Perry, DOE Want To Get Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository Going Again

March 23, 2018

 

The new fiscal year 2019 budget for the US Department of Energy includes $120 million to fortify efforts to find a permanent place to dispose of waste from American nuclear energy plants.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said this week that “We must move ahead in fulfilling the federal government’s responsibility to dispose of the nation’s nuclear waste,”

Of that $120 million, $110 is earmarked to begin again the licensing of Nevada’s long-planned deep geological nuclear repository at Yucca Mountain

 

Energy Research Leads Two A&M Branches To Join Forces

March 23, 2018

 

The search for new approaches to energy-related research and education has led two branches of the Texas A&M System to form a new partnership.

The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) Gas and Fuels Research Center at Texas A&M University at Qatar and the Texas A&M Energy Institute will co-ordinate research projects in natural gas…
 

Natural Gas Leads As Electric Generation Fuel

By Alex Mills

 

Three years ago natural gas became the largest source of electric generation in the U.S. In 2017, natural gas increased its lead as coal continued its slide downward, according to a new report issued by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Tuesday.

Overall, total U.S. net electricity generation declined 1.5 percent, and natural gas fell 7.7 percent as about 4 gigawatts of natural gas-fired capacity was retired in 2017, EIA’s Electric Power Monthly report stated…

 

ETP To Build Synergy With Export Dock And Houston Company JV

March 21, 2018

 

Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) says it’s in a new partnership to build its second US ethane export dock to feed Chinese and other international markets, and will get to work on a new pipeline.

This export project will be along the Gulf Coast — although it’s not saying exactly where — as part of a joint venture with Houston’s Satellite Petrochemical USA, forming a company called Orbit Gulf Coast NGL Exports.

 

Calpine Goes Private With New Owners

March 9, 2018

 

New Jersey’s Energy Capital Partners on Thursday completed its purchase, announced in August, of one of the nation’s largest power producers, Houston-based Calpine Corp.

The new owners are paying about $5.6 billion.

Energy Capital Partners is taking Calpine private.

Calpine was removed today from listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

(It’s final closing figures were included in Friday’s TER closing stocks.)

 

RRC Issued More Than 1,000 Drilling Permits In February

March 9, 2018

 

The Railroad Commission of Texas issued a total of 1,097 original drilling permits in February 2018 compared to 991 in February 2017.

The February total included 975 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, 15 to re-enter plugged well bores and 107 for re-completions of existing well bores.

The breakdown of well types for those permits issued February 2018 included 284 oil, 87 gas, 647 oil or gas, 68 injection, zero service and 11 other permits.

 

Read more…

 

Oil industry adds powerful new gear to meet supply

By Alex Mills

 

It is no secret that the oil and gas industry worldwide is changing. Record oil and gas production in the U.S. has stunned world leaders. The International Energy Agency (IEA), based in Paris, predicts that the U.S. will become the leading oil producing nation soon…maybe this year!

A report in the Oil and Gas Journal this week predicts consumption of petroleum will continue to rise, and oil and natural gas production and capital expenditures will follow suit.

“Oil and gas industry capital spending in the U.S. will increase 15 percent to $184 billion this year versus last year,” the report stated.

“With commodity prices gaining firmer footing and strong operational results in various shale plays, capital expenditures for exploration and production firms in the U.S. are set to increase this year, albeit partly reined in by a strong focus on capital discipline and efficiency gains,” the report continued.

The expansion was noted recently with the release of the Texas Petro Index on Thursday, which recorded a 25 percent increase over 2017. “The statewide upstream oil and gas economy remains in a state of expansion with generally favorable pricing, a slowly rising rig count, growing industry employment, and record crude oil production,” Karr Ingham, petroleum economist and author of the TPI, said.

Technology has been an important part of the puzzle. Advancements in drilling and hydraulic fracturing have been key components. These developments have been expensive, and the exploration and production companies needed financial partners with deep pockets.

Roger Diwan, vice president, financial services at IHS Markit, spoke this week at CERAWeek conference in Houston about the financial industry’s role in this energy renaissance.

“Two realities have been behind the flow of capital into the U.S. oil sector,” Diwan said.

“First, oil exploration and production turns out to be an attractive business for investors. Oil is a large, capital-intensive sector and thus provides a lot of opportunities to invest. And when they do well, oil investments return initial capital quickly – sometimes within 12 months – and provide ongoing cash flow afterwards.

“Second, excess capital from all around the world has been seeking returns, with persistently low interest rates after the financial crisis on heightening the quest for yield. U.S. shales provided the opportunity to invest and generate returns quickly. This makes shale oil plays especially attractive to private equity firms, which may wait as much as 6-8 years for a return on ivestments in industrial firms.”

Because the traditional players in the shale sector have been independent oil and gas companies, which are much smaller and have different financial needs than integrated major oil companies, external financing to grow production has been critical. Independents drill 90 percent of these wells.

Investors have poured “more than a quarter-trillion dollars into the country’s oil patch,” he said, and “more than $150 billion in public equity and bond issues and nearly the same amount in private lending.”

He noted oil prices have been above $50 per barrel, which has kept the dollars flowing.

“In the oil industry in particular, by being able to increase production within a short time cycle, they have added a new and increasingly powerful gear to the global supply system,” Diwan said.

 

Alex Mills is the former President of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

 

Star Alliance’s Hosek Takes Oil & Gas Award, First In Texas: News Release

Texas Star Alliance energy lobbyist becomes first in Texas to win award

AUSTIN – March 9, 2018 – Chris Hosek of Texas Star Alliance Energy Solutions won the 2018 Texas Oil and Gas Award for General Industry Service at a March 7 ceremony in Houston. The awards gala, which Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian addressed as the keynote speaker, had more than 50 companies in attendance representing a broad cross-section of the energy industry.

The Oil and Gas Awards honor organizations and companies across the U.S. for not only their achievements, but also their contributions to the industry as a whole and communities in which they operate. The General Industry Service category recognizes companies that provide a vital link in the chain of the oil and gas industry, as well as exhibit outstanding corporate social responsibility, health and safety standards, and environmental stewardship.

One judge commented that Chris Hosek has “a formidable list of clients built over the last 7 years. Texas Star Alliance strongly represents this industry in cases of legislative and regulatory action.” Another finalist judge commented on Texas Star Alliance’s proven track record of representing its clients, saying the “client testimonials show just how important Texas Star Alliance is to its clients.”

Texas Star Alliance Energy Solutions has grown into one of the largest energy consulting/lobbying firms in Texas. Under the leadership of Chris Hosek, the company represents a wide variety of energy companies, including exploration and production, energy service, pipeline, suppliers, water treatment/recyclers, solid waste recyclers, and manufacturers.

Business Leaders and Politicians: Beware of DeepFake

March 9, 2018

 

The advice in the ’60s Motown song, “Heard It Through the Grapevine” is “People say believe half of what you see…”

A new computer application indicates we may want to lower that to less than half, at least on the Internet — much less.

FakeApp allows even novice users to superimpose the face of one person over that of another in videos.

This should be alarming to all politicians and business leaders, among others, who will be natural targets — and it’s a deadly trend in the fight against fake news.

The social name for this trend is DeepFake.

As New York’s WCBS noted recently, “Experts are worried it could have serious moral implications, like framing people for crimes or putting celebrities’ faces on pornographic performers.”

That’s already happened — there are celebrity faces superimposed onto X-rated movie footage that are making the rounds on websites like SnapChat,

The FakeApp potential for blackmail, harassment and the framing of people for crimes is enormous.

And the app is so good that one video showing up on discussion websites like Reddit is of former President Barack Obama delivering a speech that never happened — and the video was enormously popular.

In the past there has been face “morphing,” the changing of one face to another in photos and videos, but it wasn’t as convincing as FakeApp.

And of course there are serious ethical and moral questions, too.

“It’s very concerning because as people get better with this software we’re able to not just use celebrities, they’re able to use a neighbor in a video and compromise that person,” FiTech Senior Vice President Duarte Pereira said.

The day may come when we change the advice “Don’t Believe What You See On the Internet” to “Don’t Believe Anything You See On the Internet.”

 

Also see: If social media sites acted like publishers, fake news would vanish

 

— Mike Shiloh

 

Breitbart Editor’s Radio Rant: “Rural GOP Leaders Were Attacked for Not Kneeling To Kiss Billionaire’s Ring”

March 9, 2018

 

While there’s nothing unusual about contributions big and small in politics, there have been some unusual intra-party rants since Tuesday’s primary election regarding CrownQuest Operating‘s Tim Dunn, who’s also a director of conservative groups Empower Texans and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.

Empower Texans has made headlines recently for an unusual mailer that had Travis County prosecutors concerned and at least one state senator angry about the way Empower Texans ran its campaign, and a number of pundits have noted Dunn’s generous funding of political causes.

In fact, on Wednesday Senator Kel Seliger is quoted as saying, “What people don’t realize and will realize is they are in the process of producing a true Russian-style oligarchy — a few very rich people who seek to control the legislature.”

And of course pundits pointed out that Empower Texans, despite its campaigns, wasn’t as successful as it has been in the past in getting its candidates elected Tuesday night.

As Amarillo Globe News columnist Jon Beilue put it Wednesday, “Tuesday night’s Republican primary was supposed to be the great grab of more seats, the biggest spending and spreading of distortions Empower Texas and its splinter group have yet to foster on the voting public.

“There were at least 16 House and Senate races they targeted against conservative Republicans they tried to paint as liberal.

“Final tally: Somewhere around 2-14. If this were the NFL, Empower Texans would be the Cleveland Browns.”

But the be-all of rants against Dunn, Empower Texans and intra-GOP squabbling was probably made by Breitbart Texas Editor Brandon Darby, who first went on Houston’s low-rated KPRC radio and then published his detailed concerns on the Breitbart website.

“Specifically, Darby mentioned Texas Billionaire Tim Dunn and his use of his lobbyist-like group Empower Texans in efforts to primary two ultra-conservative rural Texas lawmakers in the Panhandle, State Rep. Ken King and State Senator Kel Seliger.”

House District 88 Representative King represents a large portion of the panhandle, held a majority Tuesday night in the primary and is in the oil and gas business, but Darby’s concern is not one oilman versus another — to him, it’s a struggle for the heart of Republican Texas.

Darby’s rant is here.

 

See also: Dunn: Austin is afraid of Empower Texans because we are demanding change

 

— Mike Shiloh

 

Ethanol Mandates Help Wall Street and Hurt Texas: Christi Craddick

By Railroad Commission of Texas Chairman Christi Craddick

The Lone Star State is blessed with strong energy and agriculture industries, both of which sustain thousands of jobs all over our state and play an important role to our national and economic security.

 

The mining and utilities industry is the largest contributor to Texas’ GDP, and the food and fiber system is ranked second.

 

Unfortunately, both industries are falling victim to a broken regulatory framework out of Washington, D.C. Right now, there is debate surrounding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a federal program requiring transportation fuels to contain a certain amount of renewable resources such as ethanol, specifically as it regards the price of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).

 

The EPA made up RINs with the goal of designing a minimally burdensome enforcement mechanism for the RFS. In fact, when they were first introduced, RINs sold for a penny or two each. Now, however, RIN prices have skyrocketed and cost as high as $1.40 each. These increased costs are putting considerable pressure on Texas refiners as they have had to direct more and more of their bottom line to paying these fees, rather than reinvesting in the state’s economy. As a result, thousands of Texas refinery jobs are at risk.

 

The most unfortunate part about the RINs system is that those who benefit from it are neither corn farmers nor refinery workers, but rather Wall Street speculators who reap profits from RINs.

 

Our own governor recognized the threat of high RIN prices on Texans’ jobs and wrote to the EPA asking for relief, explaining that “current implementation of this dated federal mandate severely impacts Texas’ otherwise strong economy and jeopardizes the employment of hundreds of thousands of Texans.”

 

And U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is currently leading the effort in Washington to defend the interests of Texans from this broken system. Senator Cruz has called for a “win-win” solution that will simultaneously bring RINs prices down and protect Texas refinery jobs, while enabling Texas farmers to grow and sell more corn.

 

The White House is meeting with senators from Texas and the Midwest and interests representing ethanol producers, refiners and unions. Negotiations are ongoing.

 

Senator Cruz and those working to achieve a fair and reasonable solution are focused on allowing all industries across the state to grow – from agriculture, to oil and gas, to renewable and alternative sources of energy – and take full advantage of the agricultural and energy resources we have right here at home. Texans should support efforts to reform the RFS and cap RIN prices, for the good of the Texas economy and all Texans.