sees explosive and long-term potential for U.S. shale may rest on some faulty and overly-optimistic assumptions, according to a new report.

Forecasts from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), along with those from its Paris-based counterpart, the International Energy Agency (IEA), are often cited as the gold standard for energy outlooks. Businesses and governments often refer to these forecasts for long-term investments and policy planning.

In that context, it is important to know if the figures are accurate, to the extent that anyone can accurately forecast precise figures decades into the future. A new report from the Post Carbon Institute asserts that the EIA’s reference case for production forecasts through 2050 “are extremely optimistic for the most part, and therefore highly unlikely to be realized.”

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 14, 2019

Icahn says Occidental won’t hit target without ‘fire sale’

Activist investor Carl Icahn said Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s new target for assets sales won’t be achieved without a “fire sale” that includes its pipeline system, Western Midstream Partners LP, which was already shopped to potential buyers earlier this year.

Occidental’s Chief Executive Officer Vicki Hollub said Wednesday in a statement she was “highly confident” the company will exceed the upper end of its $10 billion to $15 billion asset sale plan by the middle of 2020. The oil producer also said it had closed its joint venture with Ecopetrol, raising $1.5 billion in cash and carried capital, and announced $200 million of non-core asset sales.

 

 

Transport Topics – November 14, 2019

Shell Unveils Natural Gas Engine Oil

College Station — Shell Lubricants announced a new natural gas engine oil Nov. 14, one of the first of its kind to meet standards to operate in natural gas, diesel and gasoline engines.

Shell Rotella officials said the forthcoming T4 NG Plus 15W-40 is in step with the company’s efforts to take an anticipatory approach, rather than a reactive one, to the transportation industry’s evolving fuel landscape.

“We really feel that there’s going to be multiple types of fuels used,” said Dan Arcy, global OEM technical manager and industry trade association liaison with Shell Rotella. “Diesel’s still going to be out there, gasoline is still going to be out there for a long period of time. Natural gas is going to be out there as well.”

 

 

Houston Business Journal – November 15, 2019

Houston LNG exporter lands more than $1B in debt funding

Houston-based Cheniere Energy Inc. (NYSE American: LNG) has reached a purchase agreement in which it will raise another $1.5 billion in debt funding.

The company was originally planning to sell $1 billion in notes, but it upsized the offering earlier this month to $1.5 billion, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. BofA Securities Inc. is the representative of the purchasers behind the deal. The notes under this agreement will come due in 2029, according to the filing.

BofA is also purchasing the largest portion of the offering — $71.08 million worth — followed by Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC, which is buying $49.04 million worth of the notes, according to the filing. All in all, 29 purchasers are taking part in the offering initially.

 

 

Rigzone – November 13, 2019

Oxy Forms Permian JV with Ecopetrol

Occidental Petroleum Corp. reported Wednesday that it has formed a joint venture (JV) with Colombia-based Ecopetrol S.A. to develop 97,000 net acres of Occidental-owned Midland Basin properties in West Texas.

The JV, which the companies announced in August of this year, represents Ecopetrol’s first foray into the Permian Basin and the U.S. onshore. It also provides Occidental with $750 million in cash, which Ecopetrol paid at closing for a 49-percent stake in the strategic partnership. Ecopetrol will also provide $750 million in carried capital as it develops the acreage with Occidental, which will operate and own a 51-percent interest in the JV.

 

 

Beaumont Enterprise – November 14, 2019

Texas 87 to move for LNG project

Sempra LNG has launched its first project for the creation of a new liquid natural gas export facility in Sabine Pass in a move that will change the main roadway in and out of the southern Jefferson County community.

Before building the multibillion-dollar Port Arthur LNG facility on the Intracoastal Waterway, Sempra will shift about 3.5 miles of Texas 87 away from the waterway in a move that will create stable space for the company to build its project.

Marvin Ivey, senior project director with Sempra, said the project is expected to be complete in 18 to 20 months with expected slowdowns and heavy traffic on the road until it is completed.

 

 

Oilman Magazine – November 13, 2019

Haynesville Shale expected to play crucial role in meeting future natural gas demand

The recent resurgence of drilling activity in the Haynesville shale is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, considering the projected rise in demand for natural gas worldwide and the ensuing increase in the US liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The company’s latest report, ‘Haynesville Shale in the US, 2019’, reveals that the increasing natural gas production from the Haynesville Shale play will propel it as the main supplier to LNG operations along the US Gulf Coast (USGC).

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the US produced just under 81 billion cubic feet of gas per day (bcfd) in August 2019. The Appalachia Basin and Haynesville sites accounted for over 50% of the total value, and are currently showing an increasing trend in their production levels – with the Appalachia Basin producing over 32bcfd, and the Haynesville over 11bcfd.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 14, 2019

Chris Tomlinson: Investment in Aramco is an investment in dictatorship that may not pay off

Saudi Arabia’s royal family is pitching an investment opportunity, and their government will do everything to make sure it pays off.

Including assassinations, if necessary.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman plans to list shares of the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, better known as Aramco, on the Tadawul Exchange in Riyadh establishing a valuation of $2 trillion next month. That would make Aramco the most valuable company ever listed on a public exchange.

The Saudi government owns 100 percent of the company, and the Saudi royal family owns 100 percent of the government. King Salman is the titular leader, but due to his poor health, his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is in charge.

 

 

San Antonio Express News* – November 7, 2019

Thure Cannon, Texas Pipeline Association: Pipelines key to domestic energy, national security

Texas is no stranger to the importance of energy. Since the days of the first gushers at Spindletop, the Lone Star State has been at the forefront of energy production — not just in the United States but across the globe.

Our state boasts a modern oil and gas industry better positioned than ever to be a global leader and a domestic economic driver. The United States is producing record-breaking amounts of crude oil and natural gas, and has cemented its status as the world’s leading producer. That’s good news for our economy, our security and our future.

But we need to be mindful that a lack of pipeline infrastructure can put a cap on the industry’s impact by making it more difficult for resources to make it to consumers, trading partners and manufacturers.

 

 

Reuters – November 8, 2019

Enbridge to file for pipeline overhaul after regulatory halt

Enbridge Inc, said on Friday it plans to seek the Canada Energy Regulator’s approval to auction off rights to ship crude on its Mainline system, more than a month after the watchdog said the company will not be allowed to offer contracted space on the pipeline to shippers.

In a highly unusual move, the regulator halted the auction after major producers in the country protested Enbridge’s plans to switch to longer-term contracts from monthly allocation.

Enbridge, which also reported better-than-expected third quarter profit on Friday, said it expects to place the Canadian portion of the Line 3 replacement into service on Dec.1 after delays due to tribal and environmental challenges.

 

 

Ag Professional – November 6, 2019

Some Iowa Farmers Now Cut Off from Liquid Propane Supplies

The pain to find liquid propane is growing in states such as Iowa. The issue isn’t supply nationwide-it’s supply in the upper Midwest. One propane retailer said he is sending trucks from Iowa, down to Kansas. Even then, drivers are sitting in lines 30 trucks deep, waiting give hours to fill a single truck.

Nebraska is the latest state to make an emergency declaration to help ease propane transportation. Nebraska joined states like Iowa and Minnesota, where officials had already made a declaration, an important step in helping trucks forced to drive hundreds of miles just to try to find pipeline terminals with propane supply.

“I talked to Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig yesterday and he told me that would include waiting in line at propane terminals,” said ProFarmer’s Inputs Monitor’s Davis Michaelsen “He said some trucks are traveling as far as Kansas and could be looking at trips as far as Texas to get supply and bring back, and that’s where those hours of service waivers will really help out.”

 

Utilities

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 14, 2019

Integrating smaller power generators could save Texans $5.5b

Electricity consumers in Texas could save nearly $5.5 billion over the next decade if Texas regulators and utilities did a better job integrating distributed energy resources such as backup generators, rooftop solar and batteries to reduce the need for building expensive peak power generation and transmission projects, according to a new study.

The Austin trade group Texas Advanced Energy Business Alliance estimated Texas households could save an average of $456 over a decade if Texas did more to integrate backyard solar panels and quick-start natural gas micro turbines into transmission and distribution planning and allowing small-scale generators to participate in wholesale markets.

The small natural-gas powered generation units are the newest fixtures behind grocery stores, gas stations and factories as back-up power generation. Many companies invested in the units to keep food cold, cash registers and manufacturing processes running operating during storms and power outages. Other companies turn to back-up power during times of peak electricity demand when companies are paid to reduce their power consumption from the Texas grid.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Triple Pundit – November 14, 2019

Four High-Tech Companies Unite to Buy Wind Energy in Texas

The corporate sector is pushing renewable energy full steam ahead into the next phase. Apple, eBay, Samsung Austin Semiconductor and Sprint have announced a joint agreement to purchase power from a new wind farm in Texas owned by Apex Clean Energy. The wind farm, roughly located midway between San Antonio and El Paso, is expected to come online in 2021.

A partnership like this, from several companies with offices in the Austin metro area, is an innovative way for companies to pool their energy demands and support larger-scale renewable energy projects. It brings down the cost to each partner company and enables more renewable energy to be brought onto the grid.

The 500-megawatt White Mesa Wind project is expected to begin operations during 2021 in Crockett County, Texas.

 

 

Bloomberg News* – November 14, 2019

Elon Musk’s Solar Deal Has Become the Top Threat to Tesla’s Future

During a heated deposition this past June, Elon Musk finally seemed to admit that his harshest critics were right. Since forcing through the controversial 2016 purchase of SolarCity Corp., the struggling solar sales-and-installation business he co-founded with his cousins, Tesla Inc.’s chief executive officer has faced almost-constant criticism: The move was called a catastrophe for Tesla, a $2 billion-plus bailout of a debt-saddled company of which Musk himself was chairman and the largest shareholder. Despite plummeting sales and substantial layoffs in the solar division under Tesla after the merger, Musk has fervently defended the SolarCity acquisition, once calling it “blindingly obvious” and a “no-brainer.”

But in a stunningly rare moment of contrition, Musk expressed regret over the decision at his deposition, part of a class-action shareholder suit that’s gained momentum in recent months. “At the time I thought it made strategic sense for Tesla and SolarCity to combine. Hindsight is 20-20,” Musk said. “If I could wind back the clock, you know, I would say [I] probably would have let SolarCity execute by itself.”

 

Regulatory

 

Dallas Morning News – November 14, 2019

Arrest warrant issued for Texas lawmaker caught on video dropping envelope of cocaine

An influential state lawmaker admitted Thursday morning he’d recently decided against running for re-election due to addiction, just hours after news broke that he has been accused of dropping an envelope of cocaine at a local airport.

Later in the day, an arrest warrant was issued for Rep. Alfonso “Poncho” Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass for felony drug possession.

Nevárez announced last week that he would not seek re-election in 2020, saying it was “time to come home” and put his “family and health” first. The news raised questions about why the four-term lawmaker and committee chairman would step aside from politics just as he was gaining clout and increasingly important leadership roles in the Texas House.

Then, on Wednesday night, the conservative website Direct Action Texas published an affidavit that claimed Nevárez dropped an envelope full of cocaine at an Austin airport in September. The Dallas Morning News confirmed the veracity of the affidavit, a Department of Public Safety search warrant that sought DNA from Nevárez to test whether his saliva was on the envelope, on Thursday morning.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 14, 2019

Rep. Lizzie Fletcher files bill to boost natural gas-power vehicles

U.S Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D-Houston, on Thursday filed a bill that aims to the boost adoption of vehicles that run on natural gas at a time when supplies of natural gas are so cheap and plentiful that drillers burn it off rather than pay the costs of transporting.

The bill, which Fletcher co-sponsored with Rep. Markwayne Mulllin, R-Okla., would revive a lapsed federal tax credit for the purchase of alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas and natural gas harvested from landfills and other sources.

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – November 14, 2019

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Lead Stories

 

Reuters – November 13, 2019

Comstock in talks to buy Chesapeake’s Haynesville assets – sources

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ Comstock Resources is in talks to buy Chesapeake Energy Corp’s Haynesville shale assets in Louisiana, according to two people familiar with the matter.

A deal could be worth more than $1 billion, one of the people said, adding that the companies have settled on a structure for the deal and hope to reach an agreement by the end of the year.

The people, who declined to be identified because the talks are confidential, said what had been agreed so far could still be subject to change and there was no guarantee the talks would conclude successfully.

Analysis: Jim Collins: Is Jerry Jones About To Save Chesapeake Energy?

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 13, 2019

IEA Sees U.S. Shale Squeezing OPEC Influence

U.S. shale-oil production will reshape global energy markets in the years to come, bolstering the country’s influence over OPEC nations, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday.

But Mohammed Barkindo, secretary-general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, cautioned that growth in American output was slowing and its role remained essential to stabilize oil supplies.

In its annual World Energy Outlook report, the IEA said that even as annual U.S. production growth slows from its pace in recent years, policies already announced mean that the country will account for 85% of the increase in global oil production to 2030.

 

 

Kallanish Energy* – November 13, 2019

Texas drilling permits dip 15.5% in October 2019

Texas issued 971 original drilling permits in October 2019, according to the Railroad Commission of Texas.

That compares to 1,149 permits issued in October 2018, a drop of 15.5%, the state agency reported.

The October 2019 total included 895 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, 13 to re-enter plugged well bores and 63 for re-completion of existing well bores, Kallanish Energy reports.

 

 

E&E News – November 13, 2019

Within a year, Oklahoma could get approval from EPA to start issuing permits that will allow the oil industry to dispose of briny oil field waste in waterways, alarming environmentalists and making it the first of three Southwestern states to step into a thorny regulatory landscape closely watched by the industry.

If it catches on, the plan could help the oil industry cope with a growing waste disposal problem — one exacerbated by industry-linked earthquakes. And it could boost a multibillion-dollar industry that has grown up to manage oil field wastewater. But environmentalists are warning that the industry could wind up polluting waterways by releasing the treated water before it fully understands what’s in the fluid. …

The move to use treated wastewater outside the oil field creates a couple of problems. To discharge the treated waste into surface water, companies will need to get a permit under the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES).

Those permits require detailed information about what’s in the wastewater and how it will affect the environment. But the historical RCRA exemption means there’s little existing research on the contaminants in produced water.

And the Clean Water Act doesn’t cover transfers of treated wastewater to other users, leaving a regulatory gap.

 

 

Bloomberg News* – November 13, 2019

Oil Firms Brace for a Credit Crunch as Lender Patience Wears Thin

There are signs that the market is getting nervous about the industry’s debt woes. About $83 billion of outstanding debt issued by explorer and producer companies in the U.S. and Canada is yielding at least 10%, the typical threshold for distressed debt, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Troubled energy companies have had a rough ride this year, but the worst may not be over as a pile of debt starts coming due about a year from now.

North American oil and gas producers have about $93 billion of debt coming due by the end of 2023, according to data compiled by Moody’s Investors Service in October 2018, the most recent available. It’s a refinancing wall not seen since the last energy crisis began in 2014, when oil plunged from record highs and sent dozens of companies toward bankruptcy.

“A lot of energy companies were able to refinance debt in 2015 and 2016 for five to seven years, on the expectation that oil would return to $100 a barrel,” Leo Mariani, an energy analyst with KeyCorp’s capital markets arm, said in an interview. “The credit markets were open. Now the thinking is if oil never returns to $100, do I really want to refinance these guys again?”

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – November 14, 2019

Oil rises after OPEC’s Barkindo says US shale growth may slow in 2020

Oil prices rose on Thursday after industry data showed a surprise drop in U.S. crude inventories while comments from an OPEC official about lower-than-expected U.S. shale production growth in 2020 also provided some support for oil.

However, prices were capped by mixed signs for oil demand in China, the world’s biggest crude importer, as industrial output increased in October at a less-than-expected rate but oil refinery throughput last month rose 9.2% from a year earlier to the second-highest ever.

Brent futures rose 16 cents, or 0.3%, to $62.53 per barrel by 0250 GMT while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude gained 22 cents, or 0.4%, to reach $57.34.

The Secretary General of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Mohammad Barkindo said on Wednesday that there would likely be downward revisions of supply going into 2020 especially from United States shale, adding that some U.S. shale oil firms see output growing by only around 300,000-400,000 barrels per day (bpd).

 

 

MarketWatch – November 13, 2019

World oil demand will keep growing until 2030, and climate-damaging emissions will increase for a decade longer, says IEA

The world’s thirst for oil will continue to grow until the 2030s and climate-damaging emissions will keep climbing until at least 2040 — unless governments rethink how we fuel our lives, according to an important global energy industry forecast.

Growing demand for SUVs could negate the environmental benefits of the increased use of electric cars. And current investment in renewable energy is “insufficient” to meet the needs of growing populations, notably in cities across Asia and Africa.

This is according to the latest annual long-term outlook released Wednesday from the Paris-based International Energy Agency. The World Energy Outlook is closely watched by the oil industry, but it’s also increasingly important to governments because of its relevance to climate policy.

And this year its report, while still focused on forecasting energy needs in the next 20 years, took a stronger-than-usual stand on climate change, calling for “strong leadership” from governments to bring down emissions.

 

 

Rigzone – November 13, 2019

Range Resources Closes Houston Office, Lays Off Staff

U.S. natural gas producer Range Resources Corporation will be closing its Houston office, resulting in the layoffs of 50 Houston employees, a company spokesperson confirmed to Rigzone Wednesday.

“Over the last several years, persistent low commodity prices have challenged the energy industry,” Range Resources CEO Jeff Ventura said in an emailed statement to Rigzone. “Range has continuously sought to position itself to successfully navigate a cyclical business environment by reducing debt and controlling costs. As part of this effort, we have announced the closure of the Houston office. This was a hard decision to make and one we did not take lightly, but ultimately it was a necessary, prudent action.”

 

 

Reuters/ChannelNewsAsia – November 13, 2019

ProPetro confirms US SEC probe, accounting weaknesses

Oilfield services firm ProPetro Holding Corp on Wednesday said a board investigation had uncovered material weaknesses in its financial controls and an undisclosed related-party transaction with its former chief accountant.

The Midland, Texas-based company also confirmed Reuters’ report last month that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had opened an investigation in its financial disclosures and reporting.

 

 

Hays Free Press – November 13, 2019

Pipeline opponents focus on ESA: Agencies put on notice to comply with law or be sued

Opponents of Kinder Morgan’s routing of its Permian Highway Pipeline (PHP) have put two federal agencies on notice – either comply with existing federal law or face legal action.

In one of the latest challenges to the 435-mile, 42-inch natural gas pipeline, which is planned to cross the recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer, the focus has turned to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Last month, the T.R.E.A.D. Coalition (Texas Real Estate Advocacy & Defense Coalition), along with the cities of Kyle, San Marcos and Austin, the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BSEACD) and the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association (WVWA) filed a notice of intent to sue.

That’s a requirement under the ESA, T.R.E.A.D. attorney David Braun said. The notice, filed in mid-October, allows the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) 60 days to respond and take action. “They can’t just be thinking about doing something — they have to take a final action before we can sue. The lawsuit won’t be filed until they issue the permits using what we think is improper procedure.”

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 13, 2019

Some big names in energy endorse drastic climate action

A climate change think tank working with some of the world’s largest energy companies is pressing Congress to take drastic action to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, including a drastic cut in carbon-emitting vehicles and an end to subsidies for fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas.

Among the companies whose names were listed on the report, which is set to presented to Congress by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions Wednesday, are the British oil major BP, the Australian mining company BHP, the chemical companies Dow and BASF and Exelon Corp., a Chicago power company. …

Among the report’s recommendations:

Create an economy-wide carbon pricing program.

Set a date for requiring coal and natural gas power plants to install carbon capture technology or participate in a sequestration credit program.

Require half of new light-duty vehicles to be zero emission by 2035.

 

 

Hellenic Shipping News – November 13, 2019

Frackers to Pump Less Oil and Gas To Push Up Prices

Diamondback Energy Inc., Callon Petroleum Co. and Cimarex Energy Co., all active in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, told investors last week they were contemplating holding next year’s spending around current levels.

Voluntarily restricting growth is a new dynamic for the industry and reflects a calculus that it is better to spend and produce less while hoping for higher commodity prices. A pullback by oil producers would likely cause U.S. oil production growth, already slowing this year, to flatten further in 2020. Natural-gas companies, meanwhile, are attempting to whittle down a glut that has driven prices to multiyear lows.

“I don’t think OPEC has to worry that much more about U.S. shale growth long term,” Scott Sheffield, chief executive of Pioneer Natural Resources Co., recently told investors.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 12, 2019

More new oil and gas inventory coming from mergers, not exploration

Increasingly more recoverable barrels of oil and gas around the world are coming from corporate mergers and acquisitions, and not from traditional exploration.

As the oil and gas sector cuts down on exploration in order to save money and ease into the energy transition toward more renewables, companies are relying more and more on deal-making to satiate their future inventories of fossil fuels, according to a new report from the energy research firm Wood Mackenzie.

From 2005 to 2014, only 37 percent of new oil and gas resources came from mergers and acquisitions. But that amount has spiked to 46 percent in the last five years since oil prices went bust in late 2014, the report said.

 

 

Associated Press/Brownsville Herald – November 13, 2019

New Mexico on pace to break oil production record

Federal forecasters say drilling in the United States is expected to drive global crude oil production through 2020.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration offered some details on the forecast Wednesday. Industry officials are expecting New Mexico to close 2019 as a record-setting year.

The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association’s Robert McEntyre said producers are poised to top 300 million barrels for the year and daily production levels could reach 1 million barrels before 2020.

 

 

Bloomberg News/Columbia Daily Herald – October 29, 2019

Noah Smith: American oil age is coming to close

The world is rapidly waking up to the severity and immediacy of the threat from climate change.

At the same time, electric vehicles are getting cheap enough to compete with internal-combustion engines. Meanwhile, concerns over groundwater pollution are leading to growing calls for a ban on hydraulic fracturing, the main source of increased U.S. production during the past decade.

This doesn’t mean the petroleum industry will die. Plastics, most of which are derived from oil, will continue to be important for a huge variety of consumer and industrial applications. And aircraft and ships will take longer to shift from oil-based fuels. But it does mean that consumption will shrink. Where a decade ago people talked fearfully of oil supplies running out, now some are predicting that demand for the black stuff will peak in just a few years.

Reduced demand for crude will send prices plunging, cutting into profits at oil extractors and refiners. Share prices of oil majors have drifted lower in recent years.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 4, 2019

Chris Tomlinson: Climate change lawsuits ask whether fossil fuel companies are responsible

Just 20 energy companies account for one-third of greenhouse emissions since 1965, according to a new study.

The Climate Accountability Institute’s Richard Heede tallied up all the fossil fuels extracted by every company through 2017 and calculated the emissions. The data is public, the math is straightforward and the emissions are indisputable.

The top 10 companies, in order, are, predictably, Saudi Aramco, Chevron, Gazprom, Exxon Mobil, National Iranian Oil Co., BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Coal India and PEMEX. …

What is surprising in the Heede report is that 50 percent of greenhouse emissions have come since 1985, and that speaks to the energy industry’s culpability in contributing to climate change.

 

 

KWES (Midland) – November 4, 2019

TCEQ receives new air monitors, Midland Regional Office included

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality received new equipment from funding from the Legislature and savings from TCEQ’s 2019 budget.

The Midland Regional Office received one of the 15 hand-held air monitors that were purchased with the funding.

The new UltraRAE device allows for faster analysis on the field and gathers more precise readings.

 

Utilities

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 13, 2019

Texas needs better management of small power sources

Electricity consumers in Texas could save nearly $5.5 billion over the next decade by using distributed energy resources such as solar energy, energy storage and electric vehicles to reduce the need for more expensive peak power generation and investments in transmission and distribution, according to a new study.

The energy industry trade group Texas Advanced Energy Business Alliance of Austin reported that Texas households could save an average $456 by better integrating distributed energy resources into transmission and distribution planning and allowing small-scale generation facilities to participate in existing wholesale markets.

 

 

Reform Austin – November 13, 2019

Christoper Adams: Texas utility assistance plans don’t provide enough help

It’s safe to say that, at least in Texas, the summer of 2019 will be remembered for its “atomic heat lamp on burned flesh” ambience.

The relentless triple-digit temperatures cooked up copious servings of energy-draining days and heat-related illnesses.

Heat-related illnesses were extremely prevalent in Texas’ lower-income population. Particularly amongst low-income Texans who had their electricity disconnected.

Electricity disconnections are incredibly common in Texas. Retail Electric Providers (REPs) discontinued service 834,000 times between June and September 2018.

Termination of electric service is a contributing factor to the nearly 70 heat-related fatalities Texas experiences every year, according to a recent investigation by the Austin American-Statesman.

 

 

Utility Dive – November 13, 2019

Entergy Texas, Georgia Power lead on business customer satisfaction amid growing divide: JD Power

Business customers are increasingly satisfied with their electric utilities, according to J.D. Power’s annual rankings, released today, which found overall satisfaction rose 18 points on a 1,000-point scale compared to last year due to better communication efforts and price improvements.

But the report also revealed a growing divide between utilities focused on customer service and those which are not. According to J.D. Power, the gap between the highest- and lowest-performing individual utility has increased to a 13-year high of 192 points.

Entergy Texas (831 points) was the highest-scoring utility in the report, followed by Georgia Power (828), El Paso Electric (820) and Salt River Project (818). Central Maine Power (639) was the only utility evaluated to score less than 700 points.

 

 

Capital Journal – November 13, 2019

Fiegen elected to leadership position in Southwest Power Pool

South Dakota Public Utilities Commissioner Kristie Fiegen has been elected vice president of the Southwest Power Pool’s Regional State Committee. Fiegen received this responsibility during the group’s meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas, earlier this month.

Southwest Power Pool is a regional transmission organization that partners with member companies to manage the power grid. It facilitates the wholesale purchase and sale of electricity. SPP also plans upgrades to transmission networks in South Dakota, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming.

 

 

Renew Economy – November 12. 2019

David Leitch: Market re-design needs to factor carbon, or there’s no point

The Energy Security Board has set out on a process to re-think the design of the country’s main electricity market in what will be the biggest change in the sector since the National Electricity Market was first put together two decades ago.

Countless submissions have been filed, and we’ve been through them all. One over-riding theme emerges: If the new market design does not have carbon in mind, and deliberately ignores environmental factors as the current framework does, then the re-design is pointless.

The EUAA (the lobby group for large commercial and industrial electricity consumers) wants an explicit carbon price. Of course, this is what all the environmentalists want. And if you ask economists how to manage carbon pollution they would generally support a carbon price via cap-and-trade as the theoretical “best” way .

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Greentech Media – November 13, 2019

Orsted Brings 460MW Solar-Plus-Storage Project to Texas Oil Country

Denmark’s Ørsted is the leading developer of U.S. offshore wind projects and, thanks to its acquisition of Lincoln Clean Energy last year, a major player in onshore wind. Next on the agenda: utility-scale solar and storage.

Ørsted on Wednesday announced plans to build a 460-megawatt solar-plus-storage project in West Texas, near existing oil and gas infrastructure in the Permian Basin. Ørsted said the Permian Energy Center, due for completion in mid-2021, will make it the first developer to own the “full spectrum” of renewable technologies at utility scale in the U.S. — onshore and offshore wind, solar PV and storage.

The storage facility will be relatively modest in size by the standards of the latest projects, at 40 megawatts with one hour of capacity, running alongside a 420 MW AC solar array.

 

 

Associated Press – November 11, 2019

Ford electric vehicle chief sees more products, sales growth

So far, electric vehicles haven’t been accepted in the United States, with fewer than 1.5% of new-vehicle buyers choosing them over internal combustion engines.

That surely will change as more manufacturers offer vehicles with longer range and fast-charging networks keep growing. Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Volkswagen AG, Tesla Inc. and others are placing big bets on the technology.

Next week in Los Angeles, Ford will show off an electric SUV that is inspired by the Mustang performance car. It’s the company’s first consumer-friendly fully electric vehicle, and it’s expected to have a range of over 300 miles per charge. Last year, Ford promised six more battery electric vehicles by 2022. An electric version of the F-150 pickup, the top-selling vehicle in the U.S., is in the works.

 

Regulatory

 

Grist – November 13, 2019

Zoya Tierstein: Elizabeth Warren’s new plan would jail lying fossil fuel executives

Lying under oath is a crime known as perjury, but corporations lie all the time. (Remember when tobacco companies told us cigarettes were healthy?) On Tuesday, Senator Elizabeth Warren unveiled a plan to fight what she calls “corporate perjury.”

Her proposal, which is part and parcel of her larger anti-corruption push, zeroes in on fossil fuel companies. Specifically, ExxonMobil — a company that is currently mired in lawsuits that allege it knew climate change was real in the 1980s and misled investors and the public about it.

Several candidates have sworn to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for fraud and corruption. But Warren is the first to release a proposal specifically aimed at stopping corporations from misleading the public and regulators in the future.

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – November 13, 2019

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Lead Stories

 

Los Angeles Times/Stock Daily Dish – November 13, 2019

Study: Babies born to moms who lived near fracking wells faced health risks

After combing through a decade‘s worth of Pennsylvania birth records, researchers have found that pregnant women living within two-thirds of a mile of a hydraulic fracturing well were 25 percent more likely to give birth to a worryingly small infant than were women who lived at least 10 miles outside that zone during pregnancy.

Over these babies‘ lifetimes, their low birth weights raise the likelihood they will suffer poorer health and lower achievement, including reduced earnings and educational attainment.

The authors of the new research estimated that 29,000 of the close to 4 million annual births in the United States — roughly 0.7 percent of babies born each year — were to women who lived within about two-thirds of a mile of a hydraulic fracturing operation during their pregnancies.

The study is published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – Novemer 12, 2019

San Antonio becomes latest city considering anti-pipeline resolution

The San Antonio City Council is jumping into a contentious debate over state eminent domain laws and the environmental impact of the growing number of proposed pipelines to move crude oil and natural gas from the Permian Basin.

The Houston company Enterprise Products Partners plans to build the 30-inch crude pipeline from the West Texas shale play to the company’s storage tanks and export terminals in the Houston area. Some initial proposals called for the project to go through the picturesque Texas Hill Country and over part of the Edwards Aquifer, the main drinking water supply for San Antonio.

Although those plans were scrapped, city leaders responded by drafting a resolution against any future pipeline project from getting built over the environmentally sensitive region and asking state leaders to give landowners and communities a stronger voice and more input for pipeline routes.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 12, 2019

US oil producers brace for White House policy shift, eye moving operations

Democrats are still months from naming a candidate in next year’s US presidential campaign, but oil producers are already preparing for a policy change which could disrupt nearly one-quarter of daily crude oil output and throw thousands of federal leases into legal limbo.

“It’s a significant hit,” said Dan Naatz, a senior vice president with the Independent Petroleum Association of America. “We think it’s a mistake on several different levels.”

All 17 Democratic presidential candidates have pushed some policy aimed at slowing US oil output, which the US Energy Information Administration forecasts will average a record of nearly 13.4 million b/d by the end of 2020, up more than 40% in just four years.

 

 

CNN – November 12, 2019

Carl Icahn warns it’s ‘extremely dangerous’ to own shares in Occidental Petroleum, the oil giant he owns a big stake in

Last week, Icahn disclosed he has sold a third of his stake in Occidental because of worries about the company’s balance sheet. The billionaire is now signaling he might not be done selling.

“If I don’t think I can win a proxy fight and replace the board, I might sell more,” Icahn told CNN Business during a phone interview.

Icahn still owns about 23 million shares in Occidental, a stake valued at nearly $900 million, according to a letter he wrote to shareholders late last week.

And even though he remains one of Occidental’s largest shareholders, Icahn warned that holding onto the stock is risky because of problems he sees with the company’s corporate governance.

“Owning this company, and being at the mercy of a board and CEO who have already shown they are willing to take inordinate risks and gamble stockholders money to further their own agendas, is extremely dangerous for an investor,” Icahn told CNN Business.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 12, 2019

OPEC to Keep Oil Production Curbed Through 2020

OPEC and an alliance of oil producers led by Russia are set to maintain their current curbs on crude output through next year, according to the group’s delegates, holding off on more vigorous efforts to mop up a global supply glut as some of their U.S. shale rivals plan production cuts of their own for 2020.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries struck an agreement in July to cut output by a collective 1.2 million barrels a day, in an attempt to prop up prices. OPEC is scheduled to meet next month to review the production pact, which lasts through March 2020.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – November 13, 2019

Oil slips as US-China trade deal hopes dwindle

Oil prices dipped on Wednesday as prospects for a trade deal between the United States and China dimmed, weighing on the outlook for the global economy and energy demand.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the two countries were close to finalizing a trade deal, but he fell short of providing a date or venue for the signing ceremony, disappointing investors.

Brent crude futures edged down 18 cents, or 0.3%, to $61.88 a barrel by 0411 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was at $56.67, down 13 cents or 0.2%.

A forecast by the International Energy Agency for slower global oil demand growth post-2025 also weighed on the market.

Global oil demand is expected to grow by 1 million barrels per day (bpd) on average to 2025, but is forecast to slow to 100,000 bpd a year from then on as fuel efficiency improves and more electric vehicles hit the road, the IEA said in its annual World Energy Outlook for the period to 2040.

 

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – November 11, 2019

Railroad Commission candidate to focus on flaring

Dallas resident Chrysta Castañeda visited Midland last week as part of her campaign for a seat on the Railroad Commission. The Democrat will be seeking the seat currently held by Ryan Sitton.

“The state Democratic Party had been talking to me about my interest,” said Castañeda, who ran for Congress in 2012.

What sealed her interest in the Railroad Commission was an industry presentation on flaring that she attended this summer, she said. “I thought that was something I can do something about,” she said.

Reducing flaring will be a key focus of her campaign as she seeks the nomination.

 

 

Argus Media – November 12, 2019

IEA WEO talks up US shale role

US shale production is likely to stay “higher for longer”, reducing the share of Opec members and Russia in the global oil supply, the IEA said in this year’s World Energy Outlook (WEO).

“Efforts to manage conditions in the oil market could face strong headwinds,” it said.

In the WEO’s Stated Policies scenario, which incorporates existing measures and announced policy intentions and targets, but “does not speculate on how these might evolve”, annual US production growth “slows from the breakneck pace seen in recent years”. But, the US still accounts for 85pc of the increase in global oil production to 2030, and for 30pc of the increase in gas. The US will produce more oil and gas than Russia by 2025 under this scenario, the IEA said.

Related: IEA says refining sector to transform by 2040, Asia to dominate

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 12, 2019

Nasdaq to Exit Energy Futures

Nasdaq Inc. said it has agreed to sell its struggling energy-futures business, NFX, to a unit of German exchange group Deutsche Börse, giving up on its four-year effort to break into commodities.

NFX’s core assets—including its oil, gas, electricity, metals and freight futures markets—will be transferred to Deutsche Börse’s energy arm, EEX Group, by 2020 as part of the transaction, Nasdaq and EEX said in a joint statement Tuesday. The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Nasdaq launched NFX with much fanfare in 2015, in a bid to grab market share from the two giants that dominate U.S. commodity-futures trading, CME Group Inc. CME 1.43% and Intercontinental Exchange Inc., known as ICE.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 12, 2019

Devon Energy one step away from capping blowout in DeWitt County

Oklahoma exploration and production Devon Energy is one step away from capping a blowout at a natural gas well that has prompted authorities to seal off thousands of acres of land near the Eagle Ford Shale towns of Yorktown and Nordheim.

No injuries have been reported but an accident at a natural gas well off Cotton Patch Road and FM 952 in DeWitt County has been spewing natural gas into the air since a Nov. 1.

In a Monday afternoon statement, Devon reported that crews were able to install a capping stack on the well over the weekend. The well control equipment will enable the company to reduce natural gas flowing from the well and ultimately regain control.

 

 

Bloomberg News* – November 12, 2019

EEOC, Nabors $1.2 Million Race Bias Settlement Approved by Court

A federal judge in San Antonio Nov. 12 approved a $1.2 million settlement resolving the EEOC’s racial harassment suit against Nabors Corporate Services Inc. and another Houston-based oil field services company.

Nine black employees and a white co-worker will receive payments under the pact in individual amounts to be set by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to the agreement approved by Judge Fred Biery of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 12, 2019

Talos feels squeeze as Pemex aims to flex muscles again

A little-known Houston oil company called Talos Energy struck it big in 2017 when it became the first private company to make a major discovery offshore of Mexico.

The Zama discovery put Talos on the map and, one year later, Talos expanded and went public when it merged with Louisiana-based Stone Energy.

But, now, Talos finds itself in the middle of geopolitical tensions as Mexico’s state energy company Pemex aims to flex its muscles again under Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO. The president, who took office in 2018, has flirted with undoing some of Mexico’s energy reforms that opened the country up to private investments — and ended Pemex’s 75-year monopoly in the country — to make Pemex great again.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 11, 2019

Targa Resources finds buyer for Permian Basin crude oil assets

Houston pipeline operator Targa Resources has found a buyer for its crude oil gathering assets in the Permian Basin of West Texas.

Midland pipeline operator Oryx Midstream bought Targa’s Permian Basin crude oil gathering pipelines and storage terminals in a $135 million, attorneys for both companies confirmed.

With more than 1,200 miles of pipeline and 2.1 million barrels of storage even before the deal, Oryx is touted as the largest privately-held crude oil pipeline and storage terminal operator in the Permian Basin of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico.

 

 

Greater Baton Rouge Business Report – November 12, 2019

28 natural gas pipeline projects queued up in Louisiana

Twenty-eight natural gas pipeline projects are completed, under construction or pending in Louisiana this year—many of them designed to provide the necessary infrastructure for LNG export facilities in production or planned along the state’s coastline.

According to U.S. Energy Information Administration tracking records reviewed by 10/12 Industry Weekly, seven have already been completed this year: the Westlake Expansion Project lateral by Gulf South Pipeline, the Texas-Louisiana Markets Project and the Stratton Ridge expansions by Texas Eastern Transmission, the St. James Supply Project lateral and the Gulf Connector Expansion Project reversal by Transcontinental Gas Pipeline, the Gulf Xpress reversal by Columbia Gulf Transmission, and the East-West Project lateral by Florida Gas Trans Co.

 

 

Reuters – November 12, 2019

TC Energy restarted Keystone oil pipeline at 20% pressure reduction – PHMSA

TC Energy Corp has completed repairs and restarted the Keystone oil pipeline at a 20% pressure reduction after spilling more than 9,000 barrels in rural North Dakota, a U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) spokesman said on Tuesday.

PHMSA continues to investigate the cause of the rupture in Edinburg, North Dakota and the failed portion of the line has been shipped to a metallurgical lab in Houston, Texas, for testing, the spokesman said by email.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 12, 2019

Saudis Are Urged Not to ‘Miss the Train’ on Aramco IPO

Saudi Arabia’s middle class is preparing to invest billions of dollars in Aramco shares, as the populace gets the chance to own a sliver of the kingdom’s prized asset—the world’s most profitable company—for the first time.

Fueled by a mix of national pride and fear of missing out, Saudi citizens are getting ready to shell out to be part of the oil giant’s initial public offering, which promises to be the largest ever. A bombardment of marketing around the long-awaited share sale is aimed directly at them.

Saudi banks are offering customers loans to buy Aramco stocks, billboards and ATMs across the kingdom advertise the IPO and state-controlled newspapers are urging citizens to invest.

 

 

Bloomberg News/JWN Energy – November 12, 2019

Repsol looks to Alberta to replace Mexican and Venezuelan oil

Repsol SA is looking as far away as Western Canada for oil for its European refineries amid dwindling supplies from Mexico and Venezuela.

The Spanish oil company is considering using rail to transport as much as half-a-million barrels of heavy crude a month 1,911 miles (3,075 kilometers) from Alberta to Montreal before loading it onto tankers bound for Europe, according to people familiar with the situation. The company has also considered shipping the crude to New Jersey for shipment to Europe.

 

 

San Antonio Express News* – November 12, 2019

Taddy McAllister: Oil terminal threatens Port Aransas

Did you know there is an enormous threat to our beloved Port Aransas that has mostly made the news down on the coast and not here? Yet it is our coast, too, us San Antonians. Here’s the story:

The Port of Corpus Christi wants to industrialize Port Aransas for the sake of exporting oil. It wants to dig the ship channel significantly deeper than it is now so vessels known as very large crude carriers can come onshore. That is the channel the ferries cross — the channel full of dolphins and diving pelicans. Dredging is messy and toxic, making the water uninviting and unlivable for sea creatures because of all the stuff that gets stirred up from the digging. Much bigger ships would be able to use the ship channel, but the animals whose home is the water would suffer.

The Port of Corpus Christi wants to excavate enormous, humongous berths for these mammoth ships in Harbor Island right next to the ferry landings. Billions of tons of “spoil,” the deep sand that has to be moved for these berths and for the deeper channel, would have to be dumped somewhere. You know the island St. Jo, across from Port Aransas? Some of it would go there, no matter how toxic it is, and some would go down the channel onto islands usually covered with bird nesting grounds.

The Port of Corpus Christi also wants to build a desalination plant on Harbor Island. “Desal” is really destructive. It sucks baby fish, shrimp and crabs in and spits out intense brine, salt that will change the chemistry of the water.

 

Utilities

 

KEYE (Austin) – November 12, 2019

Atmos Energy reports 99 gas leak repairs in Georgetown for first half of year

Georgetown evacuees are back in their homes and businesses after a gas leak earlier this year.

Atmos Energy Company evacuated 86 buildings during February through April because of gas trapped under the soil near Williams Drive.

A report from the Railroad Commission of Texas Pipeline determined “Material Failure” caused the initial leak.

Atmos representatives say they successfully pumped gas from the soil and replaced pipelines affected by the incident. According to the company’s semi-annual report, crews discovered 99 leaks in Georgetown from January – June 2019. There were 28 gas leaks in Georgetown over the same time period last year.

 

 

The Texas Energy Report* – November 12, 2019

Al Erwin, one of first PUC Commissioners, Passes: Report

“Distinguished veteran, Al Erwin dedicated much of his life to public service including service as a Swift Boat officer in the Viet Nam.

“He returned to serve as chief of staff for Houston Congressman Bob Casey in 1972.

“Governor Dolph Briscoe appointed Erwin to the Office of State-Federal Regulation in DC. Mark White named him as one of the first three Commissioners to lead the newly formed Public Utility Commission.

 

 

El Paso Times – November 12, 2019

J.P. Morgan Chase ties to El Paso Electric buyer draw concerns, questions

Will J.P. Morgan Chase, one of the world’s largest banks, have ultimate control of El Paso Electric if the utility’s pending $4.3 billion sale to the Infrastructure Investments Fund goes through?

That’s what Tyson Slocum and others want to know.

Slocum is Energy Program director for Public Citizen, a liberal, not-for-profit consumer watchdog organization based in Washington, D.C.

“I think it’s a big deal to know precisely the ownership of who is trying to buy your local electric utility,” Slocum said in a phone interview.

“I remain concerned that IIF is heavily influenced or controlled by J.P. Morgan,” he said.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 11, 2019

New wholesale power company launches in Texas

Residential consumers have another option to buy electricity at wholesale spot market prices.

Evolve Energy announced earlier this month that it has begun selling power to residential consumers at wholesale power prices. Evolve, which allows customers to connect their power to smart home devices, follows in the footsteps of Griddy, the California-based company that came to Texas two years ago to disrupt the retail electricity market by targeting deceptive rates, hidden charges and contracts with big break fees.

Evolve passes along the wholesale price of electricity to customers along with utility transmission and distribution fees, a $10 a month subscription fee, unspecified ancillary fees, a billing fee of 7 cents a day and a wholesale market fee of one-fifth of a cent per kilowatt hour.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 12, 2019

Nuclear plant climate change risk assessment, action plans needed: researchers

Shorter-term risks from climate change for US nuclear power plants include events such as hurricanes, flooding, drought and wildfires, while longer-term risks include sea level rise, coastal erosion and associated siting concerns, a researcher said Tuesday.

“Our research depicts a global challenge with nuclear being one area of power generation that could be impacted by climate change, which means there should be a focus on adaptation and mitigation measures,” Sarah Jordaan, assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, said in a phone call.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Power Engineering – November 12, 2019

Agonquin Power, partners schedule ceremonial start of Maverick Creek wind project

Algonquin Power & Utilities will hold groundbreaking ceremonies for its 492 MW Texas wind farm next week.

Several months ago, developer RES announced it would work with Algonquin Power & Utilities to develop the Maverick Creek Wind project in Concho County. The $700 million project would be financed through a 15-year virtual power purchase agreement with General Mills.

Maverick Creek is expected to power up to 200,000 homes with 127 wind turbines. The project was originally developed by a joint venture between RES and the North American arm of Danish firm Vestas.

 

Regulatory

 

The Hill – November 12, 2019

Bureau of Land Management staff face relocation or resignation as agency moves west

Employees at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) were given reassignment letters Tuesday as the agency marches toward its relocation across the West, giving staff 30 days to accept the move or face being booted from the federal workforce.

The delivery of the letters means BLM employees will begin moving over the next four months, cementing a controversial plan that spreads about 300 Washington-based staffers across various offices out west and leaves just 61 of the bureau’s 10,000 employees in the nation’s capital.

The Public Lands Foundation, a group of BLM retirees, said the agency “will be effectively kneecapped” by the relocation as teams are split up and spread across different offices.

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – November 12, 2019

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Lead Stories

 

New York Times* – November 11, 2019

Occidental Petroleum Corp is soliciting bids for oil and gas properties in Wyoming and Colorado that it acquired when it purchased Anadarko Petroleum, hoping the assets will fetch up to $700 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

Occidental offered about 200,000 acres in the Denver-Julesburg Basin of Wyoming and Colorado that produce $66 million a year in cash flow, mostly in mineral royalties, according to marketing documents.

RBC Capital Markets is handling the sale, with bids due next month.

Occidental separately has offered its own Midland, Texas, campus, according to a real estate listing https://bit.ly/2O1vzIU. The facility was valued at $45.7 million last year, according to county tax records.

 

 

CNBC – November 11, 2019

The US shale revolution won’t stall despite headwinds, global oil experts say

U.S. shale oil production has shown some signs of moderation in recent months and production growth could be slowing, but experts told CNBC at Abu Dhabi’s influential oil & gas summit that the U.S. shale revolution won’t be stopped any time soon.

The U.S. is expected to become a net energy exporter in 2020, exporting more energy products ranging from oil to natural gas, than it imports, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Jason Bordoff, professor and director at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy and a former adviser to President Obama, told CNBC Monday that he didn’t think that status would be short-lived.

“I don’t think the export story will be short-lived, I think the growth in production is going to slow but it’s still growing, so we’re still going to see the U.S. become a net oil exporter and put a lot of barrels on the market and that’s really important,” he told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick and Hadley Gamble at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC) on Monday.

Related: Oil Bulls Make Shy Comeback

 

 

Dallas Morning News* – November 11, 2019

With its electric motor, Linear Labs wants to turn Dallas-Fort Worth into ‘Detroit of electrification’

Fort Worth-based Linear Labs wants to put its electric motors into everything from scooters to air conditioners — and it wants to make them in North Texas.

The startup opened a new lab and headquarters earlier this year, and it has signed deals with eight companies. It plans to hire more engineers and build a facility to test different approaches to manufacturing next year.

With electric cars and other kinds of electrification, steps toward a better battery often steal the spotlight. Linear Labs is focused on another piece of the puzzle: developing a less expensive, more powerful electric motor.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 11, 2019

ESG Funds Enjoy Record Inflows, Still Back Big Oil and Gas

Funds with a focus on socially responsible investing are enjoying a record year of inflows. But many such portfolios aren’t as clean as investors might expect.

Eight of the 10 biggest U.S. sustainable funds are invested in oil-and-gas companies, which are regularly slammed by environmental activists, according to a review of the funds’ public disclosures.

ESG funds, which broadly market themselves as trying to invest in companies with strong environmental, social and governance practices, have taken in a record $13.5 billion of net new money from investors in the first three quarters of the year, according to Morningstar.

Although most of the top funds exclude gun makers, casino operators and tobacco companies, they have been slow to reduce their exposure to fossil fuels.

 

 

Washington Post* – November 11, 2019

The Energy 202: Some environmentalists aren’t thrilled about a potential Bloomberg 2020 run

The former New York mayor, who is worth more than $53 billion according to Forbes, began taking steps late last week to mount a bid for the Democratic nomination for president.

But Bloomberg’s possible self-financed campaign has some environmentalist asking: Why not use that considerable wealth to redouble the ex-New York mayor’s environmental efforts rather than to make a long shot White House bid?`

“There is a lot of work to be done in that advocacy,” said Evan Weber, political director and co-founder of the Sunrise Movement. “It’s not really clear how a presidential run advances those efforts.” …

Earlier this year, Bloomberg criticized Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) Green New Deal, which calls for a complete overhaul of the economy to transition away from fossil fuels over the next decade, for standing “no chance of passage in the Senate over the next two years.” And during the Obama administration, Bloomberg praised hydraulic fracturing for natural gas as a way of cutting energy costs and reducing dependence on coal.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – November 12, 2019

Oil drops as market awaits news on trade talks, oversupply concerns weigh

U.S. oil prices fell for a second day on Tuesday, weighed down by uncertainty over whether U.S.China trade talks are making much progress, while higher Saudi Arabian crude output reinforced concerns about oversupply.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 18 cents, or 0.3%, at $56.68 a barrel. The contract dropped 0.7% in the previous session.

Brent crude futures were down 14 cents, or 0.2%, at $62.04 a barrel by 0256 GMT, after falling 0.5% on Monday.

Worries about the impact on oil demand from the fallout of the 16-month U.S.-China trade war, which has weighed on global economic growth, have returned after doubts were cast on the chances of a so-called phase one agreement.

 

 

Dallas Morning News* – November 11, 2019

Rex Tillerson denies Nikki Haley’s claims that he sought to undermine Trump’s agenda

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is disputing a claim by Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, that he sought to subvert President Donald Trump’s agenda in an effort to “save the country.”

Tillerson, a former ExxonMobil chief executive, told media outlets on Monday that during his tenure as America’s top diplomat, “at no time did I, nor to my direct knowledge did anyone else serving along with me, take any actions to undermine the president.”

“Once the president made a decision, we at the State Department undertook our best efforts to implement that decision,” Tillerson said, according to The Washington Post, adding that “Ambassador Haley was rarely a participant in my many meetings.”

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 11, 2019

Gas storage sees ‘near record’ increase

With natural gas production continuing to rise, U.S. gas storage facilities saw “near-record” increases this year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Monday.

Between March and November, the period when gas storage operators fill up their tanks ahead of the coming winter, more than 2,569 billion cubic feet of gas was placed in storage in the continental United States, the second-highest level on record following a cold snap in 2014 that left domestic storage depleted.

As of the end of October U.S. gas storage facilities reported inventories totaling 3,724 billion cubic feet, 1 percent higher than the runnig five year average.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 11, 2019

Frackers Prepare to Pull Back, Exacerbating a Slowdown in U.S. Oil Growth

After pushing U.S. oil and natural-gas production to record levels, some shale companies plan to pump less.

The pullback is sharpest among the country’s largest natural-gas drillers. Several producers, including EQT Corp. EQT -9.06% and Chesapeake Energy Corp. CHK -10.26% , have said during third-quarter earnings that they may shrink output next year.

But even more oil-focused shale companies are promising to rein in spending and forecasting slower growth. Diamondback Energy Inc., FANG 1.79% Callon Petroleum Co. CPE 2.20% and Cimarex Energy Co. XEC -2.15% , all active in the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, told investors last week they were contemplating holding next year’s spending around current levels.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 11, 2019

Exchange Giant ICE, Big Oil Traders Team Up on New Mideast Crude Futures

Energy-markets giant Intercontinental Exchange Inc., ICE 0.78% or ICE, will team up with Abu Dhabi’s state oil producer and some of the world’s biggest oil companies to launch a new futures exchange in the emirate, which could shake up the way Mideast crude is traded.

ICE and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co., or Adnoc, said in a joint statement on Monday that they were aiming to launch the new exchange in the first half of 2020, along with its new Murban crude-oil futures contracts.

BP BP -0.10% PLC, Royal Dutch Shell RDS.B 0.03% PLC and Chinese state-owned oil firm PetroChina Co. PTR -1.78% are among the nine global energy firms and commodities-trading groups expected to support the new marketplace, to be called ICE Futures Abu Dhabi, the companies said.

 

 

D Magazine – November 11, 2019

How Dallas-Fort Worth Finances Texas Energy

Pipeline constraints in the Permian means crude oil priced in Midland last year cost anywhere from 37 cents to $15 less than crude priced in Oklahoma, according to Ed Longanecker, president of the Austin-based Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association.

“This directly impacted the bottom line for operators, particularly smaller producers that have a higher breakeven point or less contracted takeaway capacity,” he says. Though industry is moving to add pipelines, “the bottleneck may not be fully resolved until late 2019, assuming infrastructure projects and production stay on track.”

DFW’s role in energy finance now matters because of technology advances in the last 10 years that make it economical to extract raw hydrocarbons encased in sedimentary rock. “Up until this point in 2008 and 2009, crude production in Texas had done nothing but decline since the early 1970s. Conventional wisdom held this would continue, and nothing could be done to change this,” says Karr Ingham, Amarillo-based consulting petroleum economist to the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers.”

What changed was a series of small improvements to hydraulic fracturing—or blasting underground rock open with high-pressure liquids—and horizontal drilling, or cutting holes sideways or upward in the ground. Suddenly, drillers had affordable ways to draw crude oil and gas out of soft rock called shale. “Everybody turned out to be utterly, fantastically wrong,” Ingham says. “What we’ve done is quadrupled oil production in the last 10 to 11 years, more than doubled U.S. production, and become the most important producer on the planet at this point.”

 

 

Argus Media – November 11, 2019

Survey: Permian gut check

US midstream companies are pursuing a new phase of long-haul pipeline expansions from the Permian basin despite lower prices and investor pressure that has cooled the region’s blistering output growth cycle.

The Permian basin has been a juggernaut for US producers, with output quadrupling from under 1mn b/d in 2010 to more than 4.5mn b/d in October, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). US midstream developers have responded with a wave of new long-haul pipelines to shuttle the torrent of supply to Houston, Corpus Christi and beyond.

The 670,000 b/d Cactus 2 and the 400,000 b/d Epic line went into service in August moving Permian crude to the Corpus Christi area. Phillips 66’s 900,000 b/d Gray Oak pipeline is expected to enter service this month, moving Permian basin crude to Corpus Christi, Texas, for export.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 11, 2019

Wildcatter billionaire not giving up Permian Basin without a fight

The drilling permits speak for themselves.

Wildcatter billionaire Autry Stephens is not ceding control of the Permian Basin to the oil majors without a fight.

Over the past week, the Midland billionaire’s oil company Endeavor Energy Resources filed for 21 drilling permits with the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state agency that regulates the oil and natural gas industry. A large and independent oil company, Endeavor is seeking permission to drill 11 horizontal wells on its Kraken leases in Howard County and another six split between a pair of leases on its Carbon and Kennett leases in Upton County.

Drilling to total depths up to 12,000 feet, the wells target the oil-rich Spraberry field of the Midland Basin, a heavily-drilled subregion of the Permian Basin.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 11, 2019

Occidental to sell Permian campus after Anadarko takeover

Occidental Petroleum Corp. plans to sell a four-story office building in the heart of the Permian Basin and move employees into a nearby one owned by Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the oil producer it bought for $37 billion three months ago.

The 213,000 square-foot complex will be vacated by April 2020 and is a “compelling” investment opportunity, according to a marketing document from CBRE Group Inc., the real-estate broker handling the sale alongside Midland-based Moriah Real Estate Co.

 

 

Dallas Morning News* – Novemer 11, 2019

Update: Fracking may indeed be causing earthquakes in Texas, according to UT study

On Tuesday, Nov. 12, companies, regulators and federal and academic scientists will gather at an industry-sponsored workshop in Dallas to share the latest research on human-induced earthquakes.

Scientists say they believe that fracking poses less of an earthquake hazard than wastewater injection. The largest earthquake tied to fracking in the United States has been in the 3-to-4 magnitude range, said Brudzinski, while the largest earthquake tied to wastewater disposal was a 5.8-magnitude quake that struck Pawnee, Okla., in 2016, causing significant damage to buildings.

Residents in the Pecos area reached by phone and Twitter on Thursday said they were not troubled by the quakes. Joel Chavez, a former middle school teacher from Pecos, said he was initially concerned by the quakes but felt better once scientists like Savvaidis came and set up monitoring stations. “Most people felt at ease after the researchers came in,” he wrote in a Twitter direct message. “Over time, economic development continued and the town is getting so much better that it’s not that big of a concern.”

 

 

Carlsbad Current Argus* – November 7, 2019

Oil and gas waste water companies merge amid Permian Basin boom

A Permian Basin oil and gas infrastructure company purchased a water disposal company and claimed the deal would establish the largest commercial produced water injection operation in the Midland Basin, on the Texas side of the Permian.

Gravity Energy services announced it signed the agreement to acquire On Point Oilfield Holdings from White Deer Energy in a Wednesday news release.

The deal added 17 saltwater disposal (SWD) wells and 432,500 barrels per day of permitted capacity to Gravity’s existing water midstream business, the release read.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 11, 2019

Louisiana: The Trial-Lawyer State

Louisiana used to be a leader in U.S. energy production, but Governor John Bel Edwards has turned it into a leading lawsuit producer instead. Jobs have declined while taxes and auto insurance rates have risen. …

Oil production has declined by nearly a quarter since January 2016 while increasing in most energy-rich states and on federal land in the Gulf of Mexico. Natural gas withdrawals have returned to 2012 levels thanks to a new liquefied-natural-gas export terminal. But industries downstream from energy such as manufacturing, utilities and construction are hurting.

One reason is that Mr. Edwards, a former trial attorney, has spent four years trying to wring more money out of energy producers. In November 2013, two coastal jurisdictions sued oil and gas companies for coastal erosion that was largely caused by levees on the Mississippi River and natural forces. After getting elected, Mr. Edwards joined the raid.

Front-running the lawsuits were trial attorneys at Talbot, Carmouche & Marcello, which raised $2 million for a super PAC supporting the Governor’s election and $640,000 for his re-election. Mr. Bel Edwards has demanded that energy producers pay billions of dollars for coastal restoration.

 

 

Petroleum Economist – October 31, 2019

Oil firms chase efficiency gains

Energy efficiency in the upstream clearly means different things to different people. But what is evident is that virtually every firm is looking at where to make marginal gains, as a subdued price environment and fears over the future of oil demand growth significantly reduce the ability to run flabby operations.

The oil majors are taking divergent paths in some aspects, but one trend is easily identifiable, namely portfolio efficiency. The firms are concentrating their financial and technical muscle on fewer, high-potential prospects in key upstream areas and excluding marginal production provinces—in turn, leaving independent producers to bring their own specific focus into areas from which the majors are retreating.

 

 

Community Impact Newspapers – November 5, 2019

Researchers: Chemicals released during ITC fire did not harm humans

Firefighters used chemically laced foam to extinguish blazes at Intercontinental Terminals Company in March, but at a public meeting Nov. 4, researchers said the foam did not release enough chemicals into the environment to harm humans.

However, the researchers said there are several data gaps that would give them more insight as to the effects of the chemicals release.

Researchers from the Texas A&M University Superfund Research Center and Galveston Bay Foundation Director Bob Stokes spoke at a meeting in Seabrook to break down the effects of the ITC fire on the environment. The fire began March 17 in Deer Park when chemical tanks caught on fire—a fire that took days to extinguish.

 

 

Associated Press/KTBC – October 29, 2019

Project to fill defunct brine well faces $9M shortfall

A project seeking to stop a defunct brine well in southeastern New Mexico from collapsing and disrupting a major thoroughfare of the region’s oil industry faces an estimated $9 million shortfall.

New Mexico Energy Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst said last week the anticipated budget shortfall for the remediation of the Carlsbad Brine Well is $8.9 million, the Carlsbad Current-Argus newspaper reports . …

Formerly owned by the now-defunct company I&W, the brine well was decommissioned in 2008 when the land was deemed unstable.

The well is operated by pumping freshwater into an underground salt formation and drawing up the resulting brine for use in the oilfield.

After decades of this work, a large cavity formed beneath the surface and under one of the busiest highway junctions in southeastern New Mexico, where U.S. Highways 285 and 62/180 converge as traffic travels to and from the oilfield.

 

Utilities

 

S&P Global Platts – November 11, 2019

SPP, MISO issue alerts ahead of high peakload, wintry weather

The Southwest Power Pool and Midcontinent Independent Service Operator issued alerts Monday in response to weather forecasts that predicted record-low temperatures and higher-than-normal peakload, driving up power prices.

SPP issued a resource alert for Monday evening through Wednesday “due to high forecasted load, uncertainty of outage return to service, and extreme cold weather” within the SPP footprint. The grid operator said it “may use greater unit commitment notification timeframes.”

“Much of the central and eastern US will be enveloped in a region of much below average temperatures over the next two days, along with potential for widespread record cold morning low temperatures and record low afternoon high temperatures,” the US National Weather Service wrote Monday afternoon.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 11, 2019

National Grid to use trucked LNG, CNG in peak US Northeast winter gas demand periods

Facing a potential shortfall in natural gas supplies due to certain factors, including regulatory holdups of a key interstate pipeline project, gas utility National Grid is planning to use trucked shipments to ensure supplies to customers in New York and New England during the coldest parts of winter.

The Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board on November 6 approved the utility company’s request for a temporary waiver from the licensing requirement of the Energy Facility Siting Act to operate a temporary LNG vaporization facility on a site in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, which National Grid had previously used for that purpose.

The plans call for National Grid to truck in LNG to the site, where it will be vaporized and injected into the local gas distribution system to provide an emergency backup gas supply to Aquidneck Island. The project will only be on the site from December 1 through March 31 and will only be mobilized when it is required to back up the gas supply to the island, the utility said in its waiver request.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Reuters – November 8, 2019

The Permian paradox: Texas shale players go green to drill more

As the thirst for electricity to power drilling rigs in West Texas drives the state’s energy needs to new highs, oil and gas companies are increasingly relying on wind and solar power to ensure that the shale boom continues.

Oil and gas firms operating in the Permian shale basin in West Texas, the nation’s biggest, have been largely behind growth in the area’s energy demand, according to Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which oversees most of the state’s electricity grid.

Securing ample, reliable energy supply is critical to sustaining the shale boom that has helped the United States eclipse Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s biggest oil producer.

Wind and solar farms help oil and gas producers lock in a growing part of that supply in a way that can be easily tailored to their needs as they keep ramping up production, industry experts say.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 8, 2019

Could Electric Vehicles Really Help Prevent Forest Fires?

I LIVE IN NORTH CAROLINA now, but I feel for my old friends in California, some several million of them. Both states, East and West coasts, are manifesting the effects of climate change. Drought and hurricane, fire and water.

And in both states, the new normal knocks out electrical power. In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, in 2016, more than a million customers in the Carolinas lost power, including yours truly. In some areas power wasn’t restored for many days. In California, to stem the number of wildfires sparked by failing infrastructure, utilities last month repeatedly interrupted power to more than 900,000 homes, businesses, schools and public buildings, disrupting the lives of nearly three million people—events bureaucratized as Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS).

Where has all that left electric vehicles, if not by the side of the road? California leads the nation in EV adoption, with about 150,000 pluggables sold in 2018, the majority of those being battery-electric Teslas. The state has a goal of putting 1.5 million on the road by 2025. Last month Tesla sent out notices to their customers, warning them of scheduled blackouts and reminding them to charge up ahead of time. Since most Teslas are charged at home, and have ranges exceeding 200 miles, area customers were largely unaffected, judging by the traffic on the Tesla Owners Group website. For others relying on public charging, Tesla boss Elon Musk announced the company would deploy large-scale battery backup to Supercharger stations in the affected areas.

 

Regulatory

 

November 7, 2019

Houston Chronicle: Findings on Deer Park fire underscore why penalties for environmental failures must be steep

New information about the Intercontinental Terminals Co. chemical fire that shut down the Houston Ship Channel for three days in March makes it even clearer that Texas must come down harder on companies that consistently break environmental and workplace safety rules. …

Petrochemical companies that habitually trample over rules that help keep Texas’ air and water clean need to know that this state’s attorney general isn’t going to let them do that anymore. They need to know the days of wrist-slap fines that can be written off as a cost of doing business in this state are over.

It’s time for Texas to make polluters feel it where it hurts when they hurt our environment.

 

______________________________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – November 11, 2019

Subscriber’s Edition

Asterisk * indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at website because it’s password protected

 

Lead Stories

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – November 8, 2019

Icahn reduces Oxy stake, vows to carry on proxy war

Famed corporate activist Carl Icahn said he reduced his ownership stake in Occidental Petroleum by nearly one-third, but he vowed to continue to wage his proxy war against the company stemming from his opposition to Oxy’s $38 billion acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum.

Arguing that he doesn’t want to expose any more money to what he calls poor corporate leadership, Icahn said he shrank his ownership position from nearly 5 percent to almost 3.5 percent. He will continue to seek to replace four of Oxy’s 10 board members.

“We fully intend to run a proxy fight, and if elected, work to right this teetering ship,” Icahn wrote Friday in his letter to Oxy shareholders.

 

 

NASDAQ – November 10, 2019

TC Energy says its Keystone pipeline has returned to service

TC Energy Corp TRP.TO said on Sunday that its Keystone pipeline has returned to service after its repair and restart plan was approved by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

Crews in Walsh County, North Dakota, have been working to clean up a more than 9,000-barrel spill from the Keystone pipeline, which forced the line to be shut last week.

As part of the restart plan, the company will operate the pipeline at a reduced pressure with a gradual increase in the volume of crude oil moving through the system, TC Energy said in a statement.

Related: Rare permit for Keystone oil pipeline in spotlight after spills

 

 

Mother Jones – November 8, 2019

Methane Detectives: Can a Wave of Technology Slash Natural Gas Leaks?

A study published in Science last year estimated that total methane emissions from US oil and gas are 60 percent higher than EPA inventories—equivalent to 2.3 percent of natural gas production leaking into the atmosphere. If companies are sincere about stopping those leaks, industry experts say there is an urgent need to incorporate new monitoring technologies into their vast operations, from the wellhead to pipelines, to compressor stations to storage facilities. “When you look at the future, the Achilles heel of the gas industry is the methane emissions,” executive director of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, said at an American Petroleum Institute forum in September.

[Methan leak “detective” Greg] Rieker is betting that his laser-based system can catch leaks more effectively and affordably than the current industry standard, which involves using a $100,000 infrared camera to randomly scan a well pad’s welter of valves, tanks, separators, and compressors a few times a year. The camera’s ability to detect leaks is highly dependent on weather conditions and the operator’s skill; it also only collects data as a single snapshot in time, and doesn’t indicate the size of a leak. Rieker’s frequency comb laser, meanwhile, sweeps continuously across the plain for weeks and months, hunting for and tallying up errant methane molecules.

Dozens of other entrepreneurs are also working to find new ways to detect fugitive emissions by making devices autonomous, cheaper, more precise, better at catching big leaks—or all of the above. Many of these novel solutions are emerging from the labs and office parks of northeastern Colorado. As Washington retreats from monitoring methane, the state’s Front Range has become the de facto capital of methane detectives.

 

 

Associated Press/Washington Post* – November 11, 2019

After push from Perry, backers got huge gas deal in Ukraine

Two political supporters of U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry secured a potentially lucrative oil and gas exploration deal from the Ukrainian government soon after Perry proposed one of the men as an adviser to the country’s new president.

Perry’s efforts to influence Ukraine’s energy policy came earlier this year, just as President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s new government was seeking military aid from the United States to defend against Russian aggression and allies of President Donald Trump were ramping up efforts to get the Ukrainians to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Ukraine awarded the contract to Perry’s supporters little more than a month after the U.S. energy secretary attended Zelenskiy’s May inauguration. In a meeting during that trip, Perry handed the new president a list of people he recommended as energy advisers. One of the four names was his longtime political backer Michael Bleyzer.

A week later, Bleyzer and his partner Alex Cranberg submitted a bid to drill for oil and gas at a sprawling government-controlled site called? Varvynska. Their proposal was millions of dollars lower than their only competitor, according to internal Ukrainian government documents obtained by The Associated Press.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 10, 2019

U.S. Oil’s Growth Challenges Investors

The U.S. has become the world’s leading oil producer. That isn’t making it any easier on the companies doing the producing.

The U.S. now pumps out roughly 12.5 million barrels a day, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The country posted a record trade surplus in petroleum products in September and sent oil to a record number of destinations world-wide earlier this year.

It is a shift with nuanced consequences, but one that underscores how the country’s relationship with oil markets has changed. U.S. oil has added to a glut that has held down crude prices in recent years. That has reduced fuel costs for manufacturers and motorists and boosted the economy during the long expansion. Yet swings in oil prices also have consequences to jobs and growth across the country.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters – November 11, 2019

Oil drops more than 1% on concern over U.S.-China trade war

Oil prices fell more than 1% on Monday amid concerns over the prospects of a trade deal between the United States and China, while worries about oversupply also weighed on the market.

Brent crude was down 69 cents, or 1.1%, at $61.82 by 0730 GMT. The contract rose 1.3% last week.

U.S. crude was 63 cents, or 1.1%, lower at $56.61 a barrel, having risen 1.9% last week.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday that trade talks with China were moving along “very nicely,” but the United States would only make a deal with Beijing if it was the right one for America.

 

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – November 9, 2019

Rig count down to lowest level since March 2017

The rig count continues to slump as oilfield activity continues to contract.

Baker Hughes reported Friday the nation’s rig count dropped five rigs to 817 rigs, its lowest level since March 2017. …

The Permian continued to dominate activity but posted a loss of four rigs, bringing its rig count to 412. In the three Railroad Commission districts covering the Permian Basin, District 8 dipped three rigs to 266, District 7C added three rigs for 28 rigs and District 8A was unchanged at 12 rigs.

Related: Midland, Martin counties combine for more than 21.326M barrels of oil in August

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 8, 2019

Texas had the fastest GDP growth in the second quarter: BEA

Texas had the fastest growth in economic activity in the second quarter of the year, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Texas’ gross domestic product, a measure of all the goods and services produced in the economy, grew at a rate of 4.7 percent in the second quarter, according to the data.

The Mining sector was the leading contributor to increasing GDP in Texas, Wyoming, Alaska and New Mexico — the fastest-growing states, and major oil and gas producing states.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 8, 2019

Texas economy slows pace of growth: Dallas Fed

The Texas economy is still expanding, but at a slower pace in recent months, according to analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

While the labor market remains tight, with employers across the state still reporting they are struggling to find workers and unemployment sitting at an all-time low at 3.4 percent, economic activity in the energy sector has slowed, and the labor market is showing some initial signs of cooling with initial unemployment claims ticking up slightly in early October.

A leading factor in the state’s slowing growth is the lackluster energy sector.

 

 

San Antonio Express News* – November 10, 2019

Oil company seeks to keep records closed in Alaska buyout

Some Alaskans are calling for greater financial transparency from Hilcorp, the company seeking to buy BP’s North Slope assets.

The Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday that Hilcorp asked the Regulatory Commission of Alaska to allow recent years of financial records to remain confidential.

BP has announced plans to sell its Alaska assets including the Prudhoe Bay oil field to Hilcorp for $5.6 billion.

 

 

Reuters/Nasdaq – November 8, 2019

Failed Exxon talks left Petrobras stranded for auctions -sources

As the weeks ticked down to Brazil’s biggest-ever oil auction, state-run Petrobras held increasingly frantic talks to find potential partners, with the heaviest blow coming when major Exxon Mobil Corp XOM.N pulled out days before, according to six people familiar with the matter.

While many firms were far from ready to take on enormous signing fees and investments, Exxon came closest but ultimately failed to reach acceptable terms for the blockbuster bidding round, according to four of the sources, who requested anonymity to discuss confidential negotiations.

With that, the state firm formally known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA PETR4.SA was left to anchor an embarrassingly empty bidding round on Wednesday with token support from Chinese firms.

 

 

Dallas Morning News* – November 10, 2019

The canary and Caterpillar: What 120 Texas layoffs tell us about China tariffs

Just over a week ago, Caterpillar laid off 120 workers at its plant in Victoria. That concerned us, not just because those are 120 Texans suddenly unemployed, but also because Caterpillar is one of those companies that jumps off the news page. It’s a bellwether. Because the company makes equipment used in construction, its success often forecasts growth. As goes Caterpillar, so goes the economy.

But this news also stands out because of the reason for the layoffs. A company spokesperson blamed “market conditions” and said that trade tensions with China have made customers wary of committing to large capital expenditures. Caterpillar’s Asia-Pacific sales fell 13% in the latest quarter. In other words, the Trump administration’s continuing trade war is having continuing casualties in Texas.

We’ve chronicled in previous editorials how trade tariffs have cost Texas farmers. Now, Texas industrial workers are taking their place in that line.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 8, 2019

Tellurian to watch spending as commercial talks run later than expected

Tellurian is reviewing its spending as commercial talks to secure sufficient equity agreements to finance its Driftwood LNG export project stretch into 2020, slightly later than previous estimates, CEO Meg Gentle said in an internal podcast posted on the company’s website Friday.

The developer burned through cash, on an adjusted basis, at a rate of approximately $12 million a month in the third quarter, and some analysts have raised questions about its liquidity as it heads into a critical period for wrapping up commercial deals tied to the Louisiana project. Bank financing depends in part on the success of those efforts.

Seeking to reassure investors, Gentle said she is “comfortable” with Tellurian’s current liquidity position. She acknowledged the questions from the market.

 

 

Yahoo! News – November 8, 2019

The Most Important Data Point In U.S. Oil Markets

For rigs, the count is clear, and so are the implications.

Is the Falling Rig Count in Texas a Sign of Things to Come?

At the beginning of 2019, Texas single-handedly accounted for 534 of the 1,075 oil and gas rigs operating in the United States, housing nearly 50% of all active oil and gas rigs in the US. The three states that had the largest number of active rigs – Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas – together held nearly three quarters of all active rigs at 72.5%.

But things have shifted since the start of the year. Texas’ absolute rig count has dipped from 534 to 416. Still, it fared better than many other states, and its share of all active rigs in the United States has increased.

The Lonestar state now holds more than 50% of all active rigs in the United States.

 

 

Kallanish Energy* – November 8, 2019

Energy Transfer reports strong Q3 results

Energy Transfer (ET) reported third-quarter 2019 net income of $832 million, or 32 cents per share, Kallanish Energy reports, which compares to Q3 2018 net income of $371 million, or 32 cents per share.

Revenue in Q3 2019 was $13.5 billion, down from $14.5 billion one year ago.

The change was due largely to higher operating income and the impact of the company’s 2018 simplification merger between ET and Energy Transfer Operating, it said.

In Q3, the company benefitted from its natural gas liquids and refined products segment, which grew 34% from a year ago. That segment saw growth from the completion of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline in Pennsylvania for natural gas liquids and for exports.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 8, 2019

EnLink Midstream: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

EnLink Midstream LLC (ENLC) on Thursday reported third-quarter net income of $11.8 million.

On a per-share basis, the Dallas-based company said it had profit of 2 cents.

The results fell short of Wall Street expectations. …

The natural gas company posted revenue of $1.41 billion in the period, which also missed Street forecasts.

 

 

Dallas Observer – November 7, 2019

Stephen Young: Rick Perry Has Become the Forrest Gump of the Trump Impeachment Affair, Somehow

In a different world, or maybe just a different time, Rick Perry, the ex-governor of Texas and soon-to-be ex-secretary of energy, would still be in the news this week. He would have testified Wednesday, as he was asked to do by House investigators, about his role in conducting President Donald Trump’s foreign policy in Ukraine, a subject that’s at the center of the U.S. House’s impeachment inquiry into the president.

In the world we’re stuck in, however, Perry refused to show up — in a statement, Department of Energy spokeswoman Shaylyn Hines called the impeachment process a “secret star chamber inquisition” — and the world’s been left to wonder and connect the dots about the Texas A&M graduate’s ubiquity in the impeachment information that’s been released this week.

 

 

New York Times* – November 8, 2019

Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York and a billionaire, is likely to enter the Democratic presidential primary. Here’s a look at where he stands on some of the major issues in the race.

Climate Change — Mr. Bloomberg has also been outspoken, with his voice and money alike, on climate change.

In January, he promised to introduce what he considered to be an “achievable” version of the Green New Deal, praising the concept of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s version but calling it “pie in the sky.” His version ended up being a project called Beyond Carbon, which aims to eliminate coal-fired power plants by 2030, stop the growth of natural gas and transition the United States to renewable energy sources.

The project — to which Mr. Bloomberg has pledged $500 million — follows the same model as the Beyond Coal campaign that he and the Sierra Club started in 2011, which he says contributed to the closing of more than half of the country’s coal-fired power plants.

In an op-ed announcing Beyond Carbon, Mr. Bloomberg essentially argued that the solution to climate change might not come through government action. The Green New Deal “stands no chance of passage in the Senate over the next two years,” he wrote, “but Mother Nature does not wait on our political calendar, and neither can we.”

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 9, 2019

Texas economy still rises and falls with oil

How important is the energy industry to the Texas economy? The answer is still, “Very.”

Two reports, one looking back to the spring, the other gauging the latest conditions, illustrate that starkly.

The Commerce Department reported this week that Texas led the nation in economic activity in the second quarter, expanding at a 4.7 percent annual rate, more than double the national pace of 2 percent. The state’s growth was driven by the mining sector — which in Texas is dominated by the oil and gas industry, particularly record levels of oil production and energy exports.

 

 

Fox News – November 10, 2019

Iran’s president: New oil field found with over 50 billion barrels

Iran has discovered a new oil field in the country’s south with over 50 billion barrels of crude, its president said Sunday, a find that could boost the country’s proven reserves by a third as it struggles to sell energy abroad over U.S. sanctions.

The announcement by Hassan Rouhani comes as Iran faces crushing American sanctions after the U.S. pulled out of its nuclear deal with world powers last year.

 

Utilities

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 8, 2019

PG&E Bankruptcy Protections Could Mean Less Money for Wildfire Victims

As many as 100,000 California residents who lost property, jobs and loved ones in fires linked to PG&E Corp. will get their day in court. It will be in bankruptcy court, where rules shield the utility giant from potentially crippling jury payouts.

PG&E isn’t broke. It is following the survival strategy used by other troubled companies to put a lid on damage claims. For victims, that amounts to a loss of negotiating power and likely means a fraction of the compensation they might receive in a jury trial.

California investigators have connected PG&E equipment to fires that killed more than 100 people, destroyed 26,000 buildings and burned at least 330,000 acres in 2017 and 2018. Lawyers for fire victims estimate that the utility, which filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, is liable for as much as $54 billion in wildfire claims.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 8, 2019

Don’t Hold Your Breath Waiting for Oil Companies to Turn Green

At first glance, Saudi Aramco’s plans for an enormous December IPO might well suggest the future of Big Oil is robust. Aramco earns more than Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. combined; its market value is expected in the $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion range.

But not everyone can throw off cash like a Saudi Aramco, which can get oil out of the ground more cheaply than just about any big oil company. Most of the world’s big oil companies face real challenges trying to convince investors that oil isn’t in danger of becoming the next coal, even if such concerns may be wildly premature.

Oil majors like ExxonMobil Corp. XOM -1.90% represent a shrinking share of the S&P 500’s value. Naysayers look at electric cars and anti-carbon legislation and predict oil’s best days are behind it.

Many oil executives say they’ve heard their critics, and one way to respond is to fund a greener world.

 

 

Bioenergy Insight – November 8, 2019

Britain: Biogas is a ‘viable, renewable’ alternative to shale gas, says ADBA

The Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA) is urging the UK Government to consider biogas as a viable alternative to shale gas following the ‘indefinite suspension’ of fracking across England, Scotland and Wales.

Fracking – the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into the ground to open fissures and extract shale gas – was suspended by the following a report by the Oil and Gas Authority into the seismic impact of the technology. ADBA has released a statement urging the UK Government to consider biogas as an alternative to meet the UK’s energy needs while working towards its net zero emissions targets by 2050. The association believes that by displacing fossil fuels and artificial fertilisers from heat, transport and farming sectors, and preventing methane emissions created by untreated organic waste, the UK anaerobic digestion (AD) and biogas sector already reduces UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 1%.

 

Regulatory

 

MarketWatch – November 8, 2019

Cornyn touts energy bills as he ramps up re-election bid

Sen. John Cornyn is seeking to ramp up U.S. oil exports and energy innovation, amplifying his message to voters as Democrats aim to unseat him in 2020.

Speaking Thursday in Washington, the Texan touted a pair of bills he’s sponsoring, in the wake of Democrats’ attacking him after Tuesday’s elections — calling him the next “Trump Republican” in line for defeat.

Cornyn discussed the Launching Energy Advancement and Development through Innovations for Natural Gas Act, which has bipartisan support. The bill would require the Department of Energy to develop carbon capture technology for natural gas production.

The senator is also sponsoring what’s known as the ESCAPE Act, which is aimed at reducing European Union members’ dependence on Russian energy resources by exporting more oil CLZ19, -0.91% from the U.S.

 

 

November 4, 2019

Houston Chronicle: Automakers siding with Trump against California’s emissions rules are selling customers out

When it comes to cars, we all know the slogans. How could we not? After all, companies spend millions each year reminding us that Toyota wants us to “go places.” Or that Chevy “runs deep.” And love? Why, that’s “what makes a Subaru a Subaru.”

After last week, though, those automakers may want to try out a new slogan: selling out your future.

It’s not as catchy, perhaps, but after throwing their support behind the Trump administration’s efforts to rollback emissions standards, it’s become depressingly descriptive.

And it’s not just Toyota, GM and Subaru. Fiat Chrysler, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, Isuzu, Maserati and Ferrari are all siding with the federal government in its legal fight against California over the state setting its own fuel economy standards — allowed via legal waiver through the Clean Air Act of 1970.

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – November 8, 2019

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Lead Stories

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 7, 2019

New York Attorney General Drops Part of Exxon Case

Note: The Massachusetts AG has also sued ExxonMobil — if the judge in the New York case drops the two charges as requested by the NY AG, they could be incorporated into the Massachusetts case for further litigation

The New York attorney general’s office Thursday dropped part of its securities-fraud case against Exxon Mobil Corp. on the final day of a rare climate-change-related trial that has pushed the oil giant’s accounting practices into public view.

Attorney general’s office lawyers withdrew two fraud counts at the end of a nearly three-week trial examining Exxon’s public and private estimates of potential climate-change regulations on its future business. But the attorney general’s office proceeded with two counts that require the elements of the Martin Act, a New York state antifraud law with a lower bar of proof: that Exxon made misrepresentations to investors and that those deceptions mattered.

The attorney general’s office pulled back the civil fraud counts during closing arguments of a trial that has been closely watched for its implications for the largest American oil company and the energy industry in general. …

In court Thursday, [Theodore] Wells, who represents Exxon, asked the judge not to drop the fraud counts, saying the company had a right to receive a ruling on those claims. The claims had damaged the reputation of the company and its executives, he said.

“That leaves a cloud over the reputation of the people,” he said. “Because of this case, and it’s all connected, we have got copycat cases tracking this case word-for-word in private federal-securities cases, books and record cases,” Mr. Wells said.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 6, 2019

Houston FBI leads new efforts to protect energy companies from cyber attacks

The Houston FBI hosted a classified meeting on Wednesday afternoon to help energy companies to protect themselves from the growing threat of cyber attacks.

Nearly 60 people from energy companies and federal agencies attended the meeting, which included a classified security briefing and panel discussion that focused on protecting pipelines, power lines, refineries and other facilities from espionage, hackers and overseas-led cyber attacks. …

Deron Ogletree, assistant special assistant in charge of the FBI’s Houston field office, said part of those prevention efforts involve sharing intelligence and classified information with companies. The agency, he said, is concerned about cyber attacks led by a “laundry list of actors” that includes hacktivists, environmentalists and hostile foreign governments.

 

 

Oil Price – November 6, 2019

Nick Cunningham: The Drilling Frenzy Is Over For U.S. Shale

A few high-profile shale executives say the glory days of shale drilling are over.

In a round of earnings calls, the financial results were mixed. A few companies beat earnings estimates, while others fell dramatically short.

But aside from the individual performances, there were some more newsworthy comments from executives on the state of the industry. A common theme emerged from several notable shale executives: the growth frenzy is coming to an end.

The chief executive of Pioneer Natural Resources, Scott Sheffield, said that the Permian basin is “going to slow down significantly over the next several years,” and he noted on the company’s latest earnings call that the company is also acting with more restraint because of pressure from shareholders not to pursue unprofitable growth. “I’ve lowered my targets and my annual targets, a lot of it has to do with…to start with the free cash flow model that public independents are adopting,” Sheffield said.

 

 

Reuters – November 7, 2019

Equinor sells its assets at U.S. Eagle Ford to Repsol for $325 million

Norway’s Equinor agreed to sell its shale assets at the Eagle Ford shale formation in southwest Texas to Repsol for $325 million, the Norwegian oil and gas firm said on Thursday.

The company holds 69,000 acres net (27,923 hectares) in the formation via a joint venture with Spanish Repsol, and its equity production from the Eagle Ford averaged 43,000 barrels of oil equivalents per day (boepd) or 2% of its total global output in 2018.

In addition, Equinor holds stakes in some midstream assets in the area.

 

 

MENAFN/Gulf Times – November 7, 2019

Opec sees its market share shrinking for many years

Opec slashed estimates for the amount of oil it will need to pump in coming years, projecting that its share of world markets will shrink until the middle of the next decade amid a flood of US shale supplies.

The producer group expects that demand for its oil will slide by about 7% over the next four years, slumping to an average of 32.7mn barrels a day in 2023, according to its annual report.

That could compel the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners who have already curbed output this year to prevent a glut to reduce supplies even further, or at least compete more fiercely among themselves for a diminishing portion of global markets.

The organisation cut forecasts for demand for its oil each year from 2019 through 2023 by an average of about 5mn barrels a day, or roughly 16%, though the numbers have been affected by membership changes.

 

 

Reuters – November 6, 2019

Climate risks, opportunities, to be major markets factor in 2020

Climate change will impact assets stretching from U.S. municipal bonds to renewable energy stocks in India, adding another layer of volatility to global financial markets in 2020, according to speakers at the Reuters Global Investment Outlook 2020 Summit in New York this week.

The increasing emphasis on incorporating climate change when analyzing the relative attractiveness of an investment comes at a time when Wall Street companies are discussing the potential risks they face from increasingly powerful and volatile weather patterns at a rate more than double that of last year, according to a Reuters analysis of Refinitiv data.

“Weather patterns are having a direct impact on businesses and leading to massive uncertainty over the short-term and long run,” said Dan Ivascyn, chief investment officer at bond giant Pimco.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – November 8, 2019

Oil slips on uncertainty over US-China trade deal, surging inventories

Crude oil futures fell on Friday amid lingering uncertainty on whether, and when, the United States and China will agree a long-awaited deal to end their bitter trade dispute, the gloom compounded by rising crude inventories in the United States.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, was down 16 cents, or 0.3%, at $62.13 a barrel by 0259 GMT, after gaining 0.9% in the previous session.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 23 cents, or 0.4%, at $56.92 a barrel. The contract rose 1.4% on Thursday.

The trade war between the world’s two biggest economies has slowed economic growth around the world and prompted analysts to lower forecasts for oil demand, raising concerns that a supply glut could develop in 2020.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 7, 2019

As LNG booms, some fear bubble

From Russia to Qatar, Mozambique to Canada, the oil and gas industry has enough projects in the works to almost double global LNG production by 2030, with much of that growth focused along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. As analysts crunch the numbers, some do not believe the demand is there to support them all.

“There’s a fairly significant divide about the degree people might be overbuilding,” said Jason Feer, the Houston-based global head of business intelligence at Poten & Partners, a shipping advisory firm. “My take is some people are wildly optimistic about demand. We found this wide range of forecasts, some of them physically impossible.” …

Already,there are signs that Asia’s appetite for LNG might not be as reliable as developers would hope.

Global LNG imports this summer were up 11 percent from last year, but almost two thirds of that additional gas went into storage in Europe and not Asian markets, said Mike Fulwood, a senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies in the United Kingdom.

 

 

Victoria Advocate* – November 7, 2019

DeWitt County residents remain evacuated after oil well blowout

Residents were still not able to return to their homes and property in DeWitt County on Thursday, almost a week after a blowout occurred at one of Devon Energy’s oil wells near Yorktown.

The company is providing lodging and meals to those who had to be evacuated because they live within a two-mile radius of the well located near Farm-to-Market Road 952 and Cotton Patch Road, said Tim Hartley, a spokesman for Devon.

The evacuation zone totals about 8,000 acres.

An estimated 12,000 pounds of natural gas will be released during the incident, according to the initial report Devon filed with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. After the event ends, the company will have two weeks to submit a final report to the agency.

 

 

KIII (Corpus Christi) – November 7, 2019

1,500 gallons of oil spills in La Quinta Ship Channel

The Coast Guard is working with the Texas General Land Office to clean up an oil spill in the La Quinta Ship Channel near the Port of Corpus Christi.

According to the Coast Guard, 1,500 gallons of hydraulic oil from a dredge vessel spilled into the ship channel Wednesday.

A ruptured hose on the vessel caused the oil spill.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 7, 2019

More Data Than Oil: Bandwidth poised to become next bottleneck in the Permian Basin

As the oil and gas industry becomes increasingly dependent on digital tools and automation, hundreds of companies are operating in remote areas where cell phone service and internet connectivity can be as sparse as the desert landscape surrounding them.

Cell phone carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon provide service along major highways and plan to extend their their reach into the Permian’s expanse across West Texas and southeastern New Mexico, but energy companies say it’s not enough. Seeking to unlock the oil fields full potential and lower production costs through automation, oil and gas producers desperately want greater bandwidth, more broadband options and ultra-fast 5G wireless service that telecommunications companies are beginning to roll out — an endeavor that could cost billions of dollars.

“I can tell that we’re pushing major wireless carriers to see what options exist to essentially light up the Permian, but it’s a tough business case for them,” said Nick Pezirtzoglou, network assets manager for the California oil major Chevron. “It would take a consortium of oil and gas companies all working together to ensure that there would be enough demand to merit the construction that would be required.”

 

 

Dallas Morning News* – November 7, 2019

Recession is unlikely in 2020, but Texas faces other economic risks, Dallas Fed president says

Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Rob Kaplan said Thursday that he doesn’t expect a recession in 2020, but he warned of other threats that could slow Texas’ economy.

Texas’ strong population growth has allowed it flourish, but Kaplan said the state’s formula of using low taxes and limited regulation to attract companies and residents may not be enough in the future. He said Texas must invest in its existing residents, especially the at-risk ones, with education, expanded health care access and similar efforts to build up its workforce and sustain its economic momentum.

Kaplan said the Dallas Fed anticipates a slightly slower growth rate in 2020. He said he believes the risk of recession in 2020 is “relatively low” because consumers are strong and consumer spending drives about 70% of the U.S. economy.

 

 

Reuters – November 7, 2019

Moda Midstream enhances energy center in Texas to allow docking of large vessels

U.S. oil export terminal operator Moda Midstream LLC said on Thursday it has begun to enhance its Moda Ingleside Energy Center (MIEC) in Ingleside, Texas, to allow the docking of larger-sized vessels.

Moda has begun structural enhancements and dredging to Berth 5 and improvements to Berth 4, which will allow for the docking of Suezmax class vessels and Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), respectively, the company said in a statement.

The company said it was evaluating construction of an additional pipeline called the Moda Ingleside Express Pipeline, which would be bi-directional and run between MIEC and Moda Taft Terminal, located in Taft, Texas.

 

 

Reuters – November 7, 2019

Energy Transfer expects supertanker facility to be in service by early 2023

Energy Transfer LP said on Thursday discussions with potential shippers to build an offshore crude export facility in Texas capable of handling supertankers were progressing on schedule, with the project expected to be in service by late 2022 or early 2023.

The company has also made advances on the regulatory and permitting process for the project, Marshall McCrea, Energy Transfer’s chief commercial officer, said on the company’s quarterly earnings call.

Plans call for the facility to be connected to Energy Transfer’s Nederland, Texas, crude terminal, though a final investment decision has not yet been made, Chief Financial Officer Thomas Long said.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 7, 2019

Targa Resources seeks to sell crude assets in Permian Basin amid third quarter loss

Houston pipeline operator Targa Resources is seeking to sell its crude oil gathering assets in the Permian Basin of West Texas following a $78.6 million loss during the third quarter.

In a Thursday morning statement, Targa reported a $78.6 million loss on $1.9 billion of revenue during the third quarter. The figures were down compared to the $34 million loss on $3 billion of revenue during the third quarter of 2018.

Targa executives attributed the year-over-year decline to lower commodity prices. In response, the company has retained New York investment bank Jefferies to sell its crude oil gathering pipeline network in the Permian Basin of West Texas.

 

 

Pipelines International – November 7, 2019

Major expansion for Agua Blanca System

Joint venture (JV) partners have reached a final investment decision to proceed with the expansion of the Deleware Basin Agua Blanca Pipeline System.

The Agua Blanca JV partners, WhiteWater Midstream and MPLX with lead investor First Infrastructure Capital, will double the system’s capacity to over 8.4 million m3/d with a 42 inch (1,067 mm) diameter trunkline.

The system currently comprises 145 km of 36 inch (915 mm) diameter pipeline and 112.7 km of smaller diameter pipelines with a system capacity of 3.9 million m3/d.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 7, 2019

Tellurian grows revenue from Haynesville Shale wells

Houston liquefied natural gas company Tellurian is still waiting to build its proposed export terminal in Louisiana but is already growing revenue from its natural gas wells in the Haynesville Shale.

In a Wednesday afternoon filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Tellurian reported a $39.6 million loss on $9.3 million of revenue during the third quarter. The figures are mixed compared to the $33.2 million loss on $800,000 of revenue during the third quarter of 2018.

The third quarter results translated into a loss per share of 18 cents, a drop from the loss per share of 15 cents during the same time period last year.

 

 

Reuters – November 7, 2019

Keystone oil pipeline expected to be partially restarted early next week: sources

TC Energy Corp estimates the Keystone oil pipeline can be partially restarted anytime from Sunday to Tuesday, pending regulatory approval, after a more than 9,000-barrel leak in rural North Dakota, shippers on the line said on Thursday.

Crews in Walsh County, North Dakota, have been working to clean up the spill from the Keystone pipeline, which forced the line to be shut last week.

The 590,000-barrel-per-day Keystone system is an important artery for Canadian heavy crude, imported by U.S. refiners, particularly in the Midwest.

 

 

World Pipelines – November 7, 2019

Update: EIA reports on new natural gas pipelines in the US

The US is expected to add between 16 billion ft3/d and 17 billion ft3/d of natural gas pipeline capacity in 2019, most of which was built to provide additional takeaway capacity out of supply basins. Of the 134 active natural gas pipeline projects the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) tracks, 46 have entered or are expected to enter service in 2019. These projects will increase deliveries by pipeline to Mexico or to liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facilities in the Gulf Coast region.

More than 40% of this new pipeline capacity – 7.2 billion ft3/d – delivers natural gas to locations within the South Central region. Many of these pipeline projects will provide additional takeaway capacity out of the Permian Basin in western Texas or enable additional Permian natural gas production to reach the interstate pipeline system.

 

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – November 7, 2019

Analysts say maturing industry brings new management requirements

The energy industry representatives heading into Hart Energy’s Executive Oil Conference at the Horseshoe this week represent a changed industry. …

Several issues facing the industry, particularly takeaway capacity, are being addressed. But Kendrick Rhea, research equity analyst with East Daley Capital Advisors, said the new pipeline takeaway capacity coming into service through 2021 will exceed Permian Basin production growth over the next four years.

“New pipelines are offering discounts for acreage dedications or equity options,” he said. “Legacy takeaway pipelines will need to significantly discount committed rates (and) midstream companies will need to offer discounted spot tariffs” to fill the new lines.

He said the pipelines under construction will shift export growth from the Port of Houston to the Port of Corpus Christi, at least through the second half of 2020, when pipelines backed by ExxonMobil and Chevron will shift export growth back to Houston.

 

 

Dallas Morning News* – November 6, 2019

Diplomat’s testimony shows Rick Perry involved at key junctures of Trump’s Ukraine saga

Newly released testimony from the U.S. ambassador to the European Union provides further evidence that Energy Secretary Rick Perry played a central role in the Ukrainian saga that’s resulted in an impeachment probe against President Donald Trump.

But Gordon Sondland’s deposition, released on Tuesday, also leaves unanswered many questions about what exactly the former Texas governor knew – and when.

That tension was overshadowed by other major revelations in the 379-page document, such as revised testimony from Sondland that he told Ukrainian officials that U.S. military aid was contingent on them pursuing probes into one of Trump’s political rivals.

Any clues about Perry could still prove significant, though, particularly since he refused to testify before impeachment investigators or comply with a congressional subpoena for documents.

 

 

Reuters/NASDAQ – November 7, 2019

Big oil stuns Brazil in back-to-back auction flops

Major global oil firms snubbed a second Brazilian oil auction in a row on Thursday, passing up offshore blocks and forcing officials to reconsider a bidding system that gives a privileged position to state-run Petroleo Brasileiro SA PETR4.SA.

The only block awarded in Thursday’s bidding went to Petrobras, as the Brazilian state-run firm is known, and Chinese state firm CNODC, a unit of China National Petroleum Corp, which offered the minimum bid. Four other blocks received no bids.

The result, following a lack of foreign interest in an even bigger Wednesday round, was a wake-up call to those who expected this week to crown Brazil as uncontested champion of the Latin American oil industry.

 

Utilities

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 7, 2019

CenterPoint reports growing profits from hot Texas summer

Houston utility CenterPoint Energy reported quarterly profits of $241 million that jumped nearly 60 percent from last year thanks to warmer summer weather driving more electricity usage, reduced maintenance costs and higher customer rates.

CenterPoint now has electric and natural gas businesses in eight states, but the vast majority of its earnings still come from its core position as the regulated transmission utility for most of the Greater Houston area.

“Our utilities delivered another strong performance this quarter, driven by solid customer growth, disciplined cost management and favorable weather,” said Chief Executive Scott Prochazka.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 7, 2019

Higher summer power prices in Texas boost NRG third quarter results

The Houston and Princeton, N.J based power company reported a net income of $372 million in the third quarter on revenues of nearly $3 billion, company announced Thursday, a marked recovery from the same quarter last year, when the company reported a loss of $72 million.

Strong financial results were driven in part by high temperatures in Texas through August and September, which led to record demand for electricity and price spikes, executives said. The company’s power generation business captured higher prices for power as triple-digit temperatures strained capacity and triggered price adders that were approved by Texas regulators earlier this year.

 

 

Rockland County Times (NY) – November 6, 2019

Terry Jarrett: How Safe is the U.S. Power Grid?

At any one time, the United States uses more than 400,000 megawatts of electricity. That’s a lot of power, and it takes a lot of non-stop work to keep it flowing. But how safe is America’s power grid from cyber attacks and other disruptions?

Cyber intrusions are no longer a theoretical possibility. In March, hackers succeeded in breaching a utility that serves portions of California, Utah, and Wyoming. The attack lasted 10 hours and disabled control systems for more than 500 megawatts of wind and solar power—enough generating capacity for several hundred thousand homes.

Fortunately, grid operators were able to maintain service throughout the attack. But a full-scale blackout isn’t an impossibility. In 2015, Russian hackers succeeded in knocking out electricity to several hundred thousand homes in Ukraine. Months after the attack, utility operators were still struggling to address the after-effects.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

The Hill – November 7, 2019

Tom Kiernan, American Wind Energy Association:This wind energy milestone powers opportunity across America

Thanks to the ingenuity and hard work of the more than 114,000 Americans directly employed the wind industry, U.S. wind energy just hit a significant milestone: 100 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity. That’s enough wind power to meet the electricity needs of 32 million homes. This success story is decades in the making, and it has created well-paying jobs, new opportunities across rural America, and affordable, reliable, clean electricity.

American wind power was born in the California desert in the 1980s. Over the ensuing years, innovators and pioneers reduced costs, improved reliability and turned wind power into a mainstream energy source. This work paid off– while it took 28 years to build the first 25 GW of wind power, we’ve only needed 11 years to build the next 75. Wind now generates enough electricity to meet the demands of California (the world’s fourth largest economy) and New Jersey combined. And the pipeline of new wind projects in the works stands bigger than ever at 46.5 GW.

Regulatory

 

WXIA (Atlanta) – November 7, 2019

EPA announces new effort to reduce ethylene oxide emissions nationwide

The country’s Environmental Protection Agency is taking steps to reduce the emissions of a carcinogenic gas across the country.

The EPA announced a plan to lower ethylene oxide emissions by 93 percent. The toxic gas – one of 187 hazardous air pollutants regulated by the EPA – is used to make a range of products, but is primarily used to sterilize medical equipment. It is also known to cause higher instances of cancer. …

“EPA has evaluated the risks posed by air toxics from this source category and has determined cancer risks for this source category to be unacceptable,” it said in the release.

The EPA said it would propose additional requirements for process vents, storage tanks and equipment. The plan would also include updates to requirements for flares, heat exchange systems, and equipment leaks.

 

 

City Journal – October 30, 2019

Joel Kotkin: Climate Stalinism

The Left’s fixation on climate change is cloaked in scientism, deploying computer models to create the illusion of certainty. Ever more convinced of their role as planetary saviors, radical greens are increasingly intolerant of dissent or any questioning of their policy agenda. They embrace a sort of “soft Stalinism,” driven by a determination to remake society, whether people want it or not—and their draconian views are penetrating the mainstream. “Democracy,” a writer for Foreign Policy suggests, constitutes “the planet’s biggest enemy.”

Today’s working and middle classes are skeptical about policies that undermine their livelihoods in the promise of distant policy goals. Even now, after a decade-long barrage of fear-mongering, a majority of Americans, Australians, and even Europeans doubt that climate change will affect their lives substantially. A recent UN survey of 10 million people found that climate change ranked 16th in concerns; most people in the developing world, notes environmental economist Bjorn Lomborg, “care about their kids not dying from easily curable diseases, getting a decent education, not starving to death.”

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – November 7, 2019

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Lead Stories

 

CNBC – November 6, 2019

One underperforming sector is making a stealthy comeback this month — energy

The worst-performing sector this year is showing signs of life.

Energy stocks have roared higher in the early start to the month with the XLE energy ETF adding nearly 6% in just three sessions. The sector is also the best performer on the S&P 500 in November.

Mark Newton, founder of Newton Advisors, says the rally could just be getting started.

“You’re approaching the time of year when you do tend to see mean reversion to the laggards … so with energy being the worst performer, you could start to see a shift into energy between now and the early part of next year,” Newton said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Trading Nation.”

 

 

Rigzone – November 6, 2019

US Daily Oil Output Growth Could Fall from 440K to Nil: IHS

IHS Markit predicts that growth in U.S. oil production is heading for a “major slowdown,” falling from 440,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2020 to “essentially flattening out” the following year.

In a new outlook for oil market fundamentals for 2019 to 2021, IHS Markit reported Wednesday that shale producers – who have driven rapid growth in domestic output in recent years – are placing more emphasis on capital discipline and shareholder returns amid a weaker price environment.

The 440,000 bpd in annual growth projected for 2020 itself represents a dramatic reduction from last year’s figure.

 

 

Reuters – November 6, 2019

A big oil spill from the Keystone Pipeline in North Dakota last week has hardened opposition to the controversial Keystone XL expansion among landowners along its route, who say they hope to use the incident to help block or stall the project in court.

Operator TC Energy Corp is in the process of securing land easements for Keystone XL from scores of reluctant landowners in Nebraska, one of the final obstacles to a project linking Canada’s oil fields to U.S. refineries that has been delayed for over a decade by environmental opposition.

The roughly 9,120-barrel spill from the existing Keystone line brings the number of significant releases since the system was built a decade ago to four – much higher than the company estimated in its risk assessments before it was approved – raising worries Keystone XL will be just as problematic.

Update: Keystone oil pipeline in North Dakota remains closed, leak source unclear

 

 

El Paso Times* – November 6, 2019

Proposed El Paso Electric sale has problems, consultant for Texas PUC finds

The proposed El Paso Electric sale to a J.P. Morgan Chase-advised investment fund is not in the public interest unless 80 conditions are made a requirement of the sale, a consultant for Texas regulators concluded.

“On balance, the deprivation of operational authority (by EPE’s board of directors and management) and the increased financial risks substantially outweigh the benefits that can be expected to result from the proposed ($4.3 billion) transaction,” John Antonuk, a consultant for the staff of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, concluded in testimony filed with the commission Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Antonuk came up with a list of the sale conditions that he recommended the PUC adopt to make the deal conform to the public interest, which is a requirement for the PUC to approve the sale.

Related: El Paso Electric: 3Q Earnings SnapshotOn a per-share basis, the El Paso, Texas-based company said it had profit of $1.91. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains, came to $1.83 per share. The utility posted revenue of $294.5 million in the period

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – November 7, 2019

Oil market edgy on US crude build, trade deal angst

Oil prices trod water on Thursday after losses in the previous session, as traders were cautious amid concerns over a potential delay in sealing a long-awaited interim U.S.China trade deal and a huge increase of U.S. crude stockpiles.

Brent crude futures were down 3 cents, at $61.71 a barrel by 0348 GMT after settling down $1.22 per barrel, or almost 2% on Wednesday.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures were at $56.29 a barrel, down 2 cents, from their last close. They settled 88 cents lower, or 1.54%, in the previous session.

U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose 7.9 million barrels last week as refiners cut output and exports fell, beating analysts’ expectations for an increase of 1.5 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.

Gasoline and distillate inventories dropped 2.8 million barrels and by 622,000 barrels respectively.

 

 

Reuters – November 6, 2019

As U.S. crude oil goes global, hedging goes local

The booming U.S. oil sector is seeing a surge in hedging by producers against drops in regional crude prices to protect revenues from oil sold out of Midland, Texas, or delivered to terminals in Houston after relying for decades on global benchmarks.

The U.S. oil trading market has developed enough liquidity to support new financial instruments to guard against unexpected shifts in local prices, due to pipeline outages or a sudden drop in exports that can ripple through regional crude markets.

Prior to the end of a four-decade crude export ban, most U.S. crude oil that was not used domestically was sent through Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures (WTI) CLc1.

 

 

E&E News – November 6, 2019

Oil drillers in the Permian Basin are burning off or exhaling more gas than ever before, as production in the country’s oil epicenter expands over land without infrastructure to gather natural gas, analysts at Rystad Energy reported yesterday.

The oil and gas region of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico vented or flared an “all time high” of 750 million cubic feet per day (MMcfd) during the period from July to September, up from less than 100 MMcfd just under a decade ago, according to the energy research firm.

Though the rate of meteoric growth in the United States may be slowing due to an oversupplied market depressing prices, recent Permian activity remains a growth story, according to Rystad.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 6, 2019

Netherlands tops list of importers from Cheniere LNG terminal in Texas

Almost a year after Cheniere Energy began exporting LNG from its terminal near Corpus Christi, Texas, the Netherlands has emerged as the biggest importer from the facility, S&P Global Platts Analytics data shows.

The trend is further evidence of the importance Europe is playing taking US cargoes and helping to rebalance the market amid Washington’s protracted trade war with Beijing. Of the top 10 countries that have imported the most LNG from the Texas facility, five are in Europe. Countries there also have been absorbing a meaningful amount of LNG from Cheniere’s other export facility, at Sabine Pass in Louisiana.

 

 

Houston Business Journal* – November 6, 2019

Bankruptcy court OKs Kinder Morgan’s deal to buy Southcross pipeline network

Houston-based Kinder Morgan Inc. (NYSE: KMI) has been approved as the buyer of a pipeline network owned by Dallas-based Southcross Energy Partners LP.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware approved the sale on Oct. 22, according to a Nov. 6 press release.

Kinder Morgan Tejas Pipeline LLC will buy Southcross Energy’s natural gas pipeline network in Corpus Christi, Texas, for $76 million. That deal is expected to close in November.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 6, 2019

EOG Resources profits fall by nearly 50 percent

EOG Resources reported $615 million in quarterly profits on Wednesday that fell by nearly 50 percent from $1.2 billion a year ago in large part from lower oil and gas prices.

EOG’s revenues dipped by 10 percent down to $4.3 billion. But the Houston oil and gas producer touted rising production volumes that jumped 12 percent from a year ago, reduced well costs and new successes in emerging Permian Basin plays.

EOG Chief Executive Bill Thomas specifically cited the potential in the Wolfcamp M and Third Bone Spring shale plays in West Texas and New Mexico that add 1.6 billion barrels of oil equivalent in potentially recoverable resources.

 

 

The Oklahoman – November 6, 2019

Devon Energy posts strong third-quarter results based on ‘Exceptional execution,’ CEO says

Devon Energy’s efforts to drive down costs and debt and to boost production helped it survive lower commodity prices during the third quarter of 2019, it reported Tuesday.

The company earned a third-quarter 2019 net income of $109 million, or 27 cents per share, on total revenues of about $1.8 billion.

The company had a net income of about $2.5 billion, or $5.17 cents per share, during the same quarter in 2018. However, that quarter was an outlier, given that Devon sold its interest in EnLink Midstream for about $3.1 billion in July 2018.

 

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – November 6, 2019

Diamondback ‘stubs toe’ as latest producer to face drilling woes

Diamondback Energy Inc. said it’s fundamentally changing the way it forecasts future growth after becoming the latest Permian Basin shale producer to hit operational hurdles.

The Midland, Texas-based explorer fell as much as 15% Wednesday after disclosing that its crude output over the third quarter fell more than 2% short of analyst estimates. Diamondback also warned it’ll miss oil-production forecasts next year despite plans to spend about the same amount of money on drilling.

“When you stub your toe like we did in the third quarter, you’ve got to be able to adjust your future forecast to make sure that you can hit those numbers,” Chief Executive Officer Travis Stice said on a conference call Wednesday. The company is better accounting for interference from wells fracked by neighboring producers, Stice said. “These are operational problems, not reservoir problems,” he said.

 

 

Associated Press/Brownsville Herald – November 6, 2019

Marathon Oil: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

The results topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 4 cents per share.

Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO) on Wednesday reported third-quarter net income of $165 million.

The Houston-based company said it had net income of 21 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains, were 14 cents per share.

The energy company posted revenue of $1.35 billion in the period, also surpassing Street forecasts. Seven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $1.26 billion.

 

 

Acadiana Advocate (LA) – November 5, 2019

Tellurian CEO on its $30B LNG bet in Louisiana, need for more pipelines

The top executive leading the largest liquefied natural gas project planned in Louisiana shared her vision for the $30 billion Driftwood LNG export terminal during the Louisiana International Trade week in Baton Rouge.

Meg Gentle, the CEO of Houston-based Tellurian Inc., described how Louisiana and her company fits into the global LNG export market.

Driftwood LNG expects to construct a 96-mile pipeline carrying 4 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas down from the major pipeline hubs at Gillis and Eunice northeast of the project to the proposed gas liquefaction and export facilities on the west bank of the Calcasieu River, south of Lake Charles. Tellurian inked a deal several years ago with Rockcliff Energy Operating LLC to purchase natural gas producing assets. The company has more than 10,000 acres and 20 wells in the Haynesville Shale play. Tellurian will also draw on natural gas supply from a new 625-mile pipeline from the Permian Basin in west Texas for its Louisiana LNG terminal.

 

 

November 1, 2019

Houston Chronicle: As energy secretary, Rick Perry failed to lead on energy innovation

It’s vitally important to uncover the truth as Congress considers impeaching the president for using his office to damage a political opponent. Perry denying involvement in any such plot and testimony before the House Intelligence Committee thus far suggests if he played a role, it was limited.

Conversely, it’s clear that promoting fossil fuels, especially coal, took up far more time than it should have for someone whose job also includes developing energy alternatives that can limit carbon emissions and help slow the pace of global warming.

Perry’s affection for oil and gas was exactly what Trump wanted from the former governor of Texas. After all, some of the president’s biggest campaign donors make their living in that sector.

Nevertheless, it was discouraging to see Perry erase steps the Energy Department took during the Obama administration to promote renewable resources. Obama’s second-term energy secretary, MIT physicist Ernest Muniz, spearheaded big efforts to encourage technological innovation aimed at making energy production cleaner. By contrast, Perry even rolled back federal rules requiring more energy efficient light bulbs.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 6, 2019

Firm Hired by Ukraine’s Burisma Tried to Use Hunter Biden as Leverage, Documents Show

A consulting firm hired by Burisma Group mentioned that former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s son served on the Ukrainian gas company’s board so the firm could leverage a meeting with the State Department, according to documents and a former U.S. official.

The documents—email exchanges between State Department staff members made public this week—show that the consulting firm, Washington-based Blue Star Strategies, used Hunter Biden’s name in a request for a State Department meeting and then mentioned him again during the meeting as part of an effort to improve Burisma’s image in Washington.

Mr. Biden was appointed to the Burisma board in 2014, when the company and its owner faced allegations of corruption, and he remained there until April of this year. …

Blue Star’s efforts for Burisma came as the company and its Ukrainian tycoon founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, faced investigations in Ukraine focused on allegations of tax irregularities, money laundering and illegal enrichment

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 6, 2019

Oil Majors Skip Brazil’s Offshore Oil Field Auction

Brazil threw an oil party on Wednesday. Few bothered to turn up.

The country held an auction for some of its richest offshore oil areas, expecting the world’s leading firms to bid on what was touted as one of the biggest auctions in industry history. Instead, only two Chinese oil firms and Brazil’s own state-controlled firm, Petróleo Brasileiro SA, PBR -2.51% placed bids.

Two of the four blocks weren’t sold, as Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP PLC, Total SA and others steered clear.

“Total disaster is the best way to describe this morning’s round,” said Ruaraidh Montgomery, research director at Welligence Energy Analytics in Houston. “Not one major participating is a glaring failure.”

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 6, 2019

Chinese tariffs may stymie US oil export growth: economists

The ongoing trade dispute with China could significantly hinder US crude oil export growth, as US producers lose access to a top demand market, participants at a US Association for Energy Economics conference said this week.

“China’s the big growth in demand,” said Horace Hobbs, Phillips 66’s chief economist, during a panel Tuesday. “The whole focus of US exports will eventually somehow have to get back to China.”

In September, China imposed a 5% tariff on $75 billion worth of US goods, including US crude oil. That tariff roughly translates to a cost of about $3/b, likely eliminating potential margins for Chinese refiners, Hobbs said.

 

Utilities

 

Daily Energy Insider – November 6, 2019

Electricity customer choice program participation examined

A recent survey of electric utilities conducted by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) has determined after more than 10 years of continuous growth, electricity sales by non-utility retail power marketers have grown only slightly since 2013.

The findings showed 19 states and the District of Columbia allow some commercial and industrial customers to choose competitive retail power marketers while 15 of those states and the District of Columbia allow customers in all sectors to select competitive retail power marketers.

Industry personnel said customer choice programs use competition to lower electricity prices and introduce new electric service products to the market, offering prepaid plans enabling customers to budget electricity expenditures or offer variable priced contracts for large commercial and industrial customers.

 

 

Associated Press/Yahoo! News – November 6, 2019

Spark Energy: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

Spark Energy Inc. (SPKE) on Tuesday reported third-quarter profit of $15.5 million.

The Houston-based company said it had net income of 93 cents per share.

The electricity and natural gas retailer posted revenue of $207.1 million in the period.

 

 

The Intercept – November 6, 2019

Democratic sweep sets up confrontation with corporate giant that has loomed over Virginia politics for a century

The stunning victory on Tuesday by Virginia Democrats, seizing control of both chambers of the state legislature and bringing the state under unified party control, sets up a new confrontation with a powerful adversary: Dominion Energy. ….

The election results mark a turning point that will likely transform into a brutal legislative fight in 2020 over the future of energy policy, corporate consolidation, and climate change. Virginia Democrats were once just as loyal to the energy giant as Republicans, dutifully passing nine-figure tax breaks year after year for Dominion, alongside other giveaways directly requested by the company’s lobbyists.

Over the last two election cycles, however, an increasing number of General Assembly Democrats have declared that they will reject campaign donations from Dominion and Appalachian Power, a subsidiary of another utility giant, AEP. Since 2017, the Democratic Party of Virginia has rejected Dominion money as well. In order to force the company to return money to consumers and comply with the demand to eventually generate all of its energy from carbon-free sources, Democratic legislators say they need to break free of Dominion’s political grip.

 

 

The Hill – November 5, 2019

States, green groups challenge rollback of Obama-era lightbulb rules

Separate coalitions of states and environmental advocacy groups sued the Department of Energy (DOE) Monday, challenging a decision to eliminate energy efficiency standards for nearly half the lightbulbs on the market.

Fifteen states and a coalition of seven environmental and consumer groups are fighting the rule, arguing it will hasten climate change as utilities crank out more electricity to power inefficient bulbs.

“The United States cannot and will not be the exception to the international movement to phase out the inefficient, unnecessary, and costly use of incandescent bulbs,” New York Attorney General Letitia James, who spearheaded the suit, said in a statement.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Renewables Now – November 6, 2019

Engie breaks ground on 225-MW solar project in Texas

The North American unit of French energy group Engie SA (EPA:ENGI) on Wednesday broke ground on a 225-MW solar project in the US state of Texas.

The so-called Long Draw solar project has a 15-year power purchase agreement (PPA) in place as part of which New Braunfels Utilities (NBU) will buy the output of a 100-MW portion and Denton Municipal Electric (DME) will purchase 75 MW of capacity, while Garland Power & Light (GP&L) and Kerrville Public Utility Board (KPUB) have secured 25 MW each.

 

Regulatory

 

Hays Free Press – November 6, 2019

EPA incentivises Texas business to innovate technology

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday announced $300,000 to Framergy, Inc., College Station, to further develop and commercialize innovative technologies that protect the environment while growing the American economy. The company plans to reduce emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds by developing a combined capture technology that can be used at well sites, natural gas facilities, storage sites and transmission facilities.

“Small businesses provide the foundation of our economy and are incubators of innovative ideas that create jobs, improve lives and protect the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “With this funding, small businesses across the country will be able to help further EPA’s mission of protecting the environment and public health. I’m proud to support these important projects to address not only the challenges we face as a nation, but also the opportunities to be had through new and emerging technology.”

 

 

Denton Record Chronicle – November 1, 2019

Five years later: Denton’s epic battle to ban fracking and keep local control

Critics claimed the [Nov. 4, 2014 city racking] ban would trigger economic decline in Denton. Fracking blasts sand and chemicals down the well hole to release oil and gas from the rock, and when combined with horizontal drilling, boosts productivity in old vertical wells. With a ban, workers would lose jobs. Government coffers would shrink from tax losses. Regional productivity would suffer. A spate of copycat bans would roil the state, creating unpredictability that spooks business investors.

The ban didn’t last. The decline came anyway.

Randy Sorrells still has old vertical wells on his land in far west Denton. After EagleRidge Energy bought them, the company brass asked Sorrells in 2014 to help with the fight in Denton. He and the late Bobby Jones became the faces of land and mineral owners opposing the ban. Sorrells knew a lawsuit against the city was possible, though theirs was never filed.

“They orally promised to redo our wells, with our input and help on the campaign,” Sorrells said.

 

_______________________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – November 6, 2019

Subscriber’s Edition

Asterisk * indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at website because it’s password protected

 

Lead Stories

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 5, 2019

Thousands of acres sealed off following blowout at Eagle Ford Shale well

Thousands of acres of land remain sealed off days after a blowout at a natural gas well located belonging to Devon Energy between the Eagle Ford Shale towns of Yorktown and Nordheim.

The accident happened at a Devon Energy natural gas well near Cotton Patch Road and FM 952 in DeWitt County early Friday morning. No injuries were reported but authorities evacuated rural families living within a two-mile radius of the blowout, which sent natural gas and other pollutants spewing into the sky and surrounding countryside.

A cause of the accident it not clear but in a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, Devon Energy reported that the company is working closely with local and state authorities and well-control specialists to cap the well and to minimize damages.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 5, 2019

Oxy slashes spending, reports nearly $1B loss after Anadarko deal

Occidental Petroleum said it would dramatically slash its spending by nearly 40 percent next year after reporting a nearly $1 billion quarterly loss in the aftermath of its $38 billion acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum.

Houston-based Oxy said it estimates $5.4 billion in capital spending next year after the combined Oxy-Anadarko will spend an estimated $8.6 billion this year. The megadeal to absorb The Woodlands-based Anadarko and its crown jewel Permian Basin acreage closed in the middle of the third quarter on Aug. 8.

Oxy on its own had planned to spend just less than $5 billion this year before the Anadarko deal, but the cutbacks are still much larger than anticipated. The biggest cost-cutting is coming in the Permian as Oxy combines their operations in West Texas. But Oxy will remain the Permian’s largest producer and arguably the second-most-active driller after Exxon Mobil.

 

 

Texas Tribune – November 6, 2019

Texans say climate change is happening, but it’s a highly partisan issue, UT/TT Poll finds

Two-thirds of Texas registered voters believe climate change is happening, but their urgency about it varies considerably, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Less than a quarter of voters — 23% — say climate change is not happening, and another 12% say they aren’t sure. The partisan splits are big. Among registered voters who identify themselves as Democrats, 88% say climate change is happening, a view shared by 74% of independents and 44% of Republicans. Another 42% of Republican voters don’t think climate change is happening.

Among those who believe climate change is underway, 72% say they are “very worried” (34%) or “somewhat worried” (34%), while 28% say either they are “not very worried” or “not at all worried” about it. Among the Democrats in that group, 89% are very or somewhat worried. Among the Republicans who believe climate change is happening, 48% say they’re worried. And 68% of independents say they’re worried about climate change.

 

 

Texas Observer – November 5, 2019

The Long Battle to Stop the Kinder Morgan Pipeline

In 1975, Terese Hershey, one of the state’s most influential conservationists, purchased a 1,561-acre tract of land in Stonewall, Texas. For years, she protected the property from the encroachment of nearby development. She worked with The Hill Country Land Trust to establish a conservation easement and turned to Andrew Sansom, a former Texas Parks and Wildlife director, to manage the land with his wife, Nona.

In the past eight years, the Sansoms have cleared more than 1,020 acres of cedar and invasive grasses off the property. They’ve controlled erosion along streams and managed the land’s precious water resources. They’ve also restored the property’s historic 162-year-old stone ranch house, which was left with only its limestone walls standing after a 2003 fire. All of this effort has made the Hershey Ranch the largest piece of protected land in Gillespie County.

Now, it’s under threat.

 

 

Bloomberg News/Yahoo! News – November 5, 2019

Earth Needs Fewer People to Beat the Climate Crisis, Scientists Say

Forty years ago, scientists from 50 nations converged on Geneva to discuss what was then called the “CO2-climate problem.” At the time, with reliance on fossil fuels having helped trigger the 1979 oil crisis, they predicted global warming would eventually become a major environmental challenge.

The scientists got to work, building a strategy on how to attack the problem and laying the groundwork for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s preeminent body of climate scientists. Their goal was to get ahead of the problem before it was too late. But after a fast start, the fossil fuel industry, politics and the prioritization of economic growth over planetary health slowed them down.

Now, four decades later, a larger group of scientists is sounding another, much more urgent alarm. More than 11,000 experts from around the world are calling for a critical addition to the main strategy of dumping fossil fuels for renewable energy: there needs to be far fewer humans on the planet.

“We declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency,” the scientists wrote in a stark warning published Tuesday in the journal BioScience.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – November 6, 2019

Oil falls as big US crude build offsets hopes for US-China trade talks

Oil prices fell on Wednesday, pulled down by a larger-than-expected build-up in U.S. crude stocks, after gaining for three straight sessions on expectations of an easing of in U.S.-China trade tensions.

Brent crude futures were at $62.60 a barrel by 0330 GMT, down 36 cents, or 0.6%. Brent settled up 1.3% on Tuesday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 29 cents, or 0.5%, to $56.94 per barrel, having closed up 1.2% in the previous session.

U.S. crude inventories rose by 4.3 million barrels in the week ended Nov. 1 to 440.5 million barrels, according to data from the American Petroleum Institute (API) released on Tuesday. That was nearly triple analysts’ forecast for an increase of 1.5 million barrels.

 

 

Dallas Morning News* – November 5, 2019

Voters Approving 8 of 9 Ballot Propositions

Texans, who already don’t pay a statewide income tax, voted Tuesday to make it even more difficult for state leaders to ever impose the tax on them in the future.

The constitutional ban was on its way to passing overwhelmingly, with Gov. Greg Abbott issuing a statement in praise of the vote.

Voters also appeared to be approving eight of nine other constitutional amendments, ranging from a measure that will increase school funding allocations to another that will allow law enforcement dogs and horses to be adopted by their handlers.

The approved constitutional amendments will go into effect once the unofficial results are confirmed by the secretary of state.

 

 

Austin American Statesman* – November 5, 2019

Markowitz and Gates headed to runoff in bellwether Texas House district

Democrat Eliz Markowitz finished first and Republican Gary Gates second in a special election in a state House district in suburban Houston considered a bellwether for Democratic chances of seizing control of the Texas House in 2020.

The result sets the stage for what promises to be an intense and expensive runoff that will continue to attract statewide and national attention.

With all votes counted in the Fort Bend County-based House District 28, Markowitz was leading with 39.1% of the vote, followed by Gates at 28.5%. Republican Tricia Krenek was running third at 18.1%. Four other candidates were in the single digits.

 

 

Austin American Statesman* – November 5, 2019

SW Travis County voters largely supporting groundwater conservation prop

Voters across southwestern Travis County have largely voted in favor of the Travis County Groundwater Conservation District’s Proposition A, which would clear the way for members of the district’s board to regulate groundwater across several cities in the area.

The measure, one of several appearing under the moniker “Proposition A” on ballots across the county during Tuesday’s elections, was listed on ballots in Bee Cave, Lakeway, West Lake Hills, and some areas at the southwestern edges of Austin and western Travis County.

By midnight, 5,881 voters cast their ballots in favor of the measure, while 2,015 were against.

The proposition was brought by the Southwest Travis County Groundwater Conservation District’s board, an agency that was created by the state in 2017.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 5, 2019

McDermott chief financial officer resigns following $1.9 billion loss

The chief financial officer for Houston oilfield service company McDermott International resigned from his post following a $1.9 billion loss during the third quarter.

In a Tuesday morning filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, McDermott reported that the company’s executive vice president and chief financial officer Stuart Spence resigned from his post on Monday.

A reason was not given but Spence’s resignation followed McDermott reporting a nearly $1.9 billion loss on $2.1 billion of revenue during the third quarter. The figures were down from the $2 million profit on $2.3 billion of revenue during the third quarter of 2018.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 5, 2019

Perry Wanted U.S. Energy Veterans on Naftogaz Board, Messages Say

Energy Secretary Rick Perry wanted to put two U.S. energy industry veterans on the board of Ukraine’s state-owned energy company, according to text messages written by the former Ukraine special envoy that differ with Mr. Perry’s own account.

The June text messages from Kurt Volker, which were released by House impeachment investigators Tuesday, describe how Mr. Perry and another Trump administration official were concerned leaders at state-owned Naftogaz weren’t pushing hard enough for free-market reforms.

Mr. Perry believed Andriy Kobolyev, Naftogaz’s chief executive, wasn’t doing enough, Mr. Volker said in a text message to Bill Taylor, another American diplomat to Ukraine.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 4, 2018

Drilling Down: Chevron’s big push in the Permian Basin

California oil major Chevron is preparing for another big push in the Permian Basin of West Texas.

The company filed for drilling permits to develop 17 horizontal wells on in Midland County and other four horizontal wells on a pair of leases in Culberson County, Railroad Commission of Texas records show.

Chevron is targeting the Parks field on its GBG Danger Zone lease in Midland County down to a total depth of 10,000 feet.

 

 

Dallas Morning News* – November 5, 2019

Fracking pioneer Chesapeake Energy warns it might not outlast natural gas slump

Chesapeake Energy Corp. — the company that was once the epitome of America’s shale-gas fortunes — is warning it may not be able to outlast low fuel prices.

Reflecting growing pain across the energy sector, the Oklahoma City-based company’s shares and bonds tumbled Tuesday after it said it may not be viable as a “going concern” if low oil and natural gas prices persist. The warning came just over an hour after the company posted a wider-than-expected loss for the third quarter.

A decade ago, Chesapeake was a $37.5 billion company led by the energetic Aubrey McClendon, an outspoken advocate for the gas industry. Chesapeake became the second-largest U.S producer of the fuel. But in 2016, McClendon was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiring to rig bids for the purchase of oil and gas leases. A day later, he was dead after his car collided with a highway overpass.

 

 

Yahoo! News – October 31, 2019

Frackers Scrap Idled Equipment Amid Shale Drilling Pullback

The downturn in shale drilling has been so steep and brisk that oilfield companies are taking the unprecedented step of scrapping entire fleets of fracking gear.

With almost half of U.S. fracking firepower expected to be sitting idle within weeks, shale specialists including Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. and RPC Inc. are retiring truck-mounted pumping units and other equipment used to shatter oil-soaked shale rock. Whereas in previous market slumps, frackers parked unused equipment to await a revival in demand, this time it’s different: Gear is being stripped down for parts or sold for scrap.

As stagnant oil prices and investor pressure discourage new drilling, the fracking industry that was growing so fast it couldn’t find enough workers as recently as two years ago now finds itself buried in a mountain of pumps, pipes and storage tanks. The contagion is spreading beyond fracking specialists to sand miners and the truckers who haul it.

 

 

Reuters/KFGO (ND) – November 5, 2019

Pioneer Natural CEO calls out shale industry for Permian Basin gas flaring

The chief executive of Pioneer Natural Resources , Scott Sheffield, on Tuesday called on producers in the top U.S. shale field to limit natural gas flaring and monitor for methane leaks.

Companies are targeting oil in the fast-growing Permian Basin field, but pipeline construction has lagged, leaving natural gas as a byproduct to be burned or vented.

Producers should get flaring and venting rates to 2% or less and not drill wells before pipelines are complete, Sheffield said during a call with analysts a day after releasing quarterly results.

 

 

Associated Press/Brownsville Herald – November 5, 2019

Plains All American: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

Plains All American Pipeline L.P. (PAA) on Tuesday reported third-quarter profit of $449 million.

On a per-share basis, the Houston-based company said it had profit of 55 cents. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains, were 52 cents per share.

The results beat Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 39 cents per share.

Related: Plains All American expects Wink-to-Webster crude pipe construction to begin by year-end

 

 

Reuters – October 31, 2019

Magellan Midstream to redesign proposed Voyager pipeline project

Pipeline operator Magellan Midstream Partners LP will redesign a major pipeline proposal to lower costs following an open season to solicit shipper interest ended in August, Chief Executive Michael Mears told investors on Thursday.

Magellan in recent months has worked with other companies to reduce costs and advance the project, expecting costs to fall to “a fraction” of the capital originally anticipated, Mears said.

 

 

Bloomberg News* – November 4, 2019

Saudi Aramco’s nine-month profit falls 18% as IPO starts

Saudi Aramco’s nine-month profit fell 18% as lower oil prices eroded sales ahead of a share sale that could be the world’s largest.

The oil giant earned net income of $68.2 billion compared with $83.1 billion for the same period a year ago, it said in a statement posted on its website. The state company’s revenue slipped to $217 billion from $233 billion.

Aramco gave no explanation for the decline in its results, though its nine-month income alone exceeded the 2018 net posted by Apple Inc., the most profitable publicly traded company. Average Brent crude dropped about 11% over the nine-month period compared with the previous year. Saudi Arabia has been cutting oil output along with other global producers to shore up prices amid a surplus and signs of weaker demand.

.

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CNBC – November 5, 2019

OPEC lowers forecast for oil demand growth, says its own market share is dwindling

OPEC has downwardly revised its forecast for global oil demand growth over both the medium-term and long-term, citing tough market conditions and “signs of stress” in the world economy.

In its closely-watched annual World Oil Outlook (WOO), the Middle East-dominated producer group said Tuesday that the last 12 months had been “challenging” for energy markets once again.

“Signs of stress have appeared in the global economy, and the outlook for global growth, at least in the short- and medium-term, has been revised down repeatedly over the past year,” OPEC said.

As a result, OPEC has lowered its outlook numbers for global oil demand growth, to 104.8 million barrels per day (b/d) by 2024, and 110.6 million b/d by 2040.

 

Utilities

 

Victoria Advocate – November 4, 2019

Report: Evidence of groundwater contamination at Coleto Creek Power Plant

The Coleto Creek Power Plant in Goliad was among 16 coal plants in Texas that contaminated nearby groundwater with pollutants linked to coal ash at levels that would be unsafe for human consumption, according to a report released by the Environmental Integrity Project.

Coal combustion residuals, known as coal ash, are byproducts of the combustion of coal, and they contain contaminants.

The Coleto Creek plant, off Farm-to-Market Road 2987 in Fannin, has a 190-acre regulated ash pond on-site as well as a 10-acre secondary ash pond immediately adjacent to the larger pond. The primary ash pond does not meet liner criteria set by the Environmental Protection Agency to help prevent contaminants from leaching from coal ash units and contaminating groundwater, so the pond is classified as unlined.

Related: EPA Proposes Changes To Federal Coal Ash, Wastewater Rules

 

 

Alice Echo News Journal – Novembe 5, 2019

Nueces Electric Cooperative mourns the loss of beloved Board Director

It’s with heavy hearts that the Board and management of Nueces Electric Cooperative share the death of Thomas Raymond “Tommy” Ermis, NEC’s District 6 director. Tommy passed away on Tuesday, Oct. 29 in a San Antonio, TX hospital. He leaves behind a legacy of both great leadership and a life-long commitment to serving his community and electric cooperatives.

Born and raised in Agua Dulce, Ermis was the owner and operator of Ermis Farms since 1968. Ermis was truly committed to serving the members of rural South Texas. A NEC Board Director since 1977, Ermis dedicated 42-years to serving the members of NEC.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 4, 2019

BNSF Q3 coal revenues, volumes decline on adverse weather conditions

BNSF Railway reported a decrease in coal volumes and revenue in the third quarter of 2019, primarily because of adverse weather conditions and lower natural gas prices.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based railroad reported Q3 coal volumes of 482,000 carloads, up from 440,000 carloads in the prior quarter, but below the 502,000 carloads reported in the year-ago quarter, according to its Q3 earnings report, filed Monday with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

It was the lowest Q3 coal volumes in more than 10 years.

In the nine-month period 2019, coal volumes have totaled 1.34 million, down from 1.4 million in the same period a year ago.

 

 

E&E News – October 30, 2019

Details emerge about Department of Energy’s ‘super‑grid’ renewable study

A coast-to-coast transmission “super-grid” could be built across the United States for $80 billion and deliver economic gains of more than twice that amount, moving surplus renewable energy to major urban centers, according to an Energy Department national laboratory study that was pulled back by DOE headquarters, which called for more work on the findings.

James McCalley, a senior Iowa State University engineering professor and a principal author of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory study, said he is doing new analysis requested by DOE and expects to be done next year. DOE said the final report may not be released until 2022.

 

 

Associated Press/Brownsville Herald – November 1, 2019

Future of Arizona nuclear plant may see hydrogen production

Managers of a three-reactor nuclear plant that went online in the 1980s are exploring whether production of hydrogen gas will be part of its future.

An idea being explored for the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station is to use seasonally surplus electricity from the plant located in the desert west of Phoenix to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen gas, the Arizona Republic reports .

Uses for the gas could include powering fuel-cell cars and trucks or providing to nearby natural-gas plants that generate electricity.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 5, 2019

Renewables can’t get grid to net zero alone, MIT scientists say

Getting the power grid to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 will be far less costly if nuclear power, along with wind and solar energy, can be expanded, according to scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

John Reilly, co-director of MIT’s Joint Program on Global Change, and other scientists warn the cost of powering the grid primarily with the intermittent electricity renewables produce would prove very costly and require a high tax or fee on carbon emissions.

However, were the cost of nuclear energy to come down by a third from today’s costs, that would reduce the need to overhaul the grid and reduce any carbon price by about two thirds.

 

 

Design News – November 4, 2019

Linear Labs Promises a Moonshot for Electric Motor Technology

Remember Astronaut Farmer? It was a 2006 Billy Bob Thornton film with the preposterous premise that a retired astronaut Texas rancher could assemble an Atlas rocket from spare parts and launch himself into space.

There is something almost as absurd afoot in Texas now; an electric motor startup making amazing performance claims that arose from a father/son project to improve upon the traditional Aeromotor windmill (a San Angelo, Texas product) for pumping water from wells.

Linear Labs CEO Brad Hunstable makes claims about the effectiveness of what the company dubs the Hunstable Electric Turbine, an electric motor (or generator) that would seem improbable if not for the fact that he says products employing motors from Linear Labs will hit stores early next year.

 

Regulatory

 

Dallas Morning News* – November 4, 2019

Ousted ambassador to Ukraine sees Pete Sessions as part of smear campaign

The ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine told lawmakers that she was shocked to learn the extent of the smear campaign against her, including efforts to oust her by Pete Sessions, a Dallas congressman and member of the House GOP leadership at the time.

Marie Yovanovitch also testified that she suspected Ukraine’s former chief prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, was behind the plot.

House investigators released a 317-page transcript of her Oct. 11 deposition on Monday. Sessions’ name comes up repeatedly, with Democrats apparently trying to establish how enmeshed he became in the Ukraine scandal. …

Sessions has denied any wrongdoing, has not been accused of a crime, and has said that he is providing documents prosecutors requested under subpoena.

 

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Lead Stories

 

Texas Tribune – November 4, 2019

Earthquakes in West Texas have dramatically increased, according to new University of Texas study

While earthquake activity coincided with a large increase in oil and gas production in West Texas, the study does not try to link the two.

West Texas has seen a dramatic increase in earthquakes, jumping from 19 in 2009 to 1,600 in 2017 alone, according to a new study published Monday by the University of Texas at Austin.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, tracked nearly 20 years of seismic activity. The scientists documented more than 7,000 earthquakes near Pecos starting in 2009, most of them so small that no one felt them. The scientists used an earthquake monitoring system that was “some distance” from Pecos but sensitive enough to pick up vibrations 150 miles away.

“West Texas now has the highest seismicity rates in the state,” co-author and Souther Methodist University Associate Professor Heather DeShon said in a written statement. “What remained uncertain is when the earthquakes actually started. This study addresses that.”

See the UT News version of this story here.

 

 

Oil & Gas 360 – November 4, 2019

Electricity prices up 43 percent this year, reflecting new price adders

Power generators hit pay dirt this summer when hot weather in August triggered surcharges approved earlier this year by Texas regulators, sending wholesale electricity prices soaring more than 40 percent, with the higher costs likely to be passed onto households and businesses.

Wholesale power prices in Texas averaged about $50 per megawatt hour during the first eight months of the year, up 43 percent from $35 per megawatt hour during the same period in 2018, according to Potomac Economics, a Virginia consulting firm that serves as the independent market monitor for the state’s grid manager the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

The jump comes when natural gas prices are 15 percent lower than they were a year ago, Beth Garza, who leads the independent market monitor’s office, told the ERCOT board in October. Lower natural gas prices reduce overall electricity prices because gas-fired power plants provide more than half the state’s generation capacity.

 

 

Reveal – November 4, 2019

Trump Interior nominee fast-tracked a ‘deficient’ drilling permit

In March 2017, a politically connected oil firm called Cimarex Energy Co. was in a hurry to begin fracking on a flat expanse of farmland in the western Oklahoma oil patch.

But the company’s application for a federal drilling permit had been rejected as “incomplete” and “deficient,” records show. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management had flagged both engineering and environmental issues. The company faced a 60-day wait while a revised application was being reviewed.

Cimarex didn’t want to wait. Instead, the company called its lobbyists.

In the days that followed, political appointees at the highest levels of the U.S. Department of the Interior went to extraordinary lengths to fast-track Cimarex’s drilling permit, according to a trove of emails reviewed by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

Among the officials moving to expedite the permit: Katharine MacGregor, then an up-and-coming aide to then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. President Donald Trump recently nominated her to the powerful No. 2 post at the Interior Department, an agency that supervises hundreds of millions of acres of national parks and public lands, including their use for energy production. Her confirmation hearing is set for Tuesday.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 4, 2019

Roberto Sifon: Saudi Aramco IPO is mission impossible

Saudi Aramco’s IPO looks doomed to failure as it targets a $2 trillion flotation. Tepid oil prices, the fraught politics of the Middle East and the demonization of fossil fuel producers in response to climate change fears have all made the initial public offering (IPO) a mission impossible.

The kingdom had looked poised to list up to 2% of its shares on its domestic market within weeks. But the long-delayed partial privatization of the world’s largest state-owned oil company now faces another indefinite postponement after the devastating attacks last month on some of its most important facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.

Overnight, the attacks shut down 5.7 million barrels per day of Saudi Arabia’s oil production, roughly equivalent to 6% of global supply. A catastrophic spike in oil prices was only narrowly avoided because of the kingdom’s own emergency stockpiles, and its swift response in patching up the damage and restoring output in record time. But this has come at a high price to Aramco, which potential investors will want to see accounted for before paying any kind of premium for its shares in an IPO.

Also note: Saudi Aramco may be worth as little as $1.5 trillion or even less, well below the target set by the kingdom, according to research sent on Sunday to potential investors by the banks involved in the company’s initial public offering — Bloomberg

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – Novemer 4, 2019

U.S. Starts Process to Exit Paris Climate Agreement

The U.S. has officially started the process of exiting the Paris climate agreement, citing an unfair economic burden posed on American workers and businesses, the State Department said Monday.

The U.S. submitted the notification to the United Nations on Monday and the process will take one year to complete. The U.S. will continue to seek to reduce emissions through research and innovation, the State Department said.

President Trump said in 2017 that he would withdraw the U.S. from the treaty, which aims to cap carbon dioxide emissions and curb the global rise in temperatures. He said it unfairly penalized American workers.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters – November 5, 2019

Oil edges lower after gains driven by trade optimism

Oil prices steadied on Tuesday as investors kept an eye on U.S. inventory data due later in the day, following two days of gains on positive economic data and hopes for a Washington-Beijing trade deal.

Brent crude futures were down 1 cent at $62.12 a barrel at 0739 GMT after gaining 0.7% in the previous session.

U.S. crude futures were down 9 cents at $56.45 a barrel. They gained 0.6% on Monday.

“This is mostly position lightening after an impressive run higher,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 4, 2019

Weather forecasts drive bullishness in Henry Hub futures, cash markets

NYMEX front-month natural gas futures surged to their highest level in more than seven months Monday as US weather forecasts now point increasingly toward unseasonably cold weather in November.

With balance-of-month heating demand likely to outperform, prompt prices were seen rising into the mid-$2.80s/MMBtu during early trading, data from Intercontinental Exchange showed.

In the cash market, benchmark Henry Hub gas jumped nearly 25 cents Monday to $2.74/MMBtu — the highest spot market price since mid-September, according to preliminary data from S&P Global Platts.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 4, 2019

Hazardous chemicals remain in water long after ITC fire

Months after the incident, researchers still found traces of the perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAs, in the area, although little is known about their long-term impacts on humans and aquatic life.

“Unlike air pollution, where after the fire is out and the smoke is gone air pollution levels return back to normal (within a week or two) after the incident, in this case it took a month or two for the ship channel and surrounding waterways to really go back to ‘normal’ levels of these compounds,” said Weihsueh Chiu, professor at Texas A&M.

Researchers presented their findings and talked about the environmental impacts of the ITC fire Monday in Seabrook.

 

 

World Oil – November 4, 2019

Oxy CEO to face investor scrutiny on Anadarko merger plan

Vicki Hollub is set to face investors for the first time since leading Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s controversial $37 billion purchase of Anadarko Petroleum.

On an earnings call on Tuesday, Occidental’s chief executive officer will need to show hard evidence that her plan for the merger is working, after drawing the ire of activist investor Carl Icahn and other shareholders for denying them a vote on the deal. The stock has plunged 37% since April, when Occidental was first said to be pursuing the takeover. It’s this year’s second-worst performer on the S&P 500 Energy Index.

First and foremost, investors want to see how Hollub plans to service almost $22 billion of borrowing and $10 billion of preferred shares used to fund the acquisition, valued at around $55 billion when including debt.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 4, 2019

Cheniere executive put on ‘garden leave’ ahead of exiting company

One of the top executives for Houston liquefied natural gas company Cheniere Energy is being placed on “garden leave” some three months before he leaves the company.

In a Friday afternoon filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Cheniere reported the company’s senior vice president of operations Doug Shanda will be leaving the company on Jan. 30.

A reason for Shanda leaving the company was not given but there was a twist. Cheniere placed Shanda on “garden leave” until Jan. 30, meaning that he will not work over the next three months but remain on the payroll as if he was still there.

See also: Cheniere Targets Earlier Texas LNG Export Unit Completion

 

 

Bloomberg News/Houston Chronicle* – November 1, 2019

Keystone pipeline shutdown raises costs for U.S. Gulf refiners

The Keystone crude pipeline was shut Wednesday after leaking thousands of barrels of crude in North Dakota, the third spill along the pipeline’s route in less than three years.

TC Energy Corp.’s 590,000 barrel-a-day pipeline that carries crude from Alberta to refineries in the U.S. Midwest and Gulf Coast ruptured October 29 near the city of Edinburg in North Dakota, said Brent Nelson, an emergency manager for Walsh County. About 9,120 barrels were released, some of which impacted a wetland, according to the state’s Department of Environmental Quality.

TC Energy declared force majeure on the pipeline system after the shutdown, according to people familiar with the matter. An emergency response team has contained the impacted area, and the system is shut from Hardisty, Alberta to Cushing, Oklahoma and to Wood River/Patoka, Illinois, the company said in a statement. TC Energy also reduced rates on the Marketlink pipeline, an extension of Keystone that runs from Cushing to Port Arthur, Texas, according to people familiar with the matter.

 

 

Reuters/KFGO (ND) – November 1, 2019

Shippers seek alternatives for oil as crews work toward plugging Keystone leak

Cleanup crews in Walsh County, North Dakota, are working to plug the Keystone pipeline after a 9,000-barrel oil leak this week, a state official said Friday, while crude shippers are searching for alternative means of getting needed supply.

The shutdown threatens to cut off a large amount of regular supply of heavy Canadian crude to the United States. Canada is the biggest foreign provider of oil to the United States, with exports to the U.S. averaging about 3.6 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2018, according to the federal Canada Energy Regulator.

The 590,000-barrel bpd Keystone system, owned by TC Energy Corp , is a key artery for Canadian heavy crude, imported by United States for blending with other oils to be refined into gasoline, diesel and other fuels.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 4, 2019

Democratic primary stances on energy seen affecting climate for LNG exports

The shift in national Democratic Party politics on energy and climate could dampen the appetite for US LNG exports and future approvals of export terminals, several energy policy professionals suggested Monday at an Atlantic Council forum in Washington.

Charles Hernick, director of policy and advocacy at Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, cautioned against waving off ambitious Democratic clean-energy proposals as a feature of primary politics that is likely to be moderated in the general election.

“We live in an era where candidates and elected officials are being held to … campaign promises in an unprecedented way,” he said.

Already, he said, the promise to ban hydraulic fracturing or limit it on public lands by some candidates “has dampened markets, has dampened enthusiasm, and has raised questions about what is the proper US role in something like liquefied natural gas and where are those exports going to be headed,” said Hernick, previously a Republican candidate for the US House of Representatives.

 

 

Carlsbad Current Argus – November 1, 2019

Oil and gas water facilities coming to Permian, production continues growth in New Mexico

A Texas-based oil and gas water company is moving into southeast New Mexico, to provide processing for water and other fluids generated during operations in western section of the booming Permian Basin.

Oilfield Water Logistics, based in Center, Texas, announced its plans to develop a 540-acre oil and gas water and waste management facility in Lea County on U.S. Highway 128, between Carlsbad and Jal.

The recent boom in oil and gas production in the Permian Basin, and New Mexico, was driven by the process of hydraulic fracturing where water and chemicals are pumped deep underground to breakup rock formations, so oil and natural gas can be extracted.

 

 

Yahoo! News – November 4, 2019

McDermott Reports Q3 Loss, Lags Revenue Estimates

McDermott (MDR) came out with a quarterly loss of $1.80 per share versus the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of $0.21. This compares to earnings of $0.20 per share a year ago. These figures are adjusted for non-recurring items.

This quarterly report represents an earnings surprise of -757.14%. A quarter ago, it was expected that this maker of offshore drilling platforms would post earnings of $0.08 per share when it actually produced a loss of $0.07, delivering a surprise of -187.50%.

Over the last four quarters, the company has not been able to surpass consensus EPS estimates.

 

El Dorado News Times (AR) – November 4, 2019

Murphy Oil announces adjusted net income of $57M in Q3

Last week, Murphy Oil Corporation reported its financial and operating results for the third quarter of 2019, including $1.1 billion of net income and $57 million of adjusted net income (which excludes discontinued operations and other one time gains).

Murphy Oil sold assets in Malaysia in the third quarter, which represents the bulk of the net income. The company also produced 192,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, its highest oil volume since the first quarter of 2015. Murphy is working on a project in the Gulf of Mexico, the St. Malo waterflood project, expected to result in 30-35 million barrels of oil equivalent. The company also expanded exploration acreage in Brazil, according to a release from the company.

 

 

New York Times* – October 27, 2019

Loco Hills, N.M. — At the diner she manages in the heart of New Mexico’s oil country, Joni Moorhead talks to roughnecks all day long about potholed roads, cramped lodging camps, soaring rents — and state politics. …

Ms. Moorhead, 42, may sound more extreme than most. But go just about anywhere in southeastern New Mexico, the deeply conservative oil-rich region known as “Little Texas,” and people are seething over a political shift to the left in the state capital.

A frenetic oil boom is laying bare this divide, while suddenly lifting one of the poorest states in the country into the top ranks of global oil producers. Normally that might be cause for celebration, but Democrats now in power in New Mexico are coming under fire on two fronts: from oil patch conservatives, for pushing to hike oil royalties and spend the windfall on progressive causes, and from environmentalists on the left, for allowing the oil boom to materialize in the first place.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 25, 2019

John Browne: Fossil fuels without the dangerous emissions?

My own position is clear. In 1997, I was the first Big Oil CEO to acknowledge the risks posed by climate change, to recognise that oil and gas companies had played a part in causing it, and to pledge to do something about it. It was not a popular position at the time, with one CEO telling me that I had “left the church.” But I was determined that we would not stand on the side-lines. If we had done that, then others would have led the way and written our history for us. …

Renewable energy will never be enough to replace oil and gas. The only realistic route to decarbonisation is for oil and gas companies to take greater responsibility for the emissions they and their customers produce, and start doing things which take the carbon out of hydrocarbons.

This means developing and applying technologies such as carbon capture and storage, which is on an exciting new learning curve as next-generation processes generate better results for lower cost. This is happening right here in Texas, and could revolutionize the way we generate power from fossil fuels.

 

 

Reuters – October 25, 2019

IENOVA expects decision on Mexico Costa Azul LNG export plant in early 2020

Infraestructura Energetica Nova SAB de CV’s (IENOVA) chief executive said the company expects to make a final investment decision (FID) to build the first phase of its Costa Azul liquefied natural gas export plant in Mexico in early 2020:

Previously, the company, a unit of California energy company Sempra Energy, had said it planned to make a FID in late 2019. …

If built, Costa Azul will have an advantage over most U.S. projects because it will be much closer to Asian markets, like China, where demand for gas is growing fastest as homes and businesses switch from dirty coal to cleaner gas for environmental reasons.

 

Utilities

 

S&P Global Platts – November 4, 2019

Calpine settles FERC enforcement case over battery testing, record falsification

Calpine will pay $400,000 in penalties to settle charges stemming from more than 200 instances of noncompliance tied to battery testing, outage reporting and falsified recordkeeping, according to a settlement approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

FERC enforcement staff found that Calpine either failed to perform a battery test, failed to retain testing records or created falsified testing records 215 times between December 29, 2012, and December 26, 2015, violating a mandatory reliability standard governing the maintenance and testing of certain protection systems, including batteries.

The alleged violations involved monthly, quarterly, annual and periodic tests for 36 batteries at eight generating plants across three regional entities — Texas Reliability Entity (Texas RE), Western Electricity Coordinating Council and Midwest Reliability Organization. The bulk of the incidents, 199 specifically, occurred in Texas RE.

 

 

Fortune – October 18, 2019

How 3 PG&E Execs Decide When California Businesses Go Dark to Stop Wildfires

In a report filed with California utility regulators on Thursday, the San Francisco-based company said three vice presidents are responsible for deciding whether the power goes out to keep electrical lines from igniting blazes: Michael Lewis, senior vice president of electric operations; Sumeet Singh, vice president of asset and risk management; and Ahmad Ababneh, vice president of electric operations on major projects and programs. Two more vice presidents will join the bunch in 2020.

PG&E said the utility has already provided the factors these officials take into account in deciding. In a September 2018 document, the company said it uses national fire danger ratings, National Weather Service warnings, humidity levels, temperature, terrain and local climate to weigh shutoffs.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 1, 2019

Can the power grid go green in time?

Earlier this week, House Democrats called a hearing in which they asked leaders from the power industry whether they could realistically cut emissions to net-zero within a little more than three decades. …

But even they are reluctant to commit to such a goal, which might require doing away with coal and natural gas power plants, some of which are only years old and were built to run for decades.

“Ultimately, the question of achieving 100 percent clean power does not have a simple “yes” or “no” answer,” said John Bear, CEO of Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which controls the electrical grid in the Midwest. “Renewable energy technologies are advancing rapidly, but none of us knows exactly where we will be technologically more than 30 years from now.”

 

 

Washington Times – October 31, 2019

Major U.S. offshore wind energy surge expected in next decade

The East Coast is set for a surge in offshore wind farm construction, which the International Energy Agency predicts could provide more than enough clean energy to meet the world’s future electricity needs.

In a comprehensive global study, the Paris-based IEA also forecasts that offshore wind energy could become a $1 trillion industry by 2040, with major U.S. growth expected in the next decade.

“Offshore wind currently provides just 0.3% of global power generation, but its potential is vast,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a press release accompanying the study late last week.

Major technological breakthroughs, coupled with increasingly favorable government regulations, have led to a boom in projects using larger turbines and floating foundations that allow for deeper water operations, IEA officials said.

 

Regulatory

 

Texas Monitor – November 4, 2019

San Antonio’s climate plan: partly cloudy on details

San Antonio earlier this month joined Austin and two dozen other major American cities in adopting a climate action plan aimed at operating city government and city-owned utilities and transportation systems entirely without fossil fuels by 2050.

The goals highlighted in the Climate Action & Adaptation Plan are broad and far-reaching: reducing greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the impact of climate change, enhance the quality of life, and ensure the health and well being of the most vulnerable populations in San Antonio.

If anything, Mayor Ron Nirenberg and the nine (of 10) council members who voted for the plan believe it isn’t aggressive enough. They made concessions to the city’s municipally-owned utility, CPS Energy, and to a business community that has largely disowned the plan.

 

 

Washington Post* – November 1, 2019

EPA to scale back federal rules restricting waste from coal-fired power plants

The Environmental Protection Agency plans to relax rules that govern how power plants store waste from burning coal and release water containing toxic metals into nearby waterways, according to agency officials.

The proposals, which scale back two rules adopted in 2015, affect the disposal of fine powder and sludge known as coal ash, as well as contaminated water that power plants produce while burning coal. Both forms of waste can contain mercury, arsenic and other heavy metals that pose risks to human health and the environment.

The new rules would allow extensions that could keep unlined coal ash waste ponds open for as long as eight additional years. The biggest benefits from the rule governing contaminated wastewater would come from the voluntary use of new filtration technology.

 

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Lead Stories

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 3, 2019

Saudi Aramco Launches Long-Awaited IPO

Saudi state oil giant Aramco officially launched its initial public offering on Sunday, setting in motion what is expected to be the world’s largest ever share sale, even as questions remain over the company’s value.

After nearly four years of delays, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave the listing the go-ahead in recent days. The company hopes to first sell shares on the kingdom’s domestic exchange in December, or even before, and then attempt an international IPO.

The kingdom’s de facto ruler has in part bet his reputation as a reformer on the success of the offering, which is central to his wider social and economic initiatives. He wants to use the proceeds to invest in other industries to diversify the Saudi economy.

 

 

MarketWatch – November 1, 2019

Why the oil market’s ‘risk premium’ has disappeared — for now

Oil traders aren’t ignoring risk, they’re just more attuned to fears of an economic slowdown as a result of President Trump’s trade war than they are to the danger of supply disruptions that could result from Middle East tensions.

At least that might help explain why oil futures were so quick to give back a price spike that followed a September missile attack on Saudi Arabian oil processing facilities that knocked more than 5 million barrels a day of production temporarily offline.

While the kingdom was quick to restore output, the incident was seen robbing the Saudis of the ability to provide the spare capacity that would provide a cushion to global supplies in the event of future disruptions, not to mention that the incident also laid bare the vulnerability of the world’s swing crude producer to attack.

Indeed, the lack of a more lasting risk premium is a question that’s perplexed traders since the attacks. Caroline Bain, chief commodities economist at research firm Capital Economics, dug into the numbers in an attempt to quantify how risk factors were being incorporated into oil prices.

 

 

Bloomberg News* – November 1, 2019

Exxon, Chevron Begin Pushing Back Against Warren’s Fracking Ban

America’s two biggest oil companies are starting to push back against the fracking ban touted by the leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, which may become one of the most consequential flashpoints for energy markets during the election campaign.

Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. executives spoke out publicly against the proposals for the first time on Friday, saying they would shift profits from crude production from the U.S. to other countries, and may increase prices for consumers while doing nothing to reduce oil demand or greenhouse-gas emissions.

It’s a line of attack that’s likely to feature heavily in debates in the year ahead as the energy industry and Republicans seek to counter the Democratic Party’s green wing. To be sure, whoever gets elected next year will find it difficult to end fracking. Presidential powers to enact a ban only extend to federal lands, something that would be certain to face immediate legal challenges. A wider restriction would need to go through Congress.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – November 3, 2019

Impact of Keystone pipeline outage spills over to crude and refined markets

This week’s shutdown of the TC Energy’s 590,000 b/d Keystone pipeline following a crude oil spill sent Canadian and Midcontinent crude values downward before rippling into refined product markets, pushing those values upward.

The spill occurred Tuesday night in Northeast North Dakota. On Thursday morning, state officials reported that 9,120 barrels of crude oil had leaked from the pipe.

Pipeline operator TC Energy has not given a timeline on when Keystone will return to service and said in a statement Thursday that the company remains focused on cleanup. The pipeline will remain shut from Hardisty, Alberta, to Cushing, Oklahoma, and to Wood River/Patoka, Illinois, while TC Energy cleans up the spill and repairs are made.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 1, 2019

L. M. Sixel: The murky and confusing Texas electricity market

A basic economic principle holds that a key to well-functioning and efficient free markets is transparency, a state of affairs that allows participants to have the same access to information to make decisions on what to buy and sell. It works in stock, oil, and currency markets, where prices and other essential information are available to everyone.

But in Texas, where electricity deregulation was touted as unleashing the power of free enterprise, power markets tend to be more like frosted glass than clear panes. The murkiness extends from retail plans with confusing pricing and terms to wholesale markets, where bids are kept secret, to transmission, where the biggest commercial and industrial power users can game the system to push costs onto small businesses and households.

Texans have paid for this lack of transparency. For nearly two decades, consumers living within the compeititive power markets of Texas — which cover about 85 percent of the state — have consistently paid higher prices for electricity than those buying electricity from regulated municipal utilities and cooperatives, according to the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, a group of cities that buy power in the deregulated market.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – November 4, 2019

Oil falls ahead of European and US economic data, offsets trade deal optimism

Oil prices eased on Monday as traders took profit ahead of fresh European and U.S. economic data, despite hopes for some resolution to the U.S.China trade row that has hurt global economic growth and crimped energy demand.

Prices jumped about $2 a barrel on Friday after the world’s top two economies said they had made progress on trade talks while U.S. officials said the deal could be signed this month.

Brent crude futures for January fell 31 cents to $61.38 a barrel by 0406 GMT, while December U.S. crude futures was at $55.91 a barrel, down 29 cents.

“Friday’s mega-rally was built on a combination of not-as-bad-as-feared data and optimism on a trade deal that really, only keeps the lights on. It does not increase the brightness of the world economy,” Jeffrey Halley, a Singapore-based senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at OANDA, wrote in a note.

 

 

Bloomberg News* – November 1, 2019

The World’s Most Profitable Company Pays Surprisingly Little

They run the world’s most profitable company, oversee one-tenth of global oil output and their decisions help shape the fate of a nation. Their paychecks, however, are a little less grandiose.

Saudi oil giant Aramco is a cash cow for the kingdom, allowing the royal family to wield power with a drip-feed of petrodollars. For executives, it’s a relatively modest life compared with some of their peers elsewhere.

Last year, top management and board members—about 17 people in total—split roughly $30 million worth of compensation and benefits. That was half of what rivals Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. handed their executives and directors, though they would have been subject to income tax whereas Saudi nationals aren’t.

Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser collected no more than a $5 million package in 2016 as the company began preparing its protracted initial public offering, people familiar with the matter said. That was less than a fifth of what Exxon’s then-CEO Rex Tillerson received at the time.

 

 

Longview News Journal* – November 1, 2019

Rig count collapse continues; Texas loses two more

A week after the biggest single-week decline in six months, the number of U.S. rigs drilling for oil and natural gas continued to fall in the past week, Baker Hughes said Friday.

The combined tally fell by eight, the Houston oil field services provider said in its weekly report, to 822. That’s down 245 from the same week a year ago — and the lowest level since March 2017.

The number seeking oil fell by five, to 691, while gas-directed rigs lost three, to 130.

The number of oil rigs at work now is down 183 from a year ago, and gas rigs are down 63.

Texas lost another pair this week, leaving 416 at work. That’s down 117 from a year ago. Oklahoma lost three, to 51, and New Mexico lost two, to 108. …

No gains were seen across the major U.S. basins. The West Texas-New Mexico Permian lost one, to 416. The East Texas-Louisiana Haynesville Shale lost one, to 51.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 3, 2019

Kinder Morgan stock shoots up after co-founder buys $6 million of shares

Stock prices for Houston pipeline company Kinder Morgan shot up on Friday following news that ones its co-founder bought hundreds of thousands of shares.

In a Friday morning filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Kinder Morgan reported that Rich Kinder bought 300,000 shares of stock. Purchased at roughly $20 per share, Kinder is investing more than $6 million back into his own company.

Traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the stock ticker symbol KMI, news of the purchase sent shares higher. KMI started trading on Friday at $20.09 per share and closed at nearly $20.50 per share.

 

 

San Antonio Express News* – November 1, 2019

Fracking slump is hitting home in S.A.

Oil-field services company Cudd Energy Services is laying off all 117 employees at its San Antonio facility due to a slowdown in fracking activity.

A drop in drilling in the Eagle Ford led to the layoffs, said Jim Landers, vice president of corporate finance for Cudd’s parent company, Atlanta-based RPC.

“It’s unfortunate,” Landers said. “We were very successful and had good employees. We had to do this because the activity had slowed down.”

 

 

Associated Press/Austin American Statesman* – November 1, 2019

Exxon profit plummets with plenty of oil to go around

Exxon Mobil’s profit tumbled with crude prices down about 15% from where they were last year, though a $300 million boost from a tax-related item helped.

Exxon Mobil Corp. on Friday reported net income of $3.17 billion, or 75 cents per share. Those per-share earnings were 68 cents if one-time benefits are removed, topping expectations by 4 cents. But it’s about half of last year’s $6.24 billion, or $1.46 per share.

Revenue was $65.05 billion, down 15% from last year’s $76.61 billion.

Oil production rose 3% from a year earlier, to 3.9 million barrels per day.

Related: Exxon Mobil profit falls 49% as oil and gas prices decline

 

 

Carlsbad Current Argus* – November 1, 2019

Chevron recycles, reuses fracking water from oil and gas as Permian production booms

Extracting oil and gas via hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – uses and generates millions of gallons of water unfit for human consumption.

The Chevron Corporation estimated that for every barrel of oil it produces – about 42 gallons – about seven to eight barrels of produced or waste water is generated.

Much of that water is brought up from underground with the oil and natural gas as it is extracted, and some of it flow-back fluid created when water and chemical are pumped down-hole to break up oil-rich shale rocks and return to the surface. ….

But recently, companies like Chevron found they could reuse produced water in the process and cut down on the impact to freshwater supplies – especially in the arid Permian Basin of southeast New Mexico and West Texas.

Abdul Sule, Chevron’s Permian water operations supervisor said some research even showed well production increased with the use of produced water, because returning water back into the shale it came from has less of an impact on altering the chemistry of the formation.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 1, 2019

Cheniere Energy posts $318 million loss but remains bullish on Corpus Christi

Houston liquefied natural gas company Cheniere Energy posted a third quarter loss amid higher expenses but remains optimistic on future growth in Corpus Christi, where it is expected to complete construction on a third production unit months ahead of schedule.

Cheniere said Friday that it lost $318 million in the three months that ended in September, compared to a $65 million profit during the same period a year ago. Revenues rose more than 20 percent to $2.2 billion from $1.8 billion in the third quarter of 2018.

The company attributed the third quarter loss to higher operating expenses, depreciation of assets and interest payments. An estimated $87 million of those losses were attributed to cost overruns and construction delays on the company’s 200-mile Midship natural gas pipeline project in Oklahoma.

 

 

Victoria Advocate* – November 1, 2019

DeWitt County residents evacuated after well-control incident

At least 10 DeWitt County residents were evacuated after a Devon Energy oil drilling site near Yorktown malfunctioned Friday morning.

As of 12:45 p.m., a cloud of gas that had leaked from the site was visible but dissipating, said Sheriff Carl Bowen, who was watching from outside the two-mile evacuation zone.

That evacuation remained in effect Friday evening.

Although Bowen said the gas likely does not pose any danger to the public, authorities had evacuated the area out of an abundance of caution.

Devon has reported to the commission that the well was drilled and completed by BPX Energy and transferred to Devon on Oct. 28.

 

 

CNBC – November 1, 2019

US and OPEC supply has ‘extinguished’ any remaining upside potential for oil prices, analyst says

An increase in production from the U.S. and OPEC has offset any remaining upside potential for oil prices, according to one analyst, with crude futures on track to register a weekly loss.

U.S. oil production surged by almost 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) in August, government data published Thursday showed, hitting a record of 12.4 million. The increase was largely due to a 30% surge in Gulf of Mexico output.

Meanwhile, a Reuters survey on OPEC production showed production rose by 690,000 bpd in October. That brought the Middle East-dominated group’s total supply back up to 29.59 million bpd.

“This latest ramp up in OPEC and U.S. supply extinguished any remaining pockets of upside potential,” Stephen Brennock, oil analyst at PVM Oil Associates, said in a research note published Friday.

 

 

MarketWatch – November 1, 2019

Tillerson at Exxon trial: Global warming a ‘real issue… with us now, forevermore’

‘We knew [global warming] was a serious issue and we knew it was one that’s going to be with us now, forevermore, and it’s not something that was just suddenly going to disappear off of our concern list because it is going to be with us for certainly well beyond my lifetime.’

That’s the former oil executive in a court appearance this week replete with existential musings on climate change and some tactics for commanding a fossil-fuel giant in an evolving world.

Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil Corp.’s XOM, +3.00% former CEO and short-tenured Secretary of State in the Trump administration, is helping defend his former company against New York charges that Exxon intentionally misled investors in accounting for the financial risk of climate change. Exxon denies wrongdoing.

Tillerson touched on the complications of meeting growth expectations in an oil-dependent economy.

“If the economies are going to continue to not just perform, but grow, if people are going to continue to want to improve their quality of life, sustain their quality of life, they’re going to have to have energy, a lot of it, and the demand is going to keep growing,” Tillerson said, according to a report on Bloomberg and other major outlets covering the trial.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 1, 2019

Chevron profits fall in third quarter, misses Wall Street expectations

Chevron Corp. reported a net income of $2.58 billion in the third quarter, down from $4.05 billion in the same quarter last year, and missed Wall Street expectations.

The San Ramon, California-based company reported earnings of $1.36 per diluted share; analyst consensus expectations were $1.49 per share.

Chevron reported $36 billion in revenue, down from $44 billion in the same quarter last year.

 

 

Associated Press – October 29, 2019

ONE Gas: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

ONE Gas Inc. (OGS) last week reported third-quarter profit of $17.5 million.

The Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company said it had net income of 33 cents per share.

The results did not meet Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of three analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 34 cents per share.

The natural gas distribution posted revenue of $248.6 million in the period.

 

 

Baton Rouge Advocate – November 1, 2019

Drillers find more water than oil in Louisiana Austin Chalk so far, some still bullish on potential

Two years ago, oil and gas companies began placing big bets on the Austin Chalk, a geological formation that many hoped could revive drilling across a large swath of south Louisiana — including areas around Baton Rouge.

Now, with some wells hitting more water than oil, the Austin Chalk’s prospects have become murkier. At least one major player has pulled out, though others still see potential in the play.

In late September, Houston-based ConocoPhillips decided to “discontinue exploration activities” in the Louisiana Austin Chalk, then put its 234,000 leased acres up for a mid-October auction — for which results are confidential.

 

 

Oil & Gas 360 – October 25, 2019

Occidental Petroleum sale of Permian assets to Ecopetrol given the green light

A Columbian energy company was approved by the U.S. federal government to form a joint venture with one of the Permian Basin’s top oil and gas producers.

Ecopetrol announced regulatory approvals were received on Tuesday for the deal with Occidental Petroleum to develop land in the Permian for oil and gas production.

The transaction was expected to close by the end of 2019.

 

 

Bloomberg News – November 2, 2019

Planeloads of Cash From Russia Have Been Shipped to Venezuela

Hundreds of millions of dollars in cash has been shipped from Russia to Venezuela, providing a lifeline to the South American country as U.S. sanctions limit its access to the global financial system.

A total of $315 million of U.S. dollar and euro notes were sent in six separate shipments from Moscow to Caracas from May 2018 to April 2019, according to data reviewed by Bloomberg from ImportGenius, which compiled Russian customs records it obtains through private sources. The cash came from lenders run by the countries’ governments and went to Venezuela’s development bank, the records show.

While the money could be for any number of things — like Venezuela repatriating cash held overseas or dividends from a stake in a Moscow-based bank or revenue from sales of crude or gold — the complex logistical feat shows one of the ways President Nicolas Maduro’s administration has sought to skirt aggressive U.S. financial sanctions. As a consequence of the scrutiny, the central bank is conducting more transactions in cash, sometimes offering local clients access to euro bills.

 

Utilities

 

American Prospect – October 9, 2019

JPMorgan Gets Back Into the Electricity Business

Mega-bank JPMorgan Chase, years after being fined over $400 million for manipulating energy markets, is effectively purchasing an electric utility in El Paso, Texas, laundered through an allegedly independent investment fund. The “owners” of the fund appear to not be owners at all, but members of its board of directors, all of whom have ties to JPMorgan. And 48 executives of the investment fund are actually paid employees of JPMorgan, which is lending out their services.

The fund, known as the Infrastructure Investments Fund, or IIF, contends that it is merely “advised” by JPMorgan. “It’s no secret that there’s a relationship there,” says Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen, who has tracked the sale. “But I’ve been looking at electric utility mergers for 20 years, and I have never seen anything as convoluted as this.”

It’s not even necessarily illegal for a bank to purchase an electric utility, though some believe it should be. The Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 was intended to separate banking and commerce, but decades of Federal Reserve interpretations broke down that wall, allowing banks to justify their ownership of nonfinancial businesses as part of “merchant banking” activities.

 

 

Motley Fool – October 27, 2019

Permian Basin Keeps Powering Xcel Energy’s Growth

There’s a heavy dose of irony contained within the third-quarter 2019 earnings report from Xcel Energy (NASDAQ:XEL). The company is one of the largest investors in wind energy in the United States and last year committed its four regional electric utilities to deliver 100% zero-carbon energy by 2050. It’s on pace to reduce its carbon emissions 80% from 2005 levels by 2030. It expects to rely on renewables for 48% of its electricity mix by 2027.

Yet through the first nine months of 2019, it appears all of the company’s year-over-year earnings growth came from oil and gas customers operating in the Permian Basin. In fact, it was the only customer group in any territories served by Xcel Energy to see electricity sales growth in that span compared to the year-ago period.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – November 1, 2019

Tomlinson: Solar power and big batteries pose threat to natural gas’s future

For now, natural gas plants have an advantage because they can run as long as they have fuel, unlike the most affordable batteries, which are only good for four hours. Natural gas, though, is a greenhouse gas that releases carbon dioxide when burned, and many states and politicians want to cut carbon emissions from electricity generation to zero by 2040.

Consumers will have a big say in whether energy storage or natural gas wins this competition. To meet the 2040 deadline, the U.S. will need 1,600 gigawatts of new wind and solar projects, 900 gigawatts of battery storage, and double the amount of high-voltage transmission lines to deliver wind and solar energy, said Dan Shreve, head of global wind research at Wood Mackenzie.

Shreve estimates reaching zero emissions by 2040 will cost $4.5 trillion, or about $225 billion a year. American consumers and taxpayers will have to decide whether they are willing to pay that much to fight climate change, or content to let their grandchildren to suffer the consequences.

Which path they choose will decide how long natural gas will be the bridge fuel to a clean energy future, or how quickly the U.S. adopts battery storage and put natural gas plants out of business.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 31, 2019

Wind spending shifts to maintenance/operations as federal tax credits expire

A surge in new wind farms before federal tax credits expire is expected to boost the amount of money that will be spent on wind power operations and maintenance, according to a new report.

Annual U.S. spending to operate and maintain wind energy generation facilities is projected to reach $7.5 billion by 2030, a 50 percent increase from 2018 spending levels, according to London-based information and analysis firm IHS Markit.

The tax credit and advances in wind technology have driven new investment in wind projects, with capital spending reaching $12 billion last year, according to IHS Markit. Annual capital spending on new wind projects is expected to grow to $14 billion this year and in 2020 and 2021 but will taper off after the tax credits expire.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – November 1, 2019

The Key to Electric Cars Is Batteries. One Chinese Firm Dominates the Industry

A little-known Chinese company has become the world’s biggest maker of electric vehicle batteries.

Beijing engineered a scenario that didn’t give the world much choice.

China is by far the biggest EV market, and to boost its standing in the fast-growing industry, China began pressuring foreign auto makers to use locally-made batteries in the country several years ago. One company—Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd., known as CATL—was the only shop capable of producing them at scale.

Auto makers weren’t pleased, but they fell in line. During a visit to CATL headquarters in 2017, three Daimler AG executives displayed their irritation shortly after the meeting started, recalled Jiang Lingfeng, then a CATL project manager who prepared a technical briefing for the visitors.

One Daimler executive cut off his briefing, said Mr. Jiang. “We’re not interested,” the executive said, according to Mr. Jiang. “The only reason we’re here is that we have no choice, so let’s just talk about the price.”

 

Regulatory

 

Texas Monthly* – October 16, 2019

What Can Texas Cities Do When State Legislators Admit to Hating Them?

Buried near the 40-minute mark of the surreptitious recording of House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and the far-right Empower Texans head Michael Q. Sullivan was a brief exchange that spelled out the antipathy many in the state Legislature feel toward Texas’ cities:

Dennis Bonnen: In this office, in the conference room at that end, any mayor or county judge who’s dumbass enough to come meet with me, I told them with great clarity, my goal is for this to be the worst session in the history of the legislature for cities and counties.

Dustin Burrows: I hope the next session is even worse.

Dennis Bonnen: And I’m all for that.

The quote made it around certain Twitter circles yesterday morning. The plain language explained what plenty of bills have done in recent legislative sessions: kneecap urban areas from passing policy the Lege doesn’t want. Last year came reform bills that capped the rate at which cities can raise property taxes. The Lege banned red light cameras. It blocked cities from charging private telecommunication companies for using public right of way, particularly concerning when you think of all the impending 5G infrastructure.

Related: Empower Texans helped topple House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. Did it further the conservative movement?

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – November 1, 2019

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Lead Stories

 

E&E News* – October 31, 2019

First-of-a-kind U.S. grid cyberattack hit wind, solar

A Utah renewable energy developer was hit by a first-of-its-kind cyberattack that briefly cut contact to a dozen wind and solar farms this spring, according to documents obtained by E&E News under the Freedom of Information Act.

Salt Lake City-based sPower suffered “denial of service” attacks on March 5 that left grid operators temporarily blinded to generation sites totaling 500 megawatts, the documents show.

Hackers did not cause any blackouts or generation outages, according to sPower, which says it’s the biggest private solar power operator in the United States. The cyberattack took advantage of a known weakness in Cisco firewalls to trigger a series of five-minute communications outages over a span of about 12 hours, according to an emergency report sPower filed with the Department of Energy at the time of the disruption that was not publicly released. Denial-of-service attacks flood target devices or websites with bogus traffic to crash them.

 

 

Reuters – October 31, 2019

U.S. oil output soars to record 12.4 million bpd in August: EIA

U.S. crude production soared nearly 600,000 barrels per day in August to a record of 12.4 million, buoyed by a 30% increase in Gulf of Mexico output, according to government data released on Thursday.

The United States has become the world’s largest oil producer with output surging to records above 12 million bpd this year as technological advances have increased production from shale formations across Texas, North Dakota and New Mexico. All three states saw output rise in August.

Additionally, oil production in the Gulf of Mexico rose 469,000 bpd in the month to a record for the region at above 2 million bpd, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s monthly drilling report. Hurricane Barry in July disrupted Gulf output, accounting for some of the month on month gain. Still, Gulf of Mexico output has climbed by about 100,000 bpd from the start of the year.

 

 

Automotive News – October 31, 2019

Q&A: Nobel Prize winner says better batteries will cement EV era

The Nobel Prize winning scientist whose research proved critical in developing lithium ion batteries said the ubiquitous technology energizing iPhones and electric vehicles is poised to become more powerful and cheaper — keys for unlocking the mainstream adoption of EVs and home-energy storage units.

M. Stanley Whittingham, 77, is part of a trio jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry this month. He still works to make batteries better, more than four decades after his initial breakthroughs in a New Jersey laboratory while employed by Exxon Mobil, where he received the patent for a rechargeable lithium ion battery.

 

 

Our Finite World – October 24, 2019

Gail Tverberg: How Renewable Energy Models Can Produce Misleading Indications

The energy needs of the world’s economy seem to be easy to model. Energy consumption is measured in a variety of different ways including kilowatt hours, barrels of oil equivalent, British thermal units, kilocalories and joules. Two types of energy are equivalent if they produce the same number of units of energy, right?

For example, xkcd’s modeler Randall Munroe explains the benefit of renewable energy in the video below. He tells us that based on his model, solar, if scaled up to ridiculous levels, can provide enough renewable energy for ourselves and a half-dozen of our neighbors. Wind, if scaled up to absurd levels, can provide enough renewable energy for ourselves and a dozen of our neighbors.

There is a major catch to this analysis, however. The kinds of energy produced by wind and solar are not the kinds of energy that the economy needs. Wind and solar produce intermittent electricity available only at specific times and places. What the world economy needs is a variety of different energy types that match the energy requirements of the many devices in place in the world today. This energy needs to be transported to the right place and saved for the right time of day and the right time of year. There may even be a need to store this energy from year-to-year, because of possible droughts.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – November 1, 2019

Oil prices edge up, but set for big weekly loss on rising output, trade woes

Oil prices edged up on Friday after a difficult week, but were still headed for losses of about 4%, hit by a combination of rising global supply and uncertain future demand.

U.S. crude rose for the first time in four days, gaining 18 cents, or 0.3%, to $54.36 a barrel by 0339 GMT. The contract was set for a weekly loss of more than 4%.

Brent crude was up 5 cents, or 0.1%, at $59.67 a barrel, leaving it on track for a drop of nearly 4%.

Worries over global economic growth, along with oil demand, continue to haunt the market as leaders from the United States and China struggle to end a 16-month dispute that has roiled trade between the world’s top two economies.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 31, 2019

Fracking pioneer’s charity challenges industry orthodoxy

Four years ago, a group of oil and gas executives and environmental experts, assembled by the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, prepared to publish a report calling on Texas regulators to adopt rules to reduce the risk of water contamination from oil and gas production — in response to numerous complaints by residents living close to drilling sites.

But the oil executives, after working on the study for three years, started getting cold feet about having their companies’ names attached to those findings. The report was put on hold, never to be published, said Marilu Hastings, vice president of sustainability programs at the foundation.

“It was the usual suspects,” she said, declining to name the executives or their companies. “On the day before publication, led by one company in particular, they said they would not put their names and dropped out. It was probably the plan from the beginning.”

 

 

San Antonio Express News* – October 31, 2019

Pioneer Energy posts $26 million loss in 3Q

Pioneer Energy Services of San Antonio, the troubled oil-field services company, reported Thursday a third-quarter loss that increased 400 percent from a year ago, due partly to oil producers hesitant to drill and bigger bonuses and other compensation to Pioneer executives.

Losses hit $26 million, or 33 cents a share, on revenue of $146.3 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30. That’s down from a $5.2 million loss, or 7 cents per share, on revenue of $149.3 million in the same quarter a year ago.

In Pioneer’s earnings release, President and CEO Stacy Locke said “weaker oil prices and generally challenging market conditions” resulted in the company leasing fewer drilling rigs to energy company in the quarter. He also cited Pioneer’s “new compensation plans” for top executives and other employees as a factor in the company’s losses.

 

 

CNBC – October 31, 2019

Shell’s third-quarter profits fall 15%, launches next phase of its share buyback program

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell reported a 15% fall in third-quarter net profit on Thursday, citing lower energy prices and chemicals margins.

Net income attributable to shareholders on a current cost of supplies (CCS) basis, used as a proxy for net profit, and excluding identified items, came in at $4.767 billion for the third quarter of 2019. That compared with a profit of $5.624 billion in the same quarter a year ago and $3.462 billion in the second quarter.

Analysts had expected third-quarter net income attributable to shareholders on a CCS basis, and excluding identified items, to come in at $6.468 billion, according to data from Refinitiv.

 

 

Reuters – October 31, 2019

Oil prices face pressure as global economy slows – Reuters poll

Oil prices are likely to be pressured this year and next as low demand from a slowing global economy and a surge in U.S. shale output offset support from OPEC production cuts and Middle East supply risks, a Reuters survey shows.

The poll of 51 economists and analysts forecast Brent crude LCOc1 would average $64.16 a barrel in 2019 and $62.38 next year. This is compared to the previous month’s $65.19 projection for 2019 and $63.56 for 2020, and an average oil price so far this year of $64.23.

The 2019 outlook for West Texas Intermediate crude futures CLc1 was slightly reduced to $57.18 per barrel from last month’s $57.96 forecast, while the 2020 projection was at $56.98 against $58.02 in September. WTI has averaged $56.78 this year.

“It continues to be a battle between supply fears and demand fears,” said Cyrus de la Rubia, chief economist at Hamburg Commercial Bank AG.

 

 

Bloomberg News/Financial Post – October 31, 2019

‘Canada’ Is Becoming a Dirty Word in the Oil Patch

For Encana, the move is a logical shift since Doug Suttles, a Texan, took over as chief executive officer in 2013.

Canada’s beleaguered energy sector suffered another morale blow as Encana Corp. — one of its marquee companies that was born out of the 19th-century railway boom — announced plans to move its headquarters to the U.S. and drop the link to Canada from its name.

The Calgary-based company said Thursday that it will establish a corporate domicile in the U.S. early next year, pending various approvals, and rebrand under the name Ovintiv Inc. The shares fell as much as 9.3% in Toronto, the biggest drop in a year.

The move is likely to intensify the gloom already hanging over the Canadian energy industry, which has suffered from a lack of pipeline space that has choked off prospects for growth, prompting foreign companies to ditch more than $30 billion of assets in the past three years. Encana joins pipeline owner TransCanada Corp., which changed its name to TC Energy Corp. earlier this year.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 31, 2019

Marathon Petroleum announces leadership changes, plans to spin off Speedway gas stations

Ohio refining company Marathon Petroleum is making changes to its leadership and is seeking to spin off nearly 4,000 Speedway gas stations as a separate and publicly traded company.

Marathon announced the changes in a series of three announcements that followed the release of its third quarter results early Thursday morning.

The company reported a $1.1 billion profit on $31.2 billion of revenue during the third quarter, a sharp increase over the $942 million profit on $23.1 billion of revenue during the same time period last year.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 31, 2019

Fluor posts $742 million loss during third quarter amid company overhaul

Dallas engineering, procurement and engineering company Fluor posted a nearly three-quarter billion loss during the third quarter amid a companywide overhaul.

In an early Wednesday morning statement, Fluor reported posting a $742 million loss on nearly $3.9 billion of revenue during the third quarter. The figures were a steep drop compared to the $77.3 million profit on nearly $4.7 billion of revenue the company reported during the third quarter of 2018.

This year’s this quarter figures translated into a loss per share of $5.29 for stockholders, a sharp drop compared to the 55 cents per share during the same time period last year.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 31, 2019

Enbridge CEO Al Monaco discusses the North American approach to doing business

Overseeing a company with more than $46.4 billion of annual revenue, Enbridge CEO Al Monaco always makes business decisions through a North American lens – what is good for Canada, the United States or Mexico is good for the others.

Founded in Calgary seven decades ago, Enbridge began as a company focused on moving crude oil from Alberta to refineries in places such as Illinois and Michigan. But that changed in when the company closed a $28 billion deal in February 2017 to buy Houston natural gas pipeline operator Spectra Energy.

More than two years later, the combined company has become one of the largest pipeline operators in North America – with more than 26,000 miles of natural gas pipelines and more than 17,000 miles of crude oil and liquids pipelines in the United States and Canada.

 

 

KCBD – October 31, 2019

Lawsuit filed against gas, transportation companies after husband, wife killed by hydrogen sulfide gas exposure

Lubbock — A group of Houston attorneys have filed suit against Aghorn Operating, Inc., Aghorn Oil & Gas, Inc., Gilliam’s Aghorn Energy, Inc., and Sentinel Transportation, LLC on behalf of the families of Jacob Dean and Natalee Dean.

Jacob Dean and Natalee Dean, with their 9 and 6-year-old children, were found by emergency crews at a pump house near Odessa, when Jacob’s supervisor had not heard back from him.

Initial reports indicate Natalie had gone to check on Jacob, leaving the children in her car away from the pump house. Jacob and Natalie were overtaken by the hydrogen sulfide and pronounced dead when emergency crews arrived.

 

 

Oil Price – October 30, 2019

World’s Most Controversial Pipeline Clears Final Hurdle

Denmark has granted Russia’s state-controlled energy company Gazprom permission to build a controversial gas export pipeline through Danish waters.

The October 30 approval removes the last major regulatory hurdle for Gazprom to complete its 1,230 kilometer Nord Stream 2 pipeline along the Baltic Sea floor from Russia to Germany.

The Danish decision puts greater pressure on U.S. Congress to quickly pass a sanctions bill to halt the project before it is completed.

Washington has opposed the project over concern it will increase Europe’s dependence on Russian energy, boost the Kremlin’s coffers for military adventures, and hurt Ukraine.

 

 

San Antonio Express News* – October 25, 2019

Sustainability moved beyond reservoir life for energy industry

For oil and gas producers today, sustainability goes beyond sustaining oil and gas production.

“We need to make sure our choices are good for the company and for the environment,” said Katherine McAden, corporate communications manager with Parsley Energy.

Participating in a panel discussion on sustainability at the Permian Basin Petroleum Association’s Annual Meeting, she said the question of oil and gas activity’s impact on the environment is an important global question. And she said the industry needs to advocate for itself amid the debate on whether to stop using fossil fuels for energy.

 

 

Oil & Gas 360 – October 25, 2019

Sen. Ed Markey to return almost $47,000 in donations from fossil fuel-connected lobbyists

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey plans to refund almost $47,000 in campaign contributions that broke a popular pledge to refuse money from fossil fuel-connected executives and lobbyists.

Markey, the longtime champion of environmental causes who sponsored the Green New Deal earlier this year, is one of 1,800 candidates to sign the “No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge” organized by nonprofit Oil Change U.S and sponsored by more than a dozen climate groups.

MassLive reported last week that Markey this year accepted a combined $5,000 from four lobbyists who count fossil fuel companies among their clients. Campaign Director John Walsh said Friday that over the last week, Oil Change U.S. provided a clarification of the pledge requirements and the campaign “quickly worked to ensure technical compliance with the pledge.”

 

 

Newsweek – October 26, 2019

Russia accuses US of ‘state-sponsored gangsterism’ and illegally smuggling Syria’s oil after troop moved to protect oil fields

Russia has accused the U.S. of “state-sponsored gangsterism” after it claimed that plans to send troops to Syrian oil fields was a cover to protect American oil smugglers who circumvent sanctions in return for petrodollars. …

“Tank trucks guarded by U.S. military servicemen and private military companies smuggle oil from fields in eastern Syria to other countries,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

“In the event of any attack on such a convoy, U.S. special operations forces and combat aviation are immediately used to protect it.”

He added that oil was extracted by a U.S.-controlled company called Sadcub and had been smuggled to other countries and sold in contradiction of U.S. sanctions. He said the company generates revenues of $30m a month.

“Revenues from smuggling Syrian oil arrive at numbered bank accounts of US private military companies and intelligence services through brokerage firms that interact with it,” Konashenkov added.

 

 

Waco Tribune Herald – October 31, 2019

Meet the 25 Texas billionaires who have a net worth of $213.5 billion

In total, the ultra-rich are worth a record breaking $2.96 trillion, “up 2.2% from 2018,” Forbes reports.

“The minimum net worth needed to be part of the exclusive club is unchanged from last year at $2.1 billion; the average net worth of a Forbes 400 member has risen to $7.4 billion, up $200 million.”

127. Ray Lee Hunt, Chairman, Hunt Consolidated — Net worth: $5.2 billion – Worldwide billionaires ranking: No. 394

275. Sid Bass — $3.1 billion

370. Edward Bass — $2.2 billion

370. Lee Bass — $2.2 billion

 

Utilities

 

KCBD (Amarillo) – October 31, 2019

Xcel paying customers for trading in old refrigerators, freezers

Xcel Energy is participating in a program through the end of the year that offers a $75 incentive for customers to trade in their old refrigerators and freezers for more energy efficient appliances.

The thinking behind this program is to help customers get newer appliances that are more cost-effective and energy efficient, according to Xcel.

This program is offered through ARCA, which has set up a website to get those incentives to Xcel customers. That link can be found here. Customers can also use that website to schedule pick-ups.

 

 

Non-Profit Quarterly – October 25, 2019

Steve Dubb: Can Public Ownership of Utilities Help Address Climate Change?

As Greta Moran writes in Teen Vogue, many different movements across the country are arising with a common demand: placing the ownership of many of the nation’s investor-owned utility companies into public hands, either through local government or cooperative ownership.

As Moran explains, “In recent years, activists around the country, including in New York City, Boston, Providence, Chicago, Boulder, and Washington, DC, as well as Northern California and Maine, have been working to transition utilities to public ownership, which would make them accountable to the public instead of investors.”

Moran acknowledges that public utilities are “hardly a new idea—over 2,000 public utilities already exist in the US.” Indeed, in the state of Nebraska, the percentage of customers who receive energy from either public or co-op firms is exactly 100 percent.

 

 

Newsweek – October 21, 2019

American scientists are about to start shooting plasma guns in a bid to achieve controller nuclear fusion

Scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico are about to start experiments with “plasma guns” in the hope of achieving controlled nuclear fusion—a source of clean and near limitless energy.

Nuclear fusion is the way the sun generates power. It involves two small, lighter nuclei joining together to create one heavy nucleus. When they join together, energy is released. However, achieving this in a stable state, meaning the energy can be harnessed, is extremely difficult. High pressures and temperatures of around 150 million degrees Celsius are required.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Austin American Statesman* – October 31, 2019

Revel’s sharable electric Vespa-style scooters coming to Austin

Austin’s got sit-down scooters, stand-up scooters, pedal-powered bicycles and electric bikes. Now, between 200 and 300 Vespa-style scooters are joining the city’s shareable fleet.

Revel is an app-based electric scooter sharing service that’s expected to deploy its scooters in downtown Austin on Friday, once its permit application is approved, said Jacob Culberson, division manager for mobility services with the Austin Transportation Department.

The seated scooters, which require a driver’s license to use them, will follow the same rules as electric stand-up scooters, with a few exceptions, Culberson said.

Revel’s black and blue vehicles, which are already in New York and Washington, D.C., can’t go on sidewalks or be parked there. They also can’t go onto urban trails or be driven in bike lanes.

 

 

CNBC – October 31, 2019

US wind energy capacity is now more than 100 gigawatts, according to new report

The U.S. is now home to more than 100 gigawatts (GW) of wind energy capacity, a new report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said Thursday.

According to the AWEA’s “U.S. Wind Industry Third Quarter 2019 Market Report”, 1,927 megawatts – a little under 2 GW – of wind power capacity was commissioned in the third quarter of 2019, the highest third quarter on record for installations. These installations pushed overall capacity above the landmark figure of 100 GW, the AWEA’s report said.

On a state level, Texas leads the way with more than 27 GW of cumulative capacity, according to the AWEA’s report. Capacity refers to the maximum amount that installations can produce, not what they are currently generating.

 

Regulatory

 

Texas Tribune – November 1, 2019

Most Texas voters have heard nothing or little of the scandal that sunk House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, UT/TT Poll says

A recorded and reckless conversation between a top state official and a political activist rocked the state Capitol this summer and upended the career of Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen last month. But it hardly registered with most voters, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

More than two-thirds of registered voters said they have heard “nothing at all” (50%) or “a little” (18%) “about the controversy over a June 2019 meeting between the speaker of the Texas House and the head of a political action committee.” Only 12% said they have heard “a lot,” and 19% said they have heard “some” about the incident.

Bonnen, elected speaker in January, met shortly after the end of the legislative session in June with Michael Quinn Sullivan of Empower Texans and state Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock. Sullivan alleged Bonnen and Burrows offered him media passes to the floor of the House and gave him a list of Republican colleagues they said they would be happy to replace. Sullivan recorded the conversation and released that recording last month, undermining denials made by Bonnen and Burrows and resulting in Bonnen’s decision not to run for another term in the House.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 31, 2019

As air quality problem persists, local experts turn to technology

Houston city officials and university researchers are using technology to better and more accurately inform the community when the air quality might be particularly concerning for the most vulnerable. Researchers from the University of Houston have developed an artificial intelligence-based ozone forecasting system to quickly predict ozone levels at least 24 hours in advance. Meanwhile the city recently launched an Asthma Air Aware Day Alert System to let people know when outdoor air conditions match days when Houstonians have experienced ambulance-treated asthma attacks.

Citywide, there are about 364,000 people with asthma in the city, including about 64,000 children.

Air quality in the region is better than it was years ago, but experts say there’s still a long road ahead — and climate change is expected to bring additional challenges. So far this year, Harris County has seen 26 days on which ozone levels were unhealthy, including for sensitive groups. That’s the same as for all of 2018 and higher than the 20 days that the county saw in 2017 or the 17 days from the year before that. But it is much lower than in 2005, when the county experienced 80 days with high ozone levels, according to federal air quality data.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – October 31, 2019

Trump effort to clear path for gas pipelines garners broad state-level objections

A proposed US Environmental Protection Agency regulation intended to prevent states from using water quality reviews to block natural gas pipelines and other energy infrastructure is running into stiff opposition from states, tribal nations and environmental groups – in a sign of possible legal challenges ahead.

The Trump administration initiative responded in part to delays and denials of high-profile gas projects in New York, such as Williams’ 124-mile project, 650 MMcf/d Constitution Pipeline, as well as complaints about obstacles and conditions expanding in other states.

Despite a measurable slowdown in northeastern US interstate gas project applications, a handful of projects with a combined capacity of about 2.4 Bcf/d that are currently under review at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will require state water quality certifications, including William’s Leidy South expansion, National Fuel Gas Supply’s FM-100 project and Mountain Valley Pipeline’s proposed MVP Southgate extension. Some projects already approved by FERC — such as PennEast Pipeline and Northeast Supply Enhancement — are still struggling to gain the state signoffs.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – October 31, 2019

White House Backing Off Proposed Fuel-Efficiency Freeze

The Trump administration is backing away from a plan to freeze tailpipe-emissions targets for new vehicles through 2025, say people familiar with the process.

The administration is now considering requiring a 1.5% annual increase in fleetwide fuel efficiency, using an industry measure that takes both gas mileage and emissions reductions into account, the people said. The target moves the number closer to the Obama-era rules calling for 5% gains but still provides auto makers with significant relief and would allow cars to emit more pollution.

The new final number for annual increases could change, as the rules remain under review, one of these people said. In addition, the administration’s number is expected to be challenged in court by California and other states, which favor tougher regulations.

 

______________________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – October 31, 2019

Subscriber’s Edition

Asterisk * indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at website because it’s password protected

 

Lead Stories

 

Oil Price – October 30, 2019

Nick Cunningham: Democrats Just Accidentally Sparked A Federal Fracking Boom

Eyeing more restrictions on drilling following the 2020 presidential election, some U.S. oil and gas companies may accelerate fracking on public lands over the next year.

Concho Resources said that in order to mitigate risk from a potential ban on fracking in 2021, the company is running rigs on its federal acreage now.

The comment comes in light of the relatively strong rise of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is arguably the front runner, or at least in the top tier. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has trailed a bit, although a new poll from New Hampshire has him in first place there. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who offers up a more industry-friendly approach to energy and climate change, has slid in the polls. He is still considered among the top tier, but his fundraising has been anemic, his performance halting and unconvincing, and his momentum heading in the wrong direction.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 30, 2019

Apache at crossroads as it pins hopes on Suriname offshore field

Houston’s Apache Corp. is seemingly at a crossroads with the abrupt departure of its exploration chief, mounting financial losses, declining activity in its prized Alpine High discovery in West Texas, and future hopes pegged to striking it big offshore of the small South American nation of Suriname.

Just last week, Steve Keenan, Apache’s head of worldwide exploration, left the company, triggering a nearly 10 percent drop in the company’s stock price. On Wednesday, Apache reported a larger-than-expected $170 million loss for the third quarter. Since the beginning of September 2018, Apache’s stock has plunged by 55 percent.

Apache, meanwhile, is hoping to replicate Exxon Mobil’s success in finding oil off the coast of Guyana with its offshore holdings in neighboring Suriname. Apache is quick to point out that it is drilling just seven miles from the Guyana maritime border. Apache should have the results of its first test well by the end of November.

 

 

CNBC – October 30, 2019

Rex Tillerson says Exxon had no incentive to downplay costs, testifying in climate change fraud trial

Former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson said the company tried to understand the impact of climate change, and tried to accurately communicate the impact to shareholders, as he testified on Wednesday in New York during the second week of a trial against the oil giant.

The case, brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, alleges that the company deceived investors about the true cost of climate change. The $1.6 billion suit is the result of a four-year investigation, and the first climate fraud suit to go to trial….

Tillerson took the stand at 9:25 a.m. ET on Wednesday, and New York state attorney Kim Berger began questioning the former executive. The questioning lasted about 90 minutes, and focused on how the company reports carbon costs, and how the company factored increased costs from regulation into its long-term outlook.

Under cross-examination by Exxon attorney Ted Wells, Tillerson once again said that the company took climate change seriously for years, and that the company created a systematic approach for how to factor in increasing costs. He said that climate change was one of the many risks the company had to manage, and that he supported a carbon tax as a regulatory measure since it could be adapted as the science around global warming evolves.

 

 

Forbes – October 29, 2019

Elizabeth George, UofH: Carbon Storage In Texas: Who Owns The Underground Pore Space?

Texas is the largest producer of greenhouse gases in the United States, accounting for over one-eighth of all U.S. emissions. Interestingly, Texas also has the largest potential for carbon storage in its vast underground formations , should geological carbon sequestration at scale becomes a reality. The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that Texas has onshore storage capacity for between 661 million and 2.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide.

Clearly, Texas has an enormous opportunity to help U.S. and global efforts to reduce atmospheric carbon emissions. But the lack of clear laws governing who has the right to use that underground space poses a stumbling block that could delay or even cripple efforts to capture market share for this nascent environmental solution.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – October 31, 2019

Oil prices rise as investors put hopes on China stimulus

Oil prices rose on Thursday as investors banked on more economic stimulus by China after weak PMI data, partly recovering from losses in the previous session on a surprise build in U.S. crude stocks.

Brent crude futures were up 24 cents, or 0.4%, at $60.85 a barrel by 0221 GMT, having fallen earlier in the session. They dropped by 1.6% on Wednesday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up by 10 cents, 0.2%, at $55.16 a barrel. They ended 0.9% lower the previous session. …

Crude inventories rose 5.7 million barrels in the week to Oct. 25, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday, compared with analysts’ expectations for a 494,000-barrel build.

On Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute, an industry group, had reported a 708,000-barrel decline in inventories, raising hopes that official figures would also show a drop.

 

 

Associated Press/Washington Post – October 30, 2019

Keystone pipeline leaks oil in northeastern North Dakota

A pipeline that carries tar sands oil from Canada through seven states has leaked an unknown amount of crude oil over more than quarter-mile swath in northeastern North Dakota, state environmental regulators said Wednesday.

State Environmental Quality Chief Dave Glatt told The Associated Press that regulators were notified late Tuesday night of the leak near Edinburg, in Walsh County. Glatt said pipeline owner TC Energy shut down the pipeline after the leak was detected. The cause of the spill is under investigation. …

State regulators were on the scene Wednesday afternoon, and they estimated that the area of the spill was 1,500 feet long by 15 feet wide. Glatt said some wetlands were affected, but not any sources of drinking water.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – October 30, 2019

Energy Transfer Blames EdgeMarc Creditors for Failed Bankruptcy Auction

Pipeline giant Energy Transfer LP is blaming fracker EdgeMarc Energy Holdings LLC and its creditors for a failed auction of Pennsylvania natural gas drill sites left stranded by an explosion.

The destruction in 2018 of the pipeline system Energy Transfer was building to carry EdgeMarc’s natural gas to market pushed the fracker into bankruptcy earlier this year, more than $100 million in debt.

An auction scheduled for September was called off before it started, in spite of the pipeline company’s efforts to assure potential buyers they would have a way to deliver natural gas to customers, Energy Transfer said in new court papers.

 

 

Oil Price – October 29, 2019

Texas Hit Hard By Shale Slowdown

Texas’ economy is perhaps the most vulnerable to oil price swings given its leading role in the country’s oil industry. Recently, as prices have remained low, talk has begun about the outlook for the state’s economy.

According to a recent Reuters report, for example, smaller independent oil and gas producers in the Lone Star State are struggling to get loans from banks as the latter become increasingly wary of the ability of the borrowers to return the money when the time comes.

Jobs in the Texas oil and gas industry are falling, too. The Houston Business Journal reported this month that September saw a 1,100 decline in the number of jobs in the mining and logging sector—the category that includes oil and gas jobs. …

Yet not everyone is worried. The University of Houston Energy Fellows, for instance, wrote in an article for Forbes that “the alarm bells are premature.” While the experts that make up the group acknowledge there are plenty of reasons to be worried about the economy of Houston—the article focuses on the city—oil prices are not among them.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 29, 2019

Shale Slump: Lower hydraulic fracturing activity stings frac sand business

The ongoing shale slump is hitting sand miners and haulers that are facing lower demand, intense pricing pressures and competition from oil companies building their own mines to provide the crucial ingredient for hydraulic fracturing.

The Katy frac sand company U.S. Silica said Tuesday that it lost $23 million in the third quarter compared to a $6.3 million profit during the same period a year early. Revenue fell 14 percent to $362 million from $423 million in third quarter of 2018.

In hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, Sand is mixed with water and chemicals and pumped into wells at high pressure to crack shale rock holding reservoirs of oil and gas. The sand props open fissures to allow the oil and gas to flow into the well.

 

 

Associated Press/Minneapolis Star Tribune* – October 30, 2019

Agency: No alert system at Texas facility damaged by fire

A company that owns a Houston-area petrochemical storage facility which burned for days in March didn’t have an alert system in place to warn of releases from its tanks, a federal agency investigating the blaze said Wednesday.

The fire, which began March 17 in Deer Park, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Houston, sent waves of thick, black smoke thousands of feet into the air and forced the closure of roads, schools and a critical shipping channel. It caused no injuries but triggered air quality warnings.

In a report updating its ongoing probe, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board said the fire originated at one storage tank that mostly contained naphtha, a flammable liquid typically used as feed stock in gasoline production.

The facility, owned by Intercontinental Terminals Company, was made up of large storage tanks that contained components of gasoline and materials used in nail polish remover, glues and paint thinner.

 

 

D Magazine – October 30, 2019

Trevor Rees-Jones Pioneered Plays That Changed America’s Energy Industry

America has been on the forefront of an oil and gas revolution for nearly two decades, owing to the pioneering entrepreneurs who persisted in the face of challenges to their businesses and personal fortunes. Tenacious Chief Oil & Gas Founder and CEO Trevor Rees-Jones is one of the few people to outlast and outplay the notorious booms and busts that the business has served up during a transformative era.

After graduating from SMU’s law school and beginning his career as an oil and gas bankruptcy lawyer, Rees-Jones wanted to make the leap to the business side of the energy industry. His experience representing creditors afforded him the opportunity to learn about the operational and financial aspects of the business. In 1984, he took the plunge and began putting deals together, rounding up investors and drilling wells. Four decades later, his storied past is one of legend and inspired achievement.

 

 

Associated Press/San Antonio Express News* – October 30, 2019

Concho Resources: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

Concho Resources Inc. (CXO) on Tuesday reported third-quarter net income of $558 million, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier.

The Midland, Texas-based company said it had profit of $2.78 per share. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains, came to 61 cents per share.

The results fell short of Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 66 cents per share.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 30, 2019

Weatherford posts $821 million loss during third quarter

Switzerland and Houston-based oil field service company Weatherford International posted an $821 million loss during the third quarter — marking 19 consecutive quarters of losses for the bankrupt company.

Weatherford did not host an earnings call as most publicly traded companies do but rather reported the near billion loss in a Wednesday afternoon filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The bankrupt company’s $821 million loss on $1.3 billion of revenue is a sharp drop from the $199 million loss on $1.4 billion of revenue during the third quarter of 2018.

 

 

San Antonio Express News* – October 30, 2019

Offshore, LNG buoy Baker Hughes in third quarter

Offshore work and liquefied natural gas projects helped to buoy Houston oil field service company Baker Hughes during the third quarter.

In an early Wednesday morning statement, Baker Hughes reported posting a $57 million profit for shareholders on nearly $5.9 billion of revenue during the third quarter. The figures were higher compared to the $13 million net income for shareholders on nearly $5.7 billion of revenue during the third quarter of 2018.

This year’s this quarter figures translated into earnings per share of 21 cents for stockholders, which were higher compared to the 3 cents per share during the same time period last year.

 

 

Associated Press/San Antonio Express News* – October 30, 2019

Flowserve: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

Flowserve Corp. (FLS) on Wednesday reported third-quarter net income of $68.4 million.

On a per-share basis, the Irving, Texas-based company said it had profit of 52 cents. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to 59 cents per share.

The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 56 cents per share.

 

 

CBC – October 30, 2019

‘It’s the smart thing to do’: Canadian oil driller moves all its rigs to the U.S.

It wasn’t an easy decision for the management team at Citadel Drilling. They were a Canadian company, with Canadian workers, and they knew the Canadian oilpatch well.

It wasn’t a cheap decision to make, either. Picking up a drilling rig and moving it south of the border would cost about $1 million. Moving just one rig amounts to 57 semi-trailer loads of equipment.

Two years ago, Citadel Drilling began moving its rigs to the U.S. The firm now has all six of its rigs operating in the Permian Basin, which covers part of western Texas and southeastern New Mexico, and more than 100 Canadian workers rotating in and out.

The decision was difficult for the company’s executives. Although, in hindsight, it was a no-brainer.

CEO Dan Hoffarth says if Citadel Drilling had stayed in Canada, it wouldn’t have survived.

 

Utilities

 

San Antonio Express News* – October 30, 2019

CPS Energy to double solar but also keep coal

CPS Energy plans to nearly triple the amount of solar power it uses to replace its aging natural gas plants.

The city-owned utility’s CEO, Paula Gold-Williams, detailed the planned surge in solar power generation Tuesday at a San Antonio energy forum. She said the agency would solicit bids from solar providers by the end of the year.

CPS currently gets about 10 percent of its supply of electricity, or 550 megawatts, from solar. The new plan would increase solar power to 900 megawatts.

Combined with existing wind power, the new solar could bring the utility’s clean-energy generation mix to more than 40 percent.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 30, 2019

Consumer electricity complaints up in Texas

Electricity complaints filed by Texas consumers increased for the second consecutive year and now stand at a four-year high, according to a new study.

Texans filed 5,508 electricity-related complaints or inquiries with the Public Utility Commission during this past year, a 2.6 percent increase from the previous year, according to the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power, a group of cities that buy electricity in the deregulated market for governmental use.

 

 

Energy News Network – October 30, 2019

Details emerge about Department of Energy’s ‘super‑grid’ renewable study

A coast-to-coast transmission “super-grid” could be built across the United States for $80 billion and deliver economic gains of more than twice that amount, moving surplus renewable energy to major urban centers, according to an Energy Department national laboratory study that was pulled back by DOE headquarters, which called for more work on the findings.

James McCalley, a senior Iowa State University engineering professor and a principal author of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory study, said he is doing new analysis requested by DOE and expects to be done next year. DOE said the final report may not be released until 2022.

“My expectation is that [the additional analysis] probably will not change the basic thrust of our conclusions: High-capacity interregional transmission lines, particularly connecting the eastern and western grid compounds, have significant benefits,” McCalley said in an interview with E&E News.

 

 

pv magazine – October 30, 2019

A penny for your powerlines

Research by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory suggests that overall costs of transmission needed to integrate variable renewables is between 0.1-1¢/kWh, on top of the 2.9-4.6¢/kWh utility scale wind and solar power costs.

You build utility scale wind and solar where it blows the hardest, and shines the brightest. Then you bring it to the people. The image below, shows historical volumes of transmission built in the United States. Note that from the mid-80s through very recently, this volume has been minimal – including a negative amount around 1995. This is not surprising considering how some people react to power lines, but we may be seeing some thawing – with Florida, the Midwest and Wyoming recently approving large transmission projects.

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (LBNL), in Improving estimates of transmission capital costs for utility-scale wind and solar projects to inform renewable energy policy (pdf), modeled the costs of transmission infrastructure needed to move wind and solar, finding the range of average levelized costs for variable renewable energy between 0.1–1¢/kWh. These values can increase the costs of electricity from wind and solar facilities between 3-33%, based on the plants costs of 2.9–5.6¢/kWh for utility-scale wind and 3.6–4.6¢/kWh for utility-scale solar.

 

 

Talk Business & Politics – October 30, 2019

Strong utility earnings boost Entergy Corp.’s 3Q financial results

New Orleans-based Entergy Corp.’s third quarter earnings fell well short of year ago results but the parent of Arkansas’ largest electric provider still beat Wall Street estimates by posting robust profits in its regulated utility operations, the company announced Wednesday (Oct. 30).

For the period ended Sept. 30, Entergy Corp. reported third quarter earnings of $365 million, or $1.82 per share, compared to $536 million, or $2.92 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. Revenues were mostly flat at $3.14 billion in the three-month period, compared to $3.1 billion in the third quarter of 2018.
Accounting for adjustments, including one-time costs and expenses, third quarter earnings were $506 million, or $2.52 per share, compared to $431 million, or $2.35 per share in the third quarter of 2019. Wall Street analysts had expected the utility operator to report quarterly earnings of $2.29 per share on revenue of $3.43 billion, according to Thomson Reuters.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – October 29, 2019

How PG&E’s Aging Equipment Puts California at Risk

In the early 20th century, PG&E built a vast electric network along rivers in the Sierra Nevada. Most are still in operation. This pumphouse, built in 1921, until earlier this year fed electricity to the Caribou-Palermo line.

PG&E operates nearly 40 hydroelectric facilities built before 1950. Many of the associated electric lines and towers are just as old.

The Journal obtained PG&E’s lists of its “worst performing circuits,” which detail transmission lines with the most and longest unexpected outages, a sign of deeper problems. Five of the 20 worst lines converged on the Caribou Pumphouse, including the one that caused the Camp Fire.

Sixteen of the 20 worst lines are in high-risk fire areas. It’s a perilous combination: vulnerable lines in areas turned into tinderboxes by drought.

 

 

New York Post – October 29, 2019

Rich Lowry: California is ‘winning’ its way into the Stone Age

California is staying true to its reputation as the land of innovation — it is making blackouts, heretofore the signature of impoverished and wartorn lands, a routine feature of 21st-century American life. …

If California regulators wanted, they could have pushed the utilities to focus on the resilience and safety of its current infrastructure — implicated in some of the state’s most fearsome recent fires — as a top priority. Instead, the utilities commission forced costly renewable-energy initiatives on the utilities.

Meanwhile, California has had a decades-long aversion to properly clearing forests. The state’s leaders have long been in thrall to the belief that cutting down trees is somehow an offense against nature, even though thinning helps create healthier forests. Biomass has been allowed to build up, and it becomes the kindling for catastrophic fires.

As Chuck DeVore of the Texas Public Policy Foundation points out, a report of the Western Governors’ Association warned of this effect more than a decade ago, noting that “over time, the fire-prone forests that were not thinned burn in uncharacteristically destructive wildfires.”

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Austin Chronicle – October 30, 2019

Michael King: Austin’s Steady Strides Toward Climate Sustainability

“You had a future,” chanted the young people taking part in the Sept. 20 Climate Strike at the Capitol. “So should we!”

The urgency of the outcry is undeniable. The worldwide scientific consensus confirms that contemporary civilization – indeed, life on Earth – is seriously endangered by global warming and the accelerated climate change that comes with it. The political consensus – in Texas, the U.S., and elsewhere – is in a different place; those who assembled at the Capitol last month (of all ages, but set in motion primarily by Austin-area students) were joining a worldwide movement to alter that political consensus, against considerable odds.

Given the tenor, the substance, and the venue, the primary target of the strike was Texas state government, which persists in its centurylong fealty to the fossil-fuels industry and which shares the Trump administration’s determination to reject any consideration of a climate crisis. Yet the most specific demands of the organizers were directed locally, at what Austin can do – more aggressively than it already has done – in defense of the planet.

 

Regulatory

 

The Hill – October 29, 2019

Democrats push to end confidentiality for oil companies that don’t add ethanol

Lawmakers are looking for a solution to fix the nation’s ethanol program after proposals from the Trump administration have repeatedly irked both corn farmers and gasoline producers.

A bill from Democrats heard Tuesday goes straight to the source of the controversy as far as farmers are concerned — a transparency measure to illuminate why oil companies are receiving waivers that exempt them from blending ethanol into their fuels. …

Those waivers ignited a movement that has pitted farmers against the oil industry and left the administration scrambling to please both sides — likely an impossible task.

“We’re not going to find the perfect solution to give everyone 100 percent of what they want,” Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) told lawmakers at a Tuesday hearing of a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

 

 

Politico – October 28, 2019

Greg Walden to retire in latest sign of GOP doubts about retaking House

Rep. Greg Walden, the top Republican on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, will retire at the end of this Congress — the latest sign that Republicans see a struggle to retake the House in 2020.

The 62-year-old Walden, who was first elected in 1998, said he was confident he’d win reelection but decided instead to end his congressional career in Jan. 2021.

“Based on recent polling, strong fundraising, and the backing of my wife and family, I am confident I could earn the support of 2nd District voters for another term. I’m also optimistic that a path exists for Republicans to recapture a majority in the House, and that I could return for two more years as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Walden said in a statement given to POLITICO. “But I also know that for me, the time has come to pursue new challenges and opportunities.”

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – October 30, 2019

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Lead Stories

 

Investable Universe – October 29, 2019

Sovereign Wealth Funds Raising Their Stakes In Permian Infrastructure

With lots of liquefied natural gas (LNG) coming from the West Texas Permian Basin and not enough ways to store or ship it, market actors are finding a ready source of capital to fund the infrastructure development gap: sovereign wealth funds.

Last week, Mubadala, the $229 billion sovereign fund of the Government of Abu Dhabi, announced that it has invested $50 million in LNG export developer NextDecade in a private placement valuing the common stock at $6.27 per share. Mubadala will also receive a board seat at NextDecade, along with the right to contribute project-level capital upon the final investment decision of NextDecade’s RioGrande LNG project.

Publicly listed NextDecade is aiming to develop the largest LNG export structure to link gas from the Permian Basin to the global LNG market. Its current project portfolio includes the Rio Grande LNG export facility in Brownsville, Texas, which has a capacity of 27 metric tonnes per annum (MTPA), and the Rio Bravo Pipeline, with a capacity of 4.5 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) to transport natural gas from the Agua Dulce area to Rio Grande LNG.

 

 

Reuters – October 29, 2019

Carlyle Group’s oil terminal exit starts shakeout of U.S. crude exporters

Carlyle Group LP’s decision to abandon a Texas crude export project this month marked the start of a shake out among the nine deep water terminal proposals vying to export U.S. shale, said investors and analysts.

Its departure from the venture “is a testament to how heated the field is,” said Michael Tran, a managing director at RBC Capital Markets in New York. Rivals without Carlyle’s deep pockets “could face a similar fate,” he said.

The five U.S. crude export projects currently under federal review would add a combined 8.36 million bpd of export capacity, about two-thirds of current U.S. oil production.

 

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – October 28, 2019

New West Texas solar farms generate jobs as well as power

“For hire” signs are popping up throughout the Permian Basin at a wide range of businesses.

As expected, many of those jobs are in the region’s oil and gas industry. But another form of energy is also in hiring mode.

HCS Renewable Energy has held job fairs in Midland and Odessa seeking to fill jobs as it works on solar farm projects near the two cities.

“HCS is the largest installation subcontractor in the state,” said Ron Nickelson, company founder, president and chief operating officer. He recently was named to the board of directors of the Texas Solar Power Association.

 

 

Power Engineering – August 13, 2019

Is Thorium the Fuel of the Future to Revitalize Nuclear?

Nuclear energy produces carbon-free electricity, and the United States has used nuclear energy for decades to generate baseline power.

Nuclear energy, however, carries a dreaded stigma. After disasters such as Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukishima, the public is acutely aware of the potential, though misguided, dangers of nuclear energy. The cost of nuclear generation is on the rise–a stark contrast to the decreasing costs of alternative energy forms such as solar and wind, which have gained an immense amount of popularity recently.

This trend could continue until market forces make nuclear technology obsolete. Into this dynamic comes a resurgence in nuclear technology: liquid fluoride thorium reactors, or LFTRs (“lifters”). A LFTR is a type of molten salt reactor, significantly safer than a typical nuclear reactor. LFTRs use a combination of thorium (a common element widely found in the earth) and fluoride salts to power a reactor.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters/CNBC – October 30, 2019

Oil prices drop as trade worries overshadow fall in stocks

Oil prices fell on Wednesday as a possible delay in resolving the U.S.China trade war overshadowed a drop in U.S. crude inventories.

Brent crude was down 18 cents, or 0.3%, at $61.41 a barrel by 0405 GMT after gaining 2 cents on Tuesday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 27 cents, or 0.5%, at $55.27 a barrel, having dropped 0.5% in the previous session.

U.S. crude inventories fell 708,000 barrels in the week ended Oct. 25 to 436 million, compared with analysts’ expectations for an increase of 494,000 barrels, according to data from the industry group, the American Petroleum Institute.

 

 

North American Shale Magazine – October 29, 2019

Permian water pipeline developer, city of Lubbock partner

The city of Lubbock, Texas, has signed a deal with Palisade Pipeline LLC to supply the oilfield midstream firm backed by Macquarie Capital with up to 6 million gallons per day of non-potable reclaimed water.

Macquarie announced this week that it will provide development capital to Palisade to build out the infrastructure needed for a high capacity water pipeline capable of moving the non-potable water from Lubbock southwest to the Permian Basin oilfields of Texas and New Mexico.

 

 

San Antonio Express News* – October 29, 2019

Uresti co-defendant Gary Cain loses appeal

Gary Cain, a one-time San Antonio businessman who was convicted last year with then-state Sen. Carlos Uresti over their involvement in a Ponzi scheme, has lost his appeal.

A three-judge panel on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday affirmed the sentence handed down by U.S. District Court Judge David A. Ezra.

A jury found Cain, 63, guilty of nine felonies, comprised of various money-laundering and wire-fraud charges, for his role at now-defunct San Antonio oil-field services company FourWinds Logistic.

 

 

Bloomberg News* – October 28, 2019

JPMorgan Weighs Shifting Thousands of Jobs Out of New York Area

JPM spokesman Joe Evangelisti told Bloomberg bank’s new headquarters, likely to be in Texas, to house twice the number of employees as its Manhattan office…Bank mulls selling Manhattan tower inherited from Bear Stearns… Company is reining in costs ahead of possible economic slump

JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s new Manhattan headquarters is meant to be an ode to both the company and the city — a monumental glass-and-steel tower that says the nation’s largest bank grew up here. But New York may be losing its luster.

Despite more than two centuries of history in a city synonymous with the global financial industry, JPMorgan is quietly shrinking its workforce there. The bank’s been building up its presence in other locations and is now considering relocating several thousand New York-based employees out of the area to help rein in costs ahead of a possible economic downturn, according to people with knowledge of the bank’s strategy.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 29, 2019

Losses continue to mount for National Oilwell Varco in third quarter

Losses continue to mount for Houston oil field service company National Oilwell Varco, which posted a nearly quarter billion dollar loss during the third quarter.

In a statement released after close of market on Monday, NOV reported a $244 million loss on $2.1 billion of revenue during the third quarter. The figures were down from the $1 million profit on $2.2 billion of revenue during the third quarter of 2018.

The third quarter figures translated into a loss per share of 64 cents, which was down from an earnings per share of zero cents during the same time period last year.

 

 

CNBC – October 29, 2019

BP’s third-quarter net profit tumbles 41% on weaker oil prices, weather impacts

Energy giant BP reported a 41% fall in third-quarter net profits on Tuesday, citing lower upstream earnings, weaker oil prices and maintenance and weather impacts.

BP posted third-quarter underlying replacement cost profit, used as a proxy for net profit, of $2.3 billion, versus $2 billion, according to data from Refinitiv. That compared with a profit of $3.8 billion over the same period a year earlier and $2.8 billion in the second quarter of 2019.

The results show that the U.K.-based oil and gas company still managed to beat analyst expectations, despite a sharp drop in third-quarter net profits.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – October 29, 2019

US Lower 48 assets fuel ConcoPhillips’ third-quarter production growth

ConocoPhillips on Tuesday reported 21% annual production growth from its US Lower 48 assets, which it said helped to fuel most of the company’s global output growth during the third quarter of 2019.

Including gains from development programs and major projects in Alaska, Europe and the Asia Pacific, ConocoPhillips dialed up its global third-quarter production by 7% on the year to 1.32 million boe/d.

In late September, the company completed a divestiture of its UK North Sea assets to Chrysaor E&P for $2.2 billion — a move that it said would result in a slight downward revision to fourth-quarter output to around 1.27 million b/d to 1.31 million b/d.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 29, 2019

Hess, Chevron make Gulf of Mexico discovery with Esox well

Hess Corp. and Chevron teamed up to announce a new Gulf of Mexico discovery at their Esox-1 test well near the existing Tubular Bells field in the deepwater Gulf.

The discovery will lead to what essentially is an expansion project. New York-based Hess and Chevron will develop the area as a lower-cost tieback project, connecting the new wells via pipelines and subsea umbilicals to the Tubular Bells facilities that are about six miles west of the Esox-1 well.

The first Esox well is expected to come online in early 2020.

 

 

World Oil – October 29, 2019

Karr Ingram: Alliance takes on oilfield water issues in Texas

In Texas, an estimated 1.27 Bbbl of oil were produced in 2017. Concurrently, about 8.5 Bbbl of water were extracted alongside that crude oil. That’s a ratio of over 6.5 bbl of water produced for each bbl of crude oil. Those numbers were bigger in 2018. Crude oil output ballooned to over 1.6 Bbbl and, by that same ratio, the produced water volume in 2018 was over 10.5 Bbbl. Production is going to be higher, yet again, in 2019; the rate of oil production growth is slowing, but still stands to be at least 10% higher, which would swell the volume of oilfield produced water to over 11.6 Bbbl.

So, it’s almost like Texas energy producers are more in the business of extracting produced water, and a little bit of crude oil just happens to come with it. This is not true, of course, because it is the crude oil (and/or natural gas) that has value, and the petroleum is very obviously the reason for drilling the hole in the first place. However, the water must be managed to gain the value of the petroleum production, and as water volumes have risen, and done so dramatically, oilfield water management has become more difficult. The need for potential solutions is becoming more immediate with each additional barrel of production.

 

 

The Texas Energy Report* – October 29, 2019

“Oil Capital of California” Among Counties Threatened With Power Shutoffs

The “Oil Capital of California” is among those areas scheduled to lose power from Southern California Edison (SCE) as part of the utility’s “Public Safety Power Shutoff” initiative to protect against power line-caused fires during an extreme wind event in the Los Angeles area.

Hurricane-force winds are forecast to continue through Thursday evening with wind gusts up to 80 mph around the mountains north of L.A., prompting Pacific Gas & Electric and SCE to shut down power to areas where fire potential is most dangerous, including west and north of the city.

Kern County on the other side of the mountains northwest of the L.A. Basin is considered the most prolific oil-producing county in the US. producing up to 10% of the nation’s crude supply.

 

 

NASDAQ – Octobder 29, 2019

Matador Resources Surpasses Q3 Earnings and Revenue Estimates

atador Resources (MTDR) came out with quarterly earnings of $0.32 per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $0.23 per share. This compares to earnings of $0.48 per share a year ago. These figures are adjusted for non-recurring items.

This quarterly report represents an earnings surprise of 39.13%. A quarter ago, it was expected that this independent oil and gas company would post earnings of $0.19 per share when it actually produced earnings of $0.30, delivering a surprise of 57.89%.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 28, 2019

Sempra Energy, Mitsui enter deal for future expansions of two LNG export terminals

San Diego utility company Sempra Energy and Japanese industrial conglomerate Mitsui & Co. have entered into a memorandum of understanding to expand a liquefied natural gas export terminal in Louisiana and another in Baja California.

The two companies are part of a consortium building three liquefied natural gas production units during the first phase of development at the Cameron LNG export terminal in southwest Louisiana. Under the memorandum, the companies have agreed to help each other build two more production units as part of a phase 2 expansion.

 

 

Denton Record Chronicle – October 28, 2019

Horace Brock, pioneer of petroleum accounting, dies at age 92

Horace Rhea Brock, a retired accounting professor from the University of North Texas and a pioneer in the oil and gas accounting field, died Saturday. He was 92. …

Alumna Charlotte Wright, a retired regents professor at Oklahoma State University, said Brock’s expertise was tapped following the Arab oil embargo in 1973. He served on a national committee that studied and drafted accounting standards after Congress recognized the petroleum industry had none.

The standards have been in effect since, she said, with only a few amendments.

“I’ve been all over the world, and in nearly every country they are using them in some form,” Wright said. “They are the gold standard globally.”

 

Utilities

 

S&P Global Platts – October 29, 2019

Southwest Power Pool board approves $336 million to expand grid as wind growth draws fire

Southwest Power Pool’s board of directors and members committee approved a $336 million transmission expansion plan despite complaints from some members that the projects’ needs were driven by continuing growth of wind capacity amid flat load growth.

Across all of SPP’s transmission zones, the projects included in the 2019 Integrated Transmission Plan were expected to result in a net decrease in the average residential retail monthly bill, assuming 1,000 kWh/month, ranging from 4 cents in a scenario with slow wind capacity growth to 23 cents in a scenario with a more robust wind growth that Lanny Nickell, SPP vice president for engineering, called “more realistic.” The change is in the bill after all projects are complete and in-service, in 2029.

 

 

Texas Tribune – October 30, 2019

Texas signed off on the restoration of this old mine. Now a leaky landfill is contaminating groundwater.

ROCKDALE — It seems like everyone in Rockdale is talking about Sandow Lakes Ranch. That’s because so many residents of this old mining hub in Central Texas believe that the fate of the 32,000-acre tract is crucial to the future of their town.

For years, the ranch’s owner has been trying to sell the property, and for years, Rockdale residents have been buzzing about potential buyers, from a longshot bid for Amazon’s HQ2 to news that a Bitcoin-mining company might soon set up shop. Amazon, of course, didn’t pick Rockdale, and the Bitcoin company scaled back its plans.

For more than half a century, Rockdale was largely a company town, and as many as 2,000 people worked on that property, where a sprawling coal mine fed a power plant that in turn powered an energy-hungry aluminum smelter.

 

 

Texas Tribune – October 30, 2019

Texas coal companies are leaving behind contaminated land. The state is letting them.

An investigation by The Texas Tribune and Grist shows that regulators in the Lone Star State have given a hand up to struggling coal companies as they face millions of dollars in mandated land restoration costs.

Christine –In the late 1970s, at the tail end of a sweeping push to bring electricity to rural Texas, Alonzo Peeler Jr. struck a series of deals with three electric cooperatives: They could build a coal-fired power plant on the sprawling Atascosa County ranch where his family had run cattle for more than a century. And they could mine the abundant lignite, or “brown coal,” from underneath the property to feed the plant.

To Peeler, now 79, it made sense for a multitude of reasons. Not only would it bring more power generation to the farming and ranching region south of San Antonio, but it would boost the local tax base and bring additional income to his family.

 

 

Texas Tribune – October 30, 2019

Big coal gave a tiny Texas town free land. There’s a major catch.

Sulphur Springs leaders say they want Luminant — Texas’ largest electricity generator — to leave in place a 120-foot-tall mound of excavated dirt at the site of a shuttered coal mine so they can build an amphitheater. But the soil contains potentially dangerous materials, according to state regulators.

On a cold afternoon in January, Marc Maxwell strode across the historic town square in this East Texas town, pointing to all the new restaurants, bars and boutiques on its periphery. Maxwell, a jovial public servant who has been Sulphur Springs’ city manager for more than two decades, explained how the city had turned tired streets into brick-paved roads that wrap around the main square, converted a parking lot into a proper plaza and installed a row of electric car chargers near the police station.

“This used to be entirely shuttered up at night,” he said. “And now we’ve got 12 or 13 restaurants, a couple bars and a brewery. You come out here tonight for dinner and it’s alive.”

As this once-sleepy whistlestop of 16,000 residents works to revitalize its downtown and economy, Maxwell is most excited about a project that hasn’t happened yet: the transformation of a recently shuttered coal mine into what town leaders envision as a recreational paradise.

“Looking back,” Peeler says now, “I made a big mistake.”

 

 

October 29, 2019

Dallas Morning News: California’s energy nightmare shows us why Texas must trust the free market

When a bankrupt utility handles the risk of wildfire by organizing weeks of rolling blackouts, you have some fundamental problems with your electricity system.

But when a major utility files for bankruptcy and no one’s electricity goes out, and when an electricity market weathers major storms with only a few days of customer outages, you have a fundamentally sound system.

Here is the difference between California and Texas: In California, even the public utility, funded by customer fees set by a government agency, can’t do its job. And in Texas, our trust in a free market system has served us well. Multiple emergencies, financial and weather, bear this out.

 

 

KTLA (Los Angeles) – October 29, 2019

SoCal Edison Says Its Lines Likely ‘Associated’ With Deadly Woolsey Fire

Southern California Edison said its electrical equipment will likely be found to be associated with 2018’s deadly Woolsey fire, which burned more than 1,000 homes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

In a quarterly earnings report, the utility giant revealed new information about the role its utility lines may have played in the fire, the most destructive in Los Angeles County history.

“While SCE did not find evidence of downed electrical wires on the ground in the suspected area of origin, it observed a pole support wire in proximity to an electrical wire that was energized prior to the outage. Whether the November 8, 2018, outage was related to contact being made between the support wire and the electrical wire has not been determined. SCE believes that its equipment could be found to have been associated with the ignition of the Woolsey Fire.”

 

 

Texas Public Radio – October 28, 2019

Major Coal Producer And Trump Booster Files For Bankruptcy

The Trump administration has spent three years trying to help the coal industry by rolling back environmental regulations and pushing for subsidies for coal-fired power plants. Still, the long list of coal company bankruptcies has continued, and dozens more plants have announced their retirement since President Trump took office.

Now the list of bankruptcies includes a company headed by one of Trump’s most vocal supporters. Murray Energy Corp. filed for Chapter 11 on Tuesday morning.

The company says it reached an agreement to restructure and continue operating. As part of that, Bob Murray — the chairman, president and CEO — will relinquish two of his roles. His nephew, Robert Moore, will become president and CEO while Murray will stay on as chairman.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 29, 2019

Residential solar not catching on in Houston like other cities

San Diego has the most residential solar density in the United States with 10.2 percent of homes with solar panels, according to a study of 21 major metropolitan areas.

The other cities that round out the top five solar communities are also in California, including San Francisco, Riverside, San Jose and Los Angeles, according to Cape Analytics of California which uses aerial images to analyze property risk and value for insurers.

Houston barely registers at No. 18 on the list, according to the study.

 

Regulatory

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 29, 2019

Trump looks to open up railroads for LNG shipments

Liquefied natural gas could soon move around the country by rail as the Trump administration moves to loosen restrictions on transporting LNG in an effort to further boost to the nation’s energy sector.

The Department of Transportation has proposed allowing railroads to begin transporting LNG in cryogenic tanker cars, which can maintain temperatures of less than minus 300 degrees and are currently used to move chemicals like ammonia and ethylene. A final decision is expected early next year.

The railroad could offer an enticing alternative to natural gas customers when pipeline projects are under increasing scrutiny over natural gas’s contribution to climate change, with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo blocking construction of new pipelines running through his state and into New England. At the same time the rush to develop oil fields in West Texas – far from the nation’s pipeline network – has resulted in many drillers flaring the natural gas that is a byproduct of crude production.

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – October 29, 2019

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Lead Stories

 

Forbes – October 25, 2019

At Least 20 Billionaires Behind ‘Dark Money’ Group That Opposed Obama

A nonprofit group with a bland name, Americans for Job Security, spent $5 million supporting Republicans in the 2010 midterms and $15 million denouncing former President Obama in the 2012 election, but until this week, the group never had to file disclosures showing where its money was coming from.

“This is the first time in the Citizens United-era that a dark money group was forced to disclose their donors in a certain time period,” said Jordan Libowitz, a spokesperson for nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, referring to the 2010 Supreme Court case that wiped away previous restrictions on political spending. ….

The new FEC filing shows billionaire donors from around the country. The late Republican megadonors Richard and Helen DeVos gave $1 million to the group in October 2012. Texas oil-and-gas billionaires Richard Kinder, Dan Wilks, Farris Wilks and late Houston Texans owner Robert McNair were also among the donors that year. Others include Dennis Washington of Montana, who got rich in mining and railroads, and Leon Black of New York, who cofounded private equity giant Apollo. WWE chief executive Vince McMahon donated, along with his wife Linda McMahon, who Donald Trump later appointed to his cabinet.

 

 

Bloomberg News/Yahoo! News – October 28, 2019

World ‘awash’ in oil As Perry, US see shale boom barreling ahead

Global markets are “awash” in crude thanks to the surge in U.S. oil output, and the boom looks set to continue, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in a Bloomberg TV interview.

U.S. shale production has turned the world “on its head,” and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is “off a bit” in a report last week saying that the bonanza is fading, Perry said on Sunday in Dubai.

Oil and natural gas from American shale fields have made the U.S. one of the world’s largest producers and enabled it to become a net energy exporter. Perry will travel in the coming week to Saudi Arabia to discuss possible sales of U.S. liquefied natural gas and Saudi efforts to develop a nuclear power program. Perry held talks in the United Arab Emirates and visited the country’s largest solar-power facility at a site near the U.A.E.’s commercial hub of Dubai.

 

 

NBC News – October 28, 2019

Oil-backed Blue Wave: New Mexico funds progressive policy through fracking

In the 2018 midterms, Democrats swept New Mexico’s elections: they flipped the state’s sole red seat in Congress; elected Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, to the governor’s office; and strengthened majorities in the state legislature.

Emboldened by the “Blue Wave” and coming off eight years of a Republican governor, New Mexico Democrats began to pursue a progressive agenda, passing gun control legislation, raising the state’s minimum wage, reducing marijuana penalties, and trying to fix the state’s education system.

In September, Lujan Grisham announced a proposal that would make New Mexico the first state in the country to eliminate tuition for all students in two- and four-year college programs, regardless of income, part of what her office says is a long term-initiative to diversify its economy.

Related: New Mexico Teens May Turn Down Free College If It’s Funded By Big Oil

 

 

Forbes – October 27, 2019

David Vetter: Big Tech’s Renewable Energy Spend: Is This “Greenspinning”?

When it comes to renewables investment, big tech has been putting its money where its mouth is. …

Yet perhaps there are also other dynamics at play. …

Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos have been on the receiving end of sustained criticism over everything from the firm’s treatment of its workers to the products it sells.

There’s even a popular Twitter account dedicated to the premise that Jeff Bezos, given his enormous wealth, could single-handedly end world hunger—and logs every day that he doesn’t do so. …

To put it bluntly, the tech behemoths need all the good PR they can get. And it just so happens that committing to serious emissions curbs is one such reputational shot in the arm.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC/Reuters – October 29, 2019

Oil prices edge lower ahead of US stockpile numbers

Oil prices slipped on Tuesday as investors awaited U.S. crude inventory data for a pointer on oil demand trends, while concerns about slower economic growth overshadowed signs of a thawing in the trade war between Washington and Beijing.

Brent futures were down 6 cents at $61.51 a barrel by 0311 GMT, having fallen 0.7% on Monday.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 12 cents at $55.69, after falling 1.5% in the previous session.

Prices rose sharply last week amid a decline in U.S. inventories and signs of an easing in the U.S.-China trade war, but worries on Monday about weaker economic growth offset hopes of a rise in oil demand even if trade talks progress.

 

 

Washington Post* – October 25, 2019

Americans would rather reduce oil and gas exploration than ‘drill, baby, drill’

A large majority of Americans say drilling for oil and natural gas off the coasts and on public lands should decrease or remain at current levels, a viewpoint at odds with the expansion promoted by President Trump as part of his “energy dominance” agenda.

In a nationwide public opinion poll by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 8 in 10 people said drilling in the United States should “decrease” or “stay as is.”

Just over half, 51 percent, said energy exploration should be reduced on federal lands, and 53 percent said it should be reduced offshore. Thirty-two percent said it should stay as is on federal lands and waters.

Less than 15 percent support an increase in drilling on public lands or at sea.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – October 28, 2019

Marathon Petroleum Plans to Spin Off Gas Stations, May Shake Up Leaders

Oil refiner Marathon Petroleum Corp. is preparing to spin off its gas-station chain and considering shaking up its executive leadership to appease activist shareholders, including Elliott Management Corp., according to people familiar with the matter.

As part of a truce with Elliott, Marathon’s board is discussing changes, including a spinoff of its sprawling gas-station operation and potentially replacing Chairman and CEO Gary Heminger and other executives, the people said. The situation is fluid, and the company, which is set to report earnings Oct. 31, may still end up reversing course on some or all of the moves.

The Findlay, Ohio-based Marathon owns and operates roughly 4,000 convenience stores in the U.S., largely under the Speedway brand, according to a securities filing, making it one of the nation’s largest such chains. It also has long-term fuel supply contracts with other gas stations.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – October 28, 2019

ExxonMobil to take over US Strategic Petroleum Reserve lease at St. James terminal from Shell

ExxonMobil Pipeline in January will take over operations of the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve’s 2-million-barrel capacity St. James, Louisiana, terminal that can distribute government-owned crude to Gulf Coast and Midwest refiners.

The Department of Energy said Monday that ExxonMobil signed a 20-year lease to operate the St. James marine terminal and 36-inch-diameter Redstick pipeline that connects to the Bayou Choctaw SPR facility. The lease will end Shell’s 22-year operational control of the facilities.

St. James is the pricing hub for Gulf Coast benchmark Light Louisiana Sweet crude. In the event of an emergency SPR drawdown, the terminal can distribute crude from the SPR’s Bayou Choctaw site to the Midwest via Capline, and to Gulf Coast refineries via Locap, Shell, NuStar and Plains terminals.

 

 

San Antonio Express News* – October 28, 2019

Drilling Down: Callon, Carrizo drill up to last minute of merger vote

Callon Petroleum and Carrizo Oil & Gas are drilling right up to the last minute of a controversial Nov. 14 merger vote between the two companies.

The proposed $3.2 billion merger faces investor opposition, but both companies stand behind the deal. If the merger is approved, the combined company would become one of the top 20 drillers in Texas, a review of drilling permits shows.

In the meantime, Carrizo filed for 15 drilling permits over the past week with the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state agency that regulates the oil and gas industry. Carrizo is seeking permission to drill eight horizontal wells in the Permian Basin and another seven in the Eagle Ford Shale.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 28, 2019

Enterprise Products Partners posts $1 billion profit but misses Wall Street expectations

Houston pipeline operator Enterprise Products Partners reported a $1 billion profit during the third quarter but missed Wall Street revenue expectations amid weaker commodity prices for crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids such as ethane, propane and butane.

Enterprise reported a $1 billion profit on nearly $8 billion of revenue during the third quarter. The figures were down compared to the $1.3 billion of profit on $9.6 billion of revenue during the third quarter of 2018.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 24, 2019

New innovations needed to reboot shale: report

The U.S. shale boom is at a tipping point as it struggles to profit amid weaker oil prices, but the industry is leaving tens of billions of dollars in the ground each year with wells that aren’t nearly efficient enough, according to a new report released Wednesday after examining the results of 80,000 shale wells.

The oil sector, especially in West Texas’ prolific Permian Basin, has shifted to a factory-style approach of repeatedly drilling and fracking similar wells at increasing depths. But the industry must move beyond the “brute force” approach because well productivity has seemingly peaked.

More planning and newer technologies are needed to develop the best wells, contends the report from the accounting and research firm Deloitte.

The industry must innovate yet again or face a slow demise as Wall Street sours on the sector and capital needed to stay in business becomes harder to get. Better well designs coupled with greater understanding of the shale rock and fluid movements underground could boost efficiency levels by about 20 percent, representing almost $25 billion in annual savings for the U.S. shale sector, said Scott Sanderson, a principal in Deloitte’s oil and gas strategy and operations practice.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – October 28, 2019

US drilling on federal and Indian lands surges in 2019

Applications for permits to drill on federal and Indian lands have increased by more than 300% over the past two years with New Mexico and Wyoming receiving most of the attention in the Permian and Green River Overthrust basins, respectively, as producers target oil-rich basins.

US Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced the Department of the Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue disbursed $11.69 billion in fiscal year 2019 from energy production on federal and American Indian-owned lands and offshore areas. This represents a $2.76 billion increase in comparison to fiscal year 2018.

 

 

Kallanish Energy* – October 28, 2019

Eco-groups to sue EPA over smog from O&G drilling

Two environmental groups have filed notice they intend to sue the Trump administration for delays in reducing unhealthy smog from oil and natural gas drilling in 15 states, Kallanish Energy reports.

The notice was filed last week with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The filing was made by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Environmental Health.

The polluted areas are home to 88 million Americans, about 25% of the country’s population. The states included are Arizona, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

 

 

Rigzone – October 28, 2019

Permian Pipeline Launches Another Open Season

EPIC Crude Holdings, LP on Monday kicked off the third open season for the EPIC Crude Oil Pipeline, extending from the Permian Basin to the Texas Gulf Coast.

According to a written statement Monday from EPIC, the current open season will last until 5 p.m. Central time on Dec. 17, 2019. The company added the two previous open seasons were successful and closed on July 26, 2018, and Sept. 28, 2018.

Servicing the Delaware, Midland and Eagle Ford basins, the Crude Oil Pipeline runs parallel to the EPIC Y-Grade Pipeline from Orla, Texas, to the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas, EPIC stated. It includes terminals in Orla, Saragosa, Crane, Wink, Midland, Upton, Hobson and Gardendale and links to the refining and terminal infrastructure in Corpus Christi, the firm also noted.

Details: Enterprise’s Midland-to-ECHO oil pipeline system expansions to add 450,000 bpd each

 

 

Kallanish Energy – October 28, 2019

Cabot Oil preparing maintenance plan for late 2020

The company reported Q3 2019 net income of $90.4 million, or 22 cents a share, compared to $122.3 million, or 28 cents a share, in Q3 2018.

Despite third-quarter production for Cabot Oil & Gas increasing 18% from Q3 2018, the company is studying two plans, including one that would scale back operations in late 2020 to maintenance levels, due to continued low commodity prices, Kallanish Energy reports.

Cabot has “strong 3Q19 results” and its outlook for early 2020 has been maintained, said analyst Gabriele Sorbara of The Williams Capital Group in New York City. But that could change in late 2020, if natural gas prices remain low, he noted. …

If prices remain low, Cabot will switch to a maintenance mode program in late 2020. That plan would hold fourth-quarter 2020 production levels flat to the midpoint of the Q4 2019 production guidance range (2% to 3% growth in full-year production per debt-adjusted share) based on a $575 million capital budget. That would position the company for 2021 growth, Cabot said.

 

 

Associated Press/Houston Chronicle* – October 28, 2019

Diamond Offshore Drilling: 3Q Earnings Snapshot

Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. (DO) on Monday reported a loss of $95.1 million in its third quarter.

On a per-share basis, the Houston-based company said it had a loss of 69 cents. Losses, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were 67 cents per share.

The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for a loss of 68 cents per share.

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 28, 2019

Pemex posts $4.6 billion loss amid sagging exports, domestic sales

Mexico’s state-run oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, reported slightly higher production figures but posted a $4.6 billion loss during the third quarter amid sagging exports and domestic sales.

In a Monday morning statement, Pemex reported a $4.6 billion loss on $18.4 billion of revenue during the third quarter. The figures are down compared to a $1.4 billion profit on $23.1 billion of revenue during the third quarter of 2018.

The third quarter loss erased small production gains for crude oil, natural gas and refining capacity. During the third quarter, Pemex’s crude oil exports fell by 22 percent year-over-year while domestic sales of gasoline, diesel and other products fell by roughly 20 percent.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – October 28, 2019

Pemex reports first quarterly production gain in 14 years

Mexico’s state-owned Pemex on Monday announced its first quarterly production increase in 14 years, an outcome executives attributed to the strategy of a new business plan announced in July.

In the third quarter, Pemex produced a gross 4.86 Bcf/d of gas, equivalent to a 96 MMcf/d, or 2%, increase in output compared to the second quarter, company data showed.

Crude oil production rose by 21,000 b/d over the same period to 1.694 million b/d.

On Monday’s third-quarter earnings call, executives also touted the company’s quarterly improvements in processing and refining, along with gains in refined products output.

 

Utilities

 

S&P Global Platts – October 28, 2019

Southwest Power Pool board to mull $336 million portfolio of wires upgrades, mostly for wind

State regulators for the Southwest Power Pool learned Monday that the grid operator plans to ask the SPP board of directors on Tuesday to approve $336 million worth of transmission projects to help accommodate continued strong growth in wind generation in the sprawling footprint.

“On average, we would expect congestion costs lower by 63 cents/MWh, or 21%, which is a fairly significant reduction,” said Lanny Nickel, SPP vice president for engineering, during Monday’s SPP Regional State Committee meeting, as he presented the proposed 2019 Integrated Transmission Plan.

The RSC includes representatives from the various jurisdictions where SPP operates, including Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 28, 2019

Businesses get big break on electricity transmission fees while consumers pay more

As temperatures climbed into the triple digits this summer, big commercial and industrial companies shut down production lines, sent employees home and fired up backup generators. These moves, however, weren’t made to avoid the temporary spikes that sent wholesale electricity prices soaring to the maximum $9,000 per megawatt hour, but rather to cut their transmission costs throughout the year — and ultimately shift them to consumers and small businesses.

In Texas, the rates commercial and industrial companies pay for transmission are determined by the amount of electricity they use during four, 15-minute periods of peak statewide power consumption during the previous summer months. If companies can estimate which hot days will cause the biggest strain on the state power grid — and many hire electricity consultants to alert them to these periods — companies can save millions of dollars in transmission costs.

A clever company that takes drastic steps, such as shutting down its operations during the four short periods, can slash annual transmission costs from $500,000 to zero, according to one study by the Washington firm FTI Consulting.

 

 

Forbes – October 25, 2019

James Conca: Natural Gas And Renewables Will Rule America’s Electricity Future

As much as wind and solar are increasing, natural gas is increasing more. And gas will continue to grow faster than all other energy sources in the United States for some time.

Over the past fifteen years, coal has decreased from over 40% to 27% of our electricity generation and gas has increased from 17% to about 35%. As a result, greenhouse gas emissions in America dropped to a 25-year low two years ago, although they are now rising again with increased economic activity and an ever-increasing number of gas-guzzling SUVs.

Natural gas is cheaper to build than any other generation source, and natural gas itself will be cheap for decades, so it is likely that gas will continue to be America’s top electricity producer and should exceed 50% of our generation by mid-century.

 

 

New York Times* – October 28, 2019

New blackouts announced

PG&E officials said the company notified 500,000 customers in Northern California on Sunday that they might face a new round of power shut-offs on Tuesday, affecting many of the same areas that were blacked out over the weekend.

The new round would be the fourth time this month that the company has intentionally turned off electricity to large numbers of customers, some of whom had power for only a few hours between earlier blackouts.

Adam Sobel, an atmospheric scientist and director of the Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate at Columbia University, gives an explanation:

In the case of the increasingly frequent wildfire disasters in California, I argued the other day that they have multiple causes: poor maintenance by PG&E, expanded human settlement at the margins of fire-prone woodlands, and global warming. But I don’t think any of them explains either the suddenness or the persistence of the change that Californians have experienced in the last three years.

 

 

Yahoo! News – October 25, 2019

‘Decade of Darkness’ for California Spurring Generator Windfall

A “decade of darkness” in California is offering a huge opportunity for the sale of generators that keep the lights on when the power grid goes down.

That’s the view of Aaron Jagdfeld, chief executive officer of Generac Holdings Inc., the Wisconsin-based maker of generators. Jagdfeld cited a comment by PG&E Corp’s CEO last week that it could take ten years to shore up its grid enough to ratchet down the blackouts.

The bottom line for Generac: $100 million to $200 million of annual revenue, perhaps as soon as 2022, Jagdfeld said in an interview in New York on Friday, a day that saw his shares hit an all-time high. California, with its generally mild climate, wasn’t a big market for Generac until the blackouts began. While an expansion in the state will take time, Generac is gearing up a sales force and a marketing push to make it work.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Popular Mechanics – October 24, 2019

Make Hydrogen Cheap Again

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have, for the first time, proven that an inexpensive catalyst can generate hydrogen gas in a commercial environment. Known as an electrolyzer, the team hopes the catalyst has potential for large-scale hydrogen production powered by renewable energy.

While scientists have proven such technology in the past, the price point has always been a sticking point. Precious metals like platinum and iridium were needed to boost efficiency, making a cheaper catalyst crucial. And while more inexpensive catalysts have been shown to work in a lab setting, these researchers found it can work in the rough and tumble of the public sphere as well.

 

Regulatory

 

Associated Press/WTTG (Washington DC) – October 25, 2019

Perry defends urging President Trump to make call in impeachment focus

Outgoing U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry says he asked President Donald Trump to make the phone call at the center of the impeachment inquiry because it was “important.”

Speaking to reporters in Dubai on Saturday, Perry says he urged Trump to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy for professional reasons and it had nothing to do with former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter. Perry tells the Associated Press he never heard the word Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that once employed Biden’s son.

The impeachment inquiry is investigating whether Trump was withholding military aid unless Zelenskiy went public with a promise to investigate them.

________________________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – October 28, 2019

Subscriber’s Edition

Asterisk * indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at website because it’s password protected

 

Lead Stories

 

CNBC – October 27, 2019

Trump wants to make a deal with Exxon or others to tap Syrian oil: ‘We should be able to take some’

President Donald Trump on Sunday said he’s interested in making a deal with ExxonMobil or another energy company to tap Syrian oil reserves.

“What I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly…and spread out the wealth,” he said.

President Trump has identified Syria’s oil as a U.S. national security priority and has committed to deploying troops to protect the country’s reserves even as he pulls troops from Syria’s northern regions. U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said this week that the U.S. will send in troops to protect Syrian oil fields from Islamic State militants.

 

 

San Antonio Express News* – October 25, 2019

Phillips 66 profits fall by 50 percent

Houston refining giant Phillips 66 said its quarterly profits fell by more than 50 percent from last year driven largely by a loss in value of one of its pipeline businesses.

Phillips 66 posted a $712 million net profit for the third quarter, which is down from $1.49 billion a year prior. Phillips 66 recorded about $900 million in write-down charges, primarily from a reduction in value of its pipeline joint venture company, DCP Midstream.

Apart from the impairment charges, Phillips 66 saw small profit dips in its refining and chemicals business segments.

 

 

Reuters – October 25, 2019

U.S. Treasury temporarily blocks creditor seizure of refiner Citgo

The United States on Thursday temporarily blocked a creditor seizure of Citgo, a win for political leaders in Venezuela struggling to retain control over the U.S. refiner owned by the chaotic South American nation.

Shares in Citgo, a subsidiary of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, were used as collateral for a bond issue expected to go into default next week when a $913 million payment comes due.

But the U.S. Treasury Department, which maintains a broad sanctions program against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, said no transfers or sales of Citgo shares linked to the PDVSA bond could take place until Jan. 22.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – October 25, 2019

US continues to talk with Saudi Arabia on nuclear energy, LNG exports: Perry

The US continues to talk with Saudi Arabia about the kingdom’s plans to produce nuclear energy for power generation and is still discussing the possibility of Gulf countries importing US LNG, the outgoing US secretary of energy said on Saturday.

Next week, Rick Perry will meet in Riyadh with Abdulaziz bin Salman, the energy minister for Saudi Arabia which had previously stated its ambitions to enrich its own uranium deposits to produce nuclear power. …

The US is also holding talks with countries in the region, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, to import US LNG, Perry said.

“Obviously with the peculiarities of the region and where the gas comes from and although this is an incredibly gas rich region there are some restrictions and challenges on how that gas moves around,” Perry said.

US LNG production has continued to increase, having climbed above the 2.6 Bcm/d mark recently after having averaged 2.28 Bcm/d in 2018 and 2.06 Bcm/d in 2017, S&P Global data show.

 

 

Car and Driver – October 25, 2019

Sen. Schumer Proposes Huge Gas-for-Electric-Car Trade-In Program

In a move that appears diametrically opposed to the Trump administration’s automotive and environmental policies, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) proposes a massive incentive program to get Americans into electric cars.

Schumer’s proposal would cost $454 billion and would pay U.S. car buyers thousands of dollars to swap their gasoline-powered vehicles for electric, hybrid, or hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

One catch: the alternative-powered vehicles would have to be made in the U.S.A.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters – October 28, 2019

Oil holds steady as Russia reaffirms commitment to output cuts

Oil prices were steady on Monday, holding on to strong gains last week, after Russia affirmed its commitment to a deal with OPEC producers to keep production in check and support prices.

Brent crude was down 1 cent at $62.01 a barrel by 0055 GMT, having logged a weekly gain of more than 4% last week, its best weekly gain since Sept. 20.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 4 cents at $56.62 a barrel, having risen more than 5% last week, also the biggest weekly increase since Sept. 20.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 25, 2019

Oil industry cuts back as shale indicators sour

Oil and gas companies pulled 21 rigs out of service last week. Of the net drop, 17 were oil and four gas, according to the Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes.The sharp drop brought the nation’s total number of oil and gas rigs to 830, more than 200 fewer than the same week a year ago.

The new reality of tightening credit lines mean that operators are posting losses and cutting back. On Friday, Houston drilling rig contractor Patterson-UTI Energy announced it would retire 36 older rigs and reported a $262 million loss in the third quarter. [In a Thursday morning statement, the company reported a $262 million loss on $599 million of revenue. The figures were down compared to the $75 million loss on $868 million of revenue during the third quarter of 2018. Patterson-UTI attributed $173 million of this quarter’s $262 million loss to impairment charges related to retiring 36 older drilling rigs, which the company believed would not be likely to be used at rates and terms that would justify their reactivation. — HC]

The majority of the decline in the rig count last week was driven by West Texas’ Permian Basin operators, where a net five oil rigs were lost. The slowdown is beginning to affect jobs in oil-rich states — Texas employers, for example, have cut nearly 6,000 jobs in energy over the last four months, according to data from the Texas Workforce Commission, and in Houston, the mining and logging industry, which is dominated by the oil and gas industry in Houston, shed 1,100 jobs last month.

 

 

Reuters – October 25, 2019

Small oil-and-gas companies get cold shoulder from large banks

The largest banking lenders to the oil and gas sector are becoming more cautious, marking down their expectations for oil and gas prices that underpin loans in a move expected to put further financial stress on struggling producers, industry and banking sources said.

Major banks including JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N), Wells Fargo (WFC.N), and Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) have, as part of regular biannual reviews, cut their estimated values for oil-and-gas companies’ reserves, which serve as the basis for those companies to receive reserve-based loans (RBLs), according to more than a dozen sources familiar with the activity.

While the size of the RBL market is unclear, it is estimated that a few hundred companies take such loans, with the cumulative size in the billions of dollars.

 

 

Reuters – October 25, 2019

Oil industry veteran Steven Keenan resigns from Apache Corp

Oil and gas industry veteran Steven Keenan, who was credited with a high-profile shale discovery for Apache Corp, resigned on Wednesday from his position as senior vice president of worldwide exploration, the company said on Friday.

Houston-based Apache told Reuters that Keenan’s resignation is not connected to the well the company is currently drilling offshore in Suriname. The company said, “the drill bit is still above the first target zone in the Suriname well.” …

Keenan is widely credited with the Alpine High find in West Texas in 2016.

 

 

Reuters – October 25, 2019

Exxon Mobil seeks buyer for Montana refinery -sources

Exxon Mobil Corp is seeking a potential buyer for its roughly 60,000 barrel per day Billings, Montana refinery, according to three sources familiar with Exxon’s plans.

Representatives for large refiners, including Valero Energy Corp and Marathon Petroleum Corp, have toured the refinery, two of the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the process is private.

Ultimately a smaller refiner could be a more likely buyer of the plant, one of the sources said.

 

 

Houston Chronicle* – October 25, 2019

Huntsman turns small profit in tough petrochemicals market

The Woodlands-based petrochemical firm Huntsman Corp. said Friday it posted a small $41 million quarterly profit amid falling revenues and a market environment with depressed chemicals prices worldwide.

Huntsman’s profit compares to an $8 million loss during the third quarter a year ago. But its $1.7 billion in quarterly revenues fell nearly 15 percent from last year.

The company also is on track to close the sale of its chemical intermediates and surfactants business for more than $2 billion to the Thai chemical firm Indorama Ventures by early next year. The deal, which was announced in August, includes the sale of Houston-area plants in Port Neches, Dayton and Chocolate Bayou.

 

 

New York Times* – October 25, 2019

The United States government has lost billions of dollars of oil and gas revenue to fossil-fuel companies because of a loophole in a decades-old law, a federal watchdog agency said Thursday, offering the first detailed accounting of the consequences of a misstep by lawmakers that is expected to continue costing taxpayers for decades to come.

The loophole dates from an effort in 1995 to encourage drilling in the Gulf of Mexico by offering oil companies a temporary break from paying royalties on the oil produced. However, the rule was poorly written, the very politicians who originally championed it have acknowledged, and the temporary reprieve was accidentally made permanent on some wells.

As a result, some of the biggest oil companies in the world, including Chevron, Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil and others, have avoided paying at least $18 billion in royalties on oil and gas drilled since 1996, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan agency that works for Congress.

 

 

Wall Street Journal* – October 23, 2019

Rising California Gasoline Prices Highlight Growing Divide in U.S.

The price at the pump was more than $4 a gallon in Vista, Calif., when Scott Hissem recently embarked on a trip to Texas to celebrate his 40th birthday. When the delivery associate for Amazon.com Inc. arrived in the Lone Star state, he got an unexpected present: Gasoline cost just $2 and change.

The gap has Mr. Hissem considering a move to escape California’s high cost of living.

“It makes life hard,” Mr. Hissem said of California, which is the most populous U.S. state and the one with the highest gasoline prices. “You can’t go out and do the things you want to do.”

Mr. Hissem’s journey highlights an unpleasant truth for many Americans, even at a time of abundant global oil supplies: Regional differences in taxes, environmental rules and access to energy infrastructure can translate into large seasonal swings in gasoline prices.

Prices have surged this fall in California and other West Coast states following outages at several refineries in the region. Analysts said the coast is generally vulnerable because of its limited pipelines and refineries that turn oil into fuel products such as gasoline. Higher gas taxes in some states aiming to fund local infrastructure projects and varying pricing strategies by energy companies also drive gaps.

 

 

Reuters – October 15, 2019

John Kemp: Hedge funds turn bearish on oil as economy slows

By early last week, hedge funds had become the most bearish towards petroleum prices since the start of the year, as traders grew increasingly pessimistic about the global economy.

Hedge funds and other money managers sold the equivalent of 95 million barrels in the six most important futures and options contracts tied to petroleum prices in the week to Oct. 8.

Sales over the last three weeks have totalled 206 million barrels, according to an analysis of position records published by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and ICE Futures Europe.

Fund managers now hold a net long position across the six main contracts of just 437 million barrels, down from a recent high of 911 million barrels in April, and the lowest since January.

 

 

PolitiFact – October 15, 2019

On the proposed Appalachian Storage Hub: Fact-checking ethylene production in the U.S.

Three U.S. House members from West Virginia have proposed creating an Appalachian Storage Hub to store and transport large amounts of natural gas liquids in the region.

One of those House members is West Virginia Republican David McKinley. In a news release announcing House Resolution 4433 — the Appalachian Regional Energy Hub Initiative — McKinley said he backs the effort and cited Hurricane Harvey, the 2017 storm that shocked coastal Texas and Louisiana, as evidence that a more reliable storage system is needed. …

McKinley said, “About 95% of America’s production of ethylene is produced on the Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana — a region exposed to major storms like Hurricane Harvey.”

The scale of operations in Appalachia are on track to grow in the coming years, but for now, McKinley is correct: Energy Department data shows that more than 95% of U.S. ethylene production capacity is located in either Texas or Louisiana.

We rate his statement True.

 

 

Texas Monthly – October 16, 2019

Steffy: How One Desperate Energy Executive Launched the Fracking Revolution

In the late 1980s, Mitchell Energy and Development faced deteriorating financial prospects. The effects of the oil bust early in the decade—one of the most volatile periods in the industry’s history—were still being felt. Interest rates soared, increasing the cost of the company’s debt, and oil and natural gas prices had fallen, which meant it had less cash coming in to pay the higher financing costs.

Maintaining gas production in Mitchell Energy’s biggest field, Boonsville Bend, which was located about forty miles northwest of Fort Worth, still required huge amounts of capital, as did the company’s other drilling prospects. George bristled at the growing constraints from the company’s primary lender, Chase Manhattan. When he decided to change banks, David Rockefeller, the bank’s chair and scion of the country’s first oil magnate, flew to Houston to change George’s mind, without success.

Still, there weren’t a lot of options. By 1986, six of the state’s biggest banks were on the hook for $11 billion in outstanding energy loans. As oil prices slid below ten dollars a barrel, many banks refused to lend more money to the industry. Lenders questioned Mitchell Energy’s insatiable thirst for capital and its ability to maintain growth.

 

 

Riviera – October 15, 2019

‘Unique’ crane vessel completes record lift for Israel’s largest gas field development

Heerema Marine Contractors’ semi-submersible crane vessel Sleipnir completed a record-setting 15,300-tonnes lift in September, when it installed the topsides for Noble Energy’s Leviathan, Israel’s largest gas field development.

Located in the eastern Mediterranean and scheduled for production this year, the Leviathan field is estimated to hold 22Trn ft3 of recoverable gas. Some US$3.75Bn is being spent to develop Leviathan by US-based Noble Energy, the field operator, with a 39.66% stake, and partners Delek Drilling (22.67%), Avner Oil Exploration (22.67%), and Ratio Oil Exploration (15%).

To transport the various platform components and launch the 15,000-tonne jacket, Heerema used several of its own barges, including its heavy deck barge H-591, exemplifying the benefit of its distinctive asset base and ability to offer complete platform transportation and installation solutions.

 

 

Grand Forks Herald – October 11, 2019

Sand deposit could be ‘game-changer’ for ND oil industry

A deposit of sand in north-central North Dakota could be a boon to the state’s oil industry.

The sand – a variety specifically needed in the process of hydraulic fracturing – has been found in McHenry County, roughly 160 miles west of Grand Forks between the towns of Rugby and Minot. Another has been found in Mercer County, northwest of Bismarck.

Fred Anderson, a North Dakota Geological Survey geologist, said the sand could be a “game-changer” for the state.

“The reduction in cost would be high,” Anderson said. “It’s a huge deal for the state of North Dakota.”

 

Utilities

 

Rivard Report – October 27, 2019

CPS Energy Weighing Next Generation of Efficiency Programs

With CPS Energy set to exceed energy efficiency goals set in place a decade ago, utility officials are now considering how best to continue encouraging customers to use less energy and avoid paying for expensive new power plants.

Officials with the municipally owned electric and gas utility are considering the next generation of energy efficiency and demand response programs they will undertake after the completion of CPS Energy’s Safe For Tomorrow Energy Plan, or STEP.

“Energy efficiency” refers to reducing power consumption full-time by using more efficient technology or by changing behaviors, while “demand response” refers to scaling back use during times of high demand, especially hot summer days.

 

 

Port Isabel South Padre Express – October 24, 2019

After damage from high winds, South Padre Island recovery process underway

On Monday October 21, 2019 beginning at 12:58am. the National Weather Service of Brownsville, Texas issued the first tornado warning. Then it issued the first severe thunderstorm warning. Multiple residents said that severe weather hit the island at approximately 2:00am and the electricity was lost shortly thereafter. Tim Speece of the National Weather Service of Brownsville states that winds reached 70mph. Speece said, “The straight-line wind damage is indicative of the accelerated outflow of wind during the storm.” …

Approximately 11,300 residents woke Monday morning with no electricity. There were poles and debris strewn down Padre Boulevard. South Padre Island Police established roadblocks and closed traffic on Padre Boulevard between the 1800 block and 5600 block. Traffic was permitted north and south on Laguna and Gulf Boulevards. …

Larry Jones, AEP Texas Spokesman stated that a discussion took place within AEP administration and city officials about moving up the project to replace transmission structures which was announced at last week’s AEP Open House.

The project will replace wood structures with steel, but Phase 1 was to initiate in Port Isabel and Phase 2 was to be South Padre Island. Replacing the wood structures with steel will take longer than the immediate crisis prompted by the weather to rapidly restore service.

 

 

San Francisco Chronicle – October 27, 2019

PG&E outages: Historic blackout under way, 1.3 million in Bay Area without power

Millions of Californians had no power on Sunday as Pacific Gas and Electric Co. implemented its largest-ever blackout to prevent wildfires during a fierce windstorm.

Some people may be without electricity for days longer, because even as PG&E predicted calmer weather throughout its service area by Monday, it also issued an ominous warning about another wind event that may prompt more shut-offs just one day later.

PG&E said it would try to restore as many customers as possible before the next round of extreme weather arrives Tuesday and again raises the risk that power lines could ignite a deadly wildfire. But the company conceded in a public statement that it may not be able to bring electricity back for everyone in time.

 

 

BBC – October 24, 2019

What would happen in an apocalyptic blackout? — The power’s out in oil-rich Venezuela

It was a situation being played out in hospitals dotted all over Venezuela in March this year during a five-day nationwide power black out that accompanied the growing political and economic crisis facing the South American country. Unprepared for the sudden loss of power, back-up generators in some hospitals failed while others only had enough energy to keep a few of the most vital wards functioning.

By the end of the five days an estimated 26 people had died in the country’s hospitals as a result of the power outage, according to figures collated by Doctors for Health, a group of concerned medics that have been monitoring the growing health crisis in Venezuela. Among those who died were kidney failure patients who could not get the vital dialysis treatment they needed, and gunshot victims on whom surgeons could not operate in the near darkness.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Popular Mechanics – October 14, 2019

Are Concrete Blocks the Next Batteries?

Energy Vault is only two years old, but has earned its investment through growing interest in energy storage. As renewables rise in use and their prices drop, energy storage is becoming increasingly crucial. …

There are many ideas for renewable energy batteries. Energy Vault’s consists of an almost 400-foot tall, six-armed crane with custom-built concrete blocks weighing almost 35 metric tons each. As solar or wind energy is siphoned into an Energy Vault tower, an A.I. directs the concrete blocks to rise up. Then, according to the company’s website, the blocks are “returned to the ground and the kinetic energy generated from the falling brick is turned back into electricity.”

That kinetic energy then turns a motor, which passes through an inverter, sending the energy back into the grid. Energy Vault claims the process had a “round-trip efficiency between 80 to 90 [percent].”

 

Regulatory

 

October 25, 2019

Austin American Statesman: No Texan should die over an unpaid utility bill. Lawmakers can fix this.

Home should be a place of comfort and safety. For too many Texans who struggle to keep their place properly cooled in the state’s blistering summers, however, home can become a deathtrap.

Medical examiner reports show more than 100 Texans have died over the past decade from heat-related causes at home, according to critical reporting by Jeremy Schwartz and Andrea Ball in the Statesman’s Hostage to Heat series. Those deaths coincide with an alarming 117% spike in the number of customers who’ve had their electricity cut off over failure to pay during the hottest months of the year.

Such cut-offs happened about 834,000 times in Texas from June to September 2018 — each time causing food to spoil in the refrigerator and leaving people without cool air in triple-digit heat. Some families sleep in their cars so they can have air conditioning.