Newsclips-

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 24, 2020

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Asterisk * following headline indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at the source because it’s password protected.

 

Lead Stories

 

Midland Reporter Telegram –– February 21, 2020

Researchers getting clearer picture of region’s seismicity

Immediately after earthquakes had shaken up Mentone and Gardendale last week, a top researcher at the Bureau of Economic Geology’s Center for Integrated Seismicity Research offered an update on the center’s progress.

Peter Hennings, research scientist and lecturer and principal investigator at the center, told attendees at the Permian Basin Water in Energy Conference that the Delaware Basin is one of three West Texas clusters the center is studying. …

But there was a change in rates of earthquake occurrences beginning in 2009-2010 as drilling activity increased and accelerated in 2014 and occurrences increased again in 2017, alongside drilling activity, he said. They have accelerated to the point there are now several thousand quakes a year.

 

 

Colorado Springs Gazette – February 23, 2020

New shareholder lawsuit alleges multi-billion dollar fraud by oil giant Andarko

Allegations from a former engineer for Anadarko Petroleum who now lives in Colorado are at the center of a federal lawsuit filed on Wednesday alleging the company engaged in a multibillion-dollar fraud against investors by misstating the value of an oil field it owned in the Gulf of Mexico.

Lawyers filed the investor fraud lawsuit against Anadarko, Colorado’s largest oil and gas driller over the last decade, in U.S. District Court in Houston. They are seeking to expand it to a class-action. The litigation follows disclosures in The Gazette about the allegations from the company’s former engineer, Lea Frye, now working as a wildlife photographer in Buena Vista.

She and her lawyer, David Minces, of Bellaire, Texas, have declined comment.

 

 

Beaumont Enterprise – February 21, 2020

Texas AG to TPC: Unauthorized emissions events ‘could have been prevented’

Poor operational, maintenance and design practices are to blame for years of unauthorized emissions from TPC Group’s Port Neches plant, the Texas Attorney General’s Office alleges in a lawsuit filed Friday against the company.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Travis County District Court, lists at least one example of each of the following violations of state law or Texas Commission on Environmental Quality permits: unauthorized air emissions, reporting violation, permit compliance certification violation, unauthorized outdoor burning, nuisance, unauthorized visible emissions and unauthorized discharge of industrial waste.

 

 

Wall Street Journal – February 23, 2020

Natural-Gas Exporters Struggle to Lock Up Buyers Despite ‘Freedom Gas’ Pitch; President Trump Plans to Make the Case During His Trip to India

President Trump is planning to push American shale gas when he travels to India this week. So far, U.S. gas exports have proven to be a tough sell globally.

U.S. companies have struggled to line up foreign buyers willing to sign long-term deals for liquefied natural gas as the world is experiencing a glut of the fuel.

Global buyers including India have instead turned to an increasingly liquid spot market for cheaper LNG, threatening the future of more than two dozen additional natural-gas export facilities proposed in the U.S., which need sizable advance commitments from buyers to secure the billions needed for the projects to go forward.

Related: Tellurian executives to work on Petronet deal during Trump visit to India

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters/CNBC – February 24, 2020

Oil prices skid on demand concerns as virus spreads globally

Oil prices tumbled nearly 3% towards a one-week low on Monday as the rapid spread of the coronavirus in several countries outside China left investors fretting about a hit to demand.

Global shares also extended losses as concerns about the impact of the new virus grew, with the number of infections jumping in South Korea, Italy and Iran.

Brent crude fell by $1.69 or 2.9% to $56.81 a barrel by 0158 GMT. U.S. crude futures fell by $1.40 or 2.6% to $51.98

“It’s pretty clear in the middle of last week that the consensus overall was that it would be a temporary economic impact and that would be at least offset by the actions of central banks,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney. “But as we’ve seen European and U.S. markets react on Friday night and then further news over the weekend about the global spread of the virus, investors now are questioning the assumption about economic growth and that of course is weighing on oil markets.”.

 

 

Longview News Journal – February 21, 2020

Oil rig count barely manages a third-straight weekly increase

The number of U.S. rigs drilling for oil barely managed a third-straight weekly increase as oil prices headed for a second week of gains.

In its weekly report Friday, Baker Hughes said the number of units seeking oil was up one, to 679. That came after modest increases in the tally in each of the past two weeks. The current total, though, is down 174 from the same week a year ago.

The number of gas-directed rigs was unchanged at 110. That’s down from 194 a year ago. ….

By state, gains were seen in Alaska, which added three rigs to make an even dozen; New Mexico, where drillers added two to 115; and Oklahoma, which added one to make 51 at work. The count in Texas was unchanged at 397. Louisiana lost one, leaving 51 standing.

By major basin, gains were seen in the East Texas-Louisiana Haynesville Shale, where one unit was added to push the tally to 42, and the West Texas-New Mexico Permian, which added one to 409.

 

 

Gulf Times – February 21, 2020

LNG cargoes cancelled as virus compounds export glut in US

A buyer of liquefied natural gas has cancelled two cargoes from Cheniere Energy Inc, the biggest US exporter, as a glut pummels prices for the fuel and threatens to shut a key outlet for shale production.

Spanish utility owner Naturgy Energy Group SA has decided not to take delivery of two shipments from Cheniere, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. The cargoes, one of which was scheduled for April delivery, were rejected by Naturgy’s clients Repsol SA and Endesa SA, who had originally purchased the volumes from Naturgy and will now pay a contractual fixed fee, the people said.

Cancellations of US cargoes were closely watched and highly anticipated amid a grim outlook on global prices. It could be an early sign that global oversupply is poised to hammer the US gas market, which is already straining under the weight of a domestic glut. Prices in Europe and Asia collapsed as storage levels rose during a mild winter, making it tougher for LNG buyers to make a profit reselling US cargoes abroad.

 

 

Oil & Gas 360 – February 21, 2020

Houston energy co. cuts jobs, closing headquarters after bankruptcy auction

With a buyer secured for Houston-based Alta Mesa Resources Inc. and its affiliated companies, more job cuts have been announced for the company’s headquarters.

Alta Mesa Services LP notified the Texas Workforce Commission on Feb. 18 that it is permanently laying off all 91 employees from its headquarters at 15021 Katy Freeway, Suite 400. The job losses are expected to occur over the 60-day period beginning Feb. 18, according to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act letter sent to the TWC.

The WARN Act requires a 60-day notice period, so any employee who is laid off before the end of that period will receive full pay and benefits for the remainder of the period.

At the end of the notice period, the entire facility is slated to close, the WARN letter states.

 

 

Seeking Alpha – February 21, 2020

Phillips 66 Partners to buy stake in Liberty oil pipeline

Phillips 66 Partners agrees to acquire Phillips 66’s 50% interest in the Liberty Pipeline project for ~$75M.

The Liberty Pipeline will provide crude oil transportation service to Cushing, Okla., from the Rockies and Bakken production areas, and the project is underpinned with long-term volume commitments; Phillips says the pipeline is targeted to begin service in H1 2021.

Phillips 66 Partners says it is well positioned to execute the Liberty project on the heels of successfully starting up the Gray Oak Pipeline.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 22, 2020

Chevron’s future growth prospects dwindle with reserves decline

Chevron Corp.’s future growth prospects may be dimming after the oil explorer pumped more crude than it discovered or bought last year, eroding its portfolio of untapped fields.

New finds, acquisitions and expansions of existing oil and natural gas holdings were equivalent to just 44% of the company’s 2019 production, according to a regulatory filing on Friday. That was Chevron’s poorest performance in that important metric since 2010.

The measure, known as the reserves-replacement ratio, is key for investors because it helps them gauge whether an oil driller is doing enough to sustain future production that underpins everything from dividends to buybacks to acquisitions.

 

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – February 21, 2020

Seven of top-8 oil producing counties are in Permian

Counties in the Permian again dominated the November oil production report from around the state, according to Railroad Commission of Texas.

Neighbors Midland and Martin counties combined for more than 20 million barrels during the month, and seven of the top-eight counties across the state were located in the Permian Basin. Overall, the Permian accounted for eight of the top 10 for a second-straight month.

The top-five counties were Midland, Martin, Karnes, Reeves and Howard. Permian Basin counties in the next five were Upton, Loving Reagan and Ward.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 21, 2020

Reusing oil field wastewater is key to shale’s future, researchers say*

Reusing oil field wastewater for hydraulic fracturing operations will be critical to maintaining productivity in U.S. shale plays, according to a pair of studies released this month.

Scientists with the University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences and three other universities studied how much wastewater eight major U.S. shale basins produced and then analyzed options for recycling and reusing that water.

“The water volumes that are quoted vary widely, that’s why we did this study,” UT researcher Bridget Scanlon said in a statement. “This really provides a quantitative analysis of hydraulic fracturing water demand and produced water volumes.”

 

 

KDFM (Beaumont) – February 19, 2020

Orange Co. Commissioners approve 10-year tax abatement to entice Chevron Phillips

It’s being called a game changer, sure to bring lots of jobs and prosperity to southeast Texas.

Orange County Commissioners Tuesday, unanimously approving a 10-year, 100-percent tax abatement to entice Chevron Phillips to build a nearly $6 billion expansion along 1700 acres on Chemical Row. …

A decision is expected at the end of this year.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 21, 2020

Magellan may partner with Sentinel on Texas oil export terminal

Magellan Midstream Partners said Friday it may partner with Sentinel Midstream on plans to build a deepwater oil-exporting terminal offshore the Houston area.

The race to build offshore oil terminals is heating up as projects consolidate and companies compete to be the first movers in the region to accommodate Very Large Crude Carriers to move oil from the Gulf of Mexico.

If Magellan and Sentinel marry their efforts, Sentinel would still lead the Texas GulfLink project, while Magellan would build the pipeline to connect its large East Houston storage and distribution system to the offshore terminal. The deeper water depths offshore are needed for the VLCCs to load up to capacity.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 21, 2020

Decades after oil spill, Barnett Shale lake deemed safe

Nearly three decades after a large oil spill contaminated it, Bass Lake near the North Texas town of Gorman has been deemed safe for recreational use and redevelopment, the Railroad Commission said Thursday.

The spring-fed lake, on the edge of the Barnett Shale about 130 miles west of Dallas, was contaminated when a pipeline ruptured in April 1990, spilling 294,000 gallons of crude oil into the Sabana River and onto surrounding land.

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Midland Reporter Telegram – February 21, 2020

Sitton calls for focus on actual impact of energy transition

Proposals abound from members of Congress and from presidential candidates on how to protect the environment.

That is not shocking to Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton.

“What is shocking is their blatant disregard for what’s actually good for the people of this country,” he said Thursday, addressing a joint luncheon of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association and the Permian Basin Water in Energy Conference.

He detailed telling college students what it would actually take to “go green,” starting with building solar farms or wind farms large enough to power every home in Texas. Even at that, he told the students, “100 percent redundancy in the form of natural gas or coal would still be needed” and described the complexity of the infrastructure that would switch between the different fuels.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 23, 2020

Aramco to spend $110 bil on Saudi Arabia’s largest unconventional gas field

Aramco plans to develop Jafurah, Saudi Arabia’s largest unconventional and non-associated gas field that contains an estimated 200 trillion cubic feet of raw gas and whose production can be used as feedstock for petrochemical and metallic industries.

Aramco expects production to start in 2024 and reach about 2.2 Bscf/d of gas sales by 2036, the company said in a statement on Saturday. The company is expected to spend $110 billion, state-owned Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday. In addition, the field is expected to produce some 425 Mscf/d of ethane, which represents 40% of current production in Saudi Arabia, and 550,000 b/d of gas liquids and condensate. Jafurah is located in the oil-rich eastern province and is 170 km long and 100 km wide.

 

Utilities

 

KIII (Corpus Christi) – February 22, 2020

City manager says utility bill ranking is inaccurate; Corpus Christi residents paid much less in 2019

After doing some research and checking on their end, the city has responded to a study claiming that Corpus Christi has the highest average utility bills in the nation.

The city manager told 3 News he was doubtful about the ranking because of the differences in each city’s utility billing procedure.

The study, from Doxo.com, is a “for profit” bill paying service that says it’s examined bills from 900 cities and areas across the U.S. and shows Corpus Christi has the highest at an average $630 a month. The lowest being Newton, Iowa at 143.

“The survey is a tactic to promote the company and get more people to sign up for their online bill paying service,” city manager Peter Zanoni said.

He also said he was skeptical of the ranking because every city is different.

“Our rates as an example include a storm water fee in the water bill. Other cities like San Antonio and other Texas cities have a separate storm water rate,” Zanoni said.

 

 

KRIS (Corpus Christi) – February 21, 2020

Video: Wind turbine catches fire between Taft and Portland

A video shows a wind turbine with flames and smoke coming out of it.

It happened a little after 5 p.m. on County Road 3367 between Taft and Portland.

Local officials say that they have no choice but to let the fire burn itself out. They are currently trying to figure out who the wind turbine belongs to so they can contact them to turn off the electricity.

The area is being kept clear in case any debris falls off.

No reports of injuries or how the fire got started yet.

 

 

Courthouse News – February 19, 2020

Planners Envision an Electric Highway Future

The U.S. interstate highway system covers 800,000 acres which are “doing nothing but holding up concrete,” an electric-vehicle advocate said at a “Transportation Revolution” symposium Tuesday, envisioning highways lined with solar panels delivering power directly to autonomous semitrucks.

Norman Whitton, managing director of the Electric Interstate Highway Standards Association, said the cost of electric cars is projected to fall to the cost of cars powered by internal combustion engines by 2023.

“But electricity is way cheaper than gasoline. So the actual cost of operating your vehicle as an electric vehicle will be considerably less and we’re going to see that start driving a large increase in electric vehicles sold,” Whitton told more than 200 people at the symposium at the University of Houston.

 

 

Utility Dive – February 21, 2020

American Electric Power ‘feeds the beast’ of earnings growth with more renewable capital projects

American Electric Power expects to hit its target of 5% to 7% earnings growth through 2024, in large part by making capital investments in new renewable projects, CEO and President Nick Akins said in a Feb. 20 earnings call, even with the fate of its 1,485 MW North Central Wind project in Oklahoma still in regulatory limbo.

The North Central Wind project is another attempt by the company to complete a mega-sized wind farm requiring multi-state approval. Texas regulators rejected AEP’s proposed 2 GW Wind Catcher farm in 2018, causing the company to cancel what would have been the largest wind project in the U.S. at the time.

While regulatory approval is pending, it is unclear if the full North Central project will be completed or if only a portion of it will. AEP sees many other capital expenditure opportunities to “feed the beast in a way that continues that 5% to 7% growth trajectory,” Akins said.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Electrek – February 21, 2020

Texas leads the US in wind power — and now it’s ramping up solar, too

Solar currently provides just 2.2% of energy to the Texas power grid. But according to the state grid manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), solar developers are expected to add 3.5GW of capacity from new utility-scale solar projects this year and 5.5GW in 2021 (via the Houston Chronicle). One gigawatt can power around 700,000 homes.

That includes projects that have signed interconnection agreements with ERCOT, which means they have a high likelihood of completion. ERCOT represents 90% of the state’s electric load.

Most of the planned solar projects are expected to come online before summer 2021.

 

 

E&E News – February 18, 2020

Generating electricity from heaps of garbage isn’t a new concept, but climate change is intensifying interest in an industry with potential to slash both methane and carbon dioxide emissions.

Some companies are pushing gasification derived from old-school technologies like the blast furnace to generate low- or zero-carbon electricity. Others are backing incineration to produce power from trash that would otherwise end up in a methane-emitting landfill. Billionaires like Bill Gates are backing new ventures.

New Jersey-based Covanta Holding Corp. is among the waste-to-energy companies touting sustainability in the U.S. and abroad through combustion. In Texas, Systems International Inc. is aiming to help construct commercial power plants with a technology called ZEROS that applies an oxidation process to a range of waste materials. And trash-oriented projects are being discussed from Australia to Japan, with players such as Sierra Energy getting attention in the U.S.

 

Regulatory

 

HuffPost – February 21, 2020

Texas Primary Most Important Environmental Race in US Politics

At least 352,371 Texans worked for the industry as of 2018. Oil in Texas has long been synonymous with prosperity. Nor have Democrats had a particularly successful run in statewide races; Texans haven’t elected a Democrat since 1994.

Yet, the Democratic primary in what has been dubbed “the most important environmental race in the country” is turning into a microcosm of the national party’s debate over how adversarial candidates can be toward the fossil fuel industry.

The March 3 vote will determine which of four Democrats will take on one of the three commissioners on the Railroad Commission of Texas, a three-person board that has been all-Republican for decades. The agency’s name obscures its power. The commission hasn’t regulated train traffic since 2005. It does, however, oversee the fossil fuel industry, dishing out drilling permits, enforcing pipeline safety and monitoring emissions from the thousands of wells that bristle the Texas steppe.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 23, 2020

Critics say they’re in for long haul against $15 billion Houston-to-Dallas bullet train*

In the same room where many mobilized against the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor freeway project 15 years ago, critics of a proposed Houston-to-Dallas bullet train promised to shoot that down, too. No matter how long that takes.

“Unfortunately, we are five years in and I can see five more years,” said Kyle Workman, president of Texans Against High-Speed Rail.

At a Wednesday night town hall organized by the group and attended by local and state officials along with U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, elected leaders promised the crowd a fight starting in Washington, where regulators are expected to release safety requirements for high-speed trains and consider whether the Texas Central project is a federally-recognized railroad.

“After we stop them again in Washington, this battle shifts back to Texas,” Brady told the crowd of landowners, mostly from Grimes, Montgomery, Waller, Harris and Madison counties.

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 21, 2020

Click on each headline to read more of the story at the source.
Asterisk * following headline indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at the source because it’s password protected.

 

Lead Stories

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – February 20, 2020

LNG opponents sue feds over two Port of Brownsville permits

Opponents of the liquefied natural gas industry have sued a federal agency that issued permits for a controversial LNG export terminal at the Port of Brownsville and a related pipeline.

In a petition filed before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Sierra Club, the City of Port Isabel and four other opponents are asking a federal judge to review and overturn permits issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for Rio Grande LNG and the Rio Bravo Pipeline.

No court hearing has been set in the lawsuit. FERC officials issued a permit for the controversial projects in November and then denied a request by opponents to reconsider the agency’s decision.

 

 

The Atlantic – February 20, 2020

The Oil Industry Is Quietly Winning Local Climate Fights

Some of the most important fights over climate change aren’t being waged in Washington. They’re happening state by state, in a melee of utilities, fossil-fuel companies, state legislators, and persuaded voters.

To see one in action, visit Beaver, Pennsylvania, where two Westinghouse nuclear reactors produce roughly a fifth of the Keystone State’s zero-carbon electricity. Three years ago, FirstEnergy Corporation, a private utility worth $28 billion, announced that it would soon have to sell the nuclear plants or shut them down. Even though the reactors were supposed to operate for another few decades, the plunging cost of natural gas had made them noncompetitive. Only direct subsidies could keep the plants alive, the utility warned.

State lawmakers had not even proposed a bill floating that option when a new group called Citizens Against Nuclear Bailouts burst onto the scene. Boasting support from local manufacturers and, unexpectedly, the AARP, the group told local reporters that it opposed “any legislative effort” to subsidize the plants. At the same time, a micro-targeted group of Pennsylvanians received a deluge of direct mailers, phone calls, and Facebook ads, exhorting them to call state senators to oppose a “nuke bailout.”

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 20, 2020

Permian to get new gas processing facility from ArcLight and Diamondback

Private equity group ArcLight and an affiliate of independent oil and gas producer Diamondback Energy will build a 60 MMcf/d gas processing plant to serve the Permian’s Midland Basin, complementing an existing midstream system that the two joint venture partners operate, the companies said Thursday.

In a statement, the companies said their joint venture plans to build and operate the plant in Martin County, Texas, as well as incremental gas gathering and regional transportation pipelines.

The activity continues a trend in the prolific shale play, which spans West Texas and southeastern New Mexico, as significant amounts of associated gas are being lifted by crude producers.

A new entity tied to Arclight and Diamondback called Amarillo Rattler already owns and operates the Yellow Rose gas gathering and processing system with estimated total processing capacity of 40 MMcf/d, and more than 84 miles of gathering and regional transportation pipelines in Texas’ Dawson, Martin, and Andrews counties.

 

 

bnAmericas – February 18, 2020

Mexico’s energy independence drive bows to US natgas imports*

As Mexico’s energy market haltingly shifts away from private operators and toward state-run Pemex and CFE, President Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is grudgingly accepting that natural gas imports from the US are the least bad way to satisfy the nation’s energy needs.

“He seems very committed to the overall idea of energy independence,” David Shields, energy consultant and editor of publication Energía a Debate, told BNamericas. “Ideally,” Shields said of AMLO’s view, “Mexico should produce and consume its own oil, its own gas and diesel, its own electricity.”

But, US drilling in Texas’ Permian Basin has pushed prices below US$2/Btu, worldwide and historic lows that analysts widely see as persisting for the foreseeable future, giving Mexico a major incentive to pipe in cheap US gas.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters/CNBC – February 21, 2020

Oil falls $1 on renewed uncertainties over coronavirus outbreak

Oil prices fell on Friday as a rise in new cases of coronavirus and weak Asian economic data fueled uncertainty about the economic outlook and as major crude producers showed no rush to cut output.

Brent crude was down 96 cents, or 1.6%, at $58.35 a barrel by 1019 GMT, while U.S. crude dropped 76 cents, or 1.4%, at $53.12 a barrel.

Oil prices had edged up on Thursday after a much smaller-than-expected rise in U.S. crude stocks.

“With Brent failing to breach the 60 level on Thursday, despite better-than-expected U.S. oil inventory data, rising market uncertainty is dragging down oil prices on Friday,” said UBS oil analyst Giovanni Staunovo.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 20, 2020

US FERC ends consideration of new oil pipeline rate system

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Thursday ended consideration of a potential overhaul of how oil pipelines set their rates, a decision welcomed by pipeline owners who want to keep the current indexing system that allows annual rate increases.

It has been longstanding FERC policy to set a ceiling on oil pipeline rates, allowing pipelines to raise their shipping fees up to that limit and forcing shippers to bring complaints to FERC when they think the rates exceed the actual costs of service.

FERC reviews the index every five years to ensure it corresponds to industry-wide oil pipeline cost changes. The commission will consider a new index later this year for the five-year period starting July 1, 2021

 

 

Washington Post – February 20, 2020

Liam Denning: Texas Tackles Its Gas Problem With Whataboutism*

[Railroad Commission of Texas Commissioner Ryan] Sitton authored the analysis just published. The broad thrust is that, while flaring has undoubtedly jumped in Texas, the state’s flaring intensity — flared gas per barrel — compares well with other producers. Moreover, tinkering with regulations could limit oil output in Texas, raising energy costs for Americans and letting producers with higher flaring intensity take market share.

Flaring intensity is an interesting number for benchmarking purposes but less useful for mitigating-climate-change purposes. If a company (or state) cuts its intensity by roughly 10% but quadruples its production, then the amount of gas it flares still rises by more than 3.5 times. That is what happened with Texas in the decade ending 2018, using the commission’s own data.

Yes, it’s good the state’s flaring intensity is lower than in some other places (including, the report notes, North Dakota; I see what you did there, Texas). However, “those other kids done worse” stopped being a useful get-out for me roughly around the time I could formulate the sentence.

Notably, the report singles out higher flaring intensity in Iran and Iraq. “We’re doing better than that country we’ve sanctioned for four decades and that other country we invaded (and which now barely functions as a country)” seems a curious line of reasoning. While such thinking lets pretty much any regulator simply throw their hands up, why would Texas take its lead from such places? Even the commission’s argument that more-intensive countries would replace lost Texan barrels is questionable in the near term: Saudi Arabia, which ranks lower on intensity, holds the vast majority of spare production capacity.

 

 

Oil & Gas 360 – February 19, 2020

Kinder Morgan CEO offers new guidance on Permian Pass Pipeline

Houston pipeline operator Kinder Morgan plans to build the company’s third pipeline to move natural gas from the Permian Basin of West Texas to the Gulf Coast but the project may have to wait until more customers sign up.

Kinder Morgan brought its Permian Basin-to-Corpus Christi Gulf Coast Express Pipeline into service in September while construction continues for its Permian Highway Pipeline, which will move gas from the West Texas shale play through the Texas Hill Country to the Katy Hub near Houston.

The company’s CEO Steve Kean told the Houston Chronicle that Kinder Morgan remains in talks with producers to build the Permian Pass Pipeline, a proposed project that will move 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the prolific West Texas shale play to interstate pipelines and liquefied natural gas export terminals in East Texas and Louisiana.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 20. 2020

Naturgy said to have canceled April LNG loading from Sabine Pass in US: source

Spanish utility Naturgy was heard to have canceled an April-loading cargo from Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass liquefaction facility in Louisiana due to low international LNG prices, an Atlantic-based trading source said Thursday.

Cargo cancellations were not heard from other offtakers from the facility or other facilities located in the US, said the person, who spoke to S&P Global Platts on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive commercial arrangements.

Record low prices and weaker than expected demand in Asia, oversupply concerns and the recent coronavirus outbreak have created a perfect storm of headwinds for LNG producers and developers looking to add terminals or trains.

 

 

Bloomberg News/The Telegraph – February 20, 2020

Big Oil explores adding more cheap ethanol to gasoline in Iowa

BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell Plc are exploring adding more ethanol in gasoline in top corn state Iowa to take advantage of how cheap the biofuel has become.

The oil majors are gauging driver interest at a small number of stations in 15% ethanol blends, up from the current state standard of 10%, after the Trump administration in May allowed an increase nationwide.

Adding more ethanol to gasoline may help Midwest farmers who have been struggling to find markets for corn after biofuels demand plateaued last year. Ethanol futures slumped to the lowest in more than a decade in 2019, making it unprofitable to make the biofuel that accounts for about a third of demand for the U.S. corn crop. But cheap ethanol won’t save drivers much money: At current prices, filling up a Ford-F150 would only cost about a quarter less.

 

 

Associated Press – February 14, 2020

New Mexico funds could help revamp management of Rio Grande

New Mexico lawmakers are considering setting aside $20 million that could be used as seed money as water managers, municipalities and farmers scramble to find ways to reduce groundwater pumping that is at the center of a high-stakes legal battle.

The fight over the Rio Grande has pitted Texas against New Mexico as demands increase and drought persists. It will be up to a special master appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court to eventually decide how New Mexico goes about ensuring enough of the Rio Grande flows south to users in Texas and Mexico.

 

 

Bloomberg News/World Oil – February 13, 2020

Rail trouble strikes Canada’s oil patch with disrupted shipments

Canadian oil shipments are getting snarled once again as protesters block train lines in the latest setback to the nation’s rail-dependent crude industry that was struck by a blazing derailment just last week.

Demonstrations against a Canadian natural gas pipeline shuttered service on the Canadian National Railway Co. network east of Belleville, Ontario, and west of Prince George, British Columbia. The blockades cut off crude-by-rail shipments on the CN network to three Eastern refineries that account for about a third of the country’s refining capacity. The disruptions may get worse as the halt could cascade into slowdowns in other areas of the network as traffic backs up and locomotives and rail cars face congestion, according to CN.

 

 

KOSA (Midland) – February 14, 2020

Yale study: Sexually transmitted diseases up in the Basin due to increased fracking

A new study out last month from the Yale School of Public Health says the growth of fracking is linked to increased sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Texas.

The researchers found that cases of gonorrhea were up 15% and chlamydia up 10% in counties with high fracking activity, compared to counties where there is none.

They say that fracking often means an influx of workers into rural areas to work in the oil fields.

 

 

Wall Street Journal – February 20, 2020

7-Eleven Goes on the Speedway*

7-Eleven’s owner is taking a big gulp in the U.S.

Japan’s Seven & I, SVNDY -8.92% which runs the 7-Eleven convenience-store chain, is in exclusive talks to buy Marathon Petroleum’s MPC 4.45% Speedway gas stations for about $22 billion, according to Bloomberg. Seven & I said it is exploring various possibilities including alliances and acquisitions, but hasn’t made a decision yet. If they strike a deal, it would be one of Japan’s largest overseas acquisitions.

A deal would be consistent with Seven & I’s strategy to expand in the U.S.—where 7-Eleven was founded nearly a century ago—as its business slows at home. It bought more than 1,000 U.S.-based convenience stores and gas stations from Sunoco for $3.3 billion in 2018. Adding Speedway’s 4,000 or so stores would make the U.S. Seven & I’s largest market. Marathon has been looking to spin off Speedway since activist hedge fund Elliott Management pushed for a breakup of the company.

 

 

Dallas Morning News – February 17, 2020

Florida investors pay $218 million for land under Pioneer Natural Resources’ new Irving HQ*

Investors who made one of the biggest commercial real estate buys on record in North Texas last year have flipped part of the deal.

Florida-based Benderson Development has paid $218 million to buy the land under the new Pioneer Natural Resources headquarters in Irving.

The sale of the ground lease under the 1.1-million-square-foot office campus comes about three months after investors from Washington, D.C., Saudi Arabia and New York paid $584.2 million for the newly built Las Colinas office complex. ….

Ground lease sales have become more common recently in North Texas. Typically the buyer leases the land back to the building owner for 99 years.

 

Utilities

 

Waco Tribune Herald – February 19, 2020

2022 contract will bring renewable energy to city buildings, operations

City of Waco facilities will move to renewable electricity sources in 2022, thanks to a contract with MP2 Energy Texas approved last week.

MP2 Energy will provide electricity from three wind power companies and two solar farms. The city’s price for power will be 3.226 cents per kilowatt-hour, about 14.6% less than its current contractual rate of 3.776 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The city expects to save about $414,000 annually compared to the current contract, but the annual savings would have been about $100,000 more on a plan using electricity from any source, City Manager Wiley Stem III told the city council Tuesday.

 

 

Transmission & Delivery World – February 20, 2020

Utilities Partner on Smart City Initiatives

The future of the city is smart and in some U.S. cities — like Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, Missouri; San Antonio, Texas; and Spokane, Washington — the present is already one of increased connectivity and efficiency. They are powered by citizens who possess more information about their electric usage than ever before and aided by utilities that provide them streamlined data in their homes, on the road and around town.

A smart city increases operational efficiency and improves public welfare by way of data collection. The pivot for electric utilities to integrate smart city solutions into their business models is a sensible one. Truly becoming a collaborator requires moving toward the common goals of the metropolises they serve and helping those cities become the most efficient versions of themselves.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Houston Chronicle – February 19, 2020

Solar energy expected to quickly add to Texas power grid*

Solar energy is one of the smallest contributors to the power grid in Texas, providing just 2.2 percent of generation capacity this year. But it’s also projected to be the fastest growing over the next three years.

Solar developers in Texas are expected to add 3.5 gigawatts of capacity from new utility-scale solar projects this year and 5.5 gigawatts next year, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state grid manager. One gigawatt provides enough power for about 700,000 homes.

The projections reflect projects in the pipeline that have signed interconnection agreements with ERCOT, an indication they’ll likely be completed.

 

 

IoT Evolution – February 20, 2020

Texas Leading the Charge in States with Most Smart Cities

Smart cities—cities that are progressive in adopting up-and-coming technologies—are expected to disrupt the tech industry in 2020. By implementing more Internet of Things (IoT) technology, smarter cities will run more efficiently, be more cost-effective, and much safer.

With cities like New York and Boston implementing technology like automated driving and 5G into their cities, the US continually keeps itself at the forefront of the tech scene. But of all the states hopping on the bandwagon, Texas leads the charge in smart city tech. Of the twenty-three (and growing) smart cities in the US, six are Texan.

For example, Dallas is a top leader in the country for implementing smarter water systems, smarter buildings and 600 unique technology solutions. Meanwhile Austin operates on a smart grid, meaning it powers its city via electricity.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 19, 2020

Florida, Georgia and Utah added most solar jobs in 2019; Texas ranked 5th*

The U.S. solar industry employed nearly 250,000 workers last year, an increase of 2.3 percent from 2018, according to a new report. The increase reflects lower solar costs and the growing popularity of solar energy among businesses, utilities and individuals.

The job gains last year reversed a two-year sting of year-over-year job losses in the industry in 2017 and 2018, according to the Solar Foundation, a solar advocacy group based in Washington.

Florida added the most solar jobs (1,843) last year, giving the state a total of 12,202 solar-industry jobs in 2019. Georgia followed with an additional 1,102 for a total of 4,798. And Utah rounded out the top 3, with an additional 1,062 for a total of 7,107. Texas ranked fifth, adding 649 jobs for a 2o19 total of 10,261, a growth rate of 6.7 percent. Most of the jobs were in installation and project development.

 

Regulatory

 

The Hill – February 19, 2020

Democratic candidates engage in lengthy debate over climate change

Democratic presidential candidates discussed climate change at length on the debate stage Wednesday night, addressing energy sources ranging from natural gas to lithium batteries.

White House hopefuls fielded questions on the topic for 15 minutes, dwarfing the amount of time devoted to environmental issues at earlier debates.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) slightly walked back from her pledge to stop mining and oil and gas drilling on public lands.

 

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – February 20, 2020

BEG plans to create water consortium

Already overseeing oil and gas and seismicity issues, the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin is stepping into the water mix.

A meeting in late February is scheduled to organize the Subsurface Water and Energy Lab, a planned water consortium at BEG, according to Bridget Scanlon, senior research scientist at the BEG.

She told attendees at the Permian Basin Water in Energy Conference that the longer laterals drilled in the Permian Basin’s unconventional oil and gas plays equal four times the Earth’s circumference. Those longer laterals are also reflected in the region’s high demand for water used in drilling and completion projects.

 

 

Reuters – February 19, 2020

Texas co settles EPA complaint over oil terminal air pollution

A Houston-based energy infrastructure company has settled for $2.4 million a lawsuit in which U.S. authorities accused it of constructing and operating a crude oil truck-to-rail transfer facility in North Dakota without the necessary air pollution permissions.

 

 

Port Arthur News – February 15, 2020

Advocate calls for proactive Port Arthur environmental compliance office

Does Port Arthur need its own department of environmental compliance?

John Beard says he’s not against oil refineries and factories doing business locally. But the former Port Arthur city councilman and community advocate simply wants such companies to do their part to protect citizens from the harm that can be caused by chemicals and materials they handle every day.

A longtime resident of Port Arthur’s West Side, the former petrochemical industrial worker has long advocated for those whose health problems have resulted from exceedances in chemical release and other industrial incidents such as the 2017 German Pellets Texas fire at the Port of Port Arthur and the 2019 TPC Group Port Neches Operations explosions.

“My knowledge as a 38-year employee in a plant is that these things just don’t happen in isolation,” Beard said. “Something just blew up? No. There is a series of events that lead to it that say, ‘You better pay attention. This is a problem.’”

 

 

Mashable – February 12, 2020

What America’s epic electric vehicle charging system may look like

The Electric Vehicle Freedom Act filed by Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Congressman Andy Levin last Thursday seeks to remedy the fact that no one wants to run out of power on a remote highway, an angst dubbed “range anxiety.” .

[The act] requires that “a driver starting at any point along the Interstate Highway System within Hawaii, Alaska, or Puerto Rico can drive to any other point along the Interstate Highway System within that same State or territory without running out of charging power.”

To make this happen, the federal government would subsidize the creation of a nationwide system of charging stations that can power electric vehicles many times faster than home chargers (although, that will depend on the type of car for now). The government would award money to companies that prove they can build and operate the colossal charging network. The price tag is still unknown, but it will undoubtedly be expensive.

 

__________________________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 20, 2020

Click on each headline to read more of the story at the source.
Asterisk * following headline indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at the source because it’s password protected.

 

Lead Stories

 

The Hill – February 19, 2020

DHS warns of cyber threats to critical systems after attack on pipeline operator

The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is warning of potential cyber threats to companies operating critical systems this week, with the alert coming on the heels of a cyberattack last year on a pipeline operator.

In the alert released Tuesday, CISA detailed its response to a recent ransomware attack on an unnamed “natural gas compression facility.” The ransomware virus came from a malicious link in an email, which was then able to compromise the company’s systems.

CISA wrote that the facility, which never lost control of operations but did have difficulty interpreting network data, decided to temporarily shut down operations and that the group had not considered a cyberattack when formulating its emergency response plans.

 

 

Reuters – February 19, 2020

Energy Transfer signs NGL transportation, processing agreement

Energy Transfer LP (ET.N) said on Wednesday it signed agreements with an undisclosed company for the gathering, processing, transportation and fractionation of natural gas liquids (NGLs) in the Eagle Ford shale basin through 2034, and the Delaware basin through 2040.

Discussions with potential shippers to build an offshore crude export facility in Texas capable of handling supertankers were progressing, but a final investment decision has not been made, the company said during its fourth-quarter earnings call. ….

Several midstream companies have raced to add export terminals capable of handling Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Completion of the Ted Collins crude oil pipeline will provide access to over 1 million barrels per day (bpd) of inbound crude oil for delivery to the Houston and Nederland, Texas terminals as well as to Houston and Gulf Coast refineries, Chief Financial Officer Thomas Long said during the call.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 19, 2020

IRS unveils rules that could end delay of carbon-capture projects*

A delay in getting new carbon-capture projects under construction appeared to move closer to an end Wednesday when the IRS released long-awaited rules for companies to claim an expanded tax credit for the projects.

Two years after Congress passed a measure more than doubling tax credits for power and industrial plants that build systems to prevent carbon dioxide emissions, more than 20 carbon-capture projects are on hold awaiting IRS guidance on how they could claim the credit.

The rules released Wednesday initially appeared to satisfy many of the companies’ questions, said Brad Crabtree, director of Carbon Capture Coalition, an industry group.

 

 

New York Times – February 19, 2020

Oil and gas production may be responsible for a far larger share of the soaring levels of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, in the earth’s atmosphere than previously thought, new research has found.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, add urgency to efforts to rein in methane emissions from the fossil fuel industry, which routinely leaks or intentionally releases the gas into air.

“We’ve identified a gigantic discrepancy that shows the industry needs to, at the very least, improve their monitoring,” said Benjamin Hmiel, a researcher at the University of Rochester and the study’s lead author. “If these emissions are truly coming from oil, gas extraction, production use, the industry isn’t even reporting or seeing that right now.”

Atmospheric concentrations of methane have more than doubled from preindustrial times.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters/CNBC – February 20, 2020

Oil near 1-month high on supply threats, easing demand woes

Brent oil prices held near one-month highs on Thursday supported by China’s efforts to boost its economy, a drop in new coronavirus cases at the epicenter of the outbreak and supply concerns in Venezuela and Libya.

Brent crude futures were up 7 cents at $59.19 a barrel by 0939 GMT, after climbing to as high as $59.71 earlier in the day.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed 17 cents to $53.46 per barrel.

China’s move to cut its benchmark lending rate on Thursday also helped ease worries about slowing demand in the world’s second-biggest oil consumer and largest crude oil importer.

 

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – February 19, 2020

State senator calls for conversation about produced water

“We have to have a conversation about produced water,” State Sen. Charles Perry told his audience at the Permian Basin Water in Energy Conference on Wednesday.

Addressing the lunchtime crowd at the Horseshoe, Perry said there needs to be discussions about how to manage the millions of barrels of produced water, especially the millions of barrels coming from the Permian Basin.

In last year’s session of the Texas Legislature, Perry said legislation was passed clarifying who owns the produced water – “the guy who produced it.”

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 19, 2020

Halliburton to pay down debt by issuing $1 billion of lower-interest debt*

Houston oilfield service company Halliburton plans to pay down its long-term debt by issuing $1 billion worth of lower-interest debt.

In a Wednesday afternoon statement, Halliburton said the company plans to issue $1 billion worth of a special type of debt known to investors as senior notes. Due in March 2030, the notes will pay 2.92 percent interest.

The Houston-based company reported that it will use proceeds from the sales to buy back previously issued senior notes and pay down other forms of debt.

 

 

Yahoo! News – February 19, 2020

Linde, Enbridge & TC Energy Report Q4 Earnings

Leading industrial gas producer and distributor Linde reported adjusted earnings from continuing operations of $1.89 per share in fourth-quarter 2019, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.84. Moreover, the bottom line improved from the year-ago figure of $1.51 per share. The Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company’s strong quarterly earnings were supported by improved prices across Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East & Africa.

Pro forma sales from the Americas unit (Linde’s largest business segment) in the December-end quarter of 2019 were $2,737 million, up from $2,684 million in the year-ago comparable period. Moreover, the segment contributed $676 million to pro forma operating profit, mirroring an improvement from $609 million in fourth-quarter 2018. Higher prices and volume primarily contributed to the outperformance.

Also see: The Texas Energy Report 4Q Energy Earnings Roundup

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 19, 2020

‘Permian Week’ has Concho, Diamondback and Devon competing for dividend growth*

Three shale producers are fighting to show which one can grow its dividend the most as investors demand better returns from the oil and gas industry.

Concho Resources Inc., Diamondback Energy Inc. and Devon Energy Corp. rose Wednesday after reporting earnings and full-year guidance that appear to show they’re heeding calls to stop prioritizing growth over returns. The three independent explorers were among the first to post fourth-quarter results in what Mizuho Securities analyst Paul Sankey has dubbed “Permian Week.” Several other drillers in the West Texas patch are also due to report this week. …

Concho hiked its dividend by 60%, while Devon boosted its payout by 22%. Both companies cut their capital budgets for 2020 compared with last year. Diamondback, which doubled its dividend in the previous quarter, reaffirmed previous spending plans for this year. Permian explorers including Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Parsley Energy Inc. are due to post results later on Wednesday.

 

 

Rigzone – February 19, 2020

NGL Wins Permian Produced Water Contracts

NGL Energy Partners LP Tuesday reported that it has signed separate, long-term produced water transportation and disposal agreements with two large producer customers in the Delaware Basin.

The new deals cover acreage dedications encompassing approximately 20,000 acres, NGL noted in a written statement. The firm stated that it expects to begin receiving initial produced water volumes in July of this year, adding that it will use existing infrastructure and disposal capacity to service the contracts.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 19, 2020

Pioneer increases drilling budget while other oil companies shrink theirs*

Citing substantial improvements in efficiency, Irving exploration and production company Pioneer Natural Resources plans to increase its drilling budget as other oil companies are shrinking theirs.

In a Wednesday afternoon statement, Pioneer said it made $756 million in 2019, a 22 percent drop from the $975 million the company made a year earlier. The company’s annual revenue of $9.3 billion was about flat compared with the $9.4 billion it reported for 2018.

Looking ahead, Pioneer set a 2020 capital expenditure budget of $3.15 billion to $3.45 billion, a slight increase over the $2.8 billion to $3.1 billion set for 2019. The company said 2019 drilling and completions efficiencies increased by more than 30 percent compared with operations in 2017.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 19, 2020

Flaring in Texas reaches levels not seen since 1950s, oil industry regulator says*

The oil and natural gas industry practice of burning surplus gas from oil wells, or flaring, has reached levels not seen in Texas since the 1950s, a report released Tuesday by Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton states.

In 1953, with an oil boom producing more natural gas than companies could sell, they burned off a record 815 million cubic feet per day.

Today, wells across the state — particularly at fracking sites in West Texas — again are producing more natural gas than pipelines can move, raising daily flaring volumes to an estimated 650 million cubic feet in 2018 — more than twice the 268 million a day a year earlier.

Alternative: Texas Flaring Is Lower Than Most Other Nations According to One Metric, TIPRO. TXOGA Response

And: Texas regulator calls out state’s worst, best companies for natural gas flaring

And: For gas flaring fix, commissioner suggests OPEC over Texas

 

 

Business & Energy Connection – February 19, 2020

Rystad Energy: Texas oil output set for monthly boosts in 2020, but growth rate to slow

Texas’ oil production rose to an estimated 5.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in December, a Rystad Energy analysis shows, and is expected to rise almost every month this year due to sufficient statewide fracking activity levels, but the growth’s pace is seen slowing ahead.

Although statewide oil output is currently reported only at 4.5 million bpd for December, Rystad Energy’s assessment of reporting delays and activity trends indicates that an additional production of about 900,000 bpd is still unreported.

 

 

Associated Press/New York Times – February 19, 2020

North Dakota regulators on Wednesday unanimously approved expanded capacity for the Dakota Access pipeline, saying they believed the project had met exhaustive state and federal requirements.

The 3-0 vote by the all-Republican Public Service Commission came after the body signaled last month it was likely to approve a permit to expand the capacity of the pipeline, despite objections from opponents who said it would increase the probability of a disastrous oil spill. …

Texas-based Energy Transfer proposed doubling the capacity of the pipeline last year to meet growing demand for oil shipments from North Dakota, without the need for additional pipelines or rail shipments.

 

 

Wall Street Journal – February 19, 2020

Mexican President Resists Pressure to Restart Oil Auctions*

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is resisting pressure to restart auctions for oil drilling rights and allow private firms to have a greater role in the oil industry, even as his government grapples with a stagnant economy and weak investment.

Senior government officials and private sector leaders have urged Mexico’s nationalist president to resume the overhaul of the energy industry launched by his pro-market predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto, as crude production by state oil company Petróleos Mexicanos fell 8% last year.

But such efforts appear unsuccessful so far, according to people with knowledge of the situation. Mr. López Obrador plans to announce soon a modest initiative for private companies to provide exploration and production services to Pemex, as the state oil company is known. His government will also seek to attract greater private investment in refining and petrochemical projects, these people said.

 

 

Oil Price – February 17, 2020

Cyril Widdershoven: The World’s Top LNG Producer Is In Trouble

International expansion in Australia, Qatar, Mozambique and Egypt, combined with a continuously strong US shale gas export drive, is pushing down prices further. Analysts have warned before that a possible LNG glut could end in tears, but nobody was expecting that the market would also be hit by a demand side shock such as China’s coronavirus. The last couple of weeks, major LNG export cargoes to China have been diverted to other clients or are still looking for a destination in an already woefully oversupplied market.

Major LNG producers such as Qatar or Egypt are feeling the pain already. During Egypt’s EGYPS2020, a major oil and gas conference, participants showed concern about the imminent future of the East Med gas hub, as new LNG export contracts still have not been signed and asking prices are unlikely to be met.

Also on the Middle East: Oman, Bahrain seen vulnerable to downgrades if the coronavirus outbreak drags on: S&P Global

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 19, 2020

Shell sees continued lower Chinese LNG demand into March on coronavirus

Shell expects Chinese LNG demand to remain lower than expected into March due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the country, senior company officials said Thursday.

Maarten Wetselaar, Shell’s Integrated Gas and New Energies Director, said on a call with reporters that volumes being diverted away from China were, however, finding homes elsewhere, in particular in India.

“We’re seeing examples of LNG demand being lower — particularly in February in China, and extending into March as we see it at the moment,” Wetselaar said following the launch of Shell’s latest LNG outlook.

 

 

US News – February 19, 2020

Maduro Accused of ‘Disappearing’ US Oilmen as Trial Delayed

Family members of six American oil executives jailed in Venezuela are accusing Nicolas Maduro’s government of “forced disappearance” after the men were inexplicably missing for the scheduled start of their trial on Wednesday.

Veronica Vadell said that lawyers for her father, Tomeu Vadell, and the five other executives from Houston-based Citgo had been waiting at a Caracas courthouse for more than six hours for the men to be transferred by the nation’s intelligence police. In a message posted on social media, she demanded stakeholders on all sides work to resolve the “hostage case” immediately.

“Why is there a delay? Where are the men?,”she wrote.

 

Utilities

 

Houston Chronicle – February 19, 2020

CenterPoint CEO out just days after PUC decision*

Scott M. Prochazka, the chief executive officer of CenterPoint Energy, was replaced Wednesday, just days after the Public Utility Commission approved a drastically reduced rate increase for the Houston utility.

The company said its board of directors named one of its members, John W. Somerhalder II, as interim CEO, and will launch a search for a permanent chief executive. In a statement, Milton Carroll, the executive chairman, said, “The board has determined that now is the right time for a new leader with a fresh strategic perspective to lead the company though its next phase of growth and value creation.” …

Prochazka’s sudden departure comes less than a week after the Public Utility Commission approved a deal that CenterPoint negotiated with big industrial electricity users and cities that will lower the utility’s profit margin from 10 percent to 9.4 percent. CenterPoint also agreed to accept a $13 million rate hike after asking Texas regulators for $161 million.

 

 

Center Square – February 19, 2020

Critics: Austin’s renewable energy goals unrealistic

Austin Energy is increasing its percentage of renewable energy generation and “is on track to meet or even exceed its 2027 renewable energy goal,” according to a report from the Austin city auditor. Austin’s plan to be carbon neutral by 2050 is unrealistic, however, critics argue.

Its audit, “City Efforts to Reduce Carbon Emissions,” comes six months after the City Council declared it was facing a climate emergency and announced a strategy to reduce carbon emissions. The city pledged to make municipal operations carbon neutral by 2020, and the Austin community to be carbon neutral by 2050.

 

 

eExtra News – February 19, 2020

Lamar Electric gets new headquarters, Leaves downtown Paris

Lamar Electric Cooperative is relocating its headquarters this year after 85 years of being located in downtown Paris, Texas. Lamar Electric has outgrown its current facility that was built in 1949. There is not enough room at the current location to park all the trucks or equipment.

According to General Manager Jerry Williams, the current building has been added on to several times and has issues you would expect from a 1949 structure. Due to the physical limitations and the expense of bringing the current facility to modern-day code, Williams said it would not be cost-effective to remodel.

The new site is located just west of Blossom, Texas on U.S. Highway 82. Although the cooperative has been headquartered in downtown Paris, it does not serve anything inside the loop of Paris. This new location will allow the rural electric co-op to be more centrally located for its members in their service area. Lamar Electric provides electricity to over 12,600 meters in the rural areas of Red River, Delta and Lamar counties.

 

 

New Orleans Times Picayune – February 19, 2020

Entergy’s full-year profit tops $1bn for first time since 2011

Entergy on Wednesday reported annual profit above $1 billion for the first time since 2011, as the New Orleans-based gas and electricity company made progress on its plan to rid itself of unprofitable nuclear power plants outside its home markets.

The utility, which is the only New Orleans-based company on the Standard & Poor’s list of America’s largest 500 publicly-listed companies, said that its after-tax profit last year was just over $1.2 billion, up 46% from the year before.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Inverse – February 19, 2020

New report shows solar jobs leaving coal in the dust — especially in the South

The Solar Foundation’s 10th annual National Solar Jobs Census shows nearly 250,000 Americans currently work in the solar industry, and over 5,600 jobs were created in the industry last year. That’s good news, considering 2017 and 2018 both saw job losses in the industry partially due to President Donald Trump’s tariffs on solar panels. A study that was released in December found the tariffs have cost the industry over 60,000 jobs.

What may come as a surprise to many is that the states that added the most solar jobs were in the South. Florida and Georgia topped the list of most new solar jobs, with Georgia seeing a 30 percent increase in solar jobs and Florida seeing an 18 percent increase. Texas is also one of the top states where the solar industry is growing, and it created 649 new solar jobs in 2019.

 

Regulatory

 

February 20, 2020

Houston Chronicle: We recommend Chrysta Castañeda in Democratic primary for Railroad Commission

Castañeda, 57, an engineer and attorney with decades of experience in the oil and gas industry, has been raising the alarm about flaring on the campaign trail. On Tuesday, the man she is trying to unseat, Republican incumbent Ryan Sitton, issued a report on flaring. …

Castañeda says one way to cut the amount of flaring would be to use alternative technologies such as onsite-power generation, where operators use that natural gas to produce power for their own operations. That technique would also reduce strain on the grid. ….

Castañeda’s experience will help her balance the economic concerns of the oil and gas industry with the need to protect the environment for all Texans.

 

 

Dallas Morning News – February 17, 2020

How much will the Texas bullet train cost? Curious Texas tackles this and other questions about the line*

Like buying a plane ticket, prices will depend on several factors, such as the class of service and how far in advance the purchase is made, Texas Central says.

“On the high end, tickets will be competitive with the cost of flying, and on the low end, they will be competitive with the cost of driving,” the company says on its website.

With those parameters in mind, it could be assumed that a ticket could cost as little as a tank of gas, or as much as a $200 flight.

Texas Central is waiting on federal approval of the project’s environmental and safety aspects. If those are cleared by summer, groundbreaking could begin in the fall. After that, North Texans could be making the under 90-minute trip to Houston as soon as 2026, the company said.

Patrick McShan, a Dallas attorney with The Beckham Group, does not believe the train’s groundbreaking will happen so soon. McShan represents Texans Against High-Speed Rail, which opposes building the line. He believes that Texas Central will face more legal battles and that the project could end up before the Texas Supreme Court.

In a conference call with news media Thursday morning, U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Houston, said he doesn’t believe Texas Central has made progress on the line’s construction.

 

_____________________________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 19, 2020

Click on each headline to read more of the story at the source.
Asterisk * following headline indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at the source because it’s password protected.

 

Lead Stories

 

S&P Global Platts – February 18, 2020

Geopolitical ramifications of energy transition hard to exaggerate: experts

The geopolitical landscape is likely to be significantly modified by the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable and low-carbon resources, both on the global and sub-national level, experts said during the University of Texas Energy Week’s second day of sessions.

In a keynote address, Paul Hudson, president of Blackstone Group’s General Infrastructure investment firm and former Public Utility Commission of Texas chairman, identified climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and the environment as dominant factors in energy markets over the past few years.

Over the past 10 years, almost $2.7 billion in “clean energy” asset financing has taken place, Hudson noted, and coal-fired generation’s share of the US power generation mix has dropped from 45% to 23%, while renewables’ share has surged from 10% to 18%. Cleaner burning natural gas’ share also increased strongly, from 25% to 39%.

 

 

Reuters – February 18, 2020

U.S. shale oil output to rise to record, natgas output to drop in March: EIA

U.S. shale oil output is expected to rise by about 18,000 barrels per day (bpd) in March to a record 9.18 million bpd, driven by gains in the Permian Basin, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed on Tuesday.

Still, output is expected to remain flat or decline in six out of seven major shale formations. U.S. natural gas output in the big shale basins was projected to decrease for a third straight month in March, posting the biggest drop since January 2019, the data showed.

The Permian and Bakken regions have been the biggest drivers of a shale oil boom that helped make the United States the biggest oil producer in the world, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia. However, the rate of growth has slowed as independent producers cut spending on new drilling and completions to focus more on improving earnings results.

 

 

Dallas Morning News – February 18, 2020

Irving engineering giant Fluor delays full-year results, discloses SEC investigation*

It also reverses course on earlier decision to sell off its government services business.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating how Irving-based Fluor Corp. accounted for charges on a fixed-price federal project in mid-2019, the company disclosed Tuesday.

As a result, the engineering and general contracting giant said it will delay filing its full-year financial statements until at least the end of this month. The company said the SEC requested documents related to charges it took in the second quarter of 2019, including its design-build, fixed-price work at a U.S. Army ammunition plant in Radford, Va.

“While we currently believe that the total dollar amount of the revenue and subsequent charges taken on this project was correct, we are reviewing whether the accounting and financial reporting along with a limited number of additional projects was recognized in the appropriate reporting period,” executive chairman Alan Boeckmann said in a conference call Tuesday with analysts. “We do not believe at this time that we have material errors that is the intent of the investigation.”

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 18, 2020

Solar, wind and batteries expected to outpace new gas-powered generation in Texas*

Texas is increasingly moving away from power generated by natural gas, the backbone of the state’s electricity system and which supplies about half of the state’s generating capacity.

Solar power is emerging as the state’s fastest growing electricity source, according to the state grid manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Solar developers are expected to install about 68 gigawatts of solar power capacity, representing 61 percent of the power projects expected to come on the grid between now and 2023. One gigawatt provides enough power for about 700,000 homes.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters/CNBC – February 19, 2020

Oil rises amid hope for short economic hit from coronavirus outbreak

Oil prices rose on Wednesday, with Brent gaining a seventh straight day, amid broad optimism as new coronavirus cases fell for a second day in China and concerns rose over supply after a U.S. move to cut more Venezuelan crude from the market.

Brent crude was up by 51 cents, or 0.9%, at $58.26 a barrel by 0732 GMT, while U.S. oil was up 55 cents, or 1.1%, at $52.60 a barrel.

China is still struggling to get manufacturing going again in the world’s second-largest economy, after imposing stringent city lockdowns and travel restrictions to contain the virus that has now killed more than 2,000 people, but investors remain optimistic that the economic fallout may be short-lived.

 

 

Reuters – February 18, 2020

U.S. gasoline prices rise as fire, outages hit six refineries

U.S. gasoline prices on Tuesday continued a week-long climb as unplanned weekend refinery outages compounded earlier shutdowns at major U.S. Gulf Coast and East Coast plants, gasoline traders said.

Over the weekend, four refineries in Texas and Louisiana shut units directly making gasoline or portions of it, according to refinery sources and energy industry intelligence service Genscape.

Those new outages are expected to tighten U.S. gasoline supply as refineries prepare for planned shutdowns that typically begin in spring and prepare the plants for summer driving-season production.

The average retail price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline was $2.45, up from $2.33 a year ago, according to petroleum analytics firm Gas Buddy. Prices have been falling this year as inventories rose and crude oil prices slumped.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 18, 2020

Kinder Morgan CEO offers new guidance on Permian Pass Pipeline

Houston pipeline operator Kinder Morgan plans to build the company’s third pipeline to move natural gas from the Permian Basin of West Texas to the Gulf Coast but the project may have to wait until more customers sign up.

Kinder Morgan brought its Permian Basin-to-Corpus Christi Gulf Coast Express Pipeline into service in September while construction continues for its Permian Highway Pipeline, which will move gas from the West Texas shale play through the Texas Hill Country to the Katy Hub near Houston.

The company’s CEO Steve Kean told the Houston Chronicle that Kinder Morgan remains in talks with producers to build the Permian Pass Pipeline, a proposed project that will move 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the prolific West Texas shale play to interstate pipelines and liquefied natural gas export terminals in East Texas and Louisiana.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 18, 2020

Opponents of Kinder Morgan Hill Country pipeline vow to keep fighting*

Opponents of a controversial natural gas pipeline through the picturesque Texas Hill Country lost a legal battle but vow to continue their fight against Houston pipeline operator Kinder Morgan. …

Construction has begun on the western end of the pipeline’s 430-mile route from the Permian Basin to the Katy Hub, but Kinder Morgan isn’t out of the woods in the Texas Hill Country. The request for a temporary restraining order was only part of an endangered species lawsuit filed Feb. 5 by the cities of Austin and San Marcos, Hays and Travis counties, the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District and four landowners. The company, its subcontractors and the project also face a federal lawsuit filed by five Hill Country landowners.

The endangered species lawsuit is on a path to head to trial, said Jessica Karlsruher, executive director of the Texas Real Estate Advocacy and Defense Coalition, a nonprofit that represents landowners who oppose the project.

The coalition seeks to reform Texas eminent domain laws used by Kinder Morgan and other companies to acquire land for pipelines. The group favors the model used by power line companies in which the proposed route is discussed at public hearings and finalized by a state agency.

 

 

Associated Press/Hilton Head Island Packet – February 18, 2020

Texas co. to pay $2.4M penalty for ND oil terminal violation

A Texas company and its subsidiaries will pay a $2.4 million penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act for a crude oil transloading facility the companies formerly owned and operated on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday.

The EPA said the penalties are against US Development Group, LLC, and two subsidiaries. The agency says the companies constructed and operated the Van Hook Crude Terminal before receiving the necessary permit, a violation of the Clean Air Act.

The companies submitted a permit application to the EPA in October 2011, and the agency issued the permit in August 2012, with an effective date of Sept. 1, 2012. Despite not yet having received a permit, the companies began constructing the terminal around October 2011 and began operating the facility in early February 2012, months before the permit was issued and became effective, the EPA said.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 18, 2020

A bankruptcy judge granted more time for the Gessner explosion site to be cleaned up before allowing lawyers, experts to enter*

It might be another two weeks before the Gessner explosion site is cleared of remaining chemicals, including the highly flammable propylene, the state’s environmental agency said Tuesday.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality called for an emergency hearing in federal bankruptcy court Tuesday and asked the judge to keep dozens of lawyers and experts from entering the west Houston site, citing safety concerns. The judge told the agency to come back with a timeline for removing remaining chemicals, which it submitted Tuesday afternoon.

TCEQ had explained in the morning hearing that representatives from Watson Grinding & Manufacturing were expected to remove those remaining chemicals from tanks and cylinders by the end of Monday, before allowing interested parties to tour the site. But when officials stopped by the plant Tuesday morning, they saw the gases remained as more than 40 people were getting ready to enter the facility.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 18, 2020

Transocean sees long-term activity boost despite short-term coronavirus impact

The COVID-19 coronavirus disease could hurt offshore contract driller Transocean in the near term amid a decline in customer spending as oil demand sinks and crude oil prices fall, the company said Tuesday.

Still, long-term market fundamentals and a growing list of opportunities bode well for a healthy 2020, company executives said on an earnings call. ….

The company noted that it is “virtually sold out” of its highest-specification assets in the Gulf of Mexico for the majority of 2020, and customers have contacted the company to bring additional rigs into the Gulf to meet demand. Thigpen anticipates day rates to rise due to the tight supply.

 

 

McClatchy Newspapers – February 18, 2020

Trump sanctions Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil company, for aiding Maduro in Venezuela

The Trump administration announced significant new sanctions on Tuesday targeting Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil company, for helping Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro circumvent U.S. sanctions.

The Treasury Department blocked all U.S. assets of Rosneft´s subsidiary, Rosneft Trading S.A., and its director, Didier Casimiro.

But the sanctions will affect “anyone engaging in activity” with the Russian company, senior administration officials said, characterizing Rosneft as the “primary culprit” of a campaign to evade Washington’s pressure on the Maduro regime.

 

 

Reuters – February 14, 2020

Canada’s Enbridge stands by plan to sell capacity on Mainline, awaits regulator nod

Enbridge Inc (ENB.TO) on Friday once again defended its decision to contract capacity on its Mainline system and said it would move forward with an open season to solicit bids if the pipeline operator wins necessary approval.

The company plans to sell 90% of space under long-term contracts to shippers on the nearly 3 million barrels-per-day (bpd) Mainline, instead of continuing the older practice of rationing space monthly.

With congested pipelines, some oil producers worry that Enbridge’s changes will further limit access. …

The energy services unit, which provides marketing services to North American refiners and producers among others, swung to a loss of C$22 million ($16.60 million).

See Enbridge’s 4Q Headline Results in their press release here.

 

 

Financial Times – February 11, 2020

Michael Pooler: Surge in plastics production defies environmental backlash

At a time when the oil industry is gripped by fears that demand for petrol will collapse in an era of electric vehicles, many hydrocarbon producers are betting on petrochemicals — and in particular, plastics — to fill the gap. But doubts are emerging about the wisdom of a huge expansion in capacity that will leave the world awash in products that can take hundreds of years to decay.

“Plastics is the most egregious example of a gap between what the industry is expecting and what society demands,” says Kingsmill Bond, energy strategist at Carbon Tracker, a think-tank. “The risk to investors is that [plastics companies] are building for demand that may not come.”

At the same time as the supply splurge, trade tensions and a weak global economy have contributed to a slump in prices for many plastic grades, squeezing profits at petrochemical producers. Campaigners fear this could hold back industry efforts to take greater responsibility for plastic waste and develop eco-friendly substitutes.

 

 

Portland Press Herald (ME) – February 15, 2020

‘Invisible oil’ from 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill reached Florida Keys

Florida Keys residents may not have seen massive tar balls and fish kills after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but small concentrations of toxic crude were still reaching the islands and potentially harming marine life, as the extent of the deadly disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was worse than originally thought, according to a University of Miami study.

Nearly a decade after the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history killed 11 people and dumped 200 million gallons of crude into the ocean, researchers found discrepancies in the satellite footprint that was used to establish fisheries closures and data from sampling and field tests. They concluded that the real extent of the BP oil spill may have been 30 percent larger than originally estimated. After methane seeped into the rig and triggered an explosion on April 20, 2010, oil gushed from a pipe more than 4,000 feet below the ocean’s surface for 87 days.

 

 

The Intercept – January 29, 2020

How the environmental lawyer who won a massive judgment against Chevron lost everything

Few news outlets covered the detention of [lawyer] Steven Donziger, who won a multibillion-dollar judgment in Ecuador against Chevron over the massive contamination in the Lago Agrio region and has been fighting on behalf of Indigenous people and farmers there for more than 25 years. …

“They are trying to totally destroy me.”

Donziger is not exaggerating. As he was arguing the case against Chevron in Ecuador back in 2009, the company expressly said its long-term strategy was to demonize him. And since then, Chevron has continued its all-out assault on Donziger in what’s become one of the most bitter and drawn-out cases in the history of environmental law. Chevron has hired private investigators to track Donziger, created a publication to smear him, and put together a legal team of hundreds of lawyers from 60 firms, who have successfully pursued an extraordinary campaign against him.

As a result, Donziger has been disbarred and his bank accounts have been frozen. He now has a lien on his apartment, faces exorbitant fines, and has been prohibited from earning money. As of August, a court has seized his passport and put him on house arrest. Chevron, which has a market capitalization of $228 billion, has the funds to continue targeting Donziger for as long as it chooses.

 

 

Albuquerque Journal – February 4, 2020

NM: Permian Basin oilfield roads receive millions in state funds, projects underway

Three of southeast New Mexico’s most notorious oilfield roads are in for major rebuilds in the coming years as the New Mexico Department of Transportation aims to use surplus state funds from oil and gas revenue to ensure workers in the industry can travel safely through the region.

In a Monday meeting with Carlsbad area business leaders in Santa Fe, New Mexico Cabinet Secretary of Transportation Michael Sandoval said a $130 million project to update U.S. Highway 285 from the Texas State Line 22 miles north to Loving was fully funded.

The road became increasingly dangerous as truck traffic increased during the area’s recent oil boom as workers traveled south from Carlsbad out to the oilfield and back into town at the end of their shifts.

 

 

San Antonio Express News – February 3, 2020

Jason Wolf, Jim DeSotle: Safety at the forefront for pipeline projects*

It’s no secret Texas is in the midst of an unprecedented energy boom. Hundreds of millions of gallons of oil and 17 billion cubic feet in natural gas are produced in this state each day to meet energy needs across this country and across the world.

This enhanced production is the result of countless hours invested by the oil and gas industry into science, technology, hard work and most importantly, safety. It’s a huge undertaking to efficiently develop resources in places such as the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin, and it’s a much larger achievement to get the production to its end user in a safe and responsible manner.

Before any pipeline project is developed, safety is at the forefront of all planning. Operating and service companies take into consideration each aspect of a pipeline route before any soil is disturbed. The diligence on pipeline construction projects such as the Permian Highway, Pecos Trail, Jupiter, Grey Oak and EPIC can take years.

 

Utilities

 

Austin American Statesman – February 18, 2020

TCEQ: Emissions drop sharply after Luminant coal plant closures*

Air pollution in Central Texas has dropped sharply after one of the state’s largest coal mining operations that once took place in Bastrop, Lee and Milam counties shuttered in 2017, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Coal mining company Luminant, which operated the Sandow Power Plant in Milam County and its Three Oaks Mine that straddles the Bastrop-Lee county line, announced that it was closing the plant in 2017 due to an “economically challenged” energy market. Decreased wholesale power prices, in conjunction with “an oversupplied renewable generation market, and low natural gas prices,” contributed to the closure, the company said in its 2017 announcement.

Carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and other volatile organic compounds being pumped into the air in Southeast Central Texas have all dropped by nearly 100% from 2017 to 2018, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Point Source Emissions Inventory. The commission released its 2018 emissions data earlier this year in its annual survey of chemical plants, refineries, electric utility plants and other industrial sites under state emissions regulations.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Utility Dive – February 14, 2020

US doubled renewables capacity since 2010: factbook

Despite headwinds from the federal government under the Trump administration, renewable energy surged in the U.S. over the past decade, BNEF and BCSE found. Natural gas was a key part of the energy shift, becoming the primary source of U.S. power generation amid a boom in production. Wind and solar also made huge gains as prices dropped; for example, the price of a typical photovoltaic solar module fell 77%. Due to these drops, wind and solar combined saw an estimated 180 gigawatts added globally in 2019​.

The rise in renewables was also attributed to demand, with consumers becoming more aware of their energy consumption and more interested in finding efficient sources. There are some 85 million “smart meters” in the U.S., up from less than 10 million in 2010. States and cities have also taken the lead on benchmarking and building codes that require energy efficiency.

 

Regulatory

 

Dallas Morning News – February 17, 2020

Rick Perry thought soothsayer’s ‘Oval Office’ prophecy meant he would be president*

It starts in 2011, when Perry learned that a Christian prophet had visions of him and his grandson taking a picture in the Oval Office.

Perry, who been mulling over a presidential bid, was thrilled.

“Let’s go,” Perry said he thought at the time, even though at the time he didn’t have a grandson. “Let’s ride.”

Perry embarked on two campaigns for the White House, never forgetting the prophecy. …

But what about the prophecy?

Perry now has a grandson, and last September the two of them were at the White House.

“I walked into the Oval Office with my grandson and had a picture taken with President Trump,” Perry said, as the crowd at the Reagan Day Dinner applauded.

 

 

Austin American Statesman – February 18, 2020

Race to replace Kirk Watson is underway*

The race to replace state Sen. Kirk Watson began shortly before news broke Tuesday that the Austin Democrat will leave office early.

Watson disclosed his plans during an early-morning conference call with five Texas House Democrats from Austin, spurring a frenetic examination of options and ambitions for politicians who would be seen as early front-runners for a rare open Senate seat.

Those who said they are looking into a possible campaign included state Reps. Eddie Rodriguez, Donna Howard and Celia Israel, D-Austin; Austin City Council Member Greg Casar; Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt; immigration lawyer Chito Vela III, who lost a close Democratic primary runoff to state Rep. Sheryl Cole of Austin in 2018; and Austin lawyer Adam Loewy.

“I have not yet heard any names on our side, but I do expect that we’ll have a strong person step up and run for the seat, and we’ll work hard on that,” said Matt Mackowiak, chairman of the Travis County Republican Party.

 

 

KPEJ (Midland-Odessa) – February 18, 2020

Oil and gas Attorney Mary Baker runs for District Court Judge

“You get to see people who come before the court in their hours of need and you get to really affect what happens in their lives and it’s a great opportunity to effectuate change and help people,” says 142nd District Court candidate Mary Baker.

The Oil and Gas Attorney says as more cases are being brought to the Court as a result of the energy boom it’s just as important to have a judge that understands this type of law, making her the best candidate for the 142nd District Court.

“I am the best candidate because I’m the only one with judicial behind the bench experience. I have docket experience I know how hard it is to handle the Criminal Cases because of the Speedy Trial Act but also pay attention to the cases that keep our economy running, our oil and gas cases. It’s very difficult to find someone with the right experience to move both of those forward at the same time.”

 

 

Axios – February 17, 2020

Top NSC official may be moved to Energy after “Anonymous” rumor fallout

Top Trump administration officials are in discussions to reassign deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates to the Department of Energy from the National Security Council, per two sources familiar with the planning.

Why it matters: Coates’ working relationship with National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, who elevated her to the deputy role only months ago, has strained amid an effort by some people inside the administration to tag her as “Anonymous” — a charge she has vehemently denied to colleagues.

As Politico first reported, Coates has been the target of a whisper campaign in recent weeks making a circumstantial case that she was the identity behind an op-ed in the New York Times and later a bestselling book describing a resistance movement against President Trump in his own White House.

Coates could take on a senior role under Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette, the former deputy secretary who was elevated to lead the department in December after Rick Perry’s departure.

 

 

Ceres Courier (CA) – February 5, 2020

Merrill Matthews, Dallas’ Institute for Policy Innovation: Democrats’ green schemes threaten America’s poor

When politicians restrict access to natural gas, homeowners and businesses often turn to heating oil, which is much more expensive. Households that rely primarily on natural gas will spend about $580 this winter. Meanwhile, those using heating oil — which emits about a third more carbon dioxide — will spend about $1,500.

Shifting to renewable energy also hurts the poor.

Most states, whether led by Republicans or Democrats, set a minimum requirement of electricity that must come from renewable energy. For example, California’s target last year was for 28 percent of its electricity to come from renewable sources such as wind and solar power. However, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) actually produced 39 percent of its electricity from renewable sources.

At $56.40 per megawatt hour, natural gas is the cheapest energy source for producing electricity, according to the EIA. Onshore wind power isn’t that much more expensive these days — around $58.50 — partly thanks to technological improvements.

 

_______________________________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 18, 2020

Click on each headline to read more of the story at the source.
Asterisk * following headline indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at the source because it’s password protected.

 

Lead Stories

 

Union City Journal (NJ) – February 17, 2020

U.S. Leads the World in Reducing Carbon Emissions, Report Reveals

A brand-new report reveals that the U.S. leads the world in the decrease of co2 emissions, in contrast to the narrative pressed by ecological protestors

“The Largest Decline in Energy-Related Carbon Emissions”

The International Energy Agency (IEA) launched their report on Tuesday outlining the worldwide launch of carbon emissions in 2019, keeping in mind that the U.S. was striking its environment targets.

“The United States saw the biggest decrease in energy-related Carbon Monoxide 2 emissions in 2019 on a nation basis– a loss of 140 Mt, or 2.9%, to 4.8 Gt,” the IEA created:

“United states emissions are currently down nearly 1 gt from their optimal in the year 2000, the biggest outright decrease by any kind of nation over that duration. a 15% decrease in the use coal for power generation underpinned the decrease in total united states emissions in2019 coal- terminated nuclear power plant dealt with also more powerful competitors from all-natural gas-fired generation, with benchmark gas costs approximately 45% less than 2018 degrees. as an outcome, gas raised its share in electrical power generation to a document high of 37%. overall electrical power need decreased due to the fact that need for air-conditioning and also home heating was reduced as an outcome of milder summer season and also winter season weather condition.”

 

Bloomberg News/Yahoo! News – February 14, 2020

Cheap Gas Imperils Climate Fight by Undercutting Wind and Solar

This will almost certainly be a record-breaking year for the advance of solar and wind power across the U.S. The additions that are in progress or planned are significant enough to boost hopes for emissions-free electrical grids within a generation—if natural gas doesn’t get in the way.

It just may. Gas is such a bargain that it’s being viewed less as a bridge fossil fuel, driving the world away from dirtier coal toward a clean-energy future, and more as a hurdle that could slow the trip down. Some forecasters are predicting prices will stay low for years, making it tough for states, cities and utilities to achieve their goals of being zero-carbon in power production by 2050 or earlier.

 

 

Kallanish Energy – February 17, 2020

Don’t panic about coronavirus impact on oil: secretary*

U.S. energy secretary Dan Brouillette believes China’s coronavirus is not a cause for concern for markets, Kallanish Energy learns.

Brouillette’s comments come shortly after both Opec and the IEA (International Energy Agency) dramatically lowered their oil demand growth forecasts this year as a result of the deadly virus.

“I think we are going to pay close attention to what is happening with the virus itself. We are still analyzing, not only the actual virus to learn more about it, but also the response to it,” Brouillette told CNBC in an interview on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference last Friday.

“So, we are looking to see if the Chinese government will be able to contain or at least help contain the spread of the virus. At this moment, while we are seeing some slight reductions in production as a result of the virus, we are not yet concerned about its ultimate impact.”

 

 

Popular Mechanics – January 31, 2020

Russian Scientists Reveal Plans for Fusion-Fission Reactor

Russian scientists have published a concept for a new kind of nuclear reactor. It’s a hybrid reactor, meaning it includes both fusion and fission, and it runs almost exclusively on thorium instead of more volatile uranium. In computer simulations, the research team found its novel design of an “energy-generating blanket” could still produce high power with a relatively small footprint and not much radioactive waste.

There’s a lot to like about this design, including how it offers interesting middle-ground solutions in terms of fuel, reactor configuration, and safety. Thorium is one of the most abundant elements of its kind—more abundant than tin, which is so common and accessible that it’s one of the classical elements of alchemy. Uranium isn’t the rarest element in nature, but little of it is “available” in a common or affordable sense. If uranium were an asset, it would be a long-term CD with a penalty for convenient withdrawal.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters/CNBC – February 18, 2020

Oil falls below $57 on coronavirus hit to demand, OPEC+ delay

Oil fell to below $57 a barrel on Tuesday, pressured by concerns over the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China on oil demand and a lack of any further action by OPEC and its allies to support the market.

Forecasters including the International Energy Agency have cut 2020 oil demand estimates because of the virus. Global experts say it is too early to judge if the outbreak is being contained, despite a fall in new cases in mainland China.

Brent crude was down $1.04 at $56.63 a barrel by 0940 GMT. The contract had rallied in the previous five sessions. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 83 cents to $51.22.

 

 

Texas Energy Report – February 17, 2020

Explosion, Fire Reported at Corpus Citgo Plant*

A natural gas pipeline fire Monday morning near Citgo Petroleum Corp.’s 157,500-barrel-per-day refinery in Corpus Christi was put out after burning for about an hour and a half, Corpus Christi officials said.

No injuries were reported, but a portion of I-37 was closed while firefighters battled the blaze.

Some witnesses said they heard an explosion, after which city officials issued an emergency shelter in place order that covered the neighborhoods and schools near the plant.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 14, 2020

U.S. LNG developers push forward despite record low prices in Asia*

U.S. liquefied natural gas developers are pushing forward with plans to build new export terminals along the Gulf Coast despite a global supply glut and record low prices in Asia.

Over the past year, the U.S. LNG industry has brought four new plants online — raising the number of U.S. export terminals to six with a combined production capacity of nearly 70 million metric tons per year. One new export terminal with another 16 million tons of capacity is under construction near Port Arthur while 10 more proposed plants capable of making an additional 130 million tons have received permits but still need contracts and financing before they can be built.

However, that planned U.S. expansion faces some hurdles on the global market. Natural gas traded on Asia’s JKM price index fell below $3 per million British thermal units earlier this week, hitting lows not seen in more than 10 years time, the global commodity data trading firm S&P Global Platts reported. The record low prices are attributed to a global supply glut created by a warm winter and weak demand in China, the largest LNG buyer in the world, where the ongoing coronavirus outbreak has cut demand from industrial customers.

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – February 14, 2020

Permian support grows for plan to eliminate routine flaring

Global efforts to clear the air and improve the environment have been embraced by Permian Basin oil and gas producers in recent years.

Most recently, the World Bank has launched its Zero Routine Flaring by 2030, an initiative, designed to bring together a broad consortium of governments, oil companies and development institutions to cooperate in eliminating routine flaring by 2030.

Occidental Petroleum last week became the first U.S. oil and gas company to endorse the initiative.

 

 

Houston Business Journal – February 14, 2020

Houston terminal co. to lay off hundreds*

Houston-based Gulf Stream Marine Inc. will lay off hundreds of its employees when it closes its terminal along the Houston Ship Channel.

Gulf Stream plans to close the facility March 31, the company said in a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act letter it filed with the Texas Workforce Commission. The closure comes as the company’s lease for the site ends, when the company will cease all its operations at the terminal, according to the WARN letter.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 18, 2020

Chevron invests in carbon capture technology

Chevron is one of three companies investing in portable carbon capture technology for the oil field and other industrial facilities.

In a joint statement, the startup technology arm of the California oil major, Tokyo industrial conglomerate Marubeni Corporation and Boston clean energy private equity firm Wave Private Equity announced a $16 million investment into Carbon Clean Solutions Limited.

Headquartered in Lone, Carbon Clean Solutions Limited is developing an easy-to-ship and install carbon capture system that be shipped to a remote site and remove carbon dioxide at price of $30 per ton. A prototype is expected to be delivered by 2021.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 14, 2020

Schlumberger moves technology chief to head of ‘new energy’ division

Oilfield service giant Schlumberger is moving one of its top executives to lead a newly created division for “new energy” initiatives.

In a Friday morning filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Schlumberger reported that Executive Vice President of Technology Ashok Belani switched roles Feb. 11 to become executive vice president of Schlumberger New Energy.

Schlumberger says its New Energy division will deploy its own set of technologies and practices to reduce its carbon footprint in exploration and production operations, and develop growth opportunities in emerging markets with “carbon-neutral technologies.”

 

 

Corpus Christi Business News – February 17, 2020

Avery Point Terminal, which has four docks that are more than 55 years old, has a $17 million makeover coming. The Port of Corpus Christi recently received federal grant money from the U.S. Department of Transportation-Maritime Administration to begin a four-phase redevelopment of the port’s most productive public oil terminals. Avery Point currently operates at 84 percent capacity.

“I proudly supported the Port of Corpus Christi’s grand application,” U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said. “Access to safe and efficient infrastructure is critical as more people and goods come to Texas each day.”

The Phase 1 money will be used to double barge-berthing capacity at Oil Dock 3 on the easternmost edge of the terminal. Once completed, that dock will be able to accommodate 90 percent of the barge traffic of the other three docks. Work on those docks can then begin without a disruption of service.

 

 

Austin American Statesman – Februrary 17, 2020

Ken Herman: Clayton Williams’ impact on world history*

A case could be made, and I’ve attempted to make it over the years, that [Ann Richards, who became governor largely because of a remark made by Clayton Williams to reporters], our most recent Democratic governor, was an accidental governor, one who might have lost to any credible GOP nominee who didn’t go out of his or her way as Williams did in making us pretty certain he’d put the goober back in gubernatorial.

And if a Republican had won in 1990, would George W. Bush have become governor, as he did in 1994 by ousting Richards by a solid 7.6 percentage points?

If Bush never became governor, would he ever have become president? And if he never became president, would we still be in a war in Afghanistan today?

Politics is a game of what-ifs that are easy to gauge in hindsight.

Sometimes, Texans are wise enough to steer clear of the allure of a deep-pocketed, ill-prepared, loud-mouthed, my-way-or-the-highway candidate.

Would that our nation would be so wise.

 

 

Victoria Advocate – February 17, 2020

Oilfield saltwater disposal site spills flammable liquid in Bloomington*

A ruptured line at an oilfield saltwater disposal site caused a spill of flammable liquid in Bloomington on Sunday night.

At 9:03 p.m., firefighters were dispatched to the disposal site near the intersection of Key and Jones roads in Bloomington, said Victoria Fire Chief Tracy Fox.

No fire or explosion occurred at the site, and no one was injured, Fox said.

According to property records, the site is owned by KDM Energy, a Woodlands energy company.

 

 

The Advocate – February 11, 2020

Once dormant ethane cracker near Lake Charles restarts after $175M investment, to accept incoming from Permian

An ethane cracker in Calcasieu Parish that had been shut down for nearly two decades was renovated and has been restarted by a publicly traded business in Thailand.

In 2015, Indorama Ventures Ltd. struck a deal with then-Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration for economic incentives in exchange for a $175 million investment by U.S. subsidiary Indorama Ventures Olefins LLC.

The 250-acre complex near Lake Charles was shut down in 2001 by then-owner Equistar. Indorama bought the plant in 2015. Indorama sought to take advantage of cheap natural gas as a feedstock and power supply coming from the Permian Basin in west Texas.

 

 

E&E News – February 7, 2020

An oil company wants to take CO2 from air. Here’s why*

Occidental’s investments hint at a wider debate over the role oil companies should play in a transition to a low-carbon economy. Climate activists are deeply skeptical. Their concerns are championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a presidential candidate, who has advocated for holding fossil fuel companies criminally liable for climate damages and phasing out fossil fuels.

But a significant number of climate researchers believe oil companies could play a key role in lowering emissions. Their arguments are twofold. First, even the most ambitious carbon-cutting scenarios envisioned by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change foresee continued oil consumption, largely thanks to demand from hard-to-green sectors of the economy like aviation and heavy industry. Enhanced oil recovery can lower the emissions associated with that oil, they argue.

“At the end of the day, every ton of CO2 from a future barrel of crude oil needs to be, at minimum, offset if we’re going to get to deep decarbonization,” said John Larsen, an analyst at the Rhodium Group, an independent research firm. “There are going to be other sectors where decarbonization is really tough.”

 

Utilities

 

Houston Chronicle – February 17, 2020

How H-E-B helped reduce CenterPoint’s request for electricity price hike*

H-E-B, the San Antonio-based grocery chain, was experiencing so many power outages at its Houston-area stores that three years ago it began installing its own backup generators to keep food at the right temperature.

So when CenterPoint Energy, the regulated utility that distributes electricity to the Houston area, asked Texas regulators to raise rates this spring by $161 million and to boost its profit to 10.4 percent, H-E-B stepped up and said the utility didn’t deserve either.

The grocer took its complaints about unreliable service to the Public Utility Commission and ended up saving Houston area residents millions of dollars in transmission and distribution rates, according to regulatory filings. The increases would have raised electricity bills by $2.38 a month for Houston-area customers using 1,000 kilowatt hours of power.

The administrative law judges who heard evidence last year in CenterPoint’s rate case agreed with H-E-B and recommended that CenterPoint’s profit be reduced to reflect the reliability problems. CenterPoint told the commission that it fixed the issues raised by H-E-B and that it would be “arbitrary” and “punitive” to reduce the utility’s return on equity — costing it millions of dollars — because of H-E-B’s complaints.

 

 

Associated Press/Washington Post – February 14, 2020

Trump’s $1.5B uranium bailout triggers rush of mining plans

President Donald Trump’s $1.5 billion proposal to prop up the country’s nuclear fuel industry has emboldened at least one company to take steps toward boosting operations at dormant uranium mines around the West, including outside Grand Canyon National Park.

The company, Canada-based Energy Fuels Inc., announced a stock sale late Thursday and said it would use the proceeds for its uranium mining operations in the U.S. West.

The Trump administration asked Congress this week for $1.5 billion over 10 years to create a new national stockpile of U.S.-mined uranium, saying that propping up U.S. uranium production in the face of cheaper imports is a matter of vital energy security. Approval is far from certain in a highly partisan Congress.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Wall Street Journal – February 14, 2020

To store the wind and sun, energy startups look to gravity

Researchers and entrepreneurs are attacking the challenge of storage from all angles.

Currently in the lead are lithium-ion batteries, which power the Toyota Prius and the iPhone. Though they are getting cheaper to make, they degrade over time and often use finite rare-earth metals. Some companies are developing alternative batteries that use cheaper chemicals, compressed air or hydrogen.

Energy Vault is one of several startups that want to exploit one of Earth’s infinite, free resources: gravity.

The Swiss company, which raised $110 million from SoftBank’s Vision Fund in August, plans to build towering, six-headed cranes that would lift 35-ton bricks. When solar or wind farms are producing more electricity than consumers need, Energy Vault’s algorithmically programmed cranes will build towers of concrete-like bricks, made using the soil excavated in the cranes’ construction. When electricity demand outweighs supply, the crane unstacks the towers. The kinetic energy created from dropping bricks from a height turns generators, creating electricity.

 

 

Green Tech Media – February 13, 2020

Why Traditional Wind Markets Are Flipping to Solar and Vice Versa

When looking at U.S. renewable energy markets, Texas and California are the leaders in wind and solar, respectively. There are more than 27 gigawatts of wind in Texas, according to the American Wind Energy Association, and 25 gigawatts of solar in California, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

But as we’ve seen wind and solar grow in many markets, we’ve also seen grid integration challenges arise, including record-high penetration levels of individual technologies. …

Texas faces its own set of issues. Anyone who has ever stepped foot in Houston in the middle of July knows that Texas summer weather is hot and stagnant. This type of environment translates to decreased wind output when demand for power is at its highest. This discrepancy raised some concerns last summer when Texas wholesale electricity prices reached their market cap at $9,000 per megawatt-hour.

 

Regulatory

 

Houston Chronicle – February 16, 2020

Reps. Al Green and Sheila Jackson Lee face rare primary challenges from young progressives*

Nobody has even bothered to challenge U.S. Rep. Al Green in a primary election in 14 years.

And the last candidate to challenge U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, one of the most senior Democrats in Congress, lost by 70 percentage points.

But this year, even they are not inoculated from a wave of younger progressive candidates around the nation determined to challenge — not only every Republican seeking re-election — but also every Democrat, no matter how long the odds. Six Democrats are running against Jackson Lee in Houston’s 18th Congressional District. And for the first time in his career, Green faces a Democratic challenger in Houston’s 9th Congressional District.

 

 

Austin American Statesman – February 17, 2020

Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton faces primary opponent*

One of the state’s chief regulators for oil, gas and mining faces a Republican primary opponent as he seeks reelection.

Ryan Sitton, an entrepreneur and engineer who has fashioned himself as a government technocrat, is seeking a second six-year term to the three-member Texas Railroad Commission.

Four Democrats — an environmental activist and educator from San Marcos and three attorneys from Dallas — are vying for their party’s nomination. …

In January, according to campaign finance filings, the Sitton campaign got a $5,000 contribution from Chevron Employees Political Action Committee, and $50,000 from Kelcy Warren, the chief executive of Energy Transfer Partners, which has built pipelines in West Texas.

 

 

Ahval (Turkey) – February 15, 2020

Ian J. Lynch: Akin Gump lobbies both for and against sanctions on Turkey

Filings required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act show that much of Akin Gump’s work for the UAE in recent years has focused on the Gulf state’s criticism of nearby Qatar and its media organisations. However, the firm also lobbied U.S. congressional staff in November and December in support of U.S. sanctions on Turkey. ….

Curiously, Akin Gump was also hired in October by TransAtlantic Petroleum, a Texas-based oil and gas company with interests in Turkey, to lobby against U.S. sanctions bills targeting Turkey in response to its cross-border offensive in Syria.

During second half of 2019, a period when U.S.-Turkey relations deteriorated first over Turkey’s acquisition of Russian S-400 missile systems and then its incursion into northeastern Syria in October, the UAE paid Akin Gump a staggering $6 million.

 

 

Nation of Change – February 13, 2020

EU plans to measure true climate impacts of LNG imports from US fracked gas

Bloomberg recently analyzed the climate impact of U.S. LNG production facilities and reported that “an analysis shows the plants’ potential carbon dioxide emissions rival those of coal.”

Nevertheless, the oil and gas industry is putting serious ad dollars into positioning natural gas as a climate solution. As renewables have become more cost-competitive, the industry has shifted its language away from selling natural gas as a bridge fuel to renewables and toward gas as a “foundation fuel.”

With the E.U. looking to quantify the full climate impact of U.S. LNG, the biggest unanswered question is just how much methane is being vented and leaked during natural gas production, most of which involves fracking and horizontal drilling. What is known is that the level of gas flaring and venting has skyrocketed to the point that even oil company CEOs are admitting it’s a big problem.

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 17, 2020

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Lead Stories

 

KUT (Austin) – February 16, 2020

Judge Allows Contested Pipeline To Proceed Through Central Texas

Construction on a hotly contested natural gas pipeline through the Texas Hill Country could proceed quickly after a federal judge on Friday declined opponents’ request to temporarily block the project.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman wrote in an eight-page decision that Central Texas landowners, the City of Austin and other local governments had not proven they would suffer “irreparable harm” if Houston-based Kinder Morgan is allowed to move forward on the Permian Highway Pipeline while litigation against it continues.

“We are pleased with the decision and look forward to continuing construction on this vital infrastructure project,” Kinder Morgan said in an emailed statement. …

In the case before Judge Pitman, opponents claim Kinder Morgan is flouting the Endangered Species Act and other environmental regulations in a rush to finish the pipeline.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 14, 2020

Texas appeals ruling that favored Harris County in Exxon environmental case*

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday appealed a state district court judge’s recent ruling that would allow an environmental enforcement lawsuit brought by Harris County against Exxon Mobil to proceed.

Harris County sued Exxon on Aug. 1, a day after a chemical fire at its Baytown facility injured 37 and produced volumes of pollution that exceeded the levels allowed under its state Clean Air Act permits.

Paxton filed his own lawsuit four days later, and in November took Harris County to court, arguing that the county’s case should be dismissed in favor of his own lawsuit.

This Exxon case – one of three County Attorney Vince Ryan has pending against the company – is the first legal test for an order the county Commissioners Court passed last April letting Ryan file some environmental lawsuits without first securing the court’s approval on a case-by-case basis.

 

 

Texas Tribune – February 17, 2020

The billionaire Wilks family bankrolls one of its own in run for Texas house

On the sparse flatlands between Fort Worth and Abilene lies Cisco, home to a billionaire family of staunch conservatives that has thrown its weight around in Texas Republican politics for years.

From this small Texas town, the Wilkses — brothers Farris and Dan and their extensive families — have doled out millions supporting candidates and causes that reflect their hardline political ideology anchored in faith, freedom and guns.

This year there is a new wrinkle: One of the family’s own is running for office.

Jon Francis, 51, son-in-law of Farris and JoAnn Wilks, is one of four Republicans jockeying for the Texas House District 60 seat being vacated by state Rep. Mike Lang, a past beneficiary of the Wilks’ funding who opted not to run for reelection and has not endorsed a preferred successor.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 14, 2020

Message to LNG producers: shut in or find new markets

LNG producers were encouraged Friday to shut in some supply amid the global glut that is helping drive down prices in Asia, or push more volumes to markets beyond Europe, perhaps Latin America.

The takeaway from the final day of the 19th annual S&P Global Platts LNG Conference in Houston was that something has to give, and soon, to allow for more liquefaction projects to be built in time to fill a projected supply shortage around the middle of the decade.

Qatari expansions and additional units coming online in the US that were sanctioned years ago, in addition to supplies coming from Australia and other exporting countries, are pumping more LNG into traditional end-use markets than those markets can handle. Prices have cratered in recent months. Weaker-than-expected demand, relatively mild winter weather, the coronavirus outbreak and Chinese tariffs have made the situation worse.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters/Nasdaq – February 17, 2020

Oil prices slip ahead of data pointers on impact of coronavirus on demand

Oil prices edged lower on Monday as investors brace for economic data in Asia due this week that should give a reading on how China’s coronavirus epidemic has affected oil demand.

Brent crude LCOc1 was at $56.99 a barrel, down 33 cents by 0121 GMT after rising 5.2% last week, the biggest weekly gain since September 2019.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 fell 13 cents to $51.92 a barrel, after a 3.4% gain last week.

The weekly gains, the first since early January, were spurred by hopes that stimulus measures taken by China to support its economy amid the coronavirus outbreak could lead to a recovery in oil demand in the world’s largest importing country. But the International Energy Agency (IEA) said the virus is already set to cause oil demand to fall by 435,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the first quarter from the same period a year ago, in what would be the first quarterly drop since the depths of the financial crisis in 2009.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 14, 2020

US oil, gas rig count drops 8 to 830 on week as producers scale back

The active US rig count declined for the third straight week, falling eight to 830 for the week ending February 12, according to data released Thursday by Enverus, as producers scale back capital expenditures in 2020 amid a depressed pricing environment.

The oil-rich Permian Basin shed the most rigs of all major basins, dropping by five to 413.

In the Permian, the rig loss recently has hit Reeves County, Texas, the hardest. In 2015, Reeves County started to become the hot development acreage of the Permian, as operators were interested in regions like the Alpine High that promised strong well results in both gas & crude production. However, after sustained depressed Waha prices, the county has continued losing operator interest in 2019 into 2020.

The gas-rich the Marcellus and Utica shales in Appalachia added two rigs each during the week, bringing totals to 38 and 12, respectively. The increase occurred despite March Henry Hub futures reaching a four-year low of $1.77/MMBtu this week.

 

 

Bloomberg News – February 15, 2020

Short-Sellers Give Oil a Break Following Coronavirus Concerns*

Short-sellers are giving oil a reprieve after the global coronavirus scare led them to double bearish wagers in just two weeks.

With the market less panicky, hedge funds kept their bets against West Texas Intermediate crude little changed in the week ended Feb. 11, data released Friday showed. But their overall stance is still the most pessimistic since November.

“There is a chance that it gets worse from here,” said Stewart Glickman, an analyst at CFRA Research. “Oil prices could go further into a tailspin.” Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut its first-quarter price forecast for WTI and Brent crudes by $10 a barrel, citing a sharp hit to demand following the viral outbreak.

 

 

Wichita Falls Times Record – February 14, 2020

DOJ: Houston man sentenced for stealing O&G trade secrets to benefit China

A Houston man was sentenced to 16 months in prison this week for conspiracy to steal trade secrets from an oil-business technology company and use the information to benefit China.

Shan Shi, 55, of Houston, was sentenced to prison as well as forfeiting more than $330,000, by U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper of the District of Columbia, according to a Department of Justice release.

According to the release, Shi was found guilty July 29, 2019, by a jury trial.

Evidence presented during the trial showed that Shi contracted with Taizhou CBM Future New Material Science and Technology Co. Ltd (CBMF) to develop a synthetic foam that is used in offshore oil and gas drilling.

 

 

Bloomberg News/World Oil – February 14, 2020

Oil too cheap to ignore sends Chinese refiners on buying spree

A sudden oil buying spree by China’s independent refiners has taken Asian traders by surprise.

After weeks of production cuts, cargo deferrals and cancellations because of the deepening impact of coronavirus on Chinese crude demand, companies including Shandong Shouguang Luqing Petrochemical Co., Shandong Huifeng Petroleum Chemical Co. and Sinochem Hongrun Petrochemical Co. have returned to the market in a big way.

They’re all non-state-owned refiners, known as teapots, from the eastern province of Shandong. Until recently, this corner of the industry appeared to be doing everything to avoid buying crude including cutting processing rates.

 

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – February 15, 2020

Clayton Williams dies at age 88

A Midland legend passed away Friday night.

Clayton Williams was surrounded by family and loved ones in Midland when he died from complications of a bout with pneumonia, according to a long-time work associate. Williams was 88.

Close friends already started to remember Williams — a hall of famer in the oil industry and one of the greatest characters in the history of Texas politics — on social media Friday evening. Williams ran for governor in 1990, losing a spirited race to Ann Richards. Still, Williams remained a loyal Republican and an even more dedicated graduate of Texas A&M.

 

 

Offshore Engineer – February 11, 2020

Upstream Sector Leads O&A M&A in 2019

A latest research revealed that the upstream sector accounted for the bulk of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the global oil and gas industry in 2019, generating some high-value transactions during the process.

According to GlobalData’s theme report, ‘M&A in Oil and Gas – 2020’, the acquisition of Anadarko Petroleum by Occidental Petroleum in April 2019 for a purchase consideration of US$57bn was the highlight of oil and gas M&A activity last year, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Ravindra Puranik, Oil & Gas Analyst at GlobalData, said: “In 2019, the upstream sector, more specifically the US shale plays, witnessed the highest deal activity in the oil and gas industry. The leaseholds in Delaware and Midland Basins of Texas and New Mexico were among the most sought after assets in the US, largely due to their proximity to the refining and petrochemical complexes along the Gulf of Mexico.”

 

 

Dallas Morning News – February 14, 2020

Conservative Koch-backed group endorses 5 Dallas-area GOP lawmakers in battle for Texas House*

Two conservative political action committees started by powerful GOP donors Charles and David Koch have endorsed 13 state lawmakers up for reelection on Friday, including five from North Texas.

Americans for Prosperity Texas Action and its affiliate LIBRE Action unveiled endorsements for Reps. Matt Krause of Fort Worth, Jeff Leach of Plano, Tan Parker of Flower Mound, Scott Sanford of McKinney and Matt Shaheen of Plano. …

Three of those lawmakers — Krause, Leach and Shaheen — are top targets for Democrats looking to flip the Texas House and are expected to have close races in the November general election. Shaheen won his last election by only 400 votes.

 

 

San Antonio Express News – February 14, 2020

Houston Chronicle, San Antonio Express News: Sitton and Castañeda in Railroad Commission primaries

On the Republican side, we recommend incumbent Ryan Sitton, an engineer with decades of oil and gas experience and an impressive level of expertise.

In the Democratic race, we recommend Chrysta Castañeda, an engineer and attorney who specializes in the oil and gas sector.

While both candidates have markedly different views about the regulatory role of government, and even the major issues facing the oil and gas industry, they share an abundance of technical expertise, which is so critical for this position.

Dallas Morning News: Ryan Sitton, a smart, reliable conservative and pro-energy voice on the three-person Railroad Commission of Texas, gets our nod over rancher James “Jim” Wright.

Dallas Morning News: We recommend voters choose Chrysta Castañeda for her flexibility to consider new ideas

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 14, 2020

Drilling Down: Horizontal drilling drought returns to Barnett Shale*

The birthplace of the shale revolution is back in the grips of a horizontal drilling permit drought – a situation that’s becoming more frequent.

More than five weeks have passed since any oil company has filed for a drilling permit with the Railroad Commission of Texas for a new horizontal well in the Barnett Shale, a natural gas-rich geological formation that surrounds the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

There is still one active drilling rig in the shale play, according to the Baker Hughes Rig Count, but the region frequently goes two weeks at a time without a horizontal drilling permit being filed. A five-week horizontal drilling permit drought hit the region in April and May 2019.

 

 

Panola Watchman – February 15, 2020

Panola County residents organize opposition to oil, gas landfill*

The landowners surrounding the site of a potential commercial oil and gas waste disposal landfill in Galloway are organizing opposition to the project and say they have a number of concerns.

The group, which filled the Galloway United Methodist Church’s fellowship hall on Thursday night, said the project has a number of concerning details and has the potential to significantly harm the region. …

SafeFill Waste LLC, under the umbrella of the Center-based High Roller Group, is seeking a waste disposal pit permit with the Texas Railroad Commission. They are proposing to build a landfill that would handle non-hazardous solid waste generated from oil and gas activities on a site that totals 561 acres at 7590 FM 31 South. SafeFill Waste owns the land where they want to put the proposed facility.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 13, 2020

Corporations push carbon tax plan, aiming to cut emissions in half by 2035*

Some the America’s largest corporations are pitching a carbon tax plan to Republicans and Democrats in Congress, enlisting figures including former Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen and former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to try to sell the proposal

The Climate Leadership Council, which includes companies such as Exxon Mobil, JP Morgan Chase and AT&T, is proposing legislation that would create a $40 per ton tax on all carbon emissions. The tax would increase 5 percent per year above inflation, with the revenues returned to taxpayers through a dividend.

The council says such a tax would cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions in half by 2035. The tax doesn’t meet that goal, it would increase at even faster rate. In exchange, the council and its members want to halt U.S. carbon regulations.

 

 

TruthOut – February 8, 2020

Julie Dermansky: The Hunt for Fugitive Emissions in the Permian’s Oilfields

Meaningful regulation of the fracking industry is a non sequitur to Sharon Wilson, organizer for Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project. She supports her employer’s efforts to encourage tougher industry regulations, but believes that humankind needs to keep oil and gas in the ground if there is any chance of meeting the benchmarks set by the Paris Climate Accord to limit global warming.

After spending a couple days with Wilson as she monitored for methane leaks at oil and gas industry sites in the Permian oilfields of West Texas, it is easy to understand why she believes that talk of meaningful regulation of the industry lacks meaning itself.

Wilson uses an optical gas imaging (OGI) camera, which makes otherwise invisible emissions visible. With the specialized camera, also used by environmental regulators and industry, she recorded fugitive emissions spewing from nearly every site we visited.

 

 

KXAS (DFW) – February 4, 2020

BP Oil Spill Cash Rebuilds Eroded Louisiana Pelican Island

A Louisiana island that provides a crucial nesting ground for pelicans and other seabirds is being restored to nearly its former size after decades of coastal erosion and a devastating offshore oil spill 10 years ago.

Gov. John Bel Edwards visited the island Monday, unveiling a sign dedicating it as a wildlife refuge.

“The walk we just made wouldn’t have been possible a few weeks ago,” the governor said after crossing an expanse of sand bearing tread marks from heavy equipment used to create and grade new land. He spoke at a podium set up before waist-high mangroves, which contractors left untouched for pelicans to nest on.

 

 

Rio Grande Guardian – February 4, 2020

Workforce Commission’s Alvarez says San Antonio has Toyota; the Valley will have LNG

Liquefied natural gas export terminals at the Port of Brownsville can have as big an impact on the economy of the Rio Grande Valley as Toyota’s truck manufacturing plant has had on San Antonio.

This is the view of Julian Alvarez, the labor representative on the Texas Workforce Commission. Alvarez spoke at the Port of Brownsville last Friday when he made a check presentation to a local workforce training group.

Pointing out that Mario Lozoya, the executive director of the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, used to work for Toyota in San Antonio, Alvarez said: “He (Alvarez) references Toyota multiple times because of what he did and the success he had in San Antonio. Well, let me tell you, with the LNGs and the CNGs that are going to be popping up here at the port, we have our own Toyota here in our backyard. We do.”

 

Utilities

 

Lubbock Avalanche Journal – February 14, 2020

Xcel proposes nearly $40M in Texas customer refunds

Xcel Energy customers in Texas could receive a share of a one-time, $39.4 million refund in their June billing cycle, the utility announced Friday.

The proposed refund is related to a continued drop in prices for power plant fuel and the increased use of low-cost wind energy resources.

If approved by the Public Utility Commission of Texas, Texas residential customers using 1,000 kilowatt-hours a month would see a bill credit of $35.60 based on the amount of electricity a customer uses in May. The refund could be spread over two months depending upon when a customer’s meter is read.

 

 

Texas Observer – February 14, 2020

With Coal Plants Offline, the Air in Central and East Texas Has Cleared

Residents in rural parts of East and Central Texas can breathe a little easier.

State data shows that the closure of three coal-burning power plants in late 2017 kept more than 150,000 tons of dangerous, smog-forming air pollutants from entering the atmosphere in the following year. One environmental advocate called the change a “vindication” of years of advocacy work to bring public attention to industrial pollution.

In January, the Texas Commission on Environment Quality (TCEQ) released its annual Point Source Emissions Inventory for 2018, an accounting of legal air pollution emitted by coal-burning power plants, refineries, chemical manufacturers, and other polluters. The report showed that Texas polluters emitted 152,000 fewer tons of carbon monoxide, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and other pollutants in 2018 than 2017. Adrian Shelley, the executive director of Public Citizen’s Texas chapter, analyzed the data and attributes the reductions to the closure of three plants owned by the coal mining company Luminant: Big Brown in Fairfield, southeast of Dallas; Monticello in Mount Pleasant, east of Dallas; and Sandow in Rockdale, east of Austin.

 

 

Forbes – February 12, 2020

Joshua Rhodes: Is The US Coal Industry Completely Burned Out?

Although Texas only produces the poorest quality coal, lignite, it nonetheless consumes more coal than any other state, almost by a factor of two, even though its usage is down almost 20% (2018 vs. 2017). North Dakota consumes the most amount of coal for uses other than power generation.

By far the biggest realized challenge facing the US coal sector is economic pressure from low cost natural gas, and to a lessor, though growing, extent, renewables. The hydraulic fracturing boom has vastly increased the supply of natural gas, making it stubbornly cheap and the new firm fuel of choice in power generation. A recent study found that low cost natural gas prices was responsible for 85-90% of wholesale electricity price declines in some markets.

 

 

WFAA (DFW) – February 14, 2020

Verify: Does conservative Texas actually lead the U.S. in green energy?

The empty spaces of West Texas tell a story few people know and many wouldn’t believe. In a state where many conservative politicians reject the science of climate change, somehow Texas ended up leading the way on green energy. …

So, 15 years ago, the Texas legislature got behind wind power in a big way.

Back then the state’s energy mix was about 3% wind. Today it’s 20% wind. That’s far more than any other state. And if Texas were a country, it would be the 5th largest producer of wind energy in the world.

So was the investment in wind energy good for Texas? Clearly, it was. Rural economies flourished, electric rates fell and carbon emissions dropped.

 

 

Valley Morning Star – February 14, 2020

Volt Power helps TSTC power up its new lineworker program

Texas State Technical College will welcome Electrical Lineworker Technology to its Harlingen campus in Fall 2020. And this week, thanks to a donation from Volt Power LLC, the program got one step closer to opening with its pole yard groundbreaking ceremony and installation.

The pole yard, which is located on campus at the corner of Rio Hondo Road and 29th Street, is 12 acres and equipped with 100 electrical poles that will be used to teach climbing, climbing safety, underground and overhead wiring, transmission and distribution systems.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Houston Chronicle – February 14, 2020

Ted Turner-backed solar project planned for West Texas*

Houston solar developer Merit SI and Komipo America, which is owned by Korea Electric Power Corp., announced a deal to develop and build a 150-megawatt solar project in Tom Green County about 200 miles northwest of San Antonio.

The project will be called Concho Valley Solar, according to the announcement.

Merit was formed four years ago. Ted Turner, founder of CNN, is a lead investor through his Turner Renewable Energy in Atlanta.

 

 

Alice Echo News Journal – February 13, 2020

Bill McCann: Smithville stands with big cities in going green

Shortly after President Donald Trump announced in June 2017 that he planned to pull the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, the mayors of more than 400 U.S. cities stepped up to defy the climate deniers. The mayors signed a statement agreeing to honor the nation’s commitments to the goals of the Paris agreement by doing such things as investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency and reducing climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions.

The list of signees includes the nation’s biggest cities and many smaller ones too. Six are in Texas. You probably can guess most of them – Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and San Marcos. But the sixth city, Smithville, population 4,000, is a shocker to many folks.

When Smithville Mayor Scott Saunders signed the climate statement, he took flak on social media from the usual naysayers whose flawed arguments have been swamped by melting glaciers and rising seas. But signing the statement “was absolutely the right thing to do,” Saunders said recently. Saunders and the other “climate” mayors are being proved correct almost daily by news reports of extreme weather, deadly wildfires, and other threats associated with climate change worldwide.

 

Regulatory

 

Dallas Morning News – February 15, 2020

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick: Trump’s trade deals are a huge victory for Texas

President Donald Trump campaigned in 2016 promising to fight for more fair trade deals for Texas workers, and with the signing of phase one of the China trade deal and the passage of U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, that’s exactly what he’s done. In Trump, farmers, workers, and families across Texas finally have someone fighting for them in the White House.

Phase one of the new trade deal with China will put an end to years of unfair Chinese trade practices, protect American intellectual property, and open new markets for American farmers and manufacturers. By committing to purchase at least $250 billion in goods from American manufacturing, energy, agriculture, and other industries, China will finally start sending money back into the U.S.

Without a doubt, this is a huge victory for the Lone Star State.

 

 

The Hill – February 12, 2020

Texas US Rep. Michael Burgess: A free market for a clean future

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, leaders from around the world gathered to discuss the pressing issues of the day. Climate change was among the issues discussed. Unfortunately, the treatment many of these elites prescribe is worse than the disease. As I see it, the next 10 days may look bleak, but the next 10 months and beyond are filled with hope. This optimism is based on the rapid innovation and development of America’s energy resources.

Recent federal policies have set forth an “All of the Above” energy strategy that supports jobs, promotes energy independence, and addresses a changing climate. Drastic and misguided ideas, such as the “Green New Deal” or an immediate elimination of fossil fuels, would only exacerbate the effects of a changing climate and throw billions of lives into chaos. House Democrats recently released the “CLEAN Future Act,” a 600-page proposal that would set a 100 percent clean energy standard by 2050, while significantly damaging the most innovative industries.

Proponents of these plans seem to have forgotten how sensitive most people are to rising energy costs. High fuel prices, not climate change, has led to civil unrest in France, Mexico, Iran and other countries. By promoting an energy strategy that incorporates all available options, we can work to reduce pollution through rapid innovation without punishing those who must pay the true costs. These problems require new, cleaner energy products, not more government mandates or subsidies.

 

 

February 6, 2020

Beaumont Enterprise: Companies, regulators need to match words with deeds

Recently a pattern has emerged when massive pollution violations are reported. The latest case involved Total, which operates a refinery in Port Arthur. That facility was one of 10 across the country that have exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s action level for benzene, according to an analysis by the Environmental Integrity Project. The worst emission occurred in the fall of 2018, when a leak at a Pasadena oil refinery released of thousands of pounds of toxic pollutants, including 8,000 pounds of benzene. ….

Benzene, in case anyone isn’t clear on this, is not the kind of substance you want to be exposed to. Long-term exposure to it can cause cancer. Even short-term exposure can result in developmental delays in young children and harm to the blood system. But it used as feedstock to make other industrial chemicals and is naturally found in crude oil. It can be released from flares or as vapor from production units or storage tanks.

Which means that wherever large refineries are, the possibility of benzene pollution is a reality. Area residents would undoubtedly prefer no emissions of chemical like that, but at a minimum, they must be kept within regulatory guidelines. Strong words about that goal are nice, but strong actions are even better.

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 14, 2020

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Lead Stories

 

CNBC – February 13, 2020

Global oil demand set to see first quarterly decline in over 10 years, IEA says

Global oil demand is now expected to see its first quarterly contraction in over a decade, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), as the new coronavirus and widespread shutdown of China’s economy hits demand for crude.

Demand is now expected to fall by 435,000 barrels a day (b/d) in the first quarter of 2020, down from the same period a year ago, and marking the first quarterly contraction in more than 10 years, the IEA said in its monthly oil market report Thursday.

The expected decline in demand prompted the agency to cut its 2020 growth forecast by 365,000 b/d to 825,000 barrels a day, the lowest since 2011. Lower-than-expected consumption in the OECD countries trimmed 2019 growth to 885,000 b/d, it also said.

Also: IEA revises down global refinery outlook on coronavirus

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 12, 2020

US hopes for robust second wave of LNG supply could dim: Freeport LNG’s Smith

The substantially lower fees that developers of new US LNG export projects are being asked to accept for their supplies compared with what was agreed to for existing facilities will make it very difficult for most of them to build, Freeport LNG CEO Michael Smith said Wednesday.

Smith knows the dilemma well. A preliminary agreement signed in 2018 by Japan’s Sumitomo for the purchase of 2.2 million mt/year of LNG from a proposed fourth train at his Texas facility expired without being finalized, he said in an interview with S&P Global Platts.

While Freeport LNG is hopeful it will be able to ink sufficient deals with other buyers with whom it is currently talking, the challenges it faces reflect a “completely changed” market, Smith said. Record low prices and weaker than expected demand in Asia, oversupply concerns and the recent coronavirus outbreak have created a perfect storm of headwinds for producers looking to add terminals or new trains.

 

 

Wall Street Journal – February 13, 2020

Drop in Energy Prices Slowed U.S. Inflation in January*

The consumer-price index—which measures changes in how much Americans are paying for everyday items ranging from clothes to grocery items—rose a seasonally adjusted 0.1% in January, the Labor Department said Thursday. That was a smaller increase than in December, when the index added 0.2%.

Energy prices fell 0.7% from the previous month, with gasoline down by 1.6% as global fuel demand ebbed amid China’s coronavirus outbreak. The trend is likely to continue in 2020, with the International Energy Agency forecasting global oil demand will fall in the first quarter because of an expected economic slowdown in China.

“The drop in energy prices in January certainly held back the overall inflation gain,” said Michelle Girard, chief U.S. economist at NatWest Markets. “In February, you’re going to see more of that given the falloff in oil prices as a result of the coronavirus and concern about global growth.”

 

 

Wall Street Journal – February 6, 2020

Fusion startups step in to realize decades-old clean power dream*

In December, Congress boosted research spending on fusion, recognizing it as a promising clean energy source to reliably power big economies.

“If we can make fusion work, it really would be the perfect way to generate energy,” says Steven Cowley, director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, a pioneer in the field run by Princeton University for the Energy Department.

Princeton and many other advanced labs are trying to fuse hydrogen isotopes by enveloping them in an intense magnetic field that traps and squeezes the atoms, heating them to temperatures 10 times the sun’s core. Physicists generate the field with electromagnets demanding so much current that they must be superconductive, which has required cooling to near absolute zero—the point where all motion stops.

For years, scientists believed that this required reactors big enough to walk through, powered by electromagnets heavier than a blue whale and house-sized freezers. Budgets ran in billions of dollars, meaning only governments could underwrite fusion experiments.

Technological breakthroughs have upended those assumptions. Advances in computing, precision machinery and synthetic materials have allowed scientists to design reactors a fraction of the size and cost of those just a few years ago.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters/CNBC – February 14, 2020

Oil prices rise 1%, on course for weekly gain

Oil prices rose on Friday and held on track for their first weekly gain since early January as investors bet the economic impact of the coronavirus would be short-lived and hoped for further Chinese central bank stimulus to tackle any slowdown.

Brent crude was up 57 cents or 1% at $56.91 a barrel by 1024 GMT. It has risen 4.4% since last Friday, its first weekly increase in six weeks.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was 48 cents or 0.9% higher at $51.90 a barrel, up 3.2% for the week.

“It would seem in our view that the oil price is on a more positive footing in the past couple of days, with improved sentiment reflected in Asian equity prices holding up,” said BNP Paribas analyst Harry Tchilinguirian.

 

 

LNG Industry – February 14, 2020

NextDecade and Enbridge sign agreement regarding the sale of Rio Bravo Pipeline Company

NextDecade Corp. and Enbridge Inc. have announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement whereby Enbridge will acquire Rio Bravo Pipeline Co., LLC (RBPL) from NextDecade for a cash purchase price not to exceed US$25 million. US$15 million will be paid at closing and the balance paid upon NextDecade’s reaching a positive final investment decision (FID) on its Rio Grande LNG export facility in the Port of Brownsville, Texas.

Upon closing of the transaction, Enbridge will own 100% of RBPL and assume all responsibility for the development, financing, construction, and operations of the Rio Bravo Pipeline. NextDecade will continue to be responsible for the development, financing, construction and operations of its Rio Grande LNG export facility.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 13, 2020

US working natural gas in underground storage decreases by 115 Bcf: EIA

US working natural gas storage inventories fell by 115 Bcf to 2.494 Tcf for the week ended February 7, which was slightly more than the market expected, the Energy Information Administration data showed Thursday morning.

However, Henry Hub futures still fell slightly following the release of the data.

The pull was more than an S&P Global Platts’ survey of analysts calling for a 108 Bcf withdrawal. It was also more than the 101 Bcf pull reported during the corresponding week in 2019 but less than the five-year average draw of 131 Bcf, according to EIA data.

 

 

Hellenic Shipping News – February 13, 2020

What if Bernie Sanders banned fracking in the Lower 48?

Bernie Sanders’ emergence as the front-runner to be the Democratic presidential candidate in this year’s US elections has focused attention on his policy platform. For the US oil and gas industry, the most eye-catching proposal is his plan to ban hydraulic fracturing.

A fully implemented national ban would have an enormous impact on US oil and gas production. It is, however, a proposal that would face significant legal and political obstacles. The version of the ban that stands the greatest chance of being enacted, applying only to federal lands, would have a more limited impact.

Data on oil and gas assets make it possible to estimate how much production companies would be expected to bring on stream on federal lands over the next few years. The initial indications from Wood Mackenzie’s analysis are that a ban would be a more significant issue for oil than for gas.

 

 

UJ News – February 13, 2020

Texas Is The Next Battleground For The Green New Deal

Now Sunrise Movement is drawing back from the governmental competition and also rerouting its initiatives towards a triad of March 3 legislative primaries in Texas, really hoping a triumph in the oil and also gas sector’s capital will certainly include energy to the two-year-old Green New Deal activity.

On Thursday evening, the team intends to introduce its recommendation of Heidi Sloan, an autonomous socialist operating on the Green New Deal in the Democratic main to tackleRep Roger Williams (R-Texas), HuffPost has actually found out.

Then, in the coming weeks, Sunrise Movement is sending its military of canvassers to knock on doors on behalf of Sloan, DemocraticRep Henry Cuellar’s left-wing opposition Jessica Cisneros and also Mike Siegel, the dynamic Green New Dealer running versus 2 various other Democrats in the race to tackleRep Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

 

 

Reuters – February 13, 2020

Fire damage at Exxon’s second largest U.S. refinery leaves restart uncertain: sources

Exxon Mobil Corp does not have a timeline for restarting fuel-producing units at its second-largest U.S. refinery following a fire Wednesday that cut production, sources said, as the shutdown boosted gasoline prices on Thursday.

Some units remain in operation at the refinery including a crude distillation unit (CDU), gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) and a coker, the sources said.

A blaze on Wednesday cut output at Exxon’s 502,500 barrel-per-day (bpd) Baton Rouge, Louisiana, refinery. It was the third Exxon petrochemical plant along the U.S. Gulf Coast to suffer damage in less than a year.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 13, 2020

Marathon Oil cuts drilling budget amid 56 percent drop in profit*

Houston exploration and production company Marathon Oil has cut its drilling budget by about 10 percent amid an ongoing shale slump that caused revenue and profits to decline in 2019.

In a Wednesday afternoon statement, Marathon said the company is cutting capital expenditures by 10 percent, to $2.4 billion from $2.6 billion in 2019.

The company plans to spend $2.2 billion of its capital expenditure budget on drilling, hydraulic fracturing and other activities in the field while the remain $200 million will go to secure new oil leases and exploratory work looking for new geological formations with oil and natural gas.

 

 

Bloomberg News/Yahoo! News – February 13, 2020

America’s Oil Boom Feels More Like Bust in the Shale Patch

Last month, two days before the latest government prediction that U.S. shale production would hit new heights, an oil industry conference in Houston opened with a clip of Eeyore making one of his bleak utterings: “End of the road, nothing to do and no hope of things getting better.”

It made sense to kick things off with Winnie the Pooh’s depressed donkey friend. As Kim Bourgeois, a managing director who focuses on energy at HOS Investment Partners, told the assembled crowd, “That’s what most of our Monday mornings have felt like.”

For the exploration and production companies behind what has been spectacular growth in U.S. crude output, the boom has busted. Many are burning through cash and struggling to meet investor expectations. In Texas, the biggest oil-producing state and home to most of the prolific Permian Basin, the number of active rigs tumbled 24% last year. Oil prices are down as much as 19% this year as the coronavirus outbreak hits Chinese oil demand.

 

 

Oil Price – February 12, 2020

A Third Of Fossil Fuel Assets May Soon Be Stranded

Fossil fuel companies hold vast oil, gas and coal riches that they frequently tout to the investing universe to help elevate their market values. However, not a single energy company has ever told investors about the potential effects on the environment if all their hydrocarbon reserves were burned.

And certainly few, if any, have ever told investors that a large chunk of these assets could be doomed to forever remain buried in the ground – and essentially worth nothing – should environmental regulations tighten.

Yet, the specter that these assets might one day end up stranded and theoretically worthless as the clamor for clean energy heats up looms large.

According to estimates in the Financial Times’ Lex column, nearly $900 billion worth of reserves – or about one-third of the value of big oil and gas companies – is at risk of one day becoming worthless as market and policy forces continue to undercut hydrocarbon economics due to the threat of climate change.

In effect, these companies could see a third of their value evaporate if governments aggressively attempt to restrict the rise in temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels for the rest of this century and avert catastrophic climate change as per Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 14, 2020

U.S. LNG developers push forward despite record low prices in Asia*

Vivek Chandra, CEO of Houston-based Texas LNG, said his company’s proposed export terminal the Port of Brownsville will succeed because of its smaller size. With a 625-acre site designed to house two production units that will each make 2 million tons of LNG, Chandra said the project is a realistic one because it has less production to sell than others.

“We could have gone the way most other second wave projects did and add another 30 million tons to the world but we didn’t,” Chandra said. “The industry has gone crazy announcing bigger and bigger projects. The if you build it, they will come syndrome is going to be one of the downfalls of the industry.”

U.S. LNG developers are counting on global demand growing from 380 million tons today to 500 million tons by 2030 — with the greatest growth in China as the Asian powerhouse converts more power plants to natural gas from coal. However, the Trump administration-led trade war and a retaliatory 25 percent tariff imposed by China on U.S. LNG has American producers looking for new customers elsewhere.

 

 

Bloomberg News/Yahoo! News – February 12, 2020

Icahn Demands Occidental Reveal If It Got Takeover Approach

Activist investor Carl Icahn is calling on the leadership of Occidental Petroleum Corp. to reveal whether they were approached by any potential buyers prior to agreeing to acquire Anadarko Petroleum Corp. for $37 billion.

The billionaire, who owns 3% of Occidental, said in a letter to the company’s shareholders Wednesday that Chief Executive Officer Vicki Hollub and Chairman Eugene Batchelder were trying to preserve their own jobs ahead of the interests of investors.

“Why did they decide to embark on this ill-advised bet that has already destroyed over $30 billion in stockholder value; and if oil continues its decline, we believe will jeopardize the dividend, leaving stockholders to suffer even more?” Icahn wrote in the letter, a copy of which was seen by Bloomberg News.

 

 

Houston Business Journal – February 13, 2020

Houston energy co. could lay off hundreds after emerging from bankruptcy*

Houston-based Sheridan Production Company LLC is preparing to lay off more than 200 employees as control of its assets passes to a new operator.

Sheridan Production operates oil and gas assets on behalf of companies involved in the bankruptcy of Sheridan Holding Company II LLC, which is the second of three funds run by Houston-based Sheridan Production Partners Manager LLC.

Sheridan II emerged from bankruptcy court in January with new ownership, and Sheridan Production and its employees are meant to help transition operations to the post-bankruptcy company. But that period is set to end March 31.

 

 

Rochester Post Bulletin (MN) – February 13, 2020

Mayo Clinic’s oil and gas wells are pumping out revenue as climate activists call for divestiture

As climate change activists call for the wholesale divestiture of fossil fuel investments, Mayo Clinic’s 87 Texas wells are pumping out an estimated 45,000 gallons of oil and 13 million cubic feet of natural gas a day, tallying up to $28 million in revenue in 2018.

The American Medical Association labels climate change as a “public health emergency.” Climate change activists, like Greta Thunberg, are calling for organizations to divest of fossil fuel investments. Harvard University and Georgetown University both recently announced plans to stop investing in fossil fuel companies.

Given the climate, is profiting from fossil fuels appropriate for Mayo Clinic? A local activist says no and calls Mayo Clinic’s oil and gas holdings “problematic” and “frustrating.”

 

 

San Antonio Express News – February 13, 2020

Jury finds San Antonio oilman Brian Alfaro guilty*

A federal jury Thursday found San Antonio oilman Brian Alfaro guilty on all seven counts of mail fraud for allegedly misusing investor money to support an extravagant lifestyle.

Alfaro, 51, showed no emotion when the verdicts were read. U.S. District Judge Fred Biery directed Alfaro be taken into custody to await his sentencing on June 22.

Alfaro faces up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count. …

In Brian Alfaro’s criminal case, prosecutors alleged he had misled investors who purchased units in oil and gas drilling ventures by telling them he would not take transaction-based compensation from their investments. But investor money was deposited in a company account and then went directly to Alfaro, prosecutors claimed.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 13, 2020

New Shintech ethane cracker in Louisiana starts up: contractor

Shintech’s new 500,000 mt/year Louisiana cracker has begun producing ethylene after more than 18 months of delays, the contractor for the polyvinyl chloride producer said Thursday.

Japan’s Toyo Engineering and its US subsidiary, Toyo USA, said construction on the cracker was finished and the plant has “started production of ethylene,” according to a statement on the company’s website.

Shintech did not respond to requests for comment.

The new cracker at Shintech’s Plaquemine, Louisiana, PVC complex expands Shintech’s in-house feedstock output while reducing spot ethylene purchases.

 

 

Forbes – November 30, 2019

Gaurav Sharma: ABB Strikes ‘Holy Grail’ Of Subsea Power Systems For Offshore Energy Rigs

[D]iesel and natural gas generators are found powering offshore operations in most cases, taking up valuable space on the rig as well as copious amounts of capital.

That’s all about to change if technologists at the global industrial automation and robotics giant ASEA Brown Boveri (ABB), are to be believed, as the Swiss company claims to have found the “holy grail” of offshore subsea power solutions via its joint industry project with Chevron, Equinor and Total.

Its answer is a subsea power distribution and conversion technology system for energy companies who will be able to access a reliable supply of up to 100 megawatts (MW) of power, over distances up to 600 kilometers out at sea and down to 3,000 meters water depth, at pressures that could shatter a brick. ….

The project was first initiated in 2013, and the product prototype was subjected to a 1,000-hour shallow water test in Finland in 2017. This was followed by a subsequent 3,000-hour test that has passed without a glitch. In that time frame, ABB and its partners have spent no less than $100 million towards its research, design and development, with over 200 scientists and engineers involved in the initiative.

 

 

Petroleum Economist – February 7, 2020

AI takes aim at shale margins improvement

Poor levels of profitability in shale are prompting a search to use artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the efficiency of production and improve the bottom line

Low oil and gas prices and a failure to throw off free cash flow (FCF) amid continuing high opex costs have hugely taken the lustre off the investment case for US shale over the last year. So, the quest to improve margins has grown ever more important, with AI solutions now being pursued to add to the shale producer toolbox.

“There is too much use of existing techniques that are understood,” but which may not be optimal in cost terms, says David Cosby, founder of Longview, Texas-based oil shale R&D firm Shale Tech. One way to raise shale profitability is to focus on production rather than drilling, says Cosby, who works with Ambyint, a US firm which uses AI to optimize the artificial lift and production of shale.

 

 

Hydrocarbon Engineering – February 12, 2020

McDermott awarded crude storage tank contract

McDermott International, Inc. has been awarded a contract by a major oil and gas operator for six crude oil storage tanks in Texas. The storage tanks will be part of an energy infrastructure project linking the Permian Basin in West Texas to the Texas Gulf Coast.

The scope of the project, which will be executed by CB&I Storage Solutions, includes the engineering, procurement, fabrication and construction (EPFC) of six floating roof crude oil tanks – four with a 500 000 bbl capacity each and two with a 250 000 bbl capacity each. Engineering, procurement and fabrication will be performed at the company’s Houston Fairbanks office and fabrication facility.

 

Utilities

 

S&P Global Platts – February 13, 2020

ERCOT proposal requiring pipeline disclosures raises stakeholder concerns

Electric Reliability Council of Texas stakeholders voiced concern Thursday about a proposed rule that would require gas-fired generators to provide detailed information about the status and potential problems with their feedgas pipelines. Ultimately, consideration of the proposal was postponed to allow formal comments to be filed.

ERCOT’s Protocol Revision Subcommittee approved the urgency status of Nodal Protocol Revision Request 997, Gas Pipeline Coordination for Natural Gas Generation Resources, which Therese Harris, Public Utility Commission of Texas director of infrastructure analysis, said the PUC hopes to be in effect for the summer of 2020.

Filed February 7, the proposed rule change would require a gas-fired generation operator “to submit a declaration contained in the summer weather preparedness form to ERCOT […].” This would state that the operator “has made a written effort to communicate with the operator of each natural gas pipeline that is directly connected” to the generator “to coordinate any planned pipeline outages to maximize the Generation Resource’s availability during the summer Peak Load Season of that year,” according to the rule’s description filed at ERCOT.

 

 

KPRC (Houston) – February 13, 2020

Is Houston prepared for a cyber attack on the power and transportation grids?

Living in Houston, you expect sporadic power outages from time to time, especially during severe weather. The outages are usually nothing more than a nuisance with power restored in a couple of hours. More widespread power outages like those we see during hurricanes are more problematic, lasting for days. A successful cyber attack on Houston’s power grid could be much worse.

“Our general mission is to be able to come in and help our community respond and recover from events, cyber attacks include,” said Francisco Sanchez, Harris County Office of Emergency Management.

Channel 2 Investigates found there are thousands of cyber attacks against critical infrastructure, like power grids, every day in Houston and in cities across the country. Most of them are not wide scale attacks designed to shut down entire systems. Francisco Sanchez’s team at the Harris County Office of Emergency Management still prepares for worst case scenario.

“It could be very serious if technology to the Office of Emergency Management or any partners like transportation were impacted, but our job is to be paranoid,” said Sanchez.

 

 

Broadband Communities – February 13, 2020

MidSouth Electric Co-op, Conexon to Launch Texas-based Broadband Network

Conexon, a company that works with rural electric cooperatives to bring fiber to the home in rural communities, has been selected by Navasota, Texas-based MidSouth Electric Co-op to deliver comprehensive broadband management services including network design, engineering, construction and vendor management for its fiber-to-the-home network.

The electric cooperative’s multiyear project, encompassing over 3,000 miles of fiber is currently being constructed. Consumers in part of phase one are expected to begin receiving service in the year 2020.

“Every electric co-op in the nation can build a fiber network to every member,” Conexon Partner Jonathan Chambers said. “It isn’t a question of technology, population density, terrain or demographics. The one indispensable ingredient is leadership. At MidSouth, Kerry has built as fine a leadership team as any I’ve met. I’m confident that they will take their skills and knowledge of electricity and water and apply them now to broadband. This is a great project with a great future.”

 

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – February 13, 2020

Credit where credit is due. Reliant tries to sell ‘green’

Reliant Energy, the retail electricity provider owned by NRG Energy, has a green new deal for customers interested in offsetting their carbon footprint. But the offer might not do much to save the planet.

Customers can pay an extra $6.99 a month to Reliant which, in turn, will buy renewable energy credits so customers can offset all of their electricity use with solar energy. It’s a way for consumers to support solar power without having to install solar panels, Reliant says.

But will the plan really move the needle and spur investments in new solar farms? Or is it just another feel-good way for Reliant and other retail electricity providers that offer similar plans to generate more revenue by appealing to consumer desire to be more environmentally friendly?

 

 

Wall Street Journal – February 13, 2020

What’s next for the energy grid*

Scientists and engineers are working on spacecraft to capture sunlight and transform it into electricity that is wirelessly beamed to Earth. A prototype from the California Institute of Technology transmits power in a steerable beam. Japan’s space agency JAXA demonstrated a unit that converted 1.8 kilowatts of electricity into microwaves and then beamed it about 100 yards. China is planning an orbital solar power station.

Researchers are exploring how to exploit the ability of many microorganisms to generate electric current through photosynthesis. Solar cells using microbes would be cleaner and cheaper than those based on conventional semiconductors. So far, the current is only about enough to drive a small fan. By using two kinds of microbes instead of one, scientists in China recently found a way to boost the electrical energy.

Scientists in Norway, the Netherlands, Japan and the U.S. are generating electricity by harnessing the difference in salt concentration between seawater and freshwater. In one experiment, a semipermeable membrane allows seawater ions to pass into the fresh water. The movement of the ions generates an electric current.

As wind turbines become bigger, more powerful and cheaper, they’re being grouped into ever larger installations, with over 200 new large wind power projects underway in the U.S. All told, about 57,700 wind turbines installed across 41 states generate a total of more than 100 gigawatts, enough to power 32 million American homes. That number will likely grow.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Renewables Now – February 13, 2020

Merit SI, KOMIPO team up for 150-MW solar farm in Texas

US solar power plant developer Merit SI LLC and KOMIPO America Inc, a subsidiary of Korea Midland Power Co Ltd, on Wednesday said they will partner on the development and construction of a 150-MW solar project in Texas.

The Concho Valley solar park, located in Tom Green County, will use Merit SI’s power plant controls platform, which enables renewable power facilities to increase revenue by providing reliability services to the electricity grid.

The company’s system currently manages 500 MW of solar parks on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas grid.

 

 

Oil Price – February 6, 2020

After Three Record Breaking Years, Is The U.S. Wind Energy Boom Over?

In 2019, the U.S. wind power industry recorded its third record-breaking installation year in a row, with new wind capacity hitting 9.14 GW. To date, there are another 44 GW under construction or in advanced development. Yet there are clouds on the horizon: competition from gas and solar, and the phase-out of the production tax credit that has driven the industry’s growth until now. …

[W]ind farm developers are in a rush to add as many megawatts of new capacity as they can before the production tax credit expires at the end of this year. In fact, the EIA said last month that wind installations will dominate new power generation capacity additions this year as a whole. Wind and solar together will account for a whopping 76 percent of all new capacity additions, the agency added.

Some 18.5 GW of new wind power capacity is slated to come online this year. After that, however, new additions will likely decline until the industry handles the end of the production tax credit. But, as Forbes’ Joshua Rhodes noted in a recent overview of the state of U.S. wind and the challenges it faces, renewable portfolio standards could mitigate the effect of the PTC expiry. Specifically, these could extend to offshore wind in the next few years, Rhodes said, which would spur faster growth in that segment.

 

Regulatory

 

Fort Worth Star Telegram – February 13, 2020

Meet the Republican candidates running for a position on the Texas Railroad Commission

RYAN SITTON Occupation: Mechanical engineer Age: 45

Why are you seeking this office?

The Railroad Commission of Texas regulates oil and gas production across our state. I am a mechanical engineer with over 20 years’ experience in oil and gas. I am the first engineer to serve as Railroad Commissioner in over 50 years, and I bring my experience and expertise to bear to ensure that Texas produces energy affordable and reliably. Texas and the United States need affordable and reliable energy, as it provides the foundation for our economy. The Railroad Commission of Texas is the agency responsible to see that this happens and I am honored to have Texans’ trust.

 

 

Fort Worth Star Telegram – February 13, 2020

Meet the Democrats in race for a position on the Texas Railroad Commission

The Star-Telegram sent questionnaires to all candidates. Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

ROBERTO R. “BETO” ALONZO Occupation: Attorney at Law Age: 63

Why are you seeking this office?

My goal is to bring needed bi-partisanship, diversity, transparency, and an open forum for discussion and decision making on issues of great importance to the citizens of Texas. This is the most important agency in Texas due to its impact on various aspects of our life – economic development, taxation through severance taxes and contributions to the tax base and Rainy-Day Fund, the environment and quality of life. However, the agency has been dominated by special interests, partisanship and a reluctance to undertake its regulatory responsibilities or take initiatives not sanctioned by the industry it regulates. I intend to change this.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 12, 2020

City launches ‘Resilient Houston’ plan to prepare for future disasters*

Mayor Sylvester Turner on Wednesday unveiled a resiliency master plan, a multi-billion-dollar effort aimed at better preparing Houston and the region for disasters such as Hurricane Harvey through a broad range of efforts, including the planting of 4.6 million new trees and the removal of all homes from city floodways.

Those were some key items of “Resilient Houston,” a 186-page document that spells out how the city and its residents can orient themselves to best prepare for future disasters, as well as the effects of climate change. …

The framework addresses resiliency at five scales — people, neighborhoods, bayous, the city and the region — and sets 18 targets, along with a corresponding set of 62 actions to make those happen.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 13, 2020

Climate bills sweep Washington, as GOP and Democrats compete on approach*

From a carbon pricing schemes to outright fracking bans to tree planting, a wave of legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions has emerged in Congress in recent weeks.

Nine months before the presidential election, climate change is taking up greater political bandwidth, as interests from across the ideological spectrum vie for position on an issue that looks to have monumental implications for the U.S. and global economies in the decades ahead.

“Politicians in all camps are seeing increasing stakeholder demands, calls by industry and just frankly a need to do something, as these extreme weather impacts keep hitting us” said Janet Peace, a senior vice president at the think tank Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. “You used to talk about climate impacts being far in the future.”

 

__________________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 13, 2020

Click on each headline to read more of the story at the source.
Asterisk * following headline indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at the source because it’s password protected.

 

Lead Stories

 

Hagerstown Herald-Mail (MD) – February 12, 2020

Fire at massive Exxon refinery poses threat to oil demand

A fire broke out overnight at Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Baton Rouge oil refinery in Louisiana, halting production at the fifth-biggest fuel-making plant in the U.S.

The outage at the massive complex — which supplies fuel products across the southeast U.S. and all the way to New York Harbor — means the refinery needs fewer barrels of crude oil, depressing a market already reeling from the coronavirus crisis in China. But it could help ease a gasoline glut in the Gulf Coast, where stockpiles hit a record in late January.

The blaze erupted in a natural gas line, affecting first one and then all of the facility’s crude distillation towers — which heat and break down raw oil into products — according to people familiar with operations. As a result, other units such as the catalytic cracker and the chemical plant had to cease operations.

Company related: Exxon Cracking Down on Employee Travel After Profit Collapse

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S&P Global Platts – February 13, 2020

IEA slashes 2020 oil demand forecast by 480,000 b/d on coronavirus impact

The International Energy Agency Thursday slashed its oil demand forecast for 2020 by almost 500,000 b/d and said demand will contract for the first time in a decade during the first quarter because of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on China’s economy.

The coronavirus outbreak will reduce Chinese refining throughputs by 1.1 million b/d during Q1, the IEA forecasts, causing global demand to shrink by 435,000 b/d, the first quarterly contraction since the global financial crisis in late 2009.

As a result of the severe impact on demand from transportation and industry due to the virus outbreak, the IEA cut its 2020 oil demand growth forecast by 365,000 b/d to 825,000 b/d, the lowest since 2011. The virus is expected to reduce world oil demand by 1.1 million b/d in Q1 and by 345,000 b/d in Q2. It cut its overall 2020 global oil demand forecast by 480,000 b/d to 100.97 million b/d.

 

 

Gizmodo (UK) – February 12, 2020

Discovery of ‘Invisible Oil’ Shows BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster Was Bigger Than We Thought

A new report, published in Science Advances on Wednesday, shows that the spill extended far past the footprint that satellites showed with oil even getting swept up along the Gulf Stream toward the East Florida shelf.

By observing models that mimic oil movement, remote sensors on satellites, and water samples taken during the spill, the researchers found that the spill’s reach was 30 per cent larger than previous data showed. Though satellites didn’t pick it up, the new findings show what the researchers call “invisible oil” reached the West Florida shelf, the Florida Keys, and some Texas shores as well as along the Gulf Stream towards the East Florida shelf, exposing far more marine animals to toxic chemicals than previously thought.

“We measured the toxicity in areas the [satellites] didn’t pick up, and… found concentrations that are lethal for fish and invertebrates, concentrations that likely would have killed many,” Igal Berenshtein, the study’s lead author and postdoc at the University of Miami, told Gizmodo. “In some places, we saw levels that could potentially have killed 50 per cent of the area’s wildlife population.”

 

 

Reuters – February 11, 2020

U.S. shale gas investors brace for write-downs amid price plunge

U.S. shale gas producers are ripe for further spending cuts and write-downs, investors and analysts said, with prices at four-year lows and China’s rejection of some gas imports weighing on earnings. …

As a result, several large gas producers, have reduced the value of their production assets.

EQT Corp, the largest U.S. gas producer, recently said it would take a write-down of as much as $1.8 billion, following CNX Resources Corp, Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Chevron Corp in reducing the value of gas properties.

U.S. shale gas producers’ Antero Resources Corp, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp and EQT kick off fourth-quarter results in coming days. Antero has pledged to sell assets while Cabot plans a 27% cut to its drilling budget.

 

 

The Hill – February 11, 2020

U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions lowered in 2019: report

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. fell 2.9 percent last year, according to a report published Tuesday.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) found that the U.S. decline was the largest, at 140 million tonnes, of any country. It also noted that since 2000, U.S. emissions have decreased nearly one gigatonne.

“A 15% reduction in the use of coal for power generation underpinned the decline in overall US emissions in 2019,” the report said.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters/CNBC – February 13, 2020

Oil rises for third day as coronavirus impact may spur output cuts

Oil prices rose for a third day on expectations that major producers are likely to enact deeper output cuts to offset the slump in demand caused by the coronavirus outbreak in China, the world’s second-largest crude consumer.

Brent crude rose 17 cents, or 0.3%, to $55.96 per barrel at 0217 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) rose 29 cents, or 0.6%, to $51.46 a barrel.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies including Russia, known as OPEC+, recommended last week an additional output cut of 600,000 barrels per day (bpd) to its current 1.7 million bpd reduction to offset the disease-related demand losses.

 

 

Dallas Morning News – February 11, 2020

Three Dallas Democrats vie to challenge Morgan Meyer in one of Texas’ most competitive statehouse races*

Two years ago, Democrats came within 200 votes of unseating [energy friendly] Dallas Republican Morgan Meyer during a year in which the party picked up a net of 12 seats in the Texas House.

This year, they are making him one of their top targets as they look to flip the last two Dallas County seats held by Republicans.

But first, primary voters have to pick the candidate they believe can beat Meyer in November.

“The real enemy in this race is Morgan Meyer,” said Kristy Noble, a founder of the Funky East Dallas Democrats, as she opened up a debate between candidates vying to challenge Meyer, the three-term Republican incumbent in House District 108.

Joanna Cattanach, a journalism professor in the Dallas County Community College District, was the Democratic candidate in 2018 and hopes to finish the job this year. But she’ll have to get past businessman Shawn Terry, a former Republican who pitches himself as a pragmatist who can win over moderate GOP and independent voters in the district, and activist Tom Ervin, who says he can galvanize progressives better than Cattanach did two years ago.

 

 

San Angelo Standard Times – February 12, 2020

President Trump endorses San Angelo candidate August Pfluger for Congress

President Donald J. Trump offered his full support and endorsement to Lt. Col. August Pfluger (R-San Angelo) in the Republican Primary for Texas’ 11th Congressional District.

“(Pfluger) is a great veteran and strong leader for Texas,” Trump tweeted.

The president tweet noted Pfluger would protect Second Amendment rights and fight for farmers, oil and gas industry workers, and that he supports the president’s agenda.

 

 

Corpus Christi Caller Times – February 12, 2020

Port of Corpus Christi Included in President’s Proposed FY 21 Budget for $100M

In the newly released fiscal year 2021 President’s Budget, the White House included over $100 million for the Port of Corpus Christi’s Ship Channel Improvement Project (CIP) under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Civil Works Division for Coastal Navigation Construction. This is the third consecutive year that the Port of Corpus Christi has been included in the President’s proposed budget.

“The Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project funding in President’s fiscal year 2021 proposed budget is a nod to Texas and the Nation’s energy independence, and conveys market certainty to our customers that the Port of Corpus Christi is the premier gateway for American energy exports for years ahead,” said Sean Strawbridge, Chief Executive Officer for the Port of Corpus Christi. “The need for improved coastal navigation infrastructure in Texas has never been higher. The Administration and the U.S Army Corps of Engineers know this to be the case, and the Port of Corpus Christi continues to collaborate with the Federal government to ensure our national security and economic prosperity.”

 

 

Courthouse News – February 12, 2020

Lawyers Expect Feds to Approve Contested Texas Pipeline Within Days

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to give Houston-based pipeline giant Kinder Morgan the go-ahead to clear land for a hotly contested natural gas line through the Texas Hill Country within the next two days, attorneys for the company and the federal government said Wednesday.

“The Corps expects to issue the verifications under the Clean Water Act that would permit this project to go forward no later than Friday,” Department of Justice lawyer Devon McCune said during a telephone hearing relating to a federal lawsuit challenging the project.

Still, a lawyer for Kinder Morgan said during the hearing that the company would not move forward with construction on the planned Permian Highway Pipeline until another hearing in the case that is tentatively set for Friday, even if it does receive the Corps’ approval.

 

 

Beaumont Enterprise – February 12, 2020

PA group drops case against Motiva permits

Motiva Enterprises can proceed with a permit application to potentially expand its petrochemical production in Port Arthur after reaching a compromise with a local activist group and promising more environmental projects in the city.

The Port Arthur Community Action Network contested the company’s permits as a part of the public input portion in the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s process when Motiva began developing plans for several expansion projects, including a possible refinery and terminal expansions and a new ethane cracker and polyethylene plant.

As a part of the agreement, Motiva agreed to help develop a “community-driven strategic planning process” to identify and create environmental projects in Port Arthur.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 12, 2020

BP’s new CEO sets net-zero carbon goal to fight climate change*

BP’s new CEO Bernard Looney set a goal to reduce the company’s greenhouse gas emissions and become a net-zero carbon company by 2050.

In a Wednesday morning statement, BP said the company aims to fight climate change by reducing the carbon footprint from its global operations, as well as the oil and natural gas it sells, to net zero — meaning the company will be responsible taking more greenhouse gas emissions out the atmosphere than it produces.

BP produces the equivalent of 55 million tons of carbon dioxide per year from global operations. Another 360 million tons is released from the oil and natural gas it sells, company figures show.

 

 

Reuters – February 12, 2020

Noble Energy takes over $1 billion charge amid lower gas prices

Noble Energy (NBL.O) said on Wednesday it took a $1.16 billion charge related to its assets in the Eagle Ford basin, becoming the latest producer to write down the value of its natural gas holdings as prices plunge amid record U.S. output and a global glut.

Several large gas producers such as EQT Corp (EQT.N) and CNX Resources (CNX.N) have reduced the value of their production assets in the last few weeks, with analysts and investors forecasting further spending cuts and write-downs by shale producers.

Shares of Noble fell 4.5% to its lowest in more than one year after the company forecast full-year sales volumes below market estimates, as it plans no new drilling in Eagle Ford.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 12, 2020

Reports blame coronavirus for slashing China’s demand of LNG and jet fuel*

A report Tuesday from Norwegian energy research firm Rystad Energy blamed government-imposed travel restrictions in part for crude oil prices losing one-fifth of their value since the beginning of the year.

Before the outbreak, Rystad forecast that China would use 1.1 million barrels per day of crude oil this year. It has now cut that by 25 percent to 820,000 barrels per day.

Amid travel restrictions and fears of the virus, several international airlines suspended travel to and from the country through March and April. As a result, Rystad says, global demand for jet fuel, once estimated at 7.2 million barrels a day, fell by 30 percent in January and could decline by 6o percent as early as this month.

 

 

KTUU (Anchorage) – February 12, 2020

Hilcorp-BP sale details to remain confidential, regulators ask for more financial info

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska has extended the deadline for Hilcorp to argue why its financial statements should be kept confidential as it works to purchase the Alaska assets of oil giant BP Alaska.

An order issued Tuesday afternoon extended the deadline to rule on the company’s financial statements, but granted the company’s request to keep confidential the purchase and sale agreement covering the $5.6 billion transaction.

“We require a filing that further explains the potential competitive harm from disclosure of financial information,” the order reads, saying further that the filings should also disclose whether the financial statements are required to be filed with any federal agency.

 

 

Bloomberg – February 12, 2020

The biggest fan of Trump’s steel tariffs is suing over them

John Hritz, president and chief executive officer of JSW Steel USA Inc., put on a big smile and a Texas flag pin for his television spot on Fox Business in March 2018. “It’s a special day,” he told his host, then told her again: “It’s a special day.” JSW Steel’s India-based parent company, JSW Group, had announced it would invest $500 million and create 500 jobs at its steel mill in Baytown, Texas. “We’re going to make history,” Hritz said.

Hritz was counting on help from President Trump, who three weeks earlier had announced his intention to impose tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum imported to the U.S. The Fox anchor wondered if the import levies might interfere with JSW’s Baytown plan, given that much of the raw steel processed at the mill was imported from India and Mexico. “Absolutely not,” Hritz said. On the tariffs, JSW was “in lockstep with the president and with the administration.”

Not so much anymore. A big piece of the Baytown project has been postponed indefinitely, in part because of Trump’s tariffs. Both Baytown and a sister plant in Ohio, where JSW once planned to invest another $500 million, have been operating at unprofitably low production levels, also owing in part to the tariffs. JSW has sued the administration for refusing to exempt it from paying the levies on the massive slabs of steel the company imports and turns into pipe and other products for industrial use. “It’s the hypocritical nature of these tariffs that’s completely dumbfounding us,” says Parth Jindal, director of JSW Steel USA and managing director of JSW Cement Ltd. in India. “It just doesn’t add up.”

 

 

Wall Street Journal – February 12, 2020

Carbon capture wins fans among oil giants*

Can new technology suck carbon dioxide, a prevalent greenhouse gas, out of the air—economically? More companies are betting that it can, as governments adopt ambitious carbon-emissions targets and investors grow increasingly concerned about the risks of climate change. ….

Now, Exxon Mobil Corp., Microsoft Corp. and others are focused on reducing the cost and the amount of energy required to capture carbon dioxide. Some companies are using giant fans to suck up air, then separating the carbon dioxide chemically. One venture plans to fill land in Arizona with dozens of accordionlike machines designed to expand as they absorb the gas.

Among those leading the charge are major oil companies such as Occidental Petroleum Corp., Chevron Corp. and Exxon, whose fuels contribute to global warming. Carbon dioxide traps heat, and most domestic emissions of the gas come from burning fossil fuels, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

 

Associated Press/Brownsville Herald – February 12, 2020

Marathon Oil: 4Q Earnings Snapshot

Marathon Oil has also cut its drilling budget by roughly 10 percent for 2020

Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO) on Wednesday reported a fourth-quarter loss of $20 million, after reporting a profit in the same period a year earlier.

On a per-share basis, the Houston-based company said it had a loss of 3 cents. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to 7 cents per share.

The results fell short of Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 8 cents per share.

 

 

Chemical Engineering – February 12, 2020

Linde starts up ASU and CO2 plant in Freeport

Linde (Guildford, U.K.; www.linde.com) announced it has started up a new air separation unit (ASU) in Freeport, Texas, as part of a long-term agreement to supply MEGlobal’s new ethylene glycol (EG) plant in Oyster Creek, Texas.

The new ASU will safely and reliably supply oxygen and nitrogen to MEGlobal Oyster Creek for use in its EG manufacturing process. EG is used as a raw material in a variety of products, such as polyester fibers, polyethylene terephthalate resins for liquid and food containers, and other industrial applications. The ASU will also supply Linde’s extensive industrial gas pipeline system and add new argon capacity. …

In addition to the ASU, Linde started a new carbon dioxide (CO2) plant in Freeport, Texas, that will recycle the crude CO2 supplied from an MEGlobal process.

 

 

Asia Times – February 12, 2020

Ties between $13 billion-oil-importer The Philippines and the US effectively ended by Duterte

Estimated oil imports by Philippines for 2018 totaled $13.48 billion, according to the DOE

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has effectively ended his country’s century-old alliance with the United States, a shock move that will have ramifications for the region’s strategic balance of power including in the hotly contested South China Sea.

The Philippines gave the US official notice on Monday (February 11) that it will abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), a security pact that allows for the US to station troops on a rotational basis on Philippine soil and provides legal basis for hundreds of annual joint military exercises and activities.

Duterte opted to circumvent an anticipated formal multi-agency review of the VFA, surprising many of his top officials and political allies by his sudden executive decision to immediately scrap the pact.

 

Houston Chronicle – February 12, 2020

Chris Tomlinson: Collapse in oil prices a glimpse of the industry’s future*

Oil and gas companies were barely keeping their heads above water before the novel coronavirus emerged from Wuhan, China. Optimistic executives struggled to convince investors they could make money with West Texas Intermediate oil priced at $58 a barrel. …

The factory slowdown, though, will shave Chinese demand for natural gas by 2 percent in the best-case scenario, according to commodities analysts at the Wood Mackenzie consulting firm.

“The coronavirus outbreak and its impact on Chinese gas demand could not have come at a worse time for the already oversupplied global LNG market,” [IHS} research director Robert Sims said. …

If shaving 2 percent of global demand for just a few months can cause such havoc, imagine what long-term demand destruction will do? That’s the question every young person considering a career in oil and gas should be asking.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 11, 2020

Video: Four-legged, data-gathering robot being tested on offshore oil rig*

A four-legged, data-gathering robot named Spot is being tested this year on an offshore rig named Skary in the Norwegian Sea.

Spot is the brainchild of oil company Aker BP and oilfield software company Cognite, both of Norway, and robotics firm Boston Dynamics.

It’s part of a team of robots and drones used for aerial and underwater inspections and to help repair leaks. Aided by video sent to operators at onshore control centers, they can take people out of harm’s way.

 

Utilities

 

Houston Chronicle – February 12, 2020

CenterPoint’s rate hike deal goes to Public Utility Commission on Friday*

The Texas Public Utility Commission on Friday is expected to consider the $13 million rate hike settlement that CenterPoint Energy hammered out last month with cities, big power users and consumer groups.

The proposed deal is just a fraction of the increase that CenterPoint, the regulated utility that distributes most of the electricity in the Houston area, had sought. It would reduce transmission and distribution charges on most residential power bills by about 2 percent.

If the three-member PUC approves the deal, Houston-area residential customers who use 1,000 kilowatt-hours of power would pay $41.50 per month to cover the cost of transmitting electricity through power lines and into their homes, 85 cents less than they paid in April 2019, CenterPoint said. The new rates would go into effect in April.

 

Houston Chronicle – February 11, 2020

Retiring coal plants, renewables will cut CO2 emissions*

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions are expected to decrease for the next 11 years as coal plants retire and the nation moves more toward renewable energy sources.

CO2 emissions, a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere and increases global temperatures, will also drop in the U.S. transportation sector as rising fuel efficiency more than offsets the increase in travel and freight, according to the Department of Energy. The predictions assumes no new laws and regulations on CO2 emissions.

But the Energy Department predicts that CO2 emissions in the United States will resume their growth trajectory after 2031, the consequence of more demand from the transportation and industrial sectors that is expected to boost consumption of oil and natural gas.

 

 

Popular Mechanics – February 10, 2020

The Cool Way Scientists Turned Falling Raindrops Into Electricity

Scientists at the City University of Hong Kong have used a Teflon-coated surface and a phenomenon called triboelectricity to generate a charge from raindrops. “Here we develop a device to harvest energy from impinging water droplets by using an architecture that comprises a polytetrafluoroethylene [Teflon] film on an indium tin oxide substrate plus an aluminium electrode,” they explain in their new paper in Nature.

Triboelectricity itself is an old concept. The word means “friction electricity”—from the Greek tribo, to rub or wear down, which is why a diatribe tires you out—and dates back a long, long time. Static electricity is the most famous kind of triboelectric. In most naturally occurring kinds, scientists have studied triboelectric in order to avoid its effects, like explosions inside of grain silos or hospital workers touching off pure oxygen. (Blowing sand causes an electric field, and NASA even worries about static when astronauts eventually land on Mars.)

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Austin American Statesman – February 12, 2020

Smithville approves 1-megawatt solar farm

The city of Smithville is taking a step toward becoming a greener, environmentally conscious town while reducing its energy costs.

Next month, Austin-based energy development company Go Big Solar will build a 1-megawatt solar farm on 24 acres beside the Smithville Municipal Airport that is expected to produce 6% of the city’s energy use, or the energy needed to power about 200 homes.

“The city is drawing a line in the sand saying, yeah, we care about the environment,” said Smithville City Manager Robert Tamble.

The deal is expected to save the city at least $350,000 over a 25-year period, officials said.

 

Regulatory

 

Houston Chronicle – February 12, 2020

Houston Rep. Lizzie Fletcher opposes fracking ban bill pushed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez*

Two Texas Democrats say they will oppose a ban on hydraulic fracturing proposed by some of their Democratic colleagues.

U.S. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher — a freshman Houston Democrat considered one of the most vulnerable members of Congress — called efforts to ban fracking “misguided” in a lengthy statement issued just hours after U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Darren Soto of Florida introduced a bill to outlaw it.

“I do not support this bill or any similar proposal to ban fracking,” said Fletcher, whose west Houston district includes the energy corridor.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 12, 2020

House Republicans push climate change bills that protect fossil fuels*

Top House Republicans released a package of bills Wednesday designed to reduce the volume of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as public awareness around climate change grows.

Congressmen including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, of California, and Dan Crenshaw, of Texas, are pitching the legislation as a common sense alternative to Democrats’ calls for limiting the use of fossil fuels.

“There’s this false choice between doing nothing and over regulating,” Crenshaw said. “That would do nothing, because the United States is only 15 percent of emissions.”

 

______________________________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 12, 2020

Click on each headline to read more of the story at the source.
Asterisk * following headline indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at the source because it’s password protected.

 

Lead Stories

 

Associated Press/Brownsville Herald – February 11, 2020

Oil from federal lands tops 1B barrels as Trump eases rules

Oil production from U.S.- managed lands and waters topped a record 1 billion barrels last year, federal officials said Tuesday, as technological advances helped drive development in new areas and the Trump administration eases rules on the industry.

The production figure was up 122 million barrels, or more than 13% from 2018. It includes oil from onshore and offshore parcels and American Indian-owned lands managed by the U.S. Interior Department during fiscal year 2019, which ended Sept. 30, federal officials said.

 

 

Reuters/Yahoo! News – February 11, 2020

Coronavirus to cut forecast oil demand growth by a quarter this year – Rystad Energy

The coronavirus outbreak will cut growth in global oil demand by a quarter this year compared to earlier forecasts, Norway’s biggest independent energy consultancy Rystad Energy predicted on Tuesday.

Oslo-based Rystad now predicts global oil demand will grow by 820,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2020, down from a December forecast of 1.1 million bpd.

Crude prices have fallen sharply since news of the virus outbreak first emerged in mid-January.

The outbreak will primarily affect demand in the early part of the year, with the first quarter now expected to see growth of just 100,000 bpd, before consumption recovers later in the year, Rystad argued in a research note.

Related: US crude oil exports will average 3.6 million b/d in 2020, a growth of 650,000 b/d from 2019 but 300,000 b/d lower than previously expected

 

 

Utility Dive – February 10, 2020

Jessica Bell: Erring on the side of trampling on states’ rights

State clean energy policies. State water quality certifications. Pipeline construction on state land. Lately, when given the choice between co-existing with state authorities — as contemplated by the longstanding cooperative federalism surrounding environmental and energy regulation — and simply steamrolling those authorities, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has consistently pursued the latter.

A recent example of FERC’s disdain for state authority is pipeline construction on state land. FERC is responsible for evaluating the need for and public interest in the construction of interstate pipelines that transport natural gas. Over the last twenty years, FERC has denied only two such applications while approving more than 400. Under the Natural Gas Act, once FERC grants a certificate of public convenience and necessity, the pipeline company may acquire the land it needs for its FERC-approved route, including by exercising the power of eminent domain when it is unable to agree on terms with the landowner.

 

 

Science Magazine – February 6, 2020

Underground oil fires liberate carbon-free fuel

This month, on the frozen plains of Saskatchewan in Canada, workers began to inject steam and air into the Superb field, a layer of sand 700 meters down that holds 200 million barrels of thick, viscous oil. Their goal was not to pump out the oil, but to set it on fire—spurring underground chemical reactions that churn out hydrogen gas, along with carbon dioxide (CO2). Eventually the company conducting the $3 million field test plans to plug its wells with membranes that would allow only the clean-burning hydrogen to reach the surface. The CO2, and all of its power to warm the climate, would remain sequestered deep in the earth.

“We want to launch the idea that you can get energy from petroleum resources and it can be zero carbon emissions,” says Ian Gates, a chemical engineer at the University of Calgary and co-founder of the startup, called Proton Technologies.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters/CNBC – February 12, 2020

Oil jumps as slowdown in new China coronavirus cases eases fuel demand concerns

Oil prices climbed on Wednesday as China reported its lowest daily number of new coronavirus cases since late January, stoking investor hopes that fuel demand in the world’s second-largest oil consumer may begin to recover from the epidemic.

Brent crude was up 98 cents, or 1.8%, at $54.99 per barrel at 0335 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) rose 81 cents, or 1.4%, to $50.65 a barrel.

According to data through Tuesday, the growth rate of new coronavirus cases in China has slowed to the lowest since Jan. 30. Still, international experts remained cautious over forecasting when the outbreak might reach a peak.

 

 

New York Times – February 11, 2020

A rare policy enacted under President Trump to address climate change has run into an unexpected hurdle: the tax man.

In 2018, Congress approved a lucrative tax break for companies that use carbon capture technology to trap carbon dioxide produced by industrial sites before the gas escapes into the atmosphere and heats the planet. The technology is still costly and contentious, but may one day become a valuable tool for slowing global warming. House Republicans are aiming to expand support for carbon capture as part of a broader package of climate bills, the first of which is expected Wednesday.

At least a dozen carbon capture projects, potentially representing billions of dollars in investments, have been announced since Congress passed its 2018 tax break. But two years later, those plans remain blocked because the Internal Revenue Service has yet to explain how, exactly, companies can claim the tax credit that would make the projects viable.

“The delay is unacceptable and will only further slow much-needed investment in carbon capture,” said Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming and an original co-sponsor of the tax break.

 

 

Associated Press/Billings Gazette – February 11, 2020

Officials: North Dakota oil output may peak within 5 years

North Dakota’s oil production may peak within five years as companies finish drilling the most prolific portions of the state’s oil patch, state and industry officials told lawmakers Tuesday.

Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms, the state’s top oil regulator, said about 20% of drilling activity is now outside of the “core” areas of the western North Dakota’s oil producing region.

“The end of (core area-drilling) is on the horizon; we can see it from here,” Helms told the Legislature’s interim Government Finance Committee.

 

 

San Antonio Express News – February 11, 2020

Democrats target plastics industry*

A group of Senate and House Democrats are moving to crack down on plastics waste, requiring manufacturers to pay for recycling their products, creating a nationwide deposit system and banning many single-use products.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Rep Alan Lowenthal, D-N.Y., introduced legislation Tuesday that would upend the U.S. plastics industry, putting a hold on the construction of new plastic manufacturing facilities so federal environmental agencies can study the extend of the waste crisis. ….

With growing consumer awareness, governments around the world have already started to ban single-use plastics like bags and straws.

So far, such efforts in the United States have seen resistance from the petrochemical industry, which argue plastic helps reduce carbon emissions by making trucks and packaging lighter – requiring less energy for transport. The answer, said said Keith Christman, managing director of plastic at the American Chemistry Council, lies in better recycling systems, not reducing plastic use.

 

 

Austin American Statesman – February 11, 2020

Norman Newton, who helped turn Texas Legislature red, dies at 77

In 1975, when John Tower, then a Republican U.S. senator from Texas, and Norman Newton launched the Associated Republicans of Texas, 20 of the 181 members of the Texas Legislature were Republicans.

Twenty-eight years later, Texas Republicans had total control of the Legislature, which they maintain to this day, thanks in large measure to Newton’s relentless, frenetic energy.

Newton, who for decades roamed the state searching for Republican candidates and held court at the Austin Club bar, where he would bring those candidates together with members of the lobby who could help elect them, died in his sleep Sunday morning at his home in Austin. He was 77.

 

 

Groves News – February 11, 2020

Former Texas AFL-CIO president, Groves councilman Emmett Sheppard dies

Working families in Texas are mourning Emmett Sheppard, a former Texas AFL-CIO President who built the state labor federation’s voice and capacity against long political odds.

Sheppard died Saturday at the age of 77. He was a Groves native and former city councilman in Groves. ….

A long-time member of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Local 4-23 (now part of the United Steelworkers union), Sheppard was Texas AFL-CIO Legislative Director and Secretary-Treasurer before serving a four-year term as Texas AFL-CIO President from 2003 to 2007.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 11, 2020

Port of Brownsville asks judge to toss out anti-LNG lawsuit*

The Port of Brownsville is asking a judge to toss out a lawsuit filed by the City of Port Isabel to halt construction of three liquefied natural gas export terminals at the South Texas waterway.

In a Feb. 5 lawsuit, Port Isabel and two local residents accused the Port of Brownsville of negligence, public nuisance of strict liability for leasing land to the proposed Rio Grande LNG, Annova LNG and Texas LNG export terminals. Although the projects received federal permits in November, Port Isabel cited pollution and safety concerns in asking Judge Gloria Rincones with the 445th State District Court in Brownsville to issue an injunction to halt any construction activities.

The Port of Brownsville has since fired back in a motion asking Judge Rincones to toss out the lawsuit, arguing that the matter belongs in federal court because the three facilities received permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

 

 

E&E News – February 11, 2020

The messy Iowa Democratic caucuses may claim a collateral victim: the political power behind ethanol.

An unfolding debate in the fuel industry has biofuels losing political punch — maybe — if Iowa surrenders its first-in-the-nation status in picking presidential nominees. And the debacle over counting votes in the Democratic caucuses has given fresh energy to the idea that Iowa shouldn’t go first.

“I think that we’re on life support at this point,” said Timothy Hagle, a political science professor at the University of Iowa.

If the caucuses survive, and the state remains first in line, Iowa may have a Republican — President Trump — to thank, Hagle said. Amid the Democratic mess over a vote-counting app created by Shadow Inc., Trump tweeted that he likes the caucuses, which allow candidates to connect with largely rural voters in an up-close and personal way they can’t in most other states.

Biofuel supporters and their critics in petroleum and environmental circles are watching the situation for signs that could tip the lobbying fight in one direction or the other.

 

 

Associated Press/Sacramento Bee – February 11, 2020

5 accused of trying to trade in sanctioned Iranian oil

Five men have been arrested and charged with trying to trade in Iranian oil in violation of U.S. trade sanctions.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia, Zhenyu Wang, Robert Thwaites and Nicholas James Fuchs, all of Dallas; Daniel Ray Lane of McKinney, Texas; and Nicholas Hovan of New York City are charged with conspiracy and violating U.S. economic sanctions on Iran.

The criminal complaint alleges that since last July, the five had tried to buy oil illegally from Iran to sell to a refinery in China.

 

 

Financial Post – February 11, 2020

Permian’s Gas-Burning ‘Black Eye’ Is 30% Worse Than Thought

The burning and releasing of vast amounts of natural gas into the atmosphere in America’s top shale basin is much bigger than previously thought when processing plants are included, Rystad Energy found.

Research on the controversial practices of flaring and venting — described by shale pioneer Scott Sheffield as a “black eye” for the Permian Basin — has typically focused on emissions by oil producers at the wellhead.

But gas-processing facilities in the region are receiving more gas than they can handle, so they burned off or released about 190 million cubic feet per day of the fuel last year, raising the total by 30% to roughly 810 million, data from Oslo-based Rystad shows. That’s almost enough gas to supply 5 million U.S. homes.

 

 

Phys Org – February 5, 2020

UNT professor’s virtual lab may hold key to preventing undersea oil pipeline leaks

Complex organic chemistry experiments often take days or weeks to conduct in a laboratory, but not anymore. Oliviero Andreussi has created a virtual organic chemistry laboratory inside a supercomputer to conduct these same experiments in a matter of minutes.

By using , the University of North Texas assistant professor will begin cycling through scientific databases listing thousands of to determine the various effects of different compounds on the production or suppression of hydrates.

“Natural gas hydrates are crystalline structures made of trapped in a cage of water molecules,” Andreussi said. “The increase and decrease of the production of these natural gas hydrates could be used to do everything from preventing undersea oil pipeline breaks to storing .”

 

 

KPRC (Houston) – February 11, 2020

Investigation: Why nearly a dozen tankers bring cancer-causing chemical to Houston-area from NC each month

GenX is the trade name of perfluoro-2-propoxypropanoic acid, which is used to make Teflon, fast food wrappers and other products.

Since June 2017 Chemours began capturing the wastewater that included the GenX. Then, starting the week of Nov. 13, 2017, the company began arranging to have the wastewater transported by tanker truck and rail for disposal in Deer Park, Texas. Specifically, it’s being sent to Texas Molecular for deep-well injection. Texas Molecular is a Class1 Deep Well. Since 2017, the company has commissioned an average of 10 tanker trucks a day to haul away the wastewater for offsite disposal, according to the Chemours plant manager. ….

“Texas Molecular is not required to have a specific approval or public hearing for deep well disposal of GenX waste, because this waste stream is covered under the listing of industrial wastes authorized to be injected in its three UIC Class I permits,” according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

 

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – February 11, 2020

Big Bend communities prepare for future impact of energy development

Technological advances have oil and gas development in the Permian Basin headed to new areas.

In response, some counties are taking steps to prepare for the possible arrival of the industry. The Tri-County area — Brewster, Jeff Davis and Presidio counties — is one example. A series of seminars on the potential impact of energy development on Big Bend communities is being held through April at Sul Ross State University. Additional seminars are planned for the fall.

The first seminar was last week and featured Mike Teague with Adamantine Energy and David Iannelli with Hudson Pacific. Another seminar, “Development By Design: Where Energy and Conservation Meet” is set for March 18 and will feature Joe Kiesecker with The Nature Conservancy of Texas and Melinda Taylor of the University of Texas. All seminars are held at the Espino Conference Center at Sul Ross State University beginning at 6:30 p.m.

 

 

Utilities

 

Morning Call – February 3, 2020

Texas energy supplier was so aggressive in its marketing, it reached out to dead PPL customers, Penn. PUC says

A Texas company tried so hard to switch PPL customers’ energy suppliers without their consent that it enrolled three customers who were dead.

That’s one of a raft of allegations Pennsylvania utility regulators have filed against the energy supplier it said committed a wide range of “egregious” marketing violations during the last three years. The infractions include switching customers’ energy supply without their consent and threatening to shut off their power.

The state Public Utility Commission also said in a news release that the complaints from Allentown’s PPL Electric Utilities customers helped lead to the legal action against Verde Energy USA Inc.

 

 

The Eagle (Bryan-College Station) – February 11, 2020

College Station council approves $6.8 million contract for ‘smart’ electric meters

College Station City Council members unanimously approved a $6.8 million contract to implement “smart” electric meters for College Station Utilities customers.

The contract with Landis+Gyr Technology and a $517,000 contract with IPKeys Power Partners for the advanced metering infrastructure and data management system come after various city departments spent more than a year evaluating nine proposals.

It will take about 18 months to implement the system, Director of College Station’s electric utility Timothy Crabb said in a presentation to the council.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 11, 2020

EIA expects 2020 US coal output to fall 13.7% on year: STEO

US coal production is forecast to be about 596 million st in 2020, down 13.7% from the estimated 2019 output of 690 million st, data from the Energy Information Administration’s Short-Term Energy Outlook showed Tuesday.

The EIA projects output of about 587 million st for 2021, the lowest level since the early 1970s.

Coal exports in 2020 are expected to total 86 million st compared with estimated exports of 92.4 million st in 2019. Exports in 2021 are projected to be 85 million st.

 

 

Corpus Christi Caller Times – February 10, 2020

Dick Messbarger: Why do Americans ignore the non-carbon energy source under their feet*

The world’s most powerful navy could run out of fuel in a few years.

Wait! Every red-blooded American knows that the most formidable global force for peace is our Navy and today we’re flush with oil and gas. Why would our Navy run out of fuel?

To begin with, this is not the American fleet that won World War II, with dozens and dozens of aircraft carriers and battlewagons and submarines that always had oilers (ships carrying oil for refueling) close at hand.

Today’s carriers and submarines are nuclear powered that allow for ships to go for years without refueling.

With enriched uranium the fuel for nuclear-powered ships, it is important to recognize that a sustainable source of yellow cake is available from sources that have America’s best interest at heart. In other words, we need reliable domestic production of uranium.

 

 

JDSupra – February 7, 2020

Virtual Power Purchase Agreements — Are They Right for Your Company?

A vPPA supports the growth of new renewable resources on the grid but is purely a financial instrument and not a contract for the purchase of electricity.

Corporate buyers of all sizes across a wide range of industries can utilize vPPAs to advance environmental and sustainability goals.

vPPAs may be green, but you don’t want to end up in the red: managing market and operational risks and understanding the regulatory and accounting implications is critical to ensuring a vPPA supports financial, as well as environmental, objectives.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

S&P Global Platts –

Global plug-in electric vehicle sales rise 9% in 2019

Global light duty plug-in electric vehicle sales dropped 3% in December but full-year data showed a year-on-year increase of 9%, according to the latest research from S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Global PEV sales remained in positive territory — up 9% at 2.21 million sold, but China remained a bugbear.

“The Chinese plug-in EV market continues to struggle after a jarring mid-year subsidy rollback, falling 18% year on year in December,” the report said. “The US also saw continued backsliding with 26% year-on-year declines across the fourth quarter of 2019.”

 

 

Forbes – February 5, 2020

Joshua Rhodes: Can The US Wind Industry Beat The Coming Headwinds?

Overall, the projections of wind power deployments going to near zero are likely overblown. However, it does appear that the focus of the wind industry might shift more towards offshore projects. As grids move to higher levels of renewables, complementary resources such as wind and solar can help mitigate their respective intermediacy.

However, price declines in energy storage also matter, because as they fall, it might make more sense to pair a single generation technology with energy storage, and the winner would likely be the one with the lowest levelized cost in that location.

 

Regulatory

 

E&E News – February 6, 2020

[Immigration lawyer Jessica] Cisneros still faces an uphill battle. [Rep. Henry] Cuellar has survived eight terms with his centrist positions, in part because he has tapped into the policy preferences of his Latino-heavy district, said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University. …

The 28th District is in South Texas. The area is heavily dependent on jobs and revenue from oil and gas production in the Eagle Ford Shale.

Cisneros’ environment and climate policy is centered on the Green New Deal, a proposal for the nation to rapidly stop producing and using fossil fuels, while guaranteeing jobs for workers, universal health care, racial justice and other priorities.

“The congressman has been saying that I’m a job killer, but that’s not the case. I’m not going to support something that doesn’t take the workers’ concerns seriously,” Cisneros said in an interview earlier this week.

The “just transition” piece of the Green New Deal is what she’d like to focus on the most, she said.

“Coming from an oil state, that’s what I want my piece of the Green New Deal to be, working through the transition and what it’s going to look like, and actually being a voice for these workers.”

 

 

Vice – Februay 6, 2020

Karin Louise Hermes: The climate movement is overwhelmingly white. So I walked away.

As a climate activist in Berlin, I felt required to tell my Filipino family’s experience during speeches and rallies because this form of “storytelling” was the only thing that would move a mostly white European audience to an emotional response of climate urgency—even though it was exhausting telling the story, especially since any mention of hurricanes in the news gives me anxiety. ….

But after a while I realized I would only be called upon when climate organizations needed an inspiring story or a “diverse” voice, contacts for a campaign, or to participate in a workshop for “fun” when everyone else on the (all-white) project was getting paid.

Whenever I would question the whiteness of these spaces and how strategies didn’t take race into account, I would be met with uncomfortable silences. The last time, at a nationwide movement-building workshop last April, I was asked, “Well then, why are you even here?”

So I decided not to be there anymore.

 

______________________________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 11, 2020

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Lead Stories

 

The Texas Energy Report – February 11, 2020

Brownsville and Corpus LNG Projects Okayed By DOE*

Three Brownsville LNG projects and Corpus Christi LNG‘s Stage III facility have the go-ahead from the DOE..

The US Department of Energy on Monday issued four long-term orders authorizing export of domestic liquified natural gas (LNG) from Annova LNG, the $9.6 billion Rio Grande LNG, and the Texas LNG (to be run by a Houston company), all three in Brownsville, and the Corpus Stage III project in Corpus Christi.

The planned Brownsville projects were among a dozen proposals to be put on fast-track through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) a year-and-a-half ago after the agency promised to work through a backlog of applications.

 

 

Kallanish Energy – February 10, 2020

EPA approves Texas plan for fighting Houston ozone*

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved the state of Texas’ clean-air plan for ozone pollution in the Houston area, Kallanish Energy reports.

The EPA has determined the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria metropolitan area with its 6.7 million people continues to attain two federal ozone limits: the federal Clean Air Act’s 1979 1-hour limit of 120 parts per billion (Ppb); and the 1997 eight-hour standard of 80 Ppb.

The Houston area also meets the criteria for ending obligations to prevent the area from backsliding in air quality and potentially failing to meet the federal standards, the EPA said, in a Thursday statement. The EPA announcement provides added clarity for clean-air regulators.

The state’s plans for ozone in the Houston area must now deal with the more-stringent federal 2008 eight-hour limit of 75 Ppb and 2015 eight-hour standard of 70 Ppb or less. For 2016-2018, the Houston area’s key ozone number was out of compliance at 78 Ppb.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 10, 2020

In Democratic primary, fossil-fuel bans rule — even for centrists*

The prospect of the federal government enacting bans to limit oil and gas production is becoming more real going into Tuesday night’s New Hampshire Democratic Primary as climate change takes up increasing bandwidth in American politics.

Both Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who placed first and third respectively in Iowa’s caucus last week, have pledged to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing if elected president. And before you label them extremists, consider that almost every Democratic candidate, including avowed centrists Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg, has pledged to stop leasing federal lands for extracting of oil, natural gas and coal.

“In these debates, there’s been a real focus on doing away with fossil fuels and oil and gas,” said Dan Naatz, senior vice president of government relations and political affairs at the trade group Independent Petroleum Association of America. “I don’t think there’s ever been about this amount of rhetoric in the Democratic primaries.”

 

E&E News – February 10, 2020

Renewables — About 90% of the silicon “wafers” used in the United States — the bedrock of solar cells — originate in China, said Xiaoting Wang, a San Francisco-based solar analyst at BloombergNEF.

Producers probably have enough raw materials stockpiled to meet supply over the next few weeks, she added, but eventually a shortage could ripple through the rest of the supply chain for solar panels. …

Tesla — The coronavirus is having a substantial impact on Tesla Inc., the leading maker of electric cars, while having lesser consequences for EVs made by other automakers. …

LNG — Research firm Rystad Energy revised its growth estimate for Chinese LNG for 2020, limiting it to 4.7% compared with 2019. Earlier estimates from the Norway-based company expected Chinese demand to rise 10%-13% this year, the company said in a brief Friday. ….

Oil — An advisory body to OPEC met last week to discuss provisional cuts in oil output in order to counter an expected drop in oil demand, according to multiple media reports. The group — the Joint Technical Committee — recommended cuts of 600,000 barrels per day, although Russia has reportedly still not given an official signoff.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters/CNBC – February 11, 2020

Oil rises from 13-month low as new virus cases slow

Oil rose to $54 a barrel on Tuesday, recovering from a 13-month low as the number of new coronavirus cases slowed in China, easing some concerns about a lasting hit to oil demand.

The death toll climbed above 1,000 on Tuesday, while the number of new confirmed cases fell. The epidemic may peak in February and then plateau before easing, the Chinese government’s top medical adviser on the outbreak said.

Brent crude rose 82 cents to $54.09 a barrel by 1008 GMT. It fell to $53.11 on Monday, the lowest since January 2019.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 72 cents at $50.29.

Investors remain wary that China’s oil demand could take a further hit if the coronavirus cannot be contained and if OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, fail to agree on further steps to support prices.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 10, 2020

TechnipFMC braces Wall Street for $2.4 billion write down in fourth quarter*

Global oilfield service giant TechnipFMC on Monday warned Wall Street to brace for a $2.4 billion hit to the value of the company’s assets when it releases its fourth-quarter and 2019 reports Feb. 26.

Citing greater geopolitical uncertainty and lower crude-oil prices, TechnipFMC said it’s writing down the value of its subsea assets by $1.7 billion and is reducing the estimated value of its onshore assets by $700 million.

Headquartered in Paris with a large presence in Houston, TechnipFMC attributed the write down for the subsea assets to “reduced market capitalization” while the reduction in value for the company’s onshore assets is being attributed to a lower activity outlook for shale plays in the United States and Canada.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 10, 2020

Bankruptcy judge lambastes Watson Grinding for putting bank before explosion victims*

A veteran bankruptcy judge issued a seven-minute tirade Monday against the firm involved in the west Houston fatal explosion last month, implying company officials were selfishly prioritizing their own financial woes over the devastating losses in the community.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Marvin Isgur began by telling a courtroom packed with lawyers for explosion victims that he’d “rarely been angrier” than he was upon seeing the motion filed by attorneys for Watson Grinding & Manufacturing and Watson Valve, which asked that Watson be allowed to swiftly pay off the company’s bank loan in a discounted $3 million lump sum with insurance money.

The implication of the company’s emergency motion, according to the judge, was that Watson executives were putting their own needs ahead of residents harmed in the blast as well as two workers and a local resident who died as a result of the early morning explosion. …

The judge said his “vigilant” focus would be on people facing life-changing upheaval from the blast: “The families who have lost a loved one, who are caring for an injured child, who have lost their homes or had damage to their homes are facing true emergencies.”

 

 

Bloomberg News/Yahoo! News – February 10, 2020

Shipping Gets Smashed by Coronavirus in More Ways Than One

The shipping industry tends to do badly when Chinese demand disappoints, but the outbreak of the coronavirus has done more than just damage the amount of cargo that needs to be transported. It’s also preventing many owners from making their ships commercially viable.

Giant Capesize carriers that take iron ore and coal to China are now earning less than $2,600 a day, according to the Baltic Exchange in London. That’s a fraction of what they need even to pay their crew, and 93% below a 2019 peak. Supertankers transporting 2 million-barrel cargoes of crude have collapsed about 95% from their high point last year.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 10, 2020

The growth of ‘Made in China’ energy

In oil fields across Texas, drillers are looking to China, with its massive population and juggernaut growth, to drive demand for their crude and natural gas for decades to come. But China, already the world’s biggest consumer of energy, is moving rapidly to develop its own energy sector. It is not only expanding its capacity to produce and process energy, but also transforming how energy is used when the world is looking to lower emissions to address climate change.

How this plays out more than 7,000 miles from Houston may well determine whether multibillion-dollar bets made along the Gulf Coast during the past decade pay off. Liquefied natural gas and crude export terminals, sprawling petrochemical plants and miles of pipelines have all been built, in part, with the expectation that rapidly modernizing China would only increase its appetite for U.S. petroleum and natural gas.

Within one week last summer, both Houston-based Plains All American and San Antonio’s Epic Midstream opened pipelines in West Texas to move up to an additional 1 million barrels a day to the Gulf Coast for export. In Port Arthur, Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum are building what is to be one of the largest LNG export facilities in the world, creating 19,000 construction jobs by the time it opens in 2024. Off the coast of Brazoria County, Enterprise Products Partners, one of the nation’s biggest crude exporters, has proposed a multibillion-dollar offshore terminal to load massive tankers that can carry 2 million barrels of oil.

 

 

World Oil – February 10, 2020

UN-backed peace talks hope to restore Libya’s stalled oil output

Libya’s battered economy took center stage at United Nations-backed talks on ending the conflict, as a blockade that slashed the OPEC nation’s vital oil output entered a fourth week.

The two-day meeting in Cairo is being closely monitored for any sign of a deal to restore output in the North African nation after supporters of eastern commander Khalifa Haftar forced ports to close mid-January, driving production to its lowest since 2011. Imminent large-scale resumption, although unlikely, could add over 1 million barrels per day to the international market, complicating OPEC’s efforts to assess the impact of the coronavirus on demand.

Distribution of oil revenue has been at the heart of the turmoil that’s divided the country, and an immediate breakthrough in Cairo isn’t expected. The OPEC+ alliance, which controls about half of the world’s oil, last week recommended cutting 600,000 barrels of combined production — a reduction that would be dwarfed by a significant rise of Libyan output.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 10, 2020

Authorities investigate explosion at another Chesapeake Energy site*

Authorities are investigating the second explosion to happen at one of Chesapeake Energy’s oil wells in the Eagle Ford Shale in less than two weeks time.

The accident happened 1 a.m. Saturday at a storage tank on the company’s Luther lease off Sandy Point and Old San Antonio Roads in a rural area of Brazos County about eight miles northwest of Bryan.

No injuries were reported but an incident report from the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state agency that regulates the oil and natural gas industry, shows that the force of the blast broke some windows on a nearby home.

 

 

Rigzone – February 10, 2020

US Job Losses in Oil, Gas Industry Flat in January

The job losses in the U.S that have plagued the oil and gas industry for most of the latest downturn showed signs of easing in January.

Instead of sharp dips, oil and gas extraction, which is categorized under mining by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), was fairly flat with a decrease of just 0.7 from December 2019 to January 2020. Support activities for mining also reflected minimal declines for the period at -2.3.

West Texas Intermediate oil prices declined over the month, and the rotary oil rig count was little changed, the report stated.

In December, the contraction in mining employment was reflected by a decline in the number of domestic rotary oil rigs.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 9, 2020

Shale has changed producer-midstream relationships, industry executives say

The shale oil and gas revolution has changed the way producers and midstream operators collaborate as timeframes and demands have been altered by the pace of production.

The issue was the subject of a panel discussion at the NAPE Global Business Conference in Houston, where participants agreed that the pace at which producers can drill in unconventional plays makes it difficult for midstream companies to keep up.

Marathon Oil Corp. Director of Marketing and Midstream Tom Lloyd said the company is now capable of increasing production at a faster rate due to its presence in multiple shale plays, but that rate has caused problems finding pipelines to connect with.

 

 

CNBC – February 7, 2020

It’s not ‘appropriate’ to compare energy stocks to tobacco, Chevron CEO says

Traditional energy stocks have come under fire as the sustainable investing movement gains traction, but Chevron chairman and CEO Michael Wirth said it’s unfair to compare the sector to other oft-maligned areas of the market given the role oil production has played in societal development.

“The reality is the world runs on the energy system that we have today,” Wirth said Friday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” from Pebble Beach, California. “I think the comparison to tobacco is not an appropriate one at all. If tobacco use were ceased today, I think the world would be just fine. If we ceased use of all hydrocarbon products today, the world would not be fine, and I think that’s the reality.” ….

But Wirth said the sector can and will recover, and that the stocks will head higher once again.

“We’ve been in a rough period of time. Commodity prices had a historic collapse last decade. They’re still very low because we’ve got a well supplied market, and I think companies have had to re-size their investments accordingly,” he said.

 

 

American Banker – February 10, 2020

Climate activists want former Exxon chief off JPMorgan’s board

Few people are in a position to influence Jamie Dimon, the chief executive who turned JPMorgan Chase into the biggest U.S. bank. The longtime climate skeptic who turned Exxon Mobil into the biggest U.S. oil company is one of them.

Lee R. Raymond, 81, holds the top position on JPMorgan’s 11-member board after Dimon. He has occupied his seat for 33 years, making him both the longest-serving and oldest director among Wall Street’s biggest banks. He helped guide JPMorgan through megamergers after mastering them at Exxon, backed Dimon during his rise and has stood by him. Even as the bank draws fire for lending billions to the fossil-fuel industry, the former oil executive’s power inside the $2.7 trillion financial firm has gone little noticed.

That’s about to change.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 10, 2020

Drilling Down: Hunt Oil seeks latest fortune in Permian Basin

A storied oil company that got its start in East Texas is seeking its latest fortune in the Permian Basin of West Texas.

Founded in in 1934, Hunt Oil Co. drilled its first oil wells in the Piney Woods of East Texas, and over the decades it developed projects around the globe.

Closer to home, the independent and privately held Dallas oil company filed for seven drilling permits with the Railroad Commission of Texas over the past week.

Located in Glasscock County, the horizontal wells target the Spraberry field at total depths of 7,800 to 9,000 feet.

Hunt filed for 80 drilling permits in 2019. All but one were for wells in the Permian Basin.

 

 

Associated Press/Brownsville Herald – February 10, 2020

Diamond Offshore Drilling: 4Q Earnings Snapshot

Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. (DO) on Monday reported a loss of $74.8 million in its fourth quarter.

The Houston-based company said it had a loss of 54 cents per share. Losses, adjusted for non-recurring costs, came to 45 cents per share.

The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for a loss of 66 cents per share.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 4, 2020

Plains All American fourth quarter profits drop 73 percent on regional crude prices*

Houston pipeline operator Plains All American Pipeline LP saw its fourth quarter profits drop by 73 percent amid narrowing price differences between crude oil produced in the Permian Basin of West Texas and elsewhere in the United States.

In a Tuesday afternoon statement, Plains reported a $306 million profit for shareholders during the fourth quarter, which was down 73 percent compared to the $1.1 billion profit during the fourth quarter of 2018.

Plains reported $9.2 billion of revenue during the fourth quarter, a five percent increase over the $8.8 billion of revenue during the same time period one year earlier.

 

Utilities

 

Dallas Morning News – February 10, 2020

Atmos Energy is asking Dallas for $18.3 million gas rate hike to pay for aging pipes

Atmos Energy is asking Dallas officials to approve another gas rate increase for customers that would raise the company’s revenues by $18.3 million a year. The company says it already spent that money last year to replace pipelines and better detect leaks.

The Dallas-based utility, which operates in eight states, wants to hike gas rates by 9.4% — or $5.48 for the average resident — a month, according to a council memo. City staffers could still negotiate the rate before they recommend one to the council in May.

If the Dallas City Council rejects the hike, Atmos Energy would set the rate by June 1 and appeal the decision to the Railroad Commission of Texas, which ultimately sets the rate and has regulatory power over gas lines.

 

 

Texas Public Radio – February 10, 2020

San Antonio Power Plant To Be Sold, As Nonprofit Cuts Project

The Mission Road power plant, a massive brick structure alongside Roosevelt Park south of downtown San Antonio, will no longer become the energy innovation hub as had been mapped out by the nonprofit EPIcenter. ….

EPIcenter and CPS Energy planned to transform the former gas-fired plant into a beacon of green energy housing a startup incubator, innovation center, fabrication lab and 15,000 square feet of exhibition space. …

That plan officially changed Monday.

“As cherished and as important as that Mission Road Power Plant property is, it needs to go on to have an incredible life, but it won’t be where EPIcenter puts its resources,” said Kimberly Britton, executive director of EPIcenter.

 

 

The Hill – February 10, 2020

Energy secretary announces coal research initiative

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette on Friday announced a $64 million dollar initiative to fund research and development for coal, giving an assist to an industry that appears to be on the decline.

Brouillette announced the so-called Coal FIRST initiative at an Atlantic Council event, saying that it was “going to help us produce more coal-based power more efficiently and transform it into a near-zero emissions energy source.”

He particularly emphasized the idea of making coal plants smaller and more efficient, saying this would make it easier to make them cleaner.

 

 

Albuquerque Journal – February 10, 2020

Race to carbon-free generation is on

New Mexico’s utilities are drawing up the most comprehensive plans in decades to completely overhaul the state’s electric grid to reach 100% carbon-free generation by 2045.

That’s the ultimate goal outlined in the state’s new Energy Transition Act, which took effect last June. It requires all three of New Mexico’s major public utilities to derive 40% of their electricity from renewable resources by 2025, 50% by 2030, 80% by 2040, and then 100% carbon-free by 2045.

It’s a tall order, but the utilities – Public Service Company of New Mexico, Xcel Energy subsidiary Southwestern Public Service, and El Paso Electric Co. – are all on board, with the first substantial transitions already underway.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – February 10, 2020

Coronavirus hurting solar panel deliveries, boosting prices

The effects of the coronavirus outbreak continue to spread, potentially interrupting solar panel production and boosting prices.

The Chinese government has restricted movement and extended the Lunar New Year holiday in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly virus, moves that could tighten the global solar supply chain, according to a new study by energy research firm Wood Mackenzie.

Solar manufacturers will not be able to resume production until next week at a minimum and likely longer, depending on when travel restrictions are lifted, said Xiaojing Sun, senior research analyst with Wood Mackenzie’s energy transition research team. China produces most of the world’s solar panels.

 

 

The Telegraph (UK) – February 5, 2020

Plug-in hybrid cars emit three times more CO2 in ‘real world’ driving*

A new generation of ‘plug-in’ hybrid cars emit up to three times more greenhouse gases in ‘real world’ driving than official figures suggest.

A series of studies found the fuel consumption in the plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) was far greater on the road than claimed.

PHEVs are powered by a combination of battery-powered electric motor and a traditional combustion engine. But they only have a short range in electric mode – typically of between 15 and 25 miles – amid warnings motorists are neglecting to charge them and instead choosing to run them on petrol only.

In a shock announcement on Tuesday, ministers said sales of new hybrid cars would be banned from 2035 onwards.

 

Regulatory

 

Reuters/US News – February 10, 2020

Trump’s Budget Proposes Sale From Emergency Oil Reserve

President Donald Trump’s 2021 budget released on Monday proposed a sale of 15 million barrels of oil from the emergency petroleum reserve to help pay for projects overseen by the Department of Energy.

Budget documents said a sale from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, or SPR, which stores oil in a series of underground salt caverns on the Louisiana and Texas coast, would help raise funds for priorities including $242 million needed to fix a Naval Petroleum Reserve site in California.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 9, 2020

U.S. Rep Sheila Jackson Lee calls for federal probe in Watson Grinding explosion*

Ever Bautista on Sunday stood outside what was left of his Spring Branch business, B&J Texas Lone Star. …

Bautista showed up to the site minutes after U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, held a press conference calling for a federal investigation into the amount of propylene used at Watson Grinding — and a deeper look at any other potentially hazardous chemicals stored there. She also called for the company to help neighbors affected by the blast.

Among a list of concerns, Jackson Lee said she wants to know whether the chemicals at the site, at 4525 Gessner, were subject to regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

__________________________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 10, 2020

Click on each headline to read more of the story at the source.
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Lead Stories

 

Phys Org – February 7, 2020

Study examines potential sources of groundwater contamination in private wells

A study led by environmental researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington suggests a disconnect between the perception of groundwater contamination and the extent to which that contamination is attributable to oil and natural gas extraction. ….

Members of the Collaborative Laboratories for Environmental Analysis and Remediation (CLEAR) at UTA found that samples from only five of 36 private water wells showed any potential indications of contamination from unconventional oil and gas development, a multifaceted process that includes hydraulic fracturing. The samples were collected from the Barnett, Eagle Ford, Haynesville and Marcellus Shale regions in response to anecdotal claims of oil- and gas-related contamination. ….

“We found that the water quality data very rarely aligned with the perceptions that the well owners had of their individual situations,” [UT-Arlington’s Kevin] Schug said. “This disconnect between perception and reality is possibly attributed to prevailing negative sentiments toward hydraulic fracturing as well as myriad environmental factors that make point source attribution very challenging.”

 

 

Bloomberg News – February 7, 2020

Texas Regulator Readies First Flaring Report Amid Backlash*

A Republican defending his seat on Texas’s all-powerful energy regulator is preparing a first-of-its-kind report on natural gas flaring, a practice that’s come under fire from environmental groups and even some producers.

The report will showcase flaring trends, its proportion to surging oil production and potentially a list of the best and worst operators, said Ryan Sitton, a member of the Texas Railroad Commission, which actually oversees the oil and gas industry in the state despite its name. His office has been working for the last six months to aggregate data reported by oil and gas operators and aims to release something to the public within the next week or so.

“My point is to put the information out there and then we can start to talk policy,” Sitton said Thursday in an interview in Houston. ….

On Wednesday, a Royal Dutch Shell Plc executive used an industry conference to call on regulators to craft better policies to reduce flaring in the Permian.

“A lot of that has to do with infrastructure, but I believe a bigger part is to do with robust, fit-for-purpose policies and regulatory requirements to incentivize reduction in flaring,” Amir Gerges, vice president of Shell’s operations in the basin, said at the Argus Americas Crude Summit conference in Houston.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 8, 2020

With miles of aging pipe, midstream and utility giants face new compliance costs

North America’s largest pipeline companies and utilities operate tens of thousands of miles of pipe installed a half-century ago or earlier. Those assets position the companies to shoulder the weight of one of the biggest pipeline safety reforms of the last decade.

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA, last fall revealed new testing requirements that will chiefly affect gas transmission lines installed before November 1970. The Safety of Gas Transmission Pipelines rule goes into effect on July 1, starting a multiyear process that will require companies to assess thousands of miles of pipe.

The new regulation is meant to close a loophole that contributed to one of the worst pipeline accidents in U.S. history: the 2010 PG&E Corp. gas transmission line explosion in San Bruno, Calif., that killed eight people, injured dozens and destroyed 38 homes.

 

 

Community Impact Newspapers – February 7, 2020

Filed: Opponents file endangered species lawsuit to stop Permian Highway Pipeline

A lawsuit challenging the Permian Highway Pipeline and asking for an injunction to stop its impending construction was filed Feb. 5 in U.S. District Court in Austin.

Plaintiffs listed in the suit include the cities of Austin and San Marcos; both Hays and Travis counties; the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer Conservation District and several private landowners.

The city of Kyle is not listed as a plaintiff, but the suit will be amended to include it, according to Jessica Karlsruher, executive director of the Texas Real Estate Advocacy and Defense Coalition, which is partially funding this legal action in addition to several others.

Related: Kinder Morgan reacts to newest anti-PHP lawsuit

 

 

DNYUZ – February 7, 2020

To Survive, Venezuela’s Leader Gives Up Decades of Control Over Oil

After decades of dominating its oil industry, the Venezuelan government is quietly surrendering control to foreign companies in a desperate bid to keep the economy afloat and hold on to power.

The opening is a startling reversal for Venezuela, breaking decades of state command over its crude reserves, the world’s biggest.

The government’s power and legitimacy has always rested on its ability to control its oil fields — the backbone of the country’s economy — and use their profits for the benefit of its people.

But the nation’s authoritarian leader, Nicolás Maduro, in his struggle to retain his grip over a country in its seventh year of a crippling economic crisis, is giving up policies that once were central to its socialist-inspired revolution.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters/CNBC – February 10, 2020

Oil slips on weaker Chinese demand, traders await OPEC+ cuts

Oil prices slipped on Monday on weaker Chinese oil demand in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and as traders waited to see if Russia would join other producers in seeking further output cuts.

Oil has dropped more than 20% from a peak in January after the spreading virus hit demand in the world’s largest oil importer and fuelled concerns of excess supplies.

Brent crude slipped to $54.23 a barrel by 0945 GMT, down 24 cents or 0.4%. U.S. West Texas Intermediate fell 25 cents or 0.5% to $50.07 a barrel.

“The question everyone is desperate to find the correct answer to is how damaging the epidemic is to the global economy and therefore to oil demand and how long it will last,” said oil broker PVM’s Tamas Varga.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 7, 2020

U.S. energy chief downplays effect of coronavirus on oil markets*

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette on Friday downplayed the impact of China’s coronavirus outbreak on global energy markets.

While oil prices are down 20 percent since the beginning of the year, Brouillette said energy demand had yet to be substantively impacted.

“The coronavirus, as we can determine today, has not had a tremendous impact on energy production or energy purchases just yet,” he said after a talk at the Atlantic Council in Washington. “For the moment the Chinese seem to have a clear indication of the virus itself, where it is, and are taking aggressive steps to control a potential outbreak.”

 

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – February 8, 2020

Rig counts hold steady

The US rig count was unchanged at 790 rigs and remain near its lowest point since March 2017. The rig count has plunged nearly 60 percent since its high of 1,609 rigs in October 2014.

Texas laid down one rig, bringing its rig count to 394. The Permian Basin also lost a rig, bringing the basin’s rig count to 405 rigs and still accounting for 60 percent of the rigs drilling for oil in the US.

New Mexico topped the list of states adding rigs, gaining three rigs to 112. Alaska was the only other state to add rigs, rising one rig to 10.

 

 

KBTX (Bryan-College Station) – February 8, 2020

New images show impact of blast at Chesapeake wellsite in Brazos County

It’s Chesapeake’s second incident in the Brazos Valley in as many months; three workers were killed on a worksite in Burleson County following an explosion last month.

A ruptured tank owned by Chesapeake Energy on Saturday morning shook homes and buildings across Brazos County.

Images from above the site obtained by KBTX show at least two tanks damaged and inspectors still working on Saturday afternoon to determine what caused it to happen.

“No fire occurred and no injuries have been reported. The cause of the incident is under investigation,” said Chesapeake Energy spokesman Gordon Pennoyer.

Also: Chesapeake Energy, others sued for $1 mln in fatal Texas oil-well blast

 

 

CNN – February 4, 2020

The UK just gave the car industry 15 years to ditch fossil fuels

Britain will ban sales of new gasoline and diesel cars from 2035 — five years earlier than planned — heaping pressure on an auto industry that is already struggling to cope with a global sales slump and the fallout from Brexit.

And for the first time, hybrid vehicles will also be covered by the ban.

The UK government detailed the more aggressive approach in a statement Tuesday, saying it was necessary to fight the climate crisis and help the United Kingdom cut carbon emissions to “net zero” by 2050.

“We have a responsibility to our planet to lead,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a speech in London that launched the next UN climate conference, COP26, which is to be held later this year in Scotland.

 

 

Reuters/WHBL (WI) – February 7, 2020

Shell boosts crude output in top U.S. shale field to 250,000 bpd

Royal Dutch Shell, which plans billions of dollars in spending on shale drilling projects, boosted output in the top U.S. shale field to 250,000 barrels per day in December, the company’s Permian Basin head said on Wednesday.

Shell plans to spend about $3 billion per year for the next five years on shale projects, said Amir Gerges, vice president of Permian assets for Shell, at the Argus Americas Crude Summit in Houston. Its Permian Basin production rose more than 100,000 barrels per day in the last year.

“We continue to ramp up our production from our core acreage,” Gerges said.

 

 

Argus Media – February 7, 2020

Crude Summit: Permian needs more infrastructure: Update

The Permian basin needs more infrastructure, particularly for moving natural gas and natural gas liquids, because production from the region continues to beat expectations, an executive from European major Shell said today.

“Although additional gathering facilities and pipelines have been constructed, more are needed to support the projected growth from the Permian,” said Amir Gerges, Shell’s vice president for Permian assets, at the Argus Americas Crude Summit in Houston, Texas. “The flaring and emissions in the Permian have become famous and it is not something we would like to be recognized for.”

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 10, 2020

Enviros: Winter storm resulted in massive amounts of flaring in Permian Basin

A winter storm that brought snow to large areas of West Texas resulted in massive amounts of flaring in Permian Basin after several natural gas processing plant were shut down by multiple power failures, environmentalists said.

The winter storm that blanketed Midland and much of the Permian Basin in snow on Feb. 4 and 5 is being blamed on the release of 8.8 million pounds of air pollution in 33 separate incidents, figures from the Austin environmental group Environment Texas show.

Oil and gas companies released a combined 39.5 million pounds of air pollution in the region during 2018, the environmental group reported — meaning that the two-day releases were equivalent to roughly one quarter of the air pollution released in the entire region in a single year.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 7, 2020

Mexican governor courts Houston energy sector for Port of Altamira project*

The governor of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas visited Houston this week seeking backing for a new port that he promises would create business opportunities for U.S. firms.

But observers say he would have to navigate murky political waters with Mexico’s new president to make it a reality.

Gov. Francisco Garcia-Cabeza de Vaca, whose state shares 230 miles of border with Texas and runs 250 miles along the Gulf of Mexico, spent part of this week courting energy companies and sharing his vision for a port he wants to build on 3,000 acres of state land alongside the federally controlled Port of Altamira near the coastal city.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 7, 2020

Pakistan, emerging as U.S. LNG export market, looks to Houston to help jump start economy

Battered by security threats, government corruption and unreliable energy for decades, Pakistan has struggled to unleash its economic potential. But with new leadership attempting to launch the country onto the world stage, Pakistani leaders say they’re looking for a little help from Houston.

Pakistan’s U.S Ambassador, Asad Majeed Khan, said in an interview that the energy capital of the world contains two key ingredients his country is looking for to jump start its economy: reliable energy and Pakistani Americans.

“Of course, it impresses me that we have a substantial community of Pakistani Americans (in Houston),” said Kahn, who visited the city last week for a conference hosted by the American Pakistan Foundation. “But what is important is that they are all contributing to the economy of Houston and are influential and successful.”

 

 

Wall Street Journal – February 9, 2020

The Case for Energy Stocks

It’s one of Wall Street’s best-known maxims: The “Dogs of the Dow” principle, holding that Dow Jones Industrial Average companies whose stocks underperform the broad market in a given year but are basically healthy typically will bounce back and maybe even outperform the market the next year. And it generally holds true.

But does a similar rule apply to sectors of the S&P 500, and sector-based mutual funds and exchange-traded funds? Inquiring energy investors, in particular, may want to know.

The answer is, kind of, says Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research. Because any one of the 11 sectors represented in the S&P 500 is a bigger boat to turn around than one company, it takes longer. But market history suggests that sectors that underperform in one decade do tend to outperform in the next: It happened for tech shares in the 2010s after a decade marked by two collapses in tech stocks, and it happened for utilities in the early 2000s after they sat out the 1990s boom led by tech stocks.

Also: Energy Stocks Might Finally Have Hit Bottom. It’s Time for Investors to Get In.

 

 

Wall Street Journal – February 9, 2020

The Middle East Conflict You Haven’t Heard About

Iran isn’t the only flashpoint in the Middle East. Less noticed are tensions between Egypt and Turkey over the fate of Libya, where a messy civil war has been raging since 2014. This antagonism could further destabilize the Middle East, which could set off another refugee crisis in Europe. The fight may also disrupt maritime commerce in the Mediterranean and lead to a resurgence of ISIS in Libya.

Two events set off the quarrel. One was Turkey’s decision last month to deploy troops to Libya in support of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and his internationally recognized Government of National Accord, known as the GNA. Then there’s Turkey’s maritime accord with the GNA in November. Egypt has substantial energy interests in the eastern Mediterranean, and the agreement sets out exclusive economic zones for Turkey and Libya that would hamstring further exploration by Egypt in a region rich in natural gas.

There is no shortage of foreign involvement in Libya’s civil war. Egypt—like Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia—backs Libyan militia leader Khalifa Haftar and the Libyan National Army under his command.

 

 

San Antonio Express News – February 7, 2020

Bust Town Gamble*

COTULLA — The oil bust punished this small city in the southern portion of the Eagle Ford Shale, and officials here are trying to recover.

Their answer to the challenge: tourism.

In a town best known as the place where Lyndon Baines Johnson taught elementary school for a year, they’re hoping the story of Cotulla’s past will win over tourists to help replace some of the oil workers they’ve lost to layoffs.

Fracking in the 26-county oil field, stretching from the U.S.-Mexico border near Laredo to counties southeast of Waco, is down by more than 20 percent from its peak in early 2014, before oil prices collapsed later that year.

The impact on Cotulla is most obvious in what’s missing: the chaos of a boom town, on the one hand, and the river of easy money, on the other.

 

 

Oil & Gas 360 – February 7, 2020

Total beats quarterly forecasts despite low oil price, raises payout

Total (TOTF.PA) beat forecasts on Thursday by keeping net adjusted fourth-quarter profit steady at $3.2 billion despite low oil prices and fulfilled a pledge to boost dividends, lifting the French energy firm’s shares.

The stock rose about 3% before easing off its highs as the company bucked a trend in the industry which has seen profits tumble in the last three months of 2019. Analysts had expected Total’s net profit to slip to $2.7 billion.

“This performance is better than that of our rivals in terms of resisting low oil prices,” CEO Patrick Pouyanne told journalists, adding Total was rewarding investors with a 6% increase in the final dividend for 2019 to 0.68 euros per share.

“Taking into account the strong visibility on cash flow, the group will continue to increase the dividend with the guidance of 5% to 6% per year,” the company said in its statement.

 

Utilities

 

Bangor Daily (ME) – February 6, 2020

Generator-funded group opposing CMP corridor faces up to $25,000 in ethics fines

A political committee funded by gas generators is facing up to $25,000 in fines from Maine’s ethics regulator — with perhaps more to come — after injecting hundreds of thousands into a campaign against Central Maine Power’s hydropower corridor.

The committee is solely funded by two Texas-based companies — Calpine and Vistra — that generate electricity with natural gas with plants in Westbrook and Veazie, respectively. The companies have fought the project on the regulatory side and stand to lose market share in the regional power grid if the $1 billion, 145-mile corridor through western Maine is built.

 

 

Marble Falls Daily Tribune – February 7, 2020

TCEQ approves LCRA Water Management Plan updates

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality recently approved the Lower Colorado River Authority’s updated Water Management Plan for lakes Buchanan and Travis, the two Highland Lakes reservoirs.

The 2020 update further protects “firm” water customers but includes a new limit on how much water can be sent downstream from the Highland Lakes for “interruptible” users.

Cities, municipalities, and industries are typically firm water customers and can rely on water being available even during the worst droughts. Interruptible customers are those whose water can be cut back or cut off during a drought, such as downstream agricultural customers in Colorado, Wharton, and Matagorda counties.

 

 

Bloomberg News/Arkansas Democrat Gazette – February 8, 2020

Wind turbine blades pile up in landfills

A wind turbine’s blades can be longer than a Boeing 747 wing, so at the end of their lifespan they can’t just be hauled away. A diamond-encrusted industrial saw is necessary to saw through the fiberglass to create three pieces small enough to be strapped to a tractor-trailer.

The municipal landfill in Casper, Wyo., is the final resting place of 870 blades whose days making renewable energy have come to end. The severed fragments look like bleached whale bones nestled against one another. …

Tens of thousands of aging blades are coming down from steel towers around the world and most have nowhere to go but landfills. In the U.S. alone, about 8,000 will be removed in each of the next four years. Europe, which has been dealing with the problem longer, has about 3,800 coming down annually through at least 2022.

 

 

E&E News – February 6, 2020

American Electric Power Co. Inc., one of the nation’s largest utility companies and highest-profile emitters, is facing yet another multibillion-dollar test to see how fast it can shift from coal to renewables.

This time, it looks like AEP might succeed.

A roughly $2 billion proposal in the works calls for AEP utilities to acquire three planned Oklahoma wind farms known as the North Central Energy Facilities. Settlement agreements are pending in Arkansas and Oklahoma, while proceedings continue in Louisiana and Texas.

But a multistate wind power proposal is never a given. Less than two years ago, AEP saw its $4.5 billion Wind Catcher plan in the same region fizzle. AEP’s new wind proposal is smaller and less controversial. Yet it’s also awakening concerns about the costs of renewable investments.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Wall Street Journal – February 5, 2020

GM and Ford Face Slowing Demand as Tesla Revs Up*

General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. provided tepid outlooks that give little optimism for the year ahead to investors who are increasingly betting on electric-vehicle maker Tesla Inc. as the car company of the future.

Both Detroit giants are dealing with weakening demand and rising labor costs. On Wednesday, GM said earnings last year were dinged by a crippling 40-day strike that idled dozens of U.S. factories last fall, and said it didn’t expect operating profits to grow in 2020 due in part to anticipated slowdowns in the U.S. and Chinese car markets.

Rival Ford, meanwhile, reported Tuesday that it barely broke even last year and presented an even grimmer outlook, releasing earnings guidance for 2020 that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations. Ford’s stock fell more than 9% on Wednesday.

The downbeat forecasts follow nearly a decade of steady sales growth and stout profits globally for Detroit’s auto makers. While that run helped put the once-vulnerable companies on firm financial footing, it has failed to translate into higher share prices.

 

Regulatory

 

ProPublica – February 7, 2020

How Louisiana Lawmakers Stop Residents’ Efforts to Fight Big Oil and Gas

As the Bayou Bridge Pipeline was under construction in 2018, Anne White Hat ventured deep into the Atchafalaya Swamp in St. Martin Parish to protest it. …

Two years later, the district attorney still hasn’t decided whether to proceed with the charges: two counts of unauthorized entry of a critical infrastructure. The maximum penalty is five years in prison, with the possibility of hard labor and a fine of up to $1,000. ….

Ironically, a court later found that the pipeline company itself had been trespassing at the time of White Hat’s arrest. The main owner, Energy Transfer Partners, had not obtained easement agreements with all landowners to begin construction, nor had it been granted permission to do so through eminent domain. Its penalty: a $450 fine paid to the landowners.

The judge who set White Hat’s bond at $21,000 was the same judge who imposed Energy Transfer Partners’ fine.“This is yet one more in a long line of examples of how Louisiana laws are first made by oil and gas corporations and then are ignored by the same corporations if they feel like it,” said Bill Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University who is representing White Hat pro bono.

 

 

February 6, 2020

San Antonio Express News: Cuellar deserves another term in District 28*

Perhaps the most hotly contested Democratic primary race in South Texas is Congressional District 28, which stretches from Laredo to San Antonio.

For the past 15 years, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar has served this district in a bipartisan and pragmatic way, and he’s won big in past elections. But Cuellar faces a fierce challenge from immigration and human rights attorney Jessica Cisneros, who has gained national attention for her progressive credentials and her sharp critiques of Cuellar.

She is an impressive challenger who would bring a fresh voice to South Texas, but our recommendation goes to Cuellar.

In the Republican primary, Sandra Whitten is running unopposed.

To put it simply: Henry Cuellar gets the job done.

 

______________________________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 7, 2020

Click on each headline to read more of the story at the source.
Asterisk * following headline indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at the source because it’s password protected.

 

Lead Stories

 

Vice – February 4, 2020

Government Agency Warns Global Oil Industry Is on the Brink of a Meltdown

The [Geological Survey of Finland] report says we are not running out of oil—vast reserves exist—but says that it is becoming uneconomical to exploit it. The plateauing of crude oil production was “a decisive turning point for the industrial ecosystem,” with demand shortfall being made up from liquid fuels which are far more expensive and difficult to extract—namely, unconventional oil sources like crude oil from deep offshore sources, oil sands, and especially shale oil (also known as “tight oil,” extracted by fracking).

These sources require far more elaborate and expensive methods of extraction, refining and processing than conventional crude mined onshore, which has driven up costs of production and operations.

Yet the shift to more expensive sources of oil to sustain the global economy, the report finds, is not only already undermining economic growth, but likely to become unsustainable on its own terms. In short, we have entered a new era of expensive energy that is likely to trigger a long-term economic contraction.

Analysis by Nick Cunningham: Peak Shale Will Send Oil Prices Sky High

 

 

McAllen Monitor – February 6, 2020

Port Isabel targets LNG construction, operation

The City of Port Isabel, the mayor of Port Isabel and a city commissioner have filed suit against the Brownsville Navigation District over its lease agreements with three liquefied natural gas companies that want to build LNG export terminals at the Port of Brownsville.

Mayor Juan Jose “J.J.” Zamora and Commissioner Martin C. Cantu are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in the 445th state District Court on Jan. 27. The suit requests a preliminary injunction followed by a permanent injunction against construction and operation of LNG plants at the port, alleging that such activity “shall have a detrimental and negative impact upon the environment, including air, soil and water quality” for residents of Port Isabel and wildlife in and around Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. …

 

 

Business & Industry Connection – February 6, 2020

Gulf Coast could see over $300 Billion in new investments

When it comes to the petrochemical industry and refining, the outlook for energy manufacturing (as well as LNG exports) is tied to the global economy. According to the Gulf Coast Energy Outlook for 2020, there could be “considerable headwinds” that would push against capacity investments that have been made during the past several years and new capital investments over the next three years.

“Ongoing trade tensions impact industrial projects in the region in numerous ways, from raising their cost of development to creating a degree of uncertainty that is never conducive for large capital investments,” the report stated. “Despite these uncertainties, the near-term outlook for U.S. and Gulf Coast energy production continues to be solid given the strong ongoing productivity gains that will continue, particularly in the Permian Basin and offshore Gulf of Mexico.”

 

 

Teslarati – February 6, 2020

Tesla’s Elon Musk tests the waters for a potential Gigafactory in Texas

Elon Musk is pondering on building a Gigafactory in Texas and the CEO wants to find out what the electric car community on Twitter thinks of the possible next big move for the electric carmaker. Musk started a poll late Tuesday night and gave the Twitterverse two options: “Hell yeah” and “Nope.” As of writing, the poll has garnered almost 231,000 votes with around 80% of respondents being in favor of building the new Gigafactory in the Lone Star state.

Giga Texas would be Tesla’s fifth Gigafactory, and while many believe the nomenclature is perfect for the state where everything is bigger, many are wondering why Musk would consider building a factory in a state where the direct sale of its vehicles is not allowed. A bill was even pushed once to prohibit the electric car manufacturer from servicing its vehicles in the state.

 

 

Washington Post – February 6, 2020

Trump halts support for Yucca Mountain, Nevada nuclear waste dump*

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said he opposes the long-delayed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada, reversing his policy on a project on which the United States has spent billions of dollars over decades but never opened.

Republican Trump’s past three budgets have called for the licensing process of Yucca to restart with $116 million proposed last year in the 2020 budget, and $120 million in each of the previous years.

On Thursday, however, Trump wrote on Twitter: “Nevada, I hear you on Yucca Mountain and my Administration will RESPECT you!” The administration is committed to exploring innovative approaches, he wrote, adding “I’m confident we can get it done.”

In addition, a senior administration official said, “The President’s 2021 budget will not have funding for the licensing of Yucca Mountain in it.”

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters – February 7, 2020

Oil climbs after Russia backs possible output cuts to counter coronavirus impact on demand

Oil prices rose on Friday after Russia said it backs a recommendation for the OPEC and its producer allies to deepen output cuts amid contracting demand for crude as China battles the coronavirus epidemic that has hit global markets.

Brent crude futures rose 32 cents, or 0.6%, to $55.25 a barrel by 0104, after falling 0.6% on Thursday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 26 cents, or 0.5%, at $51.21 a barrel, having gained 0.4& the previous session. …

Chinese President Xi Jinping declared a “people’s war” on the epidemic as China’s Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, reported 69 new deaths, taking the total in the country to more than 600.

 

 

CNBC – February 6, 2020

Natural gas prices tumble to historic lows as one energy CEO quips: ‘Send me an ice blizzard’

Natural gas prices traded at around $1.86 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) on Friday, up around 0.1% on the session. The commodity is almost 30% below where it traded a year earlier — and down nearly 15% since the start of 2020.

In Asia, the benchmark Japan-Korea-Marker (JKM) spot price for liquefied natural gas (LNG) closed at an all-time low of $3.00 MMBtu for the second consecutive session on Thursday, according to data provided by S&P Global Platts.

The price reporting agency said the JKM spot price had fallen dramatically since the start of the year, following significant pressure due to high stocks globally, a warmer-than-average winter in North Asia and a continued rapid supply build — especially from new projects on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 6, 2020

OPEC+ committee recommends 600,000 b/d in new oil cuts, but Russia wants to wait

Saudi-led efforts to implement deeper oil cuts to tackle the coronavirus’ impact on the market remained in limbo Thursday, with key ally Russia not yet on board with a proposal for 600,000 b/d in new supply curbs.

A technical committee of delegates advising a 23-country oil producer alliance issued the recommendation after three days of intense negotiations at the OPEC secretariat, but delegates said Russian representatives in the talks asked to return to Moscow for consultations with their leaders.

Earlier Thursday, Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said he was not ready to commit to any production changes.

 

 

Washington Post – February 6, 2020

China cuts tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. imports as coronavirus keeps it in lockdown*

China said it would halve tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. goods, pressing forward on the first phase of its trade pact with Washington even as the coronavirus outbreak continues to weigh on its economy.

The “phase one” agreement signed last month quelled the protracted trade conflict that tied up the world’s most powerful economies, imperiled global growth and caused chaos for multinational corporations. The terms required both nations to de-escalate some tariffs and compelled China to buy an additional $200 billion in U.S. goods over the next two years.

Levies will be slashed from 10 to 5 percent or from 5 to 2.5 percent on hundreds of U.S. products effective Feb. 14, China’s Finance Ministry said. The tariffs on cars, oil, soybeans and other goods date to September and had come in response to additional tariffs the United States applied in the fall.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 6, 2020

For Texas, promise and pitfalls in China

Not everyone is so confident about China’s future. A survey last year by AmCham China, which represents U.S. companies operating on the mainland, reported that only 22 percent of its members were optimistic about the business outlook in China during the next two years.

Ratings agency S&P Global also reported that local authorities in China had amassed up to $6 trillion in “hidden” debt off their balance sheets, accumulated as they went on spending sprees to build roads, bridges and other infrastructure to keep economic activity in their regions in line with mandates from Beijing. “That’s a debt iceberg with titanic credit risks,” the report said.

A debt crisis, should one materialize, would inevitably slow China’s economy and leave many Texas oil and gas companies in the lurch. Texas firms are not only relying on a booming Chinese economy to absorb vast amounts of crude and natural gas produced in American shale plays, but also have come to rely on billions in Chinese financing from companies such as Shandong Xinchao, a Beijing energy and real estate firm, to fund the development of new fields in West Texas.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 6, 2020

Watson Grinding files for bankruptcy in wake of deadly Gessner explosion*

Mayor Sylvester Turner and victims’ attorneys reacted sharply Thursday to news that owners of a west Houston plant involved in a fatal January explosion had filed for bankruptcy and fired 80 employees.

But Watson Grinding & Manufacturing and Watson Valve Services officials said maintaining a viable business was the best path to long-term recovery for the densely packed neighborhood where a toxic blast killed two workers and damaged 450 structures.

“I am surprised and disappointed to learn that Watson Grinding & Manufacturing Co. filed for bankruptcy and fired 80 employees,” Turner said in a statement. Some lawyers for victims expressed outrage at the bankruptcy filing, calling it egregious, cowardly, distressing and irresponsible, but other victim’s attorneys were unrattled by the legal tactic.

 

 

Dallas Morning News – February 6, 2020

Robert Wilonsky: Dallas on the hook for at least $23 million after jury sides with gas-drillers who never got city’s OK to frack*

In 2008, gas-driller Trinity East Energy paid Dallas City Hall $19 million for the right to frack on parkland, and was eventually denied that opportunity.

Twelve years and God knows how many legal pleadings later, a jury determined Thursday afternoon that the city must pay back that money — and several million more on top of that.

After almost two weeks of testimony, it took the jury five hours to find the city on the hook for negligent misrepresentation, statutory fraud and a regulatory taking. That’s a verdict worth somewhere between $23 million and $33 million, the jury decided. Judge Craig Smith will ultimately determine the final amount in coming days.

 

 

Associated Press/Brownsville Herald – February 6, 2020

National Oilwell Varco: 4Q Earnings Snapshot

National Oilwell Varco (NOV) on Thursday reported a fourth-quarter loss of $385 million, after reporting a profit in the same period a year earlier.

The Houston-based company said it had a loss of $1.01 per share. Earnings, adjusted for asset impairment costs, were 13 cents per share.

The results did not meet Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 16 cents per share.

The oil and gas industry supplier posted revenue of $2.28 billion in the period, which topped Street forecasts. Seven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $2.1 billion.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 6, 2020

Black Stone Minerals cuts investor payouts by almost 20%

Black Stone Minerals said it will cut its quarterly payouts to investors by almost 20 percent because of falling oil and gas prices.

In another sign of the weakening energy sector, the Houston oil and gas royalties firm will reduce its distributions to 30 cents per unit from 37 cents. This is the first time Black Stone has reduced its payout since going public in 2015.

Even during the lean years of the last oil bust in 2015 and 2016, Black Stone steadily hiked investor payments from an initial 16.2 cents per unit in 2015.

 

 

Denver Business Journal – February 4, 2020

U.S. shale oil company BPX Energy will be generating $1 billion in annual cash flow next year for its parent company, BP Group Plc, and it easily surpassed the $90 million synergies expected after its $10.3 billion acquisition of Texas oil field assets.

BP (NYSE: BP) outlined the 2019 results of BPX Energy on Tuesday as part of London-based energy giant’s 2019 fourth-quarter earnings call.

BPX Energy is the Denver-based division overseeing onshore, continental U.S. oil and gas exploration and production. It was created with BP’s acquisition of mining giant BHP Billiton’s oil and gas division, a deal which closed in late 2018 and was the largest acquisition by BP in 20 years.

The division was able to find $240 million in saving from the newly bought Texas assets, some of it from reducing productions by 10%, the company said.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 5, 2020

Pipeline project to relieve Yucatan Peninsula gas shortages

Mexico said it will begin construction of a 16-kilometer (10-mile) pipeline that will supply natural gas to the Yucatan Peninsula to produce electricity more cheaply. But experts told S&P Global Platts that prices in the Maya region will remain high for the foreseeable future, as more infrastructure is still needed. ….

Late in 2019, Mexico began importing cheap gas from Texas via a 2.6 Bcf/d marine pipeline built by Canada´s TC Energy and IEnova, the Mexico unit of Sempra Energy. The gas is delivered at a terminal in the port of Tuxpan, which is connected to Sistrangas.

“In order to be able to take the cheap gas that the marine pipeline brings from Texas, the government will first have to build compression plants from Veracruz,” said David Madero, who directs Aclaim Energy, a consultancy in Mexico City.

For the second phase, the plan is to further extend the pipeline another 158 kilometers to take gas to the Cancun area.

 

 

Wall Street Journal – February 6, 2020

Shale Gas Swamps Asia, Pushing LNG Prices to Record Lows

Liquefied natural gas is fetching the lowest price on record in Asia, a troubling sign for U.S. energy producers who have relied on overseas shipments of shale gas to buoy the sagging domestic market.

The main price gauge for liquefied natural gas, or LNG, in Asia fell to $3 per million British thermal units Thursday, down sharply from more than $20 six years ago as U.S. deliveries have swamped markets around the world.

As recently as Jan. 15, the Asian benchmark, called the Japan Korea Marker, was comfortably above $5. Around then, fear that the coronavirus outbreak would stall economic activity in the world’s second-largest economy added to other factors already pressuring prices. Those included a mild winter in Asia, ample local stockpiles and increasing deliveries from U.S. gas-liquefaction facilities.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 3, 2020

Drilling Down: ConocoPhillips ready for major round of drilling in Eagle Ford Shale*

Houston oil major ConocoPhillips is preparing for a major round of drilling in the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas.

The company’s shale arm, Burlington Resources, is seeking permission from the Texas Railroad Commission to drill 17 horizontals wells.

ConocoPhillips plans to drill 15 of the wells in Karnes County, southeast of San Antonio, and two in neighboring Live Oak County.

In the Eagle Ford, 11 wells will target the Eagleville field and four will drill the Sugarkane field. Two will target the Sugarkane field of the Austin Chalk.

 

 

Wall Street Journal – February 6, 2020

Venezuela Moves U.S. Oil Executives to Caracas Prison

Venezuelan authorities rounded up U.S. oil executives held under house arrest in Caracas Wednesday night and moved them to a prison, the top U.S. envoy to Venezuela told reporters on Thursday.

The six employees of Houston-based Citgo Petroleum Corp were removed from their homes following a White House meeting between President Trump and Venezuela’s opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, on Wednesday.

Top U.S. envoy Elliott Abrams said the six Citgo employees, who have been detained since 2017 without trial, were believed to have been transferred to Helicoide prison in Caracas.

“We condemn this cruel and indefensible action and demand their long unjust detention come to an end and they be allowed to leave as well,” Mr. Abrams said.

 

 

Nasdaq – February 6, 2020

Canada’s Suncor takes C$2.8 bln writedown, CEO cites low oil prices

The prospect of heavy oil prices remaining low for the foreseeable future caused Suncor Energy , Canada’s second-largest crude producer, to take a C$2.8 billion ($2.11 billion) write-down on its newest oil sands site, its chief executive officer said. The Fort Hills mine began producing in northern Alberta in 2018. Suncor announced the write-down on Wednesday when it reported a larger fourth-quarter loss due to impairment charges.

“When the price went down in 2014, I don’t think people realized that we literally were going to go (down) year over year over year,” Chief Executive Mark Little said Thursday on a conference call. “We’re literally bouncing around, but trading sideways. When we look at the markets we think, ‘hey we’re sitting in this same range going forward for foreseeable future.'”

 

Utilities

 

Houston Chronicle – February 6, 2020

Avangrid wind farm near Corpus Christi sends power to Austin Energy and Nike*

Avangrid, the U.S. subsidiary of the Spanish power utility Iberdrola, said it began operating a new 307-megawatt wind farm near Corpus Christi at the end of the year that will supply power to municipally owned Austin Energy and the sporting apparel company Nike.

Avangrid, which is based in Connecticut, said the Karankawa Wind Farm has 124 turbines on 18,000 acres in San Patricio and Bee counties near the Gulf Coast. The turbines will sit on land owned by 60 property owners.

Austin Energy has vowed to meet 65 percent of its energy demand with renewable sources by 2027. Nike is hoping to power all of its owned and operated facilities with renewable energy by 2025.

 

 

Forbes – February 5, 2020

Amanda Myers: States Lead The Way On Utility Regulation That Can Cut Emissions And Costs

Significant cost savings can be realized by reducing overall energy use, as well as shifting energy use so that demand throughout a given period of time is relatively flat. Energy efficiency and demand response can reduce demand at specific times to optimize the power grid, a function we term strategic demand reduction” (SDR). SDR reduces the cost to serve electricity customers by displacing the need for services traditionally provided by supply options, including substations, wires, and power plants.

SDR can deliver massive economic benefits by creating up to 200 GW in load flexibility. For reference, the power plant fleet today registers about 1,000 GW of capacity. Additionally, study after study has found clear economic benefits to utilities implementing energy efficiency programs.

Despite clear evidence of SDR’s value, utilities are just beginning to integrate SDR into their grid planning, investments, and operations, predominately due to conflicting business interest. One reason is that they depend on increasing capital investment to drive shareholder returns.

 

 

San Antonio Express News – February 5, 2020

Scott Tinker: ‘Zero Emissions’ of carbon dioxide relies on magic math*

Policies implemented in the U.S. and around the world in recent years had the well-intended goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. Data now make it clear intentions do not always result in desired outcomes. It’s time for states, corporate leaders and presidential aspirants to offer a dose of emissions honesty. Only then will we begin to address the difficult challenges of both economic stability and actual global emissions reductions. …

The Paris climate accord’s CO2 emissions reduction target for the U.S. power sector was about 1,600 million tons by 2030. Impressively, this probably will be achieved a decade early, without a federally imposed “Clean Power Plan.” No other large country can match this. It happened by substituting coal with natural gas made abundant and cheap by fracking; maintaining 20 percent nuclear output even while closing nuclear power plants; growth in renewables encouraged by state renewable portfolio standards and incentives; improved energy efficiency; and the not-so-green reality of exporting manufacturing overseas. Not perfect, but real.

 

 

Microgrid Knowledge – February 4, 2020

Rolls-Royce Explains its Qinous Acquisition and Microgrid Strategy

Rolls-Royce, which in January acquired a majority share in the energy storage provider Qinous, aims to move from a product supplier to an energy storage solutions provider, with a focus on microgrids.

Rolls-Royce acquired a 29.9% share in the company in October 2018, then in January boosted that to a 73.1% share.

Qinous now has about 50 storage projects operating mostly in the Caribbean, Sub Saharan Africa and Germany. They are small-to-medium projects for hotel resorts, hospitals and small industrial sites, said Cordelia Thielitz, vice president of business field microgrids, Rolls-Royce.

 

 

Neurologica Blog – January 24, 2020

Steven Novella: Small Modular Reactors

Here is where there is some wiggle room – it is technically possible to achieve zero carbon without nuclear, it’s just practically not feasible. Now we are getting to the point where I am pessimistic. In this countries we have two main political parties, one largely ignored the science on global warming, and the other largely ignores the science on nuclear energy. The Democratic candidates range from Sanders, who would phase out nuclear quickly, to Yang, who is the only one who would expand nuclear. The others are all weak on nuclear, and would either “wean” off, or not expand or build any new plants, letting existing plants sunset. This is the politically safe thing to say on the left, but it’s not reality.

Without saying so, they are trying to thread a very thin needle, taking the least feasible path to a carbon free energy infrastructure (hiding behind the fact that it is technically not impossible). They do this while simultaneously claiming that climate change has the highest priority. These two positions are mutually exclusive.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

San Antonio Express News – February 5, 2020

Katy residents invited to go solar together*

A group of people that included those who drive electric cars and pay miniscule electric bills if any at all gathered recently in Katy to advocate for solar energy.

Hanna Mitchell, program director, Solar United Neighbors of Texas, said, membership in the West Houston Solar Co-op is open to anyone in west Houston or Katy. “It’s cost- and commitment-free to join,” she added.

Also represented at the Jan. 30 meeting at Katy City Hall were Environment Texas and Houston Renewable Energy Group, a non-profit partner for the initiative.

Those who are interested in having solar energy, want to know more about the technology or the economics of solar energy are invited to attend upcoming workshops, she said, and then can make decisions for their home.

 

 

Windpower Engineering & Development – February 6, 2020

560-MW Broadview wind portfolio now complete in New Mexico and Texas

 

Regulatory

 

Politico – February 6, 2020

How Rick Perry waltzed past the impeachment probe

Meanwhile, Perry has settled back into Texas life and has rejoined the board of directors of Energy Transfer LP, the company that operates the Dakota Access pipeline, according to an SEC filing. He’s also returned to the political fold, offering up endorsements in Texas Republican primary contests and lending his Trump administration star power to GOP events across the country.

His upcoming attendance at a local GOP dinner in Gaston County, N.C. on Feb. 22 has helped boost ticket sales, according to county Republican Chairman Johnathan Fletcher.

Perry also continues to stick close to the Trump administration, serving as a surrogate for Trump at the Iowa caucuses Monday.

 

 

Dallas Morning News – February 5, 2020

North Texans breathed polluted air nearly 30% of 2018, report says*

Air quality in Dallas-Fort Worth reached above-normal pollution levels on 106 days in 2018, according to a new report by the Environment Texas Research and Policy Center.

North Texans were among the 108 million Americans who lived in areas that saw more than 100 days of poor air quality in 2018, according to the report.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area’s 106 days of poor air quality put the metropolitan area at No. 10 among the country’s 10 most-populated metro areas with more than 100 days of poor air quality.

The Houston area landed in the ninth spot, with 110 days with elevated air pollution.

Air pollution in North Texas came from several sources, including, gasoline, diesel, natural gas, coal and fossil fuels used for transportation, and other industrial processes, according to the report. That pollution creates ozone, which is the main component of smog, and particulate matter.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 6, 2020

‘How safe are we?’ After Gessner explosion, council members begin floating ideas for change*

For the first time, Houston City Council members publicly floated proposals Wednesday for how the city can better protect its residents from explosions like the one at Watson Grinding & Manufacturing, which killed two people and damaged hundreds of homes.

Among the ideas: tighter thresholds for reporting chemicals, more inspectors for the fire department, or requiring companies to pay for and submit their own third-party inspections.

The suggestions raised at the Public Safety and Homeland Security hearing marked the start of what Mayor Sylvester Turner has promised will be a long, transparent discussion about how the city can better balance the safety of its neighborhoods with the city’s robust chemical industry. ….

During the meeting, the chief also revealed new details about the blast. He said that Watson was combining the propylene in the 2,000-gallon storage tank with oxygen in a process to thermally coat materials like valves.

The propylene was then transferred into the factory using a system of pipes. Investigators believe the leak that caused the blast, which was ignited by an electric spark, was in one of those pipes. The storage tank was not damaged during the blast.

 

 

______________________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 6, 2020

Click on each headline to read more of the story at the source.
Asterisk * following headline indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at the source because it’s password protected.

 

Lead Stories

 

Rigzone – February 5, 2020

Natural Gas to Drive 40 Percent of 2020 US Electricity

Since 2008, the shale revolution has boomed U.S. natural gas production 60 percent to 95 Bcf/d. Long high and volatile, gas prices have become low and stable in the “shale-era.” Further, gas emits some 50 percent less CO2 than coal and has very few local pollutants to clear hazy city skies. In fact, IEA credits shale gas for the U.S. cutting emissions faster than any other country.

Thus, there has been a great rise in U.S. gas power capacity and generation. Gas is extending toward being 50 percent of capacity and will generate almost 40 percent of U.S. electricity in 2020, or double its share from a decade ago.

 

 

Dallas Morning News – February 5, 2020

GOP mega donors Tim Dunn, Farris Wilks place big bets in selected Texas House races*

On the same days, both Dunn and Farris Wilks – in one case, joined by his wife Jo Ann Wilks – donated $75,000 to Republican Jeff Cason of Bedford, who has outgoing Rep. Jonathan Stickland’s blessing to succeed him in a Mid Cities district, and to Republican Bryan Slaton of Royse City.

Slaton is in a second rematch against nine-term Rep. Dan Flynn, a Van Republican who beat him in 2018 by only 775 votes out of nearly 23,000 cast in House District 2 in Hopkins, Hunt and Van Zandt counties.

In 2016, Flynn eked out a primary victory over Slaton by an even narrower margin – 581 votes out of more than 29,000 cast. With their two checks to Slaton on Jan. 7, Dunn and the Wilkses virtually matched the $151,500 Flynn had raised this cycle, including $5,000 from Texas Forever Forward, former Speaker Joe Straus’ political action committee. Flynn was a committee chairman under Straus and again under current Speaker Dennis Bonnen. …

In District 60, which stretches from Granbury west nearly to Abilene, there’s a four-way battle to replace staunchly conservative Rep. Mike Lang, who was a favorite of the Wilks brothers, Empower Texans and Sullivan.

Jon Francis, who is Farris and Jo Ann Wilks’ son in law, raised only about $16,000 last month. But late last year, Francis pulled in a staggering $610,000. Farris and Jo Ann Wilks each chipped in $250,000. Donors include Midland oilman Kyle Stallings and Odessa oilfield construction and services entrepreneur Dick Saulsbury.

 

 

Texas Tribune – February 6, 2020

Report: Six Texas oil refineries spewing cancer-causing pollutant above federal threshold

On Thursday, the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Integrity Project — one of the two nonprofits that sued the EPA in 2012 — released an analysis of the publicly available monitoring data refineries began sending to the EPA in January 2018. It found that 10 of them had reported benzene levels above the established threshold over a one-year period that ended in September. Six of those refineries are in Texas, including three in the Houston metro area.

The Texas refinery that reported the highest concentrations of the hazardous pollutant at its fence line was Total Port Arthur Refinery in Port Arthur, with levels 148% greater than limit, according to the report. …

The Environmental Integrity Project stressed that the 10 refineries are not necessarily in violation of the law.

National View On the Same Report: Report finds 10 oil refineries with benzene above EPA’s ‘action level’

 

 

CNN/WINK (FL) – February 5, 2020

Exxon’s market value has crumbled by $184 billion

ExxonMobil used to have bragging rights as the world’s most valuable public company. Now, America’s largest oil company is in steady decline.

A stunning $184 billion has been wiped off Exxon’s market valuation since its 2014 peak. That’s equivalent to the entire value of Boeing, or nearly1.5 Teslas.

Exxon’s stock plunged to nine-year lows Tuesday after posting dreadful results that suggest a turnaround is unlikely any time soon.

The oil giant’s recent struggles are driven by a confluence of unfortunate factors — none of its major businesses are firing on all cylinders. Oil prices are in a bear market. Natural gas is dirt cheap. Margins in Exxon’s massive chemical business have crumbled. And refining is under pressure, too.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters/CNBC – February 6, 2020

Oil rises, extending gains amid optimism over China coronavirus

Oil futures rose for a second day on Thursday amid investor optimism over unconfirmed reports of possible advances in combating the coronavirus outbreak in China as a sign fuel demand may rebound in the world’s biggest oil importer.

Brent futures rose by 98 cents, or 1.8%, to $56.26 a barrel by 0311 GMT, having risen 2.4% in the last session. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures gained $1.08, or 2.1%, to $51.83 a barrel after rising 2.3% on Wednesday.

A committee that advises the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allied producers, a group known as OPEC+, is set to meet for a fourth day on Thursday. They are discussing whether to reduce oil production further to support prices after a multi-day slump over concerns about economic growth and energy demand caused by the outbreak.

 

 

Oil Price – February 5, 2020

Rising Crude Inventories Fail To Halt Oil Rally

Oil prices dipped only slightly after the Energy Information Administration reported a crude inventory build of 3.4 million barrels for the last week of January.

This compares with an inventory build of 3.5 million barrels for the previous week and analyst expectations of a 3-million-barrel increase for the week to January 31.

In gasoline, the EIA reported an inventory draw of 100,000 barrels for the last week of January. This compared with an increase of 1.2 million barrels for the previous week. Gasoline production in the seven days to January 31 averaged 9.9 million bpd, versus 9.2 million bpd a week earlier.

In distillate fuels, the authority reported a fall in stockpiles of 1.5 million barrels for last week. This compared with a 1.3-million-barrel inventory decline a week earlier. Distillate fuel production last week averaged 5 million bpd, down from a week earlier.

Refineries processed some 16 million bpd last week, the EIA also said.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 5, 2020

Asian LNG prices fall on coronavirus fears, warm winter*

Asian liquefied natural gas prices are taking two hits this winter, experts said.

On top of a warmer-than-average season that has resulted in a supply glut, S&P Global Platts reports that the coronavirus outbreak in China is slowing demand and raising fears that orders will be cut back.

Natural gas traded on the Platts JKM index for LNG markets in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan was trading at $5.30 per million British thermal units in mid-January but fell to a record low of $3.51 Monday. Winter usually brings the highest LNG prices of the year in Asia, but they are nearly half of the $6.80 recorded around this time last year.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 5, 2020

Plains sees Permian oil output growth slowing to 400,000 b/d by year end

Plains All American Pipeline expects Permian oil production growth to shrink to 400,000 b/d by the end of 2020 as drillers focus on capital discipline, executives said Tuesday.

US production growth has dropped steadily from a 1.64 million b/d year-on-year increase posted in 2018 to 1.25 million b/d in 2019, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

The recent drop in crude prices related to the coronavirus outbreak and global oil demand concerns has not prompted Plains to lower that outlook, the company said.

 

 

Reuters/Financial Post – February 5, 2020

U.S. Coast Guard says Baytown, Texas oil spill contained

A crude oil spill in Tabbs Bay near Baytown, Texas that took place on Sunday has been contained, U.S. Coast Guard officials said in a statement on Wednesday.

“An estimated 630 gallons of crude oil was discharged from an out-of-service wellhead,” officials said, adding that “approximately four miles of shoreline has been impacted and 11,760 gallons of oily-water mixture has been collected.”

 

 

Reuters – February 5, 2020

Chesapeake Energy, others sued for $1 mln in fatal Texas oil-well blast

Chesapeake Energy Corp and three oilfield service firms were sued by the daughter of a worker who suffered fatal injuries when a Texas oil well exploded in flames last month.

The wrongful death suit seeks at least $1 million from Chesapeake Energy, Forbes Energy Services, Eagle Pressure Control and Halliburton Co. It was filed this week in a Harris County District Court by Madison Hendrix, whose father Brad Hendrix died in hospital days after the blast.

Hendrix alleged that Chesapeake, the well owner, and the oilfield service companies were negligent, failed to provide a safe work environment or adequate medical care to the workers.

 

 

Law.com – February 5, 2020

Left Nothing by Tycoon Father, Albert Hill is Now on the Hook for Hefty Attorney Fees

A string of three losses over the past three months have ended with orders for litigious Texas oil and gas heir Albert G. Hill III to pay attorney fees to winning defendants at whom he lobbed lawsuits.

Hill lost his appeal in litigation with his sisters over a dispute about their father’s will. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit sent the matter back to a district court, which will determine whether his sisters are entitled to additional costs and fees, said the Feb. 4 opinion in Hill v. Washburne. ….

The siblings have been embroiled in litigation since 2007 over disputes about trusts formed by their great-grandfather, Texas oil baron H.L. Hunt, one of the world’s richest men when he died in 1974, said the opinion. This is the fifth time that parts of the dispute have reached the Fifth Circuit.

 

 

Dallas Morning News – February 5, 2020

Energy Transfer’s Kelcy Warren dishes on dealmaking, commercial to air during the Masters*

The billionaire chief executive officer of Energy Transfer LP defended the pipeline giant’s partnership structure, stood by his propensity for dealmaking and announced an upcoming commercial to air during the Masters golf tournament at an industry conference in Houston.

Donning black cowboy boots and a suit, Kelcy Warren told the Argus Americas Crude Summit that he may at some point consider shaking up Energy Transfer’s corporate structure even as he touted the benefits of the out-of-favor master limited partnership model and predicted a revival.

“We may do an up-C, and we probably will do that,” Warren said, referring to a corporate structure that typically involves a publicly traded corporation that holds an interest in a tax-advantaged limited liability company. …

Just a few months earlier, Enterprise Products Partners LP, one of Energy Transfer’s biggest rivals, said that converting to a corporation may be “inevitable” if more MLPs continue to leave the structure behind.

“There are not many of us left,” Warren said. “Do I think MLPs are dead? Absolutely not.”

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 5, 2020

Parsley Energy CEO debuts ‘shale new deal’ in appeal to Generation Z*

The oil and gas industry faces an existential crisis caused by Wall Street dissatisfaction and a belief by most teens that the industry does more harm than good, Parsley Energy CEO Matt Gallagher warned on Wednesday at the NAPE Summit in Houston.

Known for embracing social justice causes and fighting pollution that causes climate change, Generation Z is defined by Pew Research as those born between 1997 and 2012. Their views about oil and gas, as well as declining enrollment in university petroleum engineering programs, have placed that generation on a collision course with the industry, Gallagher said. …

But in introducing the “Shale New Deal,” Gallagher said the oil and gas industry could turn the tide by tackling three issues – perception, pollution and profits.

Changing perception, he said, involves oil and gas companies and employees “telling the story” of the industry and its benefits, including how oil and gas is used to create plastics, clothes, medicines and fertilizers.

 

 

San Antonio Express News – February 5, 2020

NuStar Energy earnings jumped in 2019*

NuStar Energy finished 2019 on a strong note, with earnings from continuing operations of $207 million, up 41 percent from the previous year, the company reported Wednesday.

The final 2019 results for the San-Antonio-based oil pipeline and storage company were helped by fourth-quarter net income of $78 million, up 84 percent from the same quarter in 2018.

The master limited partnership distributed $345 million to unitholders in 2019, up 14 percent from 2018. Fourth-quarter distributions amounted to $107 million, up 28 percent from the fourth quarter of 2018.

 

 

Seeking Alpha – January 28, 2020

Andrew Butter: Abrupt Reversal Of Shale Oil’s Fortunes Points To A Radical Reset Of Oil Prices

The Reuters’ 2013 poll predicted $100 Brent. It went to $50. The 2020 poll predicts $65. If history is a guide, it will go to 2 x $65 = $130.

The second shale oil boom was due to 500 frac spreads paid for in the first; now only 300 are left, and 200 were sold for scrap. No one is buying new.

The prediction of a 900,000 bbl/day surge in production in 2020 is physically impossible; when the market finds that out, there will be a reset in oil prices.

From replacement cost, assuming plentiful supplies of cheap shale oil, back to the traditional pricing dictated by parasite economics.

Schlumberger and Halliburton have given up on fracking; they are headed offshore. That’s where the action will be in 2020.

 

 

Chicago Booth Review – January 27, 2020

When an oil company comes knocking, hold an auction

Discoveries of natural gas and oil in shale formations, coupled with improved technology to remove the deposits, have created demand for property or mineral rights in places such as west Texas and rural North Dakota.

Much of that land has been barren, undeveloped, and worth little until now, so it would be easy to understand a landowner jumping on a six-figure offer from the first oil company that comes knocking. But Chicago Booth’s Thomas Covert and Boston College’s Richard L. Sweeney suggest those landowners would do well to consider formalizing the process with auctions.

A quirk in Texas law afforded Covert and Sweeney an opportunity to compare auctions against negotiated leases. Long before the discovery of oil, the Texas Constitution of 1876 allowed the state to sell millions of acres of lands, with proceeds benefiting the Texas Permanent School Fund—but buyers received only the surface rights. Following the discovery of oil, the Relinquishment Act of 1919 allowed these landowners to negotiate with oil and gas companies for drilling and mining rights on behalf of the state, with the landowners and the state splitting the revenues equally.

 

 

Los Angeles Times – January 23, 2020

Michael Hiltzik: Oil industry subpoenas aim to harass and intimidate, consumer group says

Litigation is nobody’s idea of fun (except, perhaps, lawyers), and that’s certainly true for anyone dragged into a lawsuit without being either a plaintiff or defendant.

That’s the situation facing Consumer Watchdog, the Santa Monica-based consumer group, which has spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of billable hours fending off a shower of subpoenas issued by big oil companies in connection with lawsuits to which the group isn’t a party. …

In July, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, and Phillips 66 demanded the materials and names of sources the group used to produce a series of critical reports about the industry published on its website or presented to state agencies. The material included “all COMMUNICATIONS with ANY governmental agency,” including the state energy commission and attorney general’s office, related to the industry. (Emphasis in the original.)

The subpoenas are connected to a lawsuit brought by consumers and a gas station owner asserting that Chevron, Exxon Mobil and six other companies conspired to manipulate gas prices higher, an allegation made by numerous Consumer Watchdog articles.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – January 31, 2020

Richard Jackson, Dan Lashof: We all must work together to make direct air carbon capture affordable, accessible*

One of us is a senior oil company executive; the other, a leading environmental scientist and climate advocate. So why are we writing together? Because we both strongly agree with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that direct air capture and other carbon dioxide removal technologies will be needed to meet the climate challenge and that near-term markets can help develop the technology.

The imperative for combating climate change is to dramatically curb emissions — for example, by ramping up renewable energy, boosting energy efficiency, switching to electricity in order to power cars and heat homes, halting deforestation and curbing super pollutants like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). However, the latest climate science tells us that emission reduction efforts alone aren’t enough to prevent dangerous climate change.

In their recent report, the IPCC found that large-scale removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere will also be crucial to limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 or even 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, the key goal in overall climate protection. These findings are also confirmed by other major assessments.

 

Utilities

 

Rivard Report – February 5, 2020

CPS Energy Pivots On Plan To Buy Natural Gas Power In 2020

Three months ago, CPS Energy officials were primed to begin negotiations that would lock the utility into a contract to buy natural gas power for a decade.

Instead, leaders of the municipally owned electric and gas utility are now opening up a public bidding process to consider any source of energy that could meet the utility’s needs. Opening a public bidding process signals that while the utility could eventually go with adding natural gas power, it will consider other alternatives first.

“Whatever technology meets the requirements, we’re very much open to that,” said Cris Eugster, CPS Energy chief operating officer, at the utility’s Jan. 27 board meeting. The utility is expected to open bids within six to 12 months, according to CPS Energy leadership.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 5, 2020

Our power grid is at risk: Big data and quantum keys can keep the power on*

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, which is run by a partnership that includes Texas A&M University, are working with the government and utility companies to harden our power grids and reduce widespread outages.

Using advanced mathematics, physics, engineering and artificial intelligence, and leveraging rapidly expanding data available from smart devices, we are developing computer models to better understand the threats from extreme events and reduce the risks.

Beginning with data about a specific region’s power grid, such as the status of switches and how much electric load they carry, our researchers are working to understand which lines are likely to go down, why and the impact on the surrounding area’s power supply. These data help to identify which specific lines or substations are the most important to protect.

Doing this not only gets the power back on quicker, but it helps utilities prioritize rolling out periodic upgrades, such as reinforcing or hardening utility poles, creating water-blocking barriers around substations or increasing security measures.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 5, 2020

How will batteries plug into Texas’ power grid?*

Utilities want to invest in the lucrative market, saying batteries can boost grid reliability, reduce transmission line congestion and prevent construction of new transmission lines.

But power generators are fighting to keep utilities out, arguing that energy storage is considered generation under state law that makes battery investments off limits to investor-owned utilities that could profit by storing cheap power and selling it when prices rise. And state regulators are loathe to step in, rejecting a request two years ago from AEP Texas North to build two battery storage sites and punting a more-recent request by CenterPoint Energy to add battery storage capability. …

Battery storage in Texas is relatively modest, with a few scattered projects. But proposed battery storage projects in Texas would have a capacity of almost 7,800 megawatts, more than the capacity of proposed natural gas-fired generators, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state grid manager. One megawatt provides enough electricity for about 200 homes on a hot summer day in Texas.

 

 

Dallas Morning News – February 5, 2020

Watchdog: Beware Fake websites will sell you a driver’s license, electricity and more. But you’ll pay extra.*

Two years ago, when I suggested to Public Utility Commission of Texas spokesman Andrew P. Barlow that the knock-off sites should be banned, he responded this way:

“We have a legal trademark related to Power to Choose and regularly reach out to companies attempting to leverage versions of it for their own purposes with a request to stop.

“They consistently comply. Only one time in our records did such a verbal request require a follow-up letter threatening legal action. Plus, banning sites on the Internet is not within the commission’s jurisdiction.”

So how’s that strategy working?

Two months ago, the PUC issued a news release reminding customers “to be on the lookout for sites that might be misleading visitors with names and addresses that are too close to the agency’s PowerToChoose.org website.”

Might?

PUC executive director John Paul Urban III stated in the release, “Unfortunately, some companies seemingly chose to blur the line between our site and theirs, creating confusion that is just unacceptable.”

The PUC continues to send cease-and-desist letters to these companies who are “seeking such unfair leverage,” he stated.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Wall Street Journal – February 4, 2020

Generate Capital Raises $1 Billion for Clean-Energy Investments*

Generate Capital has raised $1 billion in new funding for clean-energy projects across North America, amid growing corporate and government interest in lowering carbon emissions.

The San Francisco-based investment firm has developed a niche in funding renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure investments, from electric buses to geothermal power.

Generate said it has received backing for new investments from some of the world’s largest institutional investors, including Australian pension fund QIC and Swedish national pension fund Andra AP-fonden.

 

 

Wall Street Journal – February 4, 2020

Tesla’s Epic Rally Echoes Past Oil, Bitcoin Bubbles*

Tesla TSLA 13.73% Inc.’s shares rose 14% Tuesday to $887.06. They have surged 56% in the past week and have nearly quadrupled since early October.

Those outsize gains don’t match Tesla’s more modest fundamentals, which include annual losses. They do, however, resemble any number of other assets that have experienced prolonged bubbles, including shares of Qualcomm Inc. and other tech stocks of the dot-com era; oil in 2008; and bitcoin in 2017.

“I’m not saying this is the top,” said Peter Cecchini, the chief market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald. “I don’t have a target [price], or a view on where it goes from here. It just feels like other bubbles.”

 

Regulatory

 

Bloomberg News – February 5, 2020

California Climate Cases Against Big Oil Go Before Judges*

[“A federal appeals court seemed inclined Wednesday to allow some California cities and counties to sue oil companies for allegedly deceiving the public for decades about their industry’s impact on greenhouse gases and climate change.” — San Francisco Chronicle]

Industry and local government lawyers squared off in another high-stakes climate case Wednesday, arguing over whether California cities and counties can wage their legal fight against the oil and gas industry in state court.

The crux of the debate before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is whether lawsuits from San Francisco, Oakland, San Mateo County, and others raise sweeping claims that are beyond state courts’ jurisdiction, or raise quintessential local arguments that belong at that level.

“Those sorts of interstate claims, state law can’t apply,” industry lawyer Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, told the court, referring to allegations linked to the companies’ greenhouse gas emissions.

 

 

Texas Public Radio – February 5, 2020

Canadian Court Clears The Way For Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion

Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal has cleared the way for a major expansion to the Trans Mountain Pipeline by ruling against four different challenges from First Nations groups concerned about the environmental impacts of the project.

The Trans Mountain expansion, which would add more than 600 miles to the pipeline and increase its capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000, has been mired in controversy and legal battles since Canada’s cabinet first approved the project in 2016.

 

__________________________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 5, 2020

Click on each headline to read more of the story at the source.
Asterisk * following headline indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at the source because it’s password protected.

 

Lead Stories

 

Dallas Business Journal – February 4, 2020

Supreme Court of Texas: Emails do not equal contracts (at least not here)*

A series of emails between an energy company and landowners over pricing and other terms of a pipeline construction easement fail to constitute a written, enforceable contract, the Texas Supreme Court said Friday.

The decision ends an effort by landowners in Lavaca and Dewitt Counties to obtain compensation from Copano Energy LLC for a proposed pipeline that was never built.

The case offered the court an opportunity to discuss the use of email as a form of written communication ubiquitous in modern business transactions. Justice Jimmy Blacklock, in his unanimous opinion, noted that email “is used by nearly everyone for nearly every type of communication, from the flippantly inconsequential to the bindingly formal.”

 

 

Bloomberg News – February 3, 2020

Virus Jolts China Economy, Forcing Rethink on Almost Everything*

China is preparing steps to adjust to a slower rate of economic growth as the coronavirus outbreak shows few signs of abating. Officials are evaluating whether to soften the economic-growth target for 2020, while state-owned liquefied natural gas importers are considering declaring themselves unable to fulfill some obligations on cargo deliveries — known as force majeure — according to people familiar with the matter. ….

Oil consumption in China, the world’s the top crude importer and second-biggest LNG buyer, is already estimated to have dropped by 20%, which is expected to cause fuel makers to cut back production and seek to delay some oil shipments. A decline in gas demand is similarly forcing buyers to consider postponing deliveries to cope with high inventories.

LNG importers including China National Offshore Oil Corp. are still assessing the impact on consumption and haven’t decided yet whether to make the declarations, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information isn’t public. Firms declare force majeure when they’re unable to meet contractual obligations for reason beyond their control.

CNOOC and PetroChina Co. have begun drafting the necessary documents to issue the declarations, in case they decide to move ahead, said the people. Sinopec Corp. is also considering force majeure.

 

 

Houston Chronicle/Oil & Gas 360 – February 4, 2020

ConocoPhillips’ fourth-quarter profit plunges by 60%

ConocoPhillips’ fourth-quarter profit declined by more than 60 percent, to $720 million from $1.9 billion in the same period last year, amid weaker oil prices and production outputs.

Revenue during the quarter dropped by more than 20 percent to $8.1 billion.

For the full year, net earnings jumped 15 percent to $7.2 billion compared with $6.3 billion in 2018.

The Houston oil and gas producer still won over many on Wall Street late last year by hiking dividend payments to shareholders and with the release of a 10-year outlook that would rein in spending throughout the new decade.

 

 

El Paso Times – February 4, 2020

City Council approves El Paso Electric franchise transfer to JPMorgan-tied investment fund

El Paso City Council on Tuesday approved transferring El Paso Electric’s city franchise to the JPMorgan Chase-tied Infrastructure Investments Fund, or IIF, which is in the process of buying the 117-year-old utility.

The approval came after a 3 ½- hour public hearing in which many members of the Sunrise El Paso environmental group, and Texas Sen. Jose Rodriguez asked the transfer be delayed.

City Reps. Peter Svarzbein and Alexsandra Anello voted against the transfer and Rep. Isabel Salcido abstained. Rep. Sam Morgan was not at the meeting.

The franchise transfer is one of several steps IIF and El Paso Electric need to complete the $4.3 billion sale. IIF agreed in June to buy the utility.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters – February 5, 2020

Oil prices climb as OPEC, allies weigh output cuts to cushion coronavirus impact

Oil prices rose on Wednesday, reversing out of a 1% slump in the previous session, boosted by producers weighing further output cuts to counter a potential squeeze on global oil demand resulting from China’s fast-spreading coronavirus.

Brent crude oil futures were up 44 cents, or 0.8%, to $54.40 a barrel by 0127 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 42 cents or 0.9% to $50.03 a barrel.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies led by Russia, a group known as OPEC+, weighed the impact on global oil demand, and economic growth, of the coronavirus outbreak at a meeting on Tuesday, hearing from China’s envoy to the United Nations in Vienna.

 

 

Houston Business Journal – February 3, 2020

Dallas-based energy co. emerges from bankruptcy, moving to Houston*

Southcross Energy Partners LLC has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with a plan to move its headquarters from Dallas to Houston.

The move is expected to be complete before the end of the first quarter, according to a Feb. 3 press release. The company’s Houston office is at 750 Town and Country Blvd., according to its website.

Other changes for the company include moving from a master limited partnership structure to an LLC, becoming a privately held company, naming a new board of directors and announcing the CEO’s departure.

Southcross Energy Partners LP and its subsidiaries originally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2019. At the time, the main filing listed $610.45 million of total assets and $614.26 million of total debts for the MLP.

 

 

Reuters – February 4, 2020

Plains All American oil pipeline volumes gets boost from Cactus II

Plains All American Pipeline LP (PAA.N) said on Tuesday crude volumes on its Permian basin systems rose during the fourth quarter, thanks in part to higher flows on the Cactus II pipeline, which went into service in August.

However, transportation segment earnings were down compared to the previous quarter, primarily due to lower long-haul movements on the Basin, Bridgetex and Red River Pipeline systems, Plains said during its earnings call.

Plains said the Wink-to-Webster Pipeline, a joint venture among affiliates of Exxon Mobil Corp, Plains All American, MPLX LP, and Delek US among others, is expected to be in service during the first half of 2021.

 

 

Wall Street Journal – February 4, 2020

BP Raises Dividend, Boosts Divestment Targets*

BP BP 3.60% PLC raised its dividend on Tuesday at the same time as reporting a small loss and extending its planned asset sales by an additional $5 billion, joining other oil giants in shedding assets to help maintain shareholder returns.

Last week, Royal Dutch Shell PLC also beefed up its pipeline of divestments and slowed spending on its share buyback program amid weaker earnings. And in the U.S., Texas energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp. has a continuing divestment program targeting the sale of $15 billion worth of assets by 2021.

The wave of divestitures comes as a combination of lower energy prices and weaker refining and chemical margins are hurting the sector’s profitability.

BP announced an expanded plan to divest $15 billion of assets by mid-2021, having previously targeted $10 billion in asset sales by the end of 2020. The company has already unloaded $9.4 billion in assets since the start of 2019.

 

 

Argus Media – February 4, 2020

Crude Summit: Hess warns energy investments too low

The global oil and gas industry is facing long-term under-investment, posing a growing challenge to meet future energy demand, Hess chief executive John Hess said today.

Investments made now will help meet future demand as energy projects have a long lead time. But five years of a bear market and a new focus on investor returns has cut global capital spending to about $420bn a year, well short of the $600mn needed annually to meet demand, the head of the US independent said in a keynote address to the Argus Americas Crude Summit in Houston, Texas.

“There has been a big shift in investor sentiment, from drill baby drill to show me the money,” Hess said.

Related: Crude Summit: Tillerson sees long road for fossil fuels

Note: The Dallas Morning News quotes Tillerson as saying that while climate change “is a very serious matter,” — “With respect to our ability to influence it, I think that’s still an open question,” Tillerson said Tuesday at the Argus Americas Crude Summit. “Our belief in the ability to influence it is based upon some very, very complicated climate models that have very wide outcomes.”

 

 

San Antonio Express News – February 3, 2020

Prosecutor: Alfaro spent investor cash on Lamborghini, Spurs tickets*

Brian Alfaro used investors’ money intended to purchase ownership interests in oil and gas wells to buy a more than $500,000 Lamborghini and season tickets to the Spurs, a federal prosecutor told jurors during the start of the San Antonio oilman’s fraud trial Monday.

Alfaro, 51, is charged with seven counts of mail fraud for allegedly misusing investor money “to support his extravagant lifestyle,” according to the indictment. It originally contained eight counts, but prosecutors dropped one after an investor died just before Christmas. Alfaro has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Alfaro’s purchases occurred while vendors working at his oil wells went unpaid, Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Surovic said during his opening statement.

 

 

Beaumont Enterprise – February 4, 2020

BJ Services testing natural gas-fired turbine for frac crews in Haynesville Shale

Tomball oilfield service company BJ Services is testing a new turbine in the Haynesville Shale that can use natural gas from a drilling site to provide power to hydraulic fracturing crews.

BJ Services said Tuesday that its new Titan turbine-powered hydraulic fracturing pump is being field tested by a crew in the East Texas shale play.

Touted as a replacement for diesel-powered frac pumps, the natural gas-fired Titan was designed to produce lower greenhouse gas emissions along with lower maintenance costs, improved mobility and less noise.

 

 

Reuters – January 29, 2020

Yemen’s Houthis say they fired at Aramco, other Saudi targets

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement said on Wednesday it had fired rocket and drone strikes at Saudi targets including Aramco oil facilities, the group’s first claim of such attacks since it offered to halt them four months ago.

Few details were given of the precise nature and timing of the attacks, and there was no immediate confirmation from the Saudi authorities of any strikes.

In comments reported by Houthi-run Al Masirah TV, Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saria said more than 15 “operations” had been carried out in the past week inside Saudi Arabia in retaliation for an escalation in air strikes.

 

 

Forbes – January 22, 2020

Christopher Helman: How Carl Icahn Got In A Legal Spat With This Natural Gas Tycoon Over A $30 Billion LNG Export Terminal

When billionaire investor Carl Icahn took over LNG exporter Cheniere Energy, he fired its CEO Charif Souki and canceled his expensive pet projects. Souki decided to build anyway, and launched his new company, Tellurian Energy, to construct the $30 billion megaterminal Driftwood LNG. Naturally, Cheniere is suing.

Trial is set to begin early February in Harris County District Court in Houston in a case that pits billionaire corporate raider Carl Icahn, 83, against Charif Souki, the trailblazing tycoon of liquefied natural gas.

Icahn and Souki, 66, had tangled back in 2015 when the investor acquired a 15% stake in Cheniere Energy, where Souki was CEO. Icahn got two seats on the board and soon had Souki fired. “In 24 hours they decided to stop all the projects, fire me and discontinue assets that would have been extremely valuable today,” Souki recalls.

 

 

 

Houston Chronicle – January 29, 2020

Rethinking Water: New technology promises to disrupt oil field wastewater industry*

Gradiant Energy Services CEO Danny Jimenez wants to change how the oil and natural gas industry handles the hundreds of millions of gallons of wastewater being produced each day. ….

Gradiant’s latest offering takes a radically different and potentially industry-disruptive approach. The company’s Carrier Gas Concentration, or CGC, technology receives wastewater and filters out oil, natural gas, chemicals and other contaminants. The water is heated to the point of evaporation and released as steam while everything else is left behind as a super-concentrated brine that can either be disposed of or used to plug wells at the end of their life. ….

Still working on landing long-term customers, Gradiant is marketing the evaporation technology as ideal for exploration and production companies operating in remote areas where trucking, pipeline and disposal costs are high. Evaporation, Jimenez said, lowers costs for operators by reducing the volume of wastewater that needs to be trucked or pipelined and, more importantly, disposed of.

 

Utilities

 

El Paso Times – February 4, 2020

Texas senator, environmental group urge delay in El Paso Electric franchise transfer

Texas Sen. José Rodriguez, D-El Paso, and the Sunrise El Paso environmental group want El Paso City Council to delay transferring El Paso Electric’s city franchise, which is needed for the utility’s pending sale to be completed.

City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing Tuesday and then vote during its regular council meeting on transferring the utility’s electric franchise to the JPMorgan Chase-tied Infrastructure Investments Fund, or IIF, with a few changes to the franchise agreement.

The fund agreed in June to buy El Paso Electric for $4.3 billion, including assuming $1.5 billion in El Paso Electric debt.

 

 

Auginix – February 4, 2020

CPS Energy exploring the use of Augmented Reality hardware for front line workers

San Antonio based CPS Energy, the largest municipally owned energy utility in the US providing both natural gas and electric services, has expressed its interest in exploring the use of wearable augmented reality hardware for its front line workers.

The Texas-based utility company serves more than 765,000 electric customers and 335,000 natural gas customers in and around San Antonio (1,515 square mile service area). The fact that the US’ largest municipal utility company is looking into the use of augmented reality hardware for its front line staff, is further proof that AR technology is likely to become more common place within workforces across the globe over the coming decade.

 

 

S&P Global Platts – February 4, 2020

More than 645 MW of solar capacity nears commercial operation in ERCOT

More than 645 MW of solar capacity in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas neared commercial operation in January, which will boost the state’s solar nameplate capacity by more than 28% when that capacity comes online, though solar projects totaling 380 MW were canceled in the month, a new report shows.

“Strong solar output could easily put a damper on super-peak pricing, but also runs the risk of increasing volatility, especially in instances of high [forced generation] outages,” Travis Whalen, a power market analyst at S&P Global Platts Analytics, said Tuesday.

 

 

Fortune – February 4, 2020

The U.S. may soon have the world’s oldest nuclear power plants

Bonnie Rippingille looked out at the wisps of steam curling from the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant across Biscayne Bay with a sense of dread. In December federal regulators approved Florida Power & Light Co.’s request to let the facility’s twin nuclear reactions remain in operation for another 20 years beyond the end of their current licenses. By that point they’ll be 80, making them the oldest reactors in operation anywhere in the world.

“That’s too old,” said Rippingille, a lawyer and retired Miami-Dade County judge who was wearing a blue print shirt with white sea turtles on it. “They weren’t designed for this purpose.”

With backing from the Trump administration, utilities across the nation are preparing to follow suit, seeking permission to extend the life of reactors built in the 1970s to the 2050s as they run up against the end of their 60-year licenses.

 

 

Daily Energy Insider – February 4, 2020

Smart grid provider GridBeyond opens office in Houston

Distributed Energy Resource Management – a leading European smart grid platform provider — opened its first U.S. office in Houston.

The subsidiary, called GridBeyond, will focus energy markets throughout the United States, starting with the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and PJM Interconnection energy markets.

GridBeyond brings an AI-powered platform called Point, which connects grid operators, C&I operational load, power suppliers and PPA providers, distributed generation, energy storage, E.V. charging, and utilities to support the balancing of demand and supply on the grid.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

Kallanish Energy – February 4, 2020

US wind industry experiences 3rd-strongest year ever*

The U.S. wind industry experienced its third-strongest year on record in 2019, as developers added 9,143 megawatts of wind power capacity to the grid – up 20% from 2018, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reports.

The industry had its fourth-strongest quarter on record in the final three months of 2019, installing 5,746 MW of new wind projects, Kallanish Energy finds.

There are now 105,583 MW of wind energy operating in the U.S., with nearly 60,000 wind turbines spinning across 41 states and two U.S. territories.

 

Regulatory

 

San Antonio Express News – February 4, 2020

Robert Henneke: A step back for property rights*

Property rights in Texas suffered a setback recently when the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department approved an unprecedented expansion of regulatory power under the state’s endangered and threatened species laws.

Even though the proposal was opposed by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Texas Farm Bureau, and written concerns were expressed by Texas Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian, TPWD barreled forward to add 45 species to the state threatened list — based on flawed data and unreliable, incomplete information.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s proposal, published in the Texas Register on Dec. 20, would expand the number of state-threatened species to 147. Being listed carries with it a wide array of regulations, including restrictions on hunting, possessing, transporting, collecting or selling these species. Those who fail to observe these restrictions face not only criminal fines but, in some cases, jail time.

 

 

Drilled News – February 4, 2020

Chevron Seeks to Move All Climate Lawsuits to Federal Courts

Chevron attorney Ted Boutrous has sent letters to three appellate courts, arguing that the recent dismissal of the landmark youth climate case, Juliana v. United States, supports the argument by fossil fuel companies that all climate liability suits belong in federal court and should be similarly dismissed.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month dismissed Juliana, but the case was significantly different from the climate liability cases Boutrous argues should be dismissed on the same grounds. In Juliana, the young plaintiffs sued the U.S. government for violating their rights by exacerbating climate change. The Ninth Circuit panel ruled they did not have standing because climate change cannot be addressed through the judicial branch of government and instead must be addressed by the executive and legislative branches.

 

___________________________

 

The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 4, 2020

Click on each headline to read more of the story at the source.
Asterisk * following headline indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at the source because it’s password protected.

 

Lead Stories

 

Financial Post – February 3, 2020

Oil prices could plunge by $18, Citi warns, as investors struggle to assess coronavirus fallout

Public health officials still haven’t been able to determine what kind of impact the coronavirus will have globally and it’s clear by how they’re trading that investors are struggling to do the same. …

Citing the impact the coronavirus has had on the global economic outlook, on Monday, Edward Morse, Citigroup Inc.’s global head of commodities research, deeply slashed his short and mid-term price targets on Brent Crude for 2020. Morse cut his first-quarter forecast to US$54 from US$69 and his second-quarter target to US$50 from US$68. Morse sees prices recovering slightly in the third-quarter and hitting US$53, but that’s still US$10 down from his original target.

In the next three months, he said, Brent prices could fall as low as US$47 per barrel.

“The large oil-price revision comes from the view now that this outbreak could have a longer and deeper demand impact than earlier thought, though there remains plenty of uncertainty, with much still depending on how far the virus spreads,” Morse said.

Related: A Drop In Air Travel Due To The Coronavirus Is Slowing The Energy Market

 

 

Las Cruces Sun News (NM) – February 3, 2020

Primer: What does El Paso Electric sale mean for customers, community?

Officials with J.P. Morgan Investment Management say the company is only an investment adviser to IIF, and that IIF is not an affiliate of JPMorgan. The company’s Infrastructure Investments Group helps manage 19 companies that IIF owns and operates and employees of the J.P. Morgan group sit on IIF company boards. El Paso Electric would be IIF’s 20th company

Public Citizen, a liberal, national consumer watchdog organization, the Sunrise El Paso environmental group, U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, Texas Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, and several consultants hired to review the sale terms for the city of El Paso and others have raised questions and concerns about JPMorgan’s ties to IIF.

Tyson Slocum, Energy Program director for Public Citizen, has asserted that having JPMorgan involved in El Paso Electric may not be good for the company or El Paso because it has competing investments and also has a troubled track record in the electric market. In a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission filing, IIF gave convoluted replies to the agency’s questions about IIF’s ownership structure.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 3, 2020

Automakers all in on electric cars, even as sales dip

With slumping global sales and fading government subsidies, the electric vehicle market might appear to be stumbling before it ever really got started.

Just don’t try telling that to auto manufacturers, who are only increasing their commitment to a technology that for now occupies a small fraction of a world market dominated by gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles. Witness the Super Bowl.

During Sunday’s game, when a 30-second spot could top $5 million, General Motors, Porsche and Audi all ran ads touting their new electric vehicle — using everything from Game of Thrones to climate change references to sell the concept of a cleaner transportation future.

 

 

Wall Street Journal – February 3, 2020

The New Threat to Energy-Company Bonds: Virus Fears

The economic threat posed by the coronavirus is helping erode demand for energy-company debt just weeks after bond issuance in the sector surged, highlighting the virus’s far-reaching effects on companies and financial markets.

Early last month, a surprise rally in the debt of energy companies allowed oil and gas businesses to issue the largest amount of speculative-grade bonds in one week since just before oil prices crashed in the fall of 2014.

No sooner had companies issued the bonds, however, than fears that the coronavirus will slow global growth sapped appetite for riskier debt—underscoring the good timing of the businesses that were able to push out looming debt payments but heightening the challenges for those that still need financing.

 

Oil & Gas

 

CNBC – February 3, 2020

Oil prices rebound from China virus slump amid ginger recovery across markets

Oil prices rose on Tuesday, matching moves in other financial markets as investors regained calm after Monday’s sharp sell-off on fears of the impact of the China coronavirus on demand for fuel sent crude to its lowest level in more than a year.

Brent crude was at $54.66 a barrel by 0227 GMT, up 21 cents, or nearly 0.4%, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up 32 cents, or 0.6%, at $50.43 a barrel.

Both Brent and WTI are currently down by more than 20% from this year’s peak on Jan. 8.

“The rebound of crude oil prices reflects improved trading sentiment (across the Asia-Pacific region), as concerns over the coronavirus outbreak alleviated somewhat. The Asian equity market also recovered from yesterday’s losses,” said Margaret Yang, market analyst at CMC Markets.

 

 

Reuters – February 3, 2020

Abandoned oil well most likely source of crude staining Texas port

An abandoned oil well outside of Houston is likely the source of crude oil leaking into a Texas bay near the largest U.S. petrochemical port, the state’s energy regulator and an oil company executive said on Monday.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Gaither Petroleum Corp and state and emergency workers were attempting to contain and retrieve crude oil found on Sunday in Tabbs Bay off the Houston Ship Channel, and secure the source of the leak, officials said.

About 630 gallons of crude leaked into the bay from an out-of-service well, according to a Coast Guard statement on Monday evening. The cause of the leak was not yet known, it said.

 

 

Houston Chroncile – February 3, 2020

Feds to probe fatal Chesapeake Energy oil well accident*

Federal officials are stepping into an investigation of an accident at a Chesapeake Energy oil well that left three men dead and another hospitalized.

In a Monday statement, the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board announced it has deployed a team to investigate the fatal Jan. 30 accident in Burleson County that killed three workers and left one hospitalized.

Known as the CSB, the federal agency was launched in 1998 to investigate accidents and to determine the conditions and circumstances that led up to them. As part of its work, the agency identifies the cause or causes of accidents so that similar events might be prevented.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – January 31, 2020

Reporter’s notebook: Is drilling renaissance ahead for the Gulf?

As we approach the 10-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in April, the head of the federal government’s offshore safety agency is hoping for a renaissance of oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Scott Angelle, director of the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, led the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources when the blowout of BP’s Macondo well triggered an explosion, resulting in the deaths of 11 men and the spewing of some 3.2 million barrels of oil into the Gulf. …

“Since the Macondo event, there’s been a lot of continuous improvements,” Angelle said. “The data shows that when you compare onshore to off, the offshore is clearly the safer industry.”

Angelle is helping to oversee a Gulf oil and gas industry that is producing more oil than ever — about 2 million barrels of crude per day — but with far fewer companies and much less drilling activity than in previous decades.

 

 

CNBC – February 3, 2020

BP full-year net profit falls 21% on weak oil and gas prices

Energy giant BP reported better-than-expected full-year net profit on Tuesday, outperforming analyst expectations despite lower oil and gas prices.

The U.K.-based oil and gas company posted full-year underlying replacement cost profit, used as a proxy for net profit, of $10 billion in 2019. That compared with $12.7 billion full-year net profit in 2018, reflecting a year-on-year fall of 21%.

Analysts had expected full-year net profit to come in at $9.7 billion in 2019, according to data from Refinitiv.

“BP is performing well, with safe and reliable operations, continued strategic progress and strong cash delivery,” Bob Dudley, CEO of BP, said in a statement.

 

 

Reuters – February 3, 2020

Papua New Guinea LNG expansion plans in limbo after talks collapse

Plans to double gas exports from Papua New Guinea within the next four years are in doubt after the government walked away from talks with Exxon Mobil Corp on a key gas project needed for the $13 billion expansion.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape on Friday called off negotiations with Exxon on the P’nyang field, blaming the energy giant for failing to budge on a proposed deal that was “out of the money”.

The expansion of liquefied natural gas exports is crucial for the impoverished Pacific nation, but is vying with several proposed LNG projects in Australia, Mozambique, Qatar, Russia and the United States.

 

 

Rigzone – January 31, 2020

Regional LNG Finds Growing Demand off the Pipeline Grid

While massive world-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects around the coast of North America have dominated headlines, smaller-scale regional LNG is also growing quickly. There are at least five operations, four fixed facilities in various stages of commercialization, and one using truck-mounted Cryobox liquefaction units to monetize stranded gas.

World-scale liquefaction trains load into large specialized tanker ships. Regional LNG liquefaction plants ship LNG in intermodal tank containers, also known as ISO tanks. Some also have facilities for loading tank trucks and rail cars, and one also does direct bunkering of LNG for ship fuel.

 

 

Reuters – February 3, 2020

U.S. oil fields flared and vented more natural gas again in 2019: data

The U.S. drilling industry flared or vented more natural gas in 2019 for the third year in a row, as soaring production in Texas, New Mexico, and North Dakota overwhelmed regulatory efforts to curb the practice, according to state data and independent research estimates.

Flaring, or deliberately burning gas produced as a byproduct to oil, can worsen climate change by releasing carbon dioxide. Venting releases unburned methane, which is many times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Oil drillers tend to flare or vent gas when they lack pipelines to move it to market, or prices are too low to make transporting it worthwhile. ….

In the Permian Basin underlying Texas and New Mexico, the largest U.S. shale basin, flaring and venting totaled about 293.2 billion cubic feet last year, according to state regulatory data compiled by independent energy researcher Rystad – up about 7% from 2018. In North Dakota’s huge Bakken oil field, meanwhile, the volume was just over 200 Bcf, up 36% from 2018, Rystad said.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 3, 2020

Former Cheniere executive now at helm of LNG export project in Mexico*

Former Cheniere Energy executive Doug Shanda is now at the helm of a Houston company seeking to build a liquefied natural gas export terminal along the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

In a Monday morning statement, Houston liquefied natural gas company Mexico Pacific Limited announced that Shanda has been named president and CEO. Shanda takes the reins of the company from Josh Loftus, a former GE Oil & Gas executive who had served as president since May 2018.

Mexico Pacific Limited is seeking to build an natural gas liquefaction plant and export terminal in Puerto Libertad, Sonora. The proposed facility would receive low-cost natural gas from the Waha Hub in the Permian Basin of West Texas through an already existing cross-border pipeline.

 

 

Carlsbad Current Argus – January 28, 2020

Oil and gas industry eyeing Chaves County in upcoming oil and gas land auction*

A sale of public land by the federal government would target Chaves County for oil and gas development as the industry booms throughout southeast New Mexico.

The Bureau of Land Management announced a two-week public comment period from Jan. 27 to Feb. 7 for its May 21 oil and gas lease sale, that would see the agency lease public lands nominated by industry leaders to oil and gas companies for drilling and other extraction operations.

There were 102 total parcels proposed for the sale in New Mexico and Texas, read a BLM news release, for a total of 46,365 acres.

 

 

Washington County Observer Reporter (PA) – January 30, 2020

Range signs contract for all-electric fracking fleet

The all-electric fracking fleet that Range Resources Corp. was testing at an Allegheny County, PA, well site is now under contract.

Range, a top 10 natural gas producer nationwide, announced Wednesday that it has partnered with U.S. Well Services Inc. for its Clean Fleet technology. The contract states the agreement will run on a “dedicated basis into 2021,” meaning at least one year.

“This new fleet is 100% powered by our own natural gas,” said Mark Windle, spokesman for Range, which is based in Fort Worth, Texas, and has regional headquarters at Southpointe.

 

 

Wall Street Journal – January 29, 2020

Trump Administration Wants Philadelphia Energy Site to Remain a Refinery

The Trump administration is voicing support for keeping oil refining operations at a Philadelphia Energy Solutions site that could soon be sold in bankruptcy court to a new owner expected to turn the property into a mixed-use development.

The oil refiner filed for bankruptcy last year just weeks after explosions at the 1,300-acre plant on the outskirts of downtown Philadelphia rocked nearby homes.

Peter Navarro, director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he would “love” the property to remain a refinery.

 

 

Oil Price – January 21, 2020

Nick Cunningham: The “Twin Threats” Facing Big Oil

The global oil and gas industry is facing the “twin threats” of the loss of profitability and the loss of social acceptability as the climate crisis continues to worsen. The industry is not adequately responding to either of those threats, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

“Oil and gas companies have been proficient at delivering the fuels that form the bedrock of today’s energy system; the question that they now face is whether they can help deliver climate solutions,” the IEA said.

The report, whose publication was timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, critiques the oil industry for not doing enough to plan for the transition. The IEA said that companies are spending only about 1 percent of their capex on anything outside of their core oil and gas strategy. Even the companies doing the most are only spending about 5 percent of their budgets on non-oil and gas investments.

 

 

Offshore Technology – January 20, 2020

Oilfield Helping Hands – how charity starts at home for the oil sector

Despite the headlines of a sector obsessed with self-interest, the oil industry has the capacity for compassion. We talk with Oilfield Helping Hands’ national president, Bill Markus, about the work it does to support industry colleagues.

 

Utilities

 

Houston Chronicle – February 3, 2020

CenterPoint sheds infrastructure operations to focus on utility business

CenterPoint Energy, the Houston-based regulated utility, said Monday it will sell its infrastructure services business to Atlanta-based infrastructure company PowerTeam Services for $850 million in cash.

CenterPoint will use the money from the sale of natural gas distribution and transmission pipeline contracting firms Miller Pipeline and Minnesota Limited to repay a portion of its outstanding debt. The sale also will streamline CenterPoint’s operations so the company can focus on its core utility businesses. CenterPoint predicts that the contribution from utility earnings will increase to more than 80 percent over the next few years.

 

 

BDaily News (UK) – February 3, 2020

London energy provider charged up for US expansion

A London-based energy company is expanding into the US with the opening of its first American office.

GridBeyond, which announced the expansion of its workforce last week, has opened the new office in Houston, Texas, and will initially focus on the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas and PJM Interconnection.

The company said that its ‘Point’ platform, which connects grid operators, C&I operational load, power suppliers and PPA providers, distributed generation, energy storage, EV charging and utilities, will enhance the benefits that American customers will see.

 

 

Utility Dive – February 3, 2020

Utility Innovation: How ConEd and National Grid are experimenting with energy storage in New York

New York has one of the most aggressive energy storage targets in the country — originally set at 1.5 GW by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in June 2018 and later bumped to 3 GW by 2030 in December of that year. All this falls under the state’s comprehensive Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) plan, which includes energy efficiency, storage and electric vehicle targets.

The target pushes the state’s six investor-owned utilities to procure 10 MW of storage each by the end of 2022, except Consolidated Edison, which must adopt at least 300 MW by that time.

Less than three years away from that short-term goal, two of New York’s major investor-owned utilities — ConEd and National Grid — spoke at this year’s Distributech conference in San Antonio, Texas, about the lessons learned thus far in storage deployment.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

S&P Global Platts – January 31, 2020

Wind generation installations to hit record 15.2 GW in 2020: Wood Mackenzie

The US is likely to build 15.2 GW of wind generation in 2020, a Wood Mackenzie consultant maintains, led by growth in the Midwest, West and in Texas, which industry observers said Friday would likely result in lower prices in heavy wind areas but increased price volatility.

The federal $23/MWh production tax credit is a major factor in 2020’s boom in construction, said Dan Shreve, Wood Mackenzie’s head of global wind energy research, during a webinar Thursday entitled, “A New Chapter for the North American Wind Market.”

 

 

S&P Global Platts – January 24, 2020

Fuel cell EVs set to top 13 million by 2030 as hydrogen scales up: Hydrogen Council

Global deployment of fuel cell electric vehicles powered by hydrogen could top 13 million by 2030 from current levels of around 16,000 as the market scales up and costs go down, according to the Hydrogen Council.

Commercial fuel cell vehicles, including trucks, light commercial vehicles and buses, could meanwhile top 1 million from current levels of around 1,600 globally, the council said.

Hydrogen refueling stations also would exceed 10,000 by the end of the decade, up from 407 globally now, according to the council.

 

Regulatory

 

San Antonio Express News – February 1, 2020

Cuellar claps back at Cisneros for million-plus ‘dark money’ help

A challenger to longtime moderate Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar in South Texas who recently went after the incumbent for getting support from a group with undisclosed donors has also benefited from such a group, newly reported campaign finance data shows.

Super PAC Texas Forward, which is affiliated with EMILY’s List, a group that backs Democratic candidates who support abortion rights, paid nearly $1.2 million for ads from Screen Strategies Media supporting progressive Democrat Jessica Cisneros, who is Cuellar’s lone opponent in the primary election. Cisneros’ campaign and representatives of Texas Forward did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 2, 2020

Chris Tomlinson: Oil industry insider takes a dangerous stand on climate change*

Yet when it comes to climate change, oil and gas investment banker Bobby Tudor is firmly planting his feet there, taking a radically moderate stance that will win him few friends but perhaps long-term respect.

“The nature of the dialogue and debate around (cutting carbon emissions) needs to be more rationally grounded in the reality of the challenges and the economic costs associated with doing it quickly, and the economic cost and existential threat associated with not doing it,” Tudor said.

Few people understand the oil and gas business better than Tudor, who is chairman and founder of Tudor, Pickering and Holt, an influential Houston-based investment firm. His team advises companies on mergers and acquisitions, which gives them deep insight into the industry.

 

 

Reuters – January 31, 2020

Iowa’s anger over Trump’s ethanol policy gives Democrats opening

In a speech last month to farmers in Texas, President Donald Trump won applause as he talked up recent US trade agreements. When he tried to boast of his administration’s ethanol policy, however, he was met with silence.

Iowa swung sharply to Trump’s Republicans in the 2016 presidential election, but Democrats hope anger over a relaxation of rules mandating use of ethanol by U.S. refineries could put the corn-producing state in the win column this year.

“I think they haven’t solved the farmers’ problems in terms of insuring farmers will have a consistent market for the ethanol that they produce,” said Wayne Moyer, a political science professor at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa. “It’s a sore spot.”

 

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The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 3, 2020

Click on each headline to read more of the story at the source.
Asterisk * following headline indicates news content may be limited or unavailable at the source because it’s password protected.

 

Lead Stories

 

Houston Chronicle – February 1, 2020

Enterprise prevails in court battle of Texas pipeline giants*

Pipeline giant Enterprise Products Partners prevailed in its years-long court battle against Dallas rival Energy Transfer over whether Enterprise reneged on a joint venture project, the Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The lawsuit dates back to 2011 when Houston-based Enterprise backed out of plans to build a 50-50 pipeline project with Energy Transfer, tentatively called the “Double E” pipeline, which would carry Canadian and Bakken shale crude oil from an Oklahoma storage hub to the Texas Gulf Coast near Houston. …

Energy Transfer sued Enterprise as soon as it backed out in 2011. Enterprise claimed it legally backed out of a non-binding agreement, while Energy Transfer said it was wrongly misled and should be awarded damages.

A Dallas jury initially awarded Energy Transfer $535 million in damages in 2014, deciding that Enterprise breached its fiduciary duties. But that verdict was overturned on an appeal.

So the case went to the Texas Supreme Court last year and, on Friday, the court agreed with the appellate ruling and decided in Enterprise’s favor.

 

 

CNBC – January 31, 2020

Chevron posts $6.6 billion loss in the fourth quarter

Chevron’s $1.9 billion in earnings were down 80% from 2018’s $14.8 billion, company intends to focus on Permian Basin and on Kazakhstan field

Chevron on Friday posted a $6.6 billion loss in the fourth quarter due to $10.4 billion worth of write-offs related to shale gas production in Appalachia and deep-water projects in the Gulf of Mexico. In December, the company warned that this charge would be $10 billion to $11 billion.

Shares slid 3.85% on Friday after the company reported $36.35 billion in revenue for the period, which missed analyst expectations and was down 14% year over year, hurt by weakness in the company’s upstream division.

Chevron said it earned $1.49 per share excluding items, down from $1.95 per share a year earlier.

 

 

Bloomberg News/Gulf News – February 3, 2020

China’s oil demand drops 20%

Chinese oil demand has dropped by about three million barrels a day, or 20 per cent of total consumption, as the coronavirus squeezes the economy. The drop is probably the largest demand shock the oil market has suffered since the global financial crisis of 2008 to 2009, and the most sudden since the September 11 terror attacks.

China is the world’s largest oil importer, after surpassing the US in 2016, so any change in consumption has an outsize impact on the global energy market. The country consumes about 14 million barrels a day – equivalent to the combined needs of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, Japan and South Korea.

It could force the hand of OPEC, which is considering an emergency meeting to cut production and staunch the decline in prices.

 

 

Reuters/New York Times – February 1, 2020

Oil prices will remain supported near current levels this year as persistent geo-political risks and OPEC-led output curbs help offset growing supply from other producers, a Reuters poll showed on Friday.

The survey of 50 economists and analysts, mainly conducted before the coronavirus outbreak, forecast benchmark Brent crude <LCOc1> to average $63.48 per barrel in 2020. That compares with an average of $63.76 so far this year and last month’s forecast of $63.07.

The 2020 outlook for West Texas Intermediate rose to $58.22 a barrel from December’s $57.70 forecast.

 

Oil & Gas

 

Reuters/CNBC – February 3, 2020

Oil extends decline on concerns about virus’ impact on China demand

Oil prices extended declines on Monday, dragged down by worries about lower demand in the world’s largest oil importer China following the coronavirus breakout.

Brent and U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell for a fourth week in a row last week after airlines cancelled flights to China. Supply chains across the world’s second largest economy have also been disrupted.

Brent crude was at $55.83 a barrel by 0047 GMT, down 79 cents, or 1.4%, after losing nearly 12% in January, the steepest monthly decline since November 2018.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 50 cents to $51.06 a barrel, after earlier hitting a session low of $50.42. The front-month WTI price fell 15.6% in January, the biggest monthly drop since May.

Note: Cramer sees oil stocks in the ‘death knell phase,’ says they are the new tobacco

 

 

World Oil – February 1, 2020

Oil off to slowest start since 1991 with virus fear spreading

Oil is off to the worst start to a year since 1991, tumbling 16% in January on concern that the spread of coronavirus will curb demand for transportation fuels.

Futures fell 1.1% in New York on Friday, capping the worst month since May as investors were rattled by the fear of demand destruction after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global health emergency. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called the virus an unprecedented public health threat.

“People are looking at the continued rise in cases and how that’s impacting jet fuel and has made those demand fears worse,” Leo Mariani, energy analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc. “It’s going to take the virus not being a persistent event and for global demand to show signs of improvement in order to stabilize.”

 

 

Oil Price – January 31, 2020

U.S. Rig Count Drops As Oil Price Slide Accelerates

The Permian Basin added one rig to reach 406 active rigs, still more than than half in the US.

After another week of faltering oil prices as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spook the market, Baker Hughes reported that the number of oil and gas rigs in the US decreased this week, to 790—a decrease of 4 rigs. The total oil and gas rig count is now 265 down from this time last year.

The number of oil rigs decreased for the week, by 1 rigs, according to Baker Hughes data, bringing the total to 675—a 172-rig loss year over year.

The total number of active gas rigs in the United States fell by 3 according to the report, to 112. This compares to 198 a year ago.

Meanwhile, oil production has hovered at 13 million bpd for three weeks now, according to data provided by the Energy Information Administration—a high for the United States.

 

 

Riviera – January 31, 2020

US becomes third largest LNG exporter

Buoyed by increased liquefaction production capacity, new export facilities, and buyers in Asia, the US now ranks third among global LNG exporters

When the data is finalised for 2019, the United States is expected to rank behind Australia and Qatar as the world’s third largest LNG exporter, shipping an estimated 34.4M tonnes of LNG to overseas buyers.

Supported by abundant supplies of shale gas and growing liquefaction capacity, the US has experienced a meteoric rise to the top that started with the first commercial LNG cargo shipped from Cheniere’s Sabine Pass in Louisiana in 2016. In back-to-back months, the US set records, shipping 52 cargoes averaging 5.8Bn ft3 per day (bcfd) in October and 55 cargoes, averaging 6.3 bcfd in November, according to the US Energy Information Administration (US EIA).

Also: U.S. To Become Net Oil Exporter This Year: EIA

 

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – January 31, 2020

Dallas Fed forecasts Texas economy will continue expansion through 2020

Texas employment is forecast to grow 2.1 percent in 2020, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Last year, Texas job growth weakened from 2.4 to 2.0 percent as the energy industry declined and a tight labor market made it difficult for firms to add jobs and hire workers.

Keith Phillips, senior economist at the Dallas Fed who forecasts employment growth, said that this year, the state’s economy is likely to continue expanding. While a struggling energy sector remains a drag on Texas, he said, the national economy remains strong and trade uncertainty has appeared to mitigate.

 

 

Associated Press/KTSA – February 1, 2020

ATF: Electrical spark likely caused deadly Houston blast

An electrical spark likely ignited a gas leak that led to a massive explosion in Houston last week, killing two workers, injuring 20 others and damaging hundreds of buildings, law enforcement officials said Friday.

Highly flammable propylene gas started leaking in the piping connected to a tank inside a warehouse at Watson Grinding and Manufacturing within about 24 hours of the predawn blast, said Fred Malinowski, the local special agent in charge for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Sensors could have detected a leak, Malinowski said, but it’s unclear whether sensors were in place, operating correctly or able to notify the company of a problem.

There is no evidence to indicate arson, vandalism or other criminal wrongdoing behind the Jan. 24 explosion, Malinowski said.

 

 

Alice Echo News Journal – January 31, 2020

San Diego man injured in Caldwell oil rig explosion succumbs to injuries

Second injured man has died, death toll now three

Family and friends of Brian Maldonado confirmed that he passed away Saturday due to injuries he suffered in the Caldwell oil rig explosion.

Maldonado of San Diego was 25 and had sustained third degree burns over 90 percent of his body, according to his family.

Maldonado is remembered as the most energetic person.

He was one of three men injured in the explosion. One person died at the scene.

As of Saturday, Maldonado and another man injured had passed away; a total of three deceased due to the explosion.

 

 

Reuters – February 2, 2020

Texas oil spill restarts after previous containment: U.S. Coast Guard

A crude oil spill near Baytown, Texas, has restarted after earlier being contained, U.S. Coast Guard officials said in an updated statement on Sunday.

About 630 gallons of diesel fuel spilled in Tabbs Bay and approximately one mile (1.6 km) of shoreline has been affected, officials said.

The cause of the spill is under investigation.

 

 

Houston Chronicle – February 1, 2020

Pipeline spill of oil wastewater bigger than first reported*

A pipeline spill of oilfield wastewater in northwestern North Dakota has affected more cropland than originally reported.

State environmental scientist Bill Suess said regulators were notified earlier this month of the 8,400 gallon (31,797 liter) pipeline leak in Renville County. The pipeline is operated by Texas-based Cobra Oil and Gas.

Regulators initially said about 1,000 square feet (92.9 square meters) of cropland was affected. The landowner, Sherwood resident Allan Engh, said people involved in the cleanup of the site told him the brine could have contaminated as much as 400,000 square feet (37,161 square meters) of soil.

 

 

Associated Press/ABC News – January 31, 2020

Exxon, Chevron profits fall on low gas prices, weak margins

Exxon Mobil’s profit slid more than 5% in the fourth quarter of 2019, as the oil giant dealt with low natural gas prices and weak margins in its chemical and retail fuel operations.

The country’s largest oil producer posted $5.69 billion in profits, or $1.33 per share, for the quarter, which was lower than some analysts expected.

Chevron also had a tough quarter, posting a loss of $6.6 billion, or $3.51 per share. The company, based in San Ramon, California, reported $10.4 billion in impairments and write-offs, mostly related to its natural gas operations.

“There weren’t a lot of places to hide for earnings power in this quarter,” said Stewart Glickman, an analyst at CFRA. “You had fairly mediocre crude oil prices, you had weak natural gas prices, weak to the point that Chevron took it as a major impairment charge.”

Kevin Crowley, Analysis: Tale of Two Oil Giants With Two Strategies That Aren’t Working

 

 

Beaumont Enterprise – January 31, 2020

Phillips 66 profit cut by more than half in 4th quarter

Houston refining and pipeline company Phillips 66 on Friday reported a $689 million fourth-quarter profit, 51 percent less than the same period in 2018.

The fourth quarter performance resulted in Phillips 66 closing 2019 with a nearly $3.7 billion profit, a 35 percent drop from the previous year when favorable margins in the refining of domestic crude oil swelled profits. The

West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices fell by 40 percent during the fourth quarter of 2018 and entered the $40 per barrel range, creating losses for exploration and production companies and services companies but windfalls for refining companies that were able to process domestic crude.

 

 

Midland Reporter Telegram – January 30, 2020

New Mexico consortium seeks to expand use of produced water

As the Permian Basin Water in Energy Conference enters its third year, participants are looking for ways to do more with the water produced alongside crude and natural gas than recycling it into new wells or disposing of it in underground disposal wells. …

“Produced water treatment and reuse is important, but our consortium is focused on looking at ways to reuse produced water outside the oil and gas sector,” Michael Hightower, program director of the New Mexico Produced Water Research Consortium, said in a phone interview.

Hightower will be participating in a panel discussion on the final day of the conference, addressing opportunities for innovation in science for higher education. The consortium is a partnership between New Mexico State University and the New Mexico Environmental Department.

Hightower said the consortium, which is in its early stages, is looking at uses for produced water in agriculture, rangeland reclamation, industrial applications such as for power plants and road construction in oil-producing areas where roads have been negatively impacted.

 

 

Inside Climate News – January 30, 2020

Is natural gas really helping the US cut emissions?

Maybe. But methane leaks throughout the supply chain make the “cleaner” fuel more damaging to the climate than government data suggests.

Can natural gas be part of a climate change solution?

That’s what the American Petroleum Institute argues in a new campaign it has launched ahead of this year’s elections, pushing back against some Democratic candidates who support bans on new development of oil and gas. The campaign echoes a refrain that supporters from both political parties have pushed for years: that gas is a cleaner fuel than coal and can serve as a bridge to a low-carbon future. …

But experts agree that those official figures understate emissions of methane, the primary component of natural gas and a potent greenhouse gas released in leaks throughout the oil and gas development supply chain. And while there’s uncertainty about how much methane is leaking, several studies show that the benefits of the switch from coal to gas over the last decade are smaller than government data suggests, perhaps substantially smaller.

 

 

CNBC – January 28, 2020

Koch donors at annual summit, concerned that Trump could lose, discuss the need to defend GOP Senate majority

Libertarian and conservative donors who attended the annual Koch network summit over the weekend discussed the need to defend the GOP majority in the Senate as a backstop in case a Democrat defeats President Donald Trump in November.

People at the meeting in Palm Springs, California, didn’t just fret about progressive candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren winning — they were also concerned about the moderate former Vice President Joe Biden, according to attendees who declined to be named since the conversations were deemed private.

These people said that all three candidates have proposed policies that would fly in the face of the free-market philosophy shared by much of the network, which is partially funded by billionaire Charles Koch.

 

 

Time – February 1, 2020

Secretary of State Pompeo Says U.S. Can Supply Belarus With Oil and Gas After Russia Cut Off Supplies

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday that the United States is willing and able to provide Belarus with 100% of its oil and gas, taking a slap at Russia which recently cut off supplies.

Pompeo is the first secretary of state to visit Belarus in 26 years and arrived in Minsk amid new tensions between Minsk and Moscow over energy. In a meeting with authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, Pompeo said he hoped to help provide an opportunity for Belarus to achieve the “sovereignty” and “independence” it seeks.

 

 

Carlsbad Current Argus – January 31, 2020

Claire Chase touts Permian Basin, oil and gas experience in bid for U.S. Congress

Claire Chase hoped to return New Mexico to “conservative hands” with a win in 2020.

Republican Chase is seeking election to New Mexico’s Second Congressional district held by Democrat Xochitl Torres Small.

She openly appealed to New Mexico’s Republican base to reclaim the seat once held by Steve Pearce, who vacated his seat in 2018 to run for governor and is now the chairman of the New Mexico Republican party. ….

She is a member of the Chase family, a major oil and gas dynasty in southeast New Mexico, and said her experience in the Permian Basin made her uniquely qualified to represent the region on a national level.

 

Utilities

 

Utility Dive – January 31, 2020

Texas PUC website ‘defaced’ in low-level attack as state inks new cybersecurity contract

The website of the Public Utility Commission of Texas was “defaced” on Jan. 28 in a low-impact attack which exposed no sensitive information but highlights the cyber threat faced by power sector entities and their regulators.

PUC officials confirmed that for a brief time the commission home page was obscured by a single banner reading “Hacked by Anonymous Iranian.” They said no indication exists yet that the attack was perpetrated by Iran, but further caution is necessary given the recent escalation of tensions between Iran and the United States, according to Richard Henderson, head of global threat intelligence at cybersecurity firm Lastline.

The Texas Department of Information Resources earlier this month awarded a new contract to Canon U.S.A for its line of software solutions and services, which includes “comprehensive security capabilities and features,” according to the company.

 

 

KVUE (Austin) – February 1, 2020

Electric vehicles surge in Austin as more models expected to go on market: Austin Energy report

As Austin grows, so does the number of electric vehicles (EVs) around town.

A new Austin Energy report says 10,000 EVs are on Austin roads – an annual average increase of 39% over the past five years.

“The growth of electric vehicles in Austin over the last 10 years has been pretty significant, and especially over the last few years,” said Cameron Freberg, utility strategist at Austin Energy. “The market for electric vehicles here in Austin is growing so fast because I think people are realizing how easy of an experience it is to drive.”

 

 

Philadelphia Inquirer – January 31, 2020

Pennsylvania seeks nearly $9 million fine against Verde Energy for ‘slamming’ customers and ‘egregious’ marketing violations

Pennsylvania utility investigators on Friday proposed an $8.8 million fine against a Texas-based energy supplier, Verde Energy USA, for allegedly committing a wide range of “egregious” marketing violations, including switching customers’ energy supply without their consent and threatening to shut them off.

The Public Utility Commission’s Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement filed a formal complaint against Verde, which seeks the fine, a revocation of the company’s license, and restitution to customers for improper charges.

 

 

Reuters – January 31, 2020

Japan panel recommends ocean release for contaminated Fukushima water

A panel of experts advising Japan’s government on a disposal method for radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant on Friday recommended releasing it into the ocean, a move likely to alarm neighboring countries.

The panel under the industry ministry came to the conclusion after narrowing the choice to either releasing the contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean or letting it evaporate – and opted for the former. Based on past practice it is likely the government will accept the recommendation.

The build-up of contaminated water at Fukushima has been a sticking point in the clean-up, which is likely to last decades, especially as the Olympics are due to be held in Tokyo this summer with some events less than 60 km (35 miles) from the wrecked plant.

 

Alternatives & Renewables

 

S&P Global Platts – January 30, 2020

Hydrogen needs to replace fossil fuels in industrial applications to meet climate goals: report

Replacing the fossil fuels used in industrial processes with hydrogen will be essential to achieve the net-zero emissions required by 2050 to keep climate warming to 2 degrees Celsius, according to a report from the Rocky Mountain Institute.

“The industrial processes used in the production of things like steel, cement, glass, and chemicals all require high temperature heat,” said the report, Hydrogen’s Decarbonization Impact for Industry, issued Tuesday. “For these hard-to-abate sectors, there is essentially no way to reach net-zero emissions at the scale required without using hydrogen.”

Replacing natural gas with hydrogen in industrial processes could open up a $1 trillion market, according to the report.

 

Regulatory

 

Houston Chronicle – February 2, 2020

Lack of restrictions make Houston residents, hazardous industries uneasy neighbors*

Harris County is home to thousands of facilities capable of putting their neighbors’ health at risk, either through typical operations — such as the dust generated by concrete crushing plants — or when something goes wrong at a business using dangerous chemicals.

Those risks are particularly acute in Houston, the nation’s largest city without zoning laws that would better separate industrial facilities from homes and neighborhoods. The region has seen at least six major chemical fires since last March, incidents that killed three workers, injured dozens, exposed thousands to pollutants and, in the case of the Watson Grinding blast, may cost dozens of residents their homes.

“The broader umbrella of all these facilities is land use, and our failure as a city to recognize, accept and act to protect communities from the dangers of hazardous facilities in communities,” said Bakeyah Nelson, executive director of Air Alliance Houston. “Zoning or some form of land use policy that addresses the issue of industrial land uses near people and places they shouldn’t be, that’s a longer-term conversation. In the short term, we need to get a handle on what the hell everybody is living next to.”

 

 

Texas Tribune – February 1, 2020

GOP super PAC focused on voter registration builds massive organization

Backed by massive donations, the Republican super PAC Engage Texas is assembling a behemoth of an organization as it rushes to register new voters ahead of a crucial 2020 election.

The months-old group disclosed late Friday that it raised $2.3 million in the second half of 2019, bringing its total haul to $11.8 million since its formation in June. More interesting, though, is what its latest disclosure to the Federal Election Commission revealed about how big it has grown: It paid staff salaries to nearly 300 people over the past six months — dramatically up from the 18 staffers with which it started. …

Engage Texas got all but a little of its latest haul from four sources: a woman named Jane Duncan, who gave $1 million; Dallas oil tycoon Ray Hunt, who contributed $500,000; TRT Holdings, whose CEO is Dallas businessman Robert Rowling, which donated $500,000; and El Paso developer Woody Hunt, who chipped in $125,000.