The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 21, 2018


Lead Stories


Texas Tribune – February 19, 2018

Texas Republicans getting almost 90 percent of money flowing into state elections

Political money follows political power, and in Texas that means it’s mostly going to Republicans, who scooped up almost 90 cents of every dollar that’s gone into state campaign coffers so far in the 2018 election cycle.

… Abbott received $100,000 from California billionaire Ed Roski — who also donated $50,000 to Patrick — and a combined $75,000 from Charles and Elizabeth Koch and Koch Industries PAC. Republican Jewish Coalition Florida Chair Jeffrey Feingold and Washington lawyer and former White House aide C. Boyden Gray each contributed $50,000 to Abbott. … Speaking of political action committees, the conservative Empower Texans PAC, fueled by huge donations from Midland oilman Tim Dunn and known as relentless critics of outgoing House Speaker Joe Straus (as well as Republicans who embrace him or moderate positions), shelled out the most money among PACs for the period by spending $1.5 million. … The governor got 12 donations of $250,000 — two of which (for a total of $500,000) came from Midland oilman and Abbott appointee Javaid Anwar, and two others (also for $500,000) came from Texas road builder James D. Pitcock, CEO of Williams Brothers Construction.



Bloomberg – February 20, 2018

U.S. Oil’s Costly Again as It’s Stored Less and Shipped Abroad More

Dwindling volumes at the biggest U.S. oil storage hub and the potential for bigger cargoes to sail overseas is giving American crude a premium sheen once again. The price of U.S. benchmark oil has gone above the Middle East marker for the first time in more than a year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The shale boom that drove American crude to a discount spurred an unprecedented surge of relatively cheap shipments to Asia. That was a pain for top OPEC producers such as Saudi Arabia, which had their market share threatened as they implemented output curbs to clear a global glut. Now, a combination of new pipeline options, a rail car crunch, demand from Gulf Coast refineries and a thirst for U.S. supply from overseas means less is being hoarded.



Houston Chronicle – February 20, 2018

Texas’ summer power prices expected to rise

Wholesale summer power prices in Texas are expected to rise after the shutdown of three coal-fired power plants last year. But by how much — and what kind of impact those increases will have on electricity bills — might not be known until the summer is over, regulators say.

“We are going into a summer where people are going to be paying a lot, potentially paying a lot more,” said Commissioner Brandy Marty Marquez, who serves on the state’s Public Utility Commission. “We are not really sure what we are going to see.”

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which oversees 90 percent of the state’s power grid, expects that it will lose more than 7,000 megawatts of power capacity by this summer.




The Verge – February 20, 2018

If climate change wrecks your city, can it sue Exxon?

Not long ago, the phrase “no single event can be attributed to climate change” was repeated like a catechism. This is no longer true. Though scientists still warn that it’s inaccurate to speak of weather events being “caused” by climate change — weather always has multiple causes — better climate models, more powerful computers, and refined methodologies now allow researchers to quantify how climate change has increased the likelihood or severity of heat waves, droughts, deluges, and other extreme events.

The American Meteorological Society now publishes an annual compendium of studies examining the role of climate change in the previous year’s weather. This January’s issue marked an ominous milestone. For the first time, researchers found phenomena that couldn’t have happened in a world without industrial greenhouse gases. The record global heat of 2016, a strangely warm patch of water off Alaska known as “the blob,” and deadly heat waves in Asia weren’t just more likely because of climate change — they were only possible because of it.


Oil & Gas


CNBC – February 21, 2018

Oil falls as dollar firms, US oil output expected to rise

Oil prices fell on Wednesday, weighed down by a rebound in the U.S. dollar from three-year lows hit last week and an expected rise in U.S. oil production.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $61.07 a barrel at 0446 GMT, down 72 cents, or 1.2 percent, from their last settlement.

Brent crude futures fell 60 cents, or 0.9 percent, from their last close to $64.65 per barrel.

Wang Tao, Reuters technical commodity analyst, said Brent could fall into a range of $63.92 to $64.41 per barrel, as suggested by its wave pattern and a projection analysis.



Journal of Petroleum Technology – February 20, 2018

Rystad Sees ‘Very Promising Year’ for Shale

Oil and gas consulting and business intelligence data firm Rystad Energy sees “a very promising year” for shale oil producers, analysts at the firm’s North America shale webinar said recently.

“We believe that not everyone actually realizes how much oil the US is already producing,” said Artem Abramov, vice president of analysis in North America shale research at Rystad. Based on the most recent data, he said, “We think the 10-million-barrels-a-day mark has already been reached and it happened in late 2017.”

Abramov said that the US shale industry in 2018 faced “very limited bottlenecks on the well economics side and [with] efficiency” but noted that service industry bottlenecks “where the situation in many segments remains very tight” could impose some constraints.



Oil Price – February 20, 2018

Frac Sand Shortage Threatens Shale Boom

Higher drilling costs could threaten the recent surge in United States shale production.

Halliburton said last week that its earnings could be negatively impacted because of bottlenecks related to the supply of frac sand used in shale drilling. The Wall Street Journal reported that Halliburton’s shares were briefly halted on February 15 after Halliburton’s CFO Chris Weber told an audience at the Credit Suisse Energy Summit that the company’s first quarter earnings could take a hit by a whopping 10 cents per share.

The reason, he said, was because of delays by Canadian rail companies that would slow the delivery of frac sand. Halliburton saw its shares drop by more than 2 percent on a day that saw broader gains to the S&P 500.



Bloomberg – February 20, 2018

OPEC Roars Into 2018 Oil Cuts. Allies Stumble, Shale Soars.

OPEC roared into its second year of crude oil cuts in January, but a tandem effort from non-OPEC suppliers led by Russia faltered. All the while, U.S. shale drillers keep pumping more oil, undermining any efforts by the petrostates to end a global glut. OPEC and its allies agreed in November to extend their oil cuts through 2018. For the past three months, OPEC has set a fresh record for compliance, while non-OPEC adherence slipped. Twenty-one nations are cutting supply in attempt to curb output by almost 1.8 million barrels a day, in most cases from October 2016 levels. OPEC members Libya and Nigeria have agreed to limit production to a combined 2.8 million barrels a day, and they did what they said they would in January.



Dallas Morning News – February 20, 2018

Why Ted Cruz is heading to a bankrupt Philadelphia refinery, and why it could cost him in Iowa

On Wednesday, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz heads to a refinery in Philadelphia that declared bankruptcy a month ago for a town hall meeting with workers.


Pennsylvania isn’t an early-voting state in presidential contests. In any case, Cruz has set aside his White House ambitions, which could be for the best, because this side trip is likely to annoy potential supporters in Iowa.

This is about showcasing opposition to federal ethanol mandates — a nonpartisan article of faith in corn country, and a deeply unpopular policy in the Texas oil patch. The Texas primary is two weeks away, and Cruz is busy seeking nomination to a second term.



Dallas Morning News – February 20, 2018

Dallas billionaire Kelcy Warren to unhappy investors: Failed merger offering was fair to all

Kelcy Warren, the billionaire chairman of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Equity LP, dismissed complaints that he unfairly benefited from a 2016 private issuance of units in one of the pipeline company’s partnerships that was tied to the failed merger with Williams Co.

Unitholders, including a Pennsylvania retirement fund, contend Warren and other Energy Transfer executives engineered the $1 billion deal involving only select investors so that Warren could reap more than $200 million.

“Everybody thinks this is a bad deal,” Warren told a Delaware judge Tuesday. But the issuance helped stabilize the U.S.’s largest pipeline operator during a shaky time in an oil market downturn, he added.



Wall St. Journal – February 19, 2018

Oil Producers Buying Back Shares After Years of Selling New Stock

North American energy producers survived the recent oil bust in large part by selling more than $60 billion of new stock. Now they’re beginning to buy it back.

Several oil and gas producers, including Pioneer Natural Resources Co. PXD -0.30% andAnadarko Petroleum Corp. APC 0.12% , have started the year by initiating or enlarging share-repurchase programs. The buybacks reflect oil prices that have climbed enough for them to drill profitably and shareholders who have urged companies to focus more on the bottom line.

It also suggests that energy producers think their shares, which have lagged behind the broader market, are underpriced.



Bloomberg – February 20, 2018

Billionaire Texas Oilman Hildebrand Steps Down as Hilcorp CEO

Hilcorp Energy Co. announced that its billionaire owner Jeff Hildebrand has stepped down as chief executive officer of the largest closely held U.S. oil explorer.

“The organizational change comes as the company, a longtime producer in Alaska, Texas and Louisiana, continues to see substantial growth in other legacy assets across the United States,” Justin Furnace, a spokesman, said Tuesday in an emailed statement. “Mr. Hildebrand will maintain his position as executive chairman and continue to be heavily involved with the company.”

Hildebrand, who founded the Houston-based company 29 years ago, is the 209th wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $7.6 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.



Austin American Statesman – February 20, 2018

Pickens: Three thoughts for Texas on spending emissions settlement

It’s time for Texas to score big on the economic and environmental fronts — and here’s my playbook to make it happen. Consider this an open letter to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The background: German automaker Volkswagen was caught cheating on emissions tests and settled for $16 billion, with $2.7 billion going to the states to fund mitigation plans which include the creation of medium and heavy-duty vehicle grants. Each state will receive some of the $2.7 billion, and each governor has appointed a department to create a plan to spend it, with the goal of mitigating air quality damage from VW vehicles. … TCEQ should focus spending on vehicle grants, because the transportation sector is the largest contributor of nitrogen oxide emissions. More specifically, it would be wise to consider medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Unlike marine and rail, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles operate across Texas, through urban, suburban and rural areas alike. That’s the best bet for Texas.



Texas Tribune – February 20. 2018

After four weeks, state Sen. Carlos Uresti’s criminal fraud case heads to the jury

If a businessman takes the ostrich approach — burying his head in the sand — to avoid evidence that his colleagues are perpetrating a fraud, is he also guilty of that fraud?

Probably — but state Sen. Carlos Uresti is no ostrich, defense attorneys insisted Tuesday morning in their last opportunity to sway the jury.

The San Antonio Democrat, who’s been on trial for the past month on 11 felony counts, including criminal fraud and money laundering, sat expressionless Tuesday morning as prosecutors and defense attorneys quibbled one last time over whether he was aware of the Ponzi scheme being perpetrated at the now-defunct oil field company FourWinds Logistics, where he served as general counsel, a 1 percent owner and a recruiter of investors, according to court documents.



Houston Chronicle – February 20, 2018

Gulf of Mexico fatality under investigation

The federal government said Tuesday it’s investigating the death of an offshore oil and gas worker on a Gulf of Mexico platform operated by Houston’s Talos Energy.

The employee, who’s identity wasn’t immediately revealed, died Saturday after an accident while he was removing out-of-service fire suppression equipment on the offshore platform. There was no fire or emissions release related to the incident, according to the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which said it is investigating the fatality.



Jerusalem Post – February 20, 2018

Israel to get billions in tax revenue from Egypt natural gas deal

With Monday’s announcement that the operators of Israel’s natural gas reservoirs will export $15 billion worth of fuel to Egypt, Israel could be set for an unexpected windfall. Nearly two years after approval of the controversial government gas outline, the consortium managing Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan natural gas fields will pay back major proceeds to the public.

The companies operating Tamar and Leviathan – which include Israeli Delek Drilling and Texas-based Noble Energy, among other smaller partners – have signed decade-long contracts with Egyptian company Dolphinus Holdings.

Of the $15b., the Israeli government should get around 50% of the revenues, according to Miki Korner, a private energy consultant and former chief economist for the Natural Gas Authority.



Houston Chronicle – February 20, 2018

U.S. ethane consumption expected to boom

The U.S. Department of Energy projects that during the next two years, domestic growth in ethane consumption in the burgeoning petrochemicals industry will surpass that of all other petroleum and liquid products combined as ethylene crackers and plastics plants expand along the Gulf Coast. Ethane is a natural gas liquid used as a feedstock for ethylene, which is the building block for most plastics. Last year, three new Gulf Coast ethylene crackers boosted domestic ethane consumption to 1.2 billion barrels a day, the agency reported.



Anchorage Daily News – February 19, 2018

Official sees rising interest in Alaska oil after discoveries and ANWR opening

Companies showed strong interest in Alaska prospects at a big conference in Texas early this month, and it wasn’t just the Sarah Palin impersonator chanting “Drill baby, drill!” that grabbed their attention, conference-goers said.

Recent discoveries on the western North Slope oil fields, and the newly opened Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at the eastern edge, are offering long-term opportunities companies seek before investing in Alaska, said John Hendrix, chief oil and gas adviser to Gov. Bill Walker.

“You won’t invest if it’s a one-off deal,” he said.



Austin American Statesman – February 16, 2018

Austin police bike officers on Friday showed off new safety equipment meant to protect officers from falls and make policing large crowds safer.

Parsley Energy, Inc., an independent oil and gas company based in Austin, paid to outfit all 50 bike patrol officers with new helmets with a removable full-face attachment, along with knee, shin and elbow pads.

The company did not say what the cost of the new equipment was.

Interim Police Chief Brian Manley said the department’s bike officers handle crowd control for downtown events, including demonstrations and marches.



Washington Free Beacon – February 20, 2018

German war planes grounded by eco-gas

Germany’s air fleet was grounded this week after “too much biodiesel” fuel found its ways into the gas tanks, according to German reports saying the Luftwaffe cannot safely fly with such a mixture.

Germany’s Tornado fleet of war planes was reportedly grounded after an unsafe mixture including too much biodiesel was used to fuel the planes, requiring the fleet to be grounded and their fuel tanks flushed.




Bloomberg – February 20, 2018

BP Sees Electric Future With Oil Demand Peaking in 2030s

The future is electric for BP Plc, though it’s not giving up on oil just yet. The British company bumped up its forecast for electric vehicles by 80 percent to 180 million by 2035, according to an energy outlook released Tuesday. It expects a third of the miles driven in 2040 will be powered by electricity. The company forecasts the abundance of gasoline and diesel cars will ensure overall oil demand will continue to grow at about 0.5 percent per year. But that’s slower than the 0.7 percent annual increase it forecast last year. Consumption is expected to peak at 110 million barrels per day in the mid-2030s, BP’s Chief Economist Spencer Dale said. That’s earlier than the mid-2040s he predicted last year.



The Texas Energy Report – February 20, 2018

Stanford engineers develop a new method of keeping the lights on if the world turns to 100% clean, renewable energy

Researchers propose three separate ways to avoid blackouts if the world transitions all its energy to electricity or direct heat and provides the energy with 100 percent wind, water and sunlight. The solutions reduce energy requirements, health damage and climate damage.

Renewable energy solutions are often hindered by the inconsistencies of power produced by wind, water and sunlight and the continuously fluctuating demand for energy. … The study examines ways to keep the grid stable with these road maps.


Alternatives and Renewables


Wall St. Journal – February 20, 2018

Mandates, Not Market Prices, Likely to Keep U.S. Solar Growing

Government mandates should keep U.S. solar power growing, despite new Trump administration tariffs on imported solar panels that are poised to raise prices.

While the tariffs may slow the rate of solar expansion, local and state policies requiring utilities to procure renewable energy will continue to help create a baseline market for solar power, particularly for large, utility-scale projects.

New York, for instance, has called for three gigawatts of solar capacity to be installed in the state by 2023, roughly three times the amount installed at the end of 2017.

The Trump administration tariffs—30% in the first year, declining to 15% by the fourth—will raise the price of foreign-made solar panels and cells. But technological improvements and cost savings in other areas are expected to help the industry at least partially offset the increases, utility executives and analysts say.



Utility Dive – February 20, 2018

Bay: Why utilities and environmentalists can find common (green) ground

Leadership to create a cleaner, more sustainable grid increasingly comes from states, cities, and businesses. Thirty-seven states have renewable portfolio standards or goals; ten states even have carbon markets. More than a hundred of the best known companies in America — including Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Nike, Proctor & Gamble, GM, Walmart, and Mars — have committed to using 100 percent green energy.

Yet there is room for significantly more progress based on bargains that can be struck between unlikely allies — the power industry and environmentalists. They each have something that the other wants. Utilities seek load growth; environmentalists want decarbonization. Electrification, particularly of transportation and space heating, achieves both objectives.



Clean Technica – February 8, 2018

Richardson: Solar Panels Do Work On Cloudy Days

Some critics of solar power say that solar panels don’t produce electricity on cloudy days. This claim is false. Solar panels can still can produce 10–25% of their typical output on a cloudy day. Obviously, this amount is much less than during periods of direct sunlight, but it is not nothing.

We may assume that solar panels thrive in hot, sunny weather, but too much heat can actually reduce solar panel output 10–25%. So, very hot weather isn’t the best conditionfor them. “The problem is, most solar panels’ power outputs start to degrade if the temperature of the panel goes over about 25°C. This is why, if you look at the specification label on a solar panel, most manufacturers quote the solar power output at a panel temperature of 25degC.”




Austin American Statesman – February 20, 2018

Abbott picks former San Angelo mayor for transportation board

The suddenly short-handed Texas Transportation Commission Tuesday gained a new member, business investor, rancher and former San Angelo Mayor Alvin New.

New, a life-long West Texan who was born in Brownfield and has lived in or near San Angelo since 1981, will replace Tryon Lewis of Odessa. Lewis, who until September had been chairman of the five-member transportation commission, was relegated by Gov. Greg Abbott to a regular spot on the board in favor of San Antonio businessman Bruce Bugg Jr. Abbott had appointed both men to the commission in early 2015.



San Antonio Express News – February 19, 2018

Bexar commissioner wants driverless lanes on I-35

Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff believes that a meeting he had last month in Washington with federal transportation officials could lead to construction of lanes for driverless automated vehicles on the Austin-San Antonio section of Interstate 35.

“This is the first proposal of its kind in the nation that I’m aware of,” Wolff said. “And when the feds heard about it, they told me, ‘This is just the kind of proposal we want to fund.’”

If it happens, it’ll take a while. The 95-mile stretch of eight-lane highway — perennially named one of the nation’s most congested traffic corridors — is already scheduled for an $8 billion expansion to add four “managed lanes” around 2025, according to the regional Alamo Metropolitan Planning Organization, or MPO, which Wolff chairs.



Houston Chronicle – February 20, 2018

Wall: Want to help Texas? Repeal the Jones Act

What’s one simple thing the federal government could do to strengthen the U.S. economy and Texas oil companies? Repeal an outdated law known as the Jones Act.

You probably heard about it after Hurricane Irma slammed into Puerto Rico. It restricted the amount of goods from being transported to the island and delayed recovery efforts. But it also hurts oil companies and refineries. So what is the Jones Act?

Passed in 1920, it requires that all shipping between domestic ports be carried by U.S.-flagged and built ships. They have to be at least 75 percent owned and crewed by American citizens. While it has protected a few domestic ship companies and sailors’ unions, it has hurt oil companies and refiners – especially after the crude oil export ban was lifted by Congress and President Barack Obama in 2015.



Washington Post – February 20, 2018

Why Trump might bend nuclear security rules to help Saudi Arabia build reactors in the desert

Next month, Saudi Arabia will announce the finalists of a sweepstakes. The prize? Multibillion-dollar contracts to build a pair of nuclear power reactors in desolate stretches of desert along the Persian Gulf.

For Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, the reactors are a matter of international prestige and power, a step toward matching the nuclear program of Shia rival Iran while quenching some of the kingdom’s domestic thirst for energy.

For the Trump administration, the contest poses a thorny choice between promoting U.S. companies and fighting nuclear proliferation. If the administration wants to boost the chances of a U.S. consortium led by Westinghouse, it might need to bend rules designed to limit nuclear proliferation in an unstable part of the world. That could heighten security risks and encourage other Middle Eastern countries to follow suit.



NPR – February 14, 2018

Top EPA Science Adviser Has History Of Questioning Pollution Research

In 2015, the top toxicologist for the state of Texas, Michael Honeycutt, was interviewed on Houston Public Radio. At the time, the Environmental Protection Agency was pushing for tighter limits on ozone, a type of air pollution that is hazardous for people with asthma and other respiratory diseases.

But Honeycutt said reducing air pollution could be dangerous.

“Houston and Los Angeles are going to lose people. People are going to die,” he said. “According to EPA, people are going to die from lowering these standards,” he continued, referring to the proposed tightening of ozone regulations.

Now, Honeycutt is the top science advisor for the EPA, a position that gives him potentially broad influence over how scientific data is incorporated into EPA policy. But many scientists say his comments on ozone and air pollution are one indication that he’s a poor choice for the position. 



The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 20, 2018


Lead Stories


Corpus Christi Caller Times – February 16, 2018

Outdated flood zone maps, growing Corpus Christi could lead to disaster

The new flood maps, once finalized, will be the first substantial update to the city’s projected flood layout in three decades.

They’re meant to establish flood insurance rates, help communities assess risk and are intended to play a large role in decisions on where and how development is planned.

Early drafts of the maps were released in 2015 for residents to review and submit comments. They’re not in effect and haven’t been finalized, pending revisions. It shows, several experts said: What we thought we knew, we didn’t know.

In addition to thousands of homes and businesses, 13 schools, three fire stations and two wastewater treatment plants were proposed as being in higher-risk flood areas, according to a 2017 Nueces County hazard mitigation plan.



Houston Chronicle – February 19, 2018

China’s environmental crackdown opening markets for Houston exports

China’s moves to clear smog from its skylines and shake its reputation as the “world’s garbage dump” is opening a door to the world’s largest market for Houston-area producers of natural gas, plastics and petrochemicals.

China recently stopped importing scrap plastic, which it recycled to feed domestic demand for bottles, packaging and consumer goods, while launching an environmental crackdown that has curtailed the use of coal and shut down industrial polluters. As a result, China needs more natural gas, plastic, and petroleum products — a need Houston companies are rushing to fill.

Already, the liquefied natural gas exporter Cheniere Energy has signed a deal with the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. to ship 1.2 million tons of LNG a year — the equivalent of six days production in West Texas’ Permian Basin — under contracts that extend through 2043.



Bloomberg – February 19, 2018

Carr: Natural Gas Industry Surprised It Could Be So Much Cleaner

The natural gas industry may be one of its own worst enemies.

Most energy executives underestimate how much they can cut emissions as they extract and transport natural gas, according to a survey by the Energy Institute. Producers can reduce greenhouse gas flows by 75 percent simply by improving practices in the supply chain of the fuel, which consists mainly of methane. About half of that can be cut at no net cost.

“Implementing just those measures that pay for themselves, by monetizing the captured methane, would have the same long-term impact on mitigating climate change as immediately shutting all existing coal-fired power plants in China,” said Christophe McGlade, an oil and gas analyst at the International Energy Agency, which contributed to the report.



Journal of Petroleum Technology – February 19, 2018

It is Time for Oil Companies To Find Some New Technology

While rising oil prices are offering short-term relief for stressed oil company executives, in the long term their companies could be dead.

US production was up by more than 1 million bbl last year. But Dave Pursell, managing director for investment banking in energy technology for Tudor, Pickering, and Holt, said there are cracks showing in the industry’s long-term technology solution: hammering longer wells with ever more fluid and sand.

“The big hammer is not working,” Tudor told a lunch meeting of the Houston chapter of the US Association of Energy Economists. “It doesn’t matter what the next 10 years holds for oil and gas (prices). If you are an oil and gas producer, you better be employing technology” if you hope to be around for the long term.

Growth is getting harder to come by. Unconventional service and supplies costs are rising. And a study by the investment firm shows that well productivity has been flattening, setting up a conflict with Wall Street expectations of 15% annual productivity gains “as far as the eye can see.”


Oil & Gas


CNBC – February 20, 2018

Oil markets mixed as US crude, Brent move in opposite directions

Oil markets were split on Tuesday, with U.S. crude pushed up by reduced flows from Canada while international Brent prices eased.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $62.38 a barrel at 0518 GMT, up 70 cents, or 1.1 percent, from their last settlement.

Traders said the higher WTI prices were a result of reduced flows from Canada’s Keystone pipeline, which has been operating below capacity since late last year due to a leak, cutting Canadian supplies into the United States.



MarketWatch – February 19, 2018

Total, Borealis, NOVA to form petrochemical JV

Total SA FP Borealis AG and NOVA Chemicals Corporation said Monday that their affiliates have signed definitive agreements to form a petrochemical joint venture on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Total will own 50% of the joint venture, with the other 50% held by Novealis Holdings LLC, a joint venture between Borealis and NOVA Chemicals.

The joint venture will include an ethane steam cracker–which is under construction in Port Arthur, Texas–an existing polyethylene facility owned by Total in Bayport, Texas and a new polyethylene unit at Total’s Bayport site.



American Metal Market – February 15, 2018

Half of Texas pipeline to be made in Turkey

Borusan Mannesmann said it will supply almost half of the steel line pipe for the Gulf Coast Express Pipeline Project in Texas – and that the pipe will be made in Turkey.

The goods will be made at the company’s spiral welded line pipe mill in Gemlik, Turkey, the company said in a statement to American Metal Market on Thursday February 15.

The 400-plus-mile pipeline will convey natural gas from the Permian Basin to the Corpus Christi, Texas, area. One of the project’s joint-venture partners, Kinder Morgan, has said the pipeline will use mostly 42-inch-diameter line pipe and some 36-inch pipe. The link is scheduled to go into service in October 2019.



Dallas Morning News – February 19, 2018

Texas company lands $15 billion deal to sell Israeli natural gas to Egypt

Houston-based Noble Energy created waves in the Middle East a decade ago when it announced the discovery of two large natural gas fields in Israel, a country that has traditionally been energy poor. Now the Texas firm is making a political splash as well.

Noble Energy and its partner, Delek Drilling-LP, announced today they have an agreement to supply Egypt with 2.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas over a decade. The deal is worth an estimated $15 billion.

The deal adds an “economic dimension to what until now has been a security-focused relationship between former regional rivals,” according to Bloomberg.



Bloomberg – February 19, 2018

U.S. Oil Exports Go Up a Gear as Supertanker Sets Sail for China

The flood of U.S. oil exports stepped up a gear on Monday after the first fully laden supertanker sailed from an American port, alleviating a bottleneck that’s limited overseas shipments.

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, or LOOP, the only deep water port in the U.S. able to handle the industry’s biggest tankers, said in a statement it had successfully completed the first loading of a very large crude carrier. Shipping data compiled by Bloomberg show the tanker is the Saudi Arabian-owned Shaden, now heading to the Chinese port of Rizhao.

“There could not be a better time to offer this service as domestic production surpasses 10 million barrels per day in the ever-dynamic global crude oil market,” said LOOP LLCPresident Tom Shaw.



The Intelligencer (Wheeling, WV) – February 19, 2018

No Timeline Given For Capping of Blown Well

Debris must be cleared from the site a well pad explosion before work can begin to cap a leaking natural gas well in Powhatan Point, XTO spokeswoman Karen Matusic said Saturday.

Matusic said people within a 1-mile radius of the well site still are not allowed back in their homes. She did not have an estimate regarding when the well might be capped. Air and water in the area still are being monitored for methane, but Matusic said the levels have not been found to be harmful to people or animals.

“Today we’re basically getting ready for our well control crew,” she said, noting the company Cudd Energy Services will conduct the work. Matusic described Cudd as the “premiere” well control company, adding that is why XTO chose to hire that firm.



BNAmericas – February 16, 2018

Delays bloat TransCanada’s Mexico pipeline budgets

TransCanada said progress on the construction of three natural gas pipelines in Mexico has suffered delays, elevating the budget above original predictions.

The delays are attributed to various factors, all of which are beyond TransCanada’s control, and mirror the state of other pipeline projects in the country, where delays to the completion of some 10 pipelines are threatening to hurt natural gas exports from the US.

The company has revised its expected completion date for the Tuxpan-Tula pipeline to late 2019 due to delays experienced by the energy ministry in its carrying out of consultations of indigenous communities.



Houston Chronicle – February 19, 2018

Marathon tower sold to M-M Properties, awaits $25M makeover

With the assumption that oil prices are stabilizing and the Houston leasing market has bottomed out, a local real estate investment firm is planning to spend more than $25 million upgrading an early-1980s office tower in the Galleria area, one whose largest tenant is an oil company nearing the end of its lease.

M-M Properties, which recently acquired the 41-story Marathon Oil Tower at 5555 San Felipe at St. James Place, will concentrate its improvements on the public spaces, the garage and a new restaurant.

“We always believed it is one of the iconic buildings in the Galleria. We love the location, the ability to get in or out. It was just one of those properties that needed some loving care,” Kenneth Moczulski, M-M founder and CEO, said.



Bloomberg – February 16, 2018

There’s More to Big Oil Than Oil, Total Tells $1 Trillion Fund

Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund wants to sell out of oil and gas stocks, arguing that would reduce overall risk to the country since petroleum is already the top export.

But that’s a miscalculation, according to the chief executive officer at Total SA, one of the world’s biggest energy companies and the Norwegian fund’s fifth-biggest oil stock holding. The so-called integrated oil companies, such as Total and the rest of the Big Oil pack, are much more, according to CEO Patrick Pouyanne.

Oil producers that also deal with refining, trading and retail provide a buffer to investors during crude-price slumps such as the one the industry has suffered since 2014, because the parts of their business that purchase oil are able to improve their margins.


Houston Chronicle – February 16, 2018

Injured worker wins compensation from Houston drilling firm

A veteran oil-field worker has won compensation after a seven-year fight to prove that a subsidiary of Houston-based drilling giant Nabors Industries Inc. dodged paying his accident claim after he fell on an Alaska oil rig and suffered life-altering head injuries.

The Alaska Workers’ Compensation Board awarded Mitch McNamee $80,000 in back pay and other expenses. His attorney was awarded $120,000 in fees, and California insurers will recoup from Nabors some of the medical costs they paid.

McNamee’s daughter, Christy Ferrell, said her father’s fight to get Nabors to acknowledge the accident was “never about the money – it was about what was right, and that’s what came out.”



Midland Reporter Telegram – February 18, 2018

Workforce lodges seen as tool to recruit, retain workers

As the Permian Basin oil industry begins bringing back the jobs lost during the downturn of the last three years, efforts are underway to provide the workers a place to stay.

Even during the downturn caused by a collapse in oil prices, Target Logistics saw demand for the workforce lodging it provides.

“In the middle of the downturn, the Permian Basin was very resilient,” said Troy Schrenk, senior vice president, business development and marketing.




KXAS (Dallas-Ft. Worth) – February 16, 2018

Small Texas Town Hit Hard By Power Plant Closing

A small town in Central East Texas is racing to replace hundreds of jobs lost when one of the largest employers in Freestone County shut down.

“It’s like losing your old friend, you know, that’s been very loyal and good to you for the time that they’ve been here,” said Jeff Looney, Fairfield City Administrator.

Fueled largely by locally mined coal, Big Brown Power Plant began operations in 1971 and employed more than 200 people, many of them living in the city of Fairfield.

“When you got natural gas prices so low, it makes it hard for a coal plant to compete with that,” said Looney.



KLTV (Tyler) – February 16, 2018

Oncor sends another crew of workers to help restore power to Puerto Rico

Linemen from the Texas-based electric company Oncor are packing up and headed to Puerto Rico in hopes of restoring electricity to residents.

“Best way to explain it,” regional customer operations manager Charles Hill said, “is it’s what we do.”

Nearly six months after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, many residents are still living without basic needs. That’s why Oncor has been working with FEMA to send rotating shifts of employees to the island.



Utility Dive – February 15, 2018

NRDC, EEI pair up on 21 policy recommendations to grow clean energy

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) today announced they have developed 21 policy recommendations aimed at advancing clean energy, and intend to work collaboratively to advance the strategies.

The recommendations include greater coordination between the gas and power industries, more pricing and data transparency and authorization from state and local regulators to increase investment in smarter, cleaner grids.

NRDC and EEI usually find themselves on opposite sides of issues, and so their collaboration is significant and illustrates the extent to which investor-owned utilities have embraced carbon-free energy strategies.



Windpower Engineering – February 15, 2018

Berkeley Lab report calls for industry attention to ensuring grid reliability

In light of changes in how electricity is generated and consumed, Berkeley Lab has authored a new report analyzing challenges facing the nation’s electric grid and making recommendations for ensuring continued reliability.

The report was prepared for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Office of Electric Reliability, to support ongoing FERC and industry efforts to ensure reliable interconnection frequency response for the three major interconnections in the United States: the Eastern, Western, and Texas Interconnections. The purpose of this study is to support policymaker and industry understanding of the physical requirements for reliable interconnection frequency response, which is the collective ability of the power system to respond to sudden loss events, such as the loss of a large generator.



Houston Chronicle – February 15, 2018

FERC clears way for more battery storage on grid

In a move to modernize the U.S. power grid, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission agreed Thursday to remove what it described as regulatory “barriers” for batteries and other energy storage equipment on the grid.

Now most of the nation’s grid operators will be required to amend their markets to speed up the adoption of energy storage. The commission said the decision would “enhance competition and promote greater efficiency in the nation’s electric wholesale markets, and will help support the resilience of the bulk power system.”

The change would not apply to Texas’s largest power grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which does not cross state lines and remains outside FERC’s jurisdiction.



Green Tech Media – February 14, 2018

Orvis, O’Boyle: It’s Time to Refine How We Talk About Wholesale Markets

“Price suppression” often refers to renewable energy’s impact on energy market prices. But to understand price suppression’s true meaning and implications, it’s important to understand how energy prices are set, what causes them to rise and fall, and what this means for stakeholders.

Competitive energy markets are built on principles of supply and demand. Power plants “offer” generation to market operators at a certain price — their production cost. Load-serving entities, often retail utilities, tell the market operator how much power they want to buy and what they’re willing to pay for it. The market operator, also responsible for operating the physical transmission system, then uses software to find the least-cost set of resources able to provide sufficient electricity. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s energy markets primer provides more detail about these markets and how they operate.


Alternatives and Renewables


Inside Climate News – February 12, 2018

Geothermal: Tax breaks and the Google startup bringing Earth’s heat into homes

During one bitter cold winter in upstate New York, Matt VanDerlofske spent $4,000 on fuel oil to heat his drafty, two-story home for the season. That was twice what he typically paid, and he had to cancel family vacations to afford it.

“I never wanted it to happen again,” he said. His solution was an unusual choice for a homeowner in the U.S., but one that’s gaining interest: He had a hole drilled hundreds of feet into his backyard and a geothermal heat pump installed by Dandelion, a startup energy company conceived at X, Google’s innovation lab that’s now part of its parent company, Alphabet.

Underground, below the frost line, the Earth is consistently around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Geothermal heat pumps use that temperature to keep buildings comfortable by circulating fluid through a set of pipes that runs through the earth and then connects with a heat pump.




Texas Tribune – February 19, 2018

UT/TT Poll: Clear sailing for Abbott, Patrick, uncertain waters for Bush, Miller

Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are far ahead of their Republican primary opponents in the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, but the Democrats running for those two high offices face more difficult paths to their party’s nomination.

Two other statewide Republican incumbents — Land Commissioner George P. Bush and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller — have the support of a majority of likely primary voters, but with a caveat. When those voters had the option of saying they weren’t ready to make a choice, 44 percent listed no preference in the land race and 60 percent said the same in the agriculture race.



Reuters – February 16, 2018

U.S. senator’s biofuel overhaul faces resistance

Texas Senator John Cornyn’s plan to overhaul U.S. biofuels policy faces resistance from the oil and ethanol sectors, reducing chances of a reboot to the controversial regulations, sources familiar with the matter said.

The plan, which the sources said could be released as draft legislation in coming weeks, represents nearly two years of negotiations with the rival industries to end their ongoing clash over the future of the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The decade-old law requires refiners to cover the costs of mixing increasing volumes of biofuels, like corn-based ethanol, into the nation’s fuel supply by acquiring blending credits called RINs that can be purchased or earned.



World Nuclear News – February 16, 2018

Nuclear R&D related bills pass US House

The US House of Representatives – the lower chamber of Congress – has approved two bills related to nuclear energy research and development. The bills – one for a versatile reactor-based fast neutron source and the other for research into the effects of low-dose radiation – will now pass to the Senate before they can be signed into law by the President.

The text of H.R. 4378, which was passed on 13 February, says: “The Secretary of Energy shall provide for a versatile reactor-based fast neutron source, which shall operate as a national user facility. The Secretary shall consult with the private sector, universities, national laboratories, and relevant federal agencies to ensure that the versatile neutron source is capable of meeting federal research needs for neutron irradiation services.” …

Randy Webster (R-Texas), who sponsored the bill, was cited by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) as saying: “This research reactor, a Versatile Neutron Source, is critical for the development of advanced reactor designs, materials and nuclear fuels.



Washington Post – February 19, 2018

‘It’s not fast enough. It’s not big enough. There’s not enough action.’

Barely two years ago, after weeks of intense bargaining in Paris, leaders from 195 countries announced a global agreement that once had seemed impossible. For the first time, the nations of the world would band together to reduce humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels in an effort to hold off the most devastating effects of climate change.

“History will remember this day,” the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, said amid a backdrop of diplomats cheering and hugging.

Two years later, the euphoria of Paris is colliding with the reality of the present.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide are rising again after several years of remaining flat. The United States, under President Trump, is planning to withdraw from the Paris accord and is expected to see emissions increase by 1.8 percent this year, after a three-year string of declines. Other countries, too, are showing signs they might fail to live up to the pledges they made in Paris.

In short, the world is off target.



Washington Post – February 19, 2018

Tom Ridge is lucky to be alive: ‘I’m told I flatlined three times’

Tom Ridge, the former homeland security secretary and Pennsylvania governor, has been dealing firsthand with first responders for decades, but never quite like on the morning of Nov. 16.

Ridge was at a hotel in Austin, where he was attending a meeting of the Republican Governors Association. When he woke up, he wasn’t feeling well. But it was more than just not feeling well. “I also felt different,” he said. He didn’t know it then, but he was in danger of dying. … An emergency team arrived at his room minutes after his call. Ridge was in cardiac arrest. For more than an hour, they worked on him. “I’m told I flatlined three times,” he said. Once in his room, a second time in the elevator and the third time in the lobby of the hotel. At one point, he was revived enough to give the EMS team the name of a longtime colleague who was in the hotel. Then he was out again.



The Guardian (UK) – February 16, 2018

Holmes a Court: It’d be wonderful if the claims made about carbon capture were true

The International Energy Agency warned this week that, under current energy policies, Australia is unlikely to meet its 2030 climate commitments.

While the agency had lots to say about the plunging costs of renewables and the need for strong market signals to encourage the retirement of old and inefficient coal generation, Josh Frydenberg, the federal environment and energy minister, seized on the agency’s support for carbon capture and storage (CCS) – despite the technology’s long history of big promises and meagre results.

Last April, Frydenberg visited the newly opened Petra Nova CCS project in Texas. In a video posted to social media the minister, decked out in the obligatory hi-vis vest and hard hat, yells above the noise that the $1bn project is “helping to reduce the carbon footprint by some 40%”

It’d be wonderful if it were true.



Houston Chronicle – February 8, 2018

Carbon capture, viewed as critical to fossil fuel future, at a crossroads

Carbon capture presents a risk to both parties, with opposition lining up both out of concern for the growing federal deficit and fear it would do little to slow climate change.

But the technology also has found support from liberal Democrats, such as Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Sen. Corey Booker of New Jersey, and Republicans from energy-producing states, such as Sen. John Barasso of Wyoming, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who, when asked about his beliefs on climate change in 2016, replied there was carbon dioxide in his soda. What brings these usually warring factions together are some undeniable and interconnected realities. … And carbon capture stands to substantially benefit the oil industry – a big draw for Texas congressmen like Rep. Ted Poe, R-Kingwood, and Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi. Production companies such as Occidental Petroleum have pumped carbon dioxide into oil wells for decades to boost production in older fields, a process known as enhanced recovery.




The Texas Energy Report NewsClips – February 19, 2018


Lead Stories


San Antonio Express News – February 16, 2018

Judge calls FourWinds ‘a scam’ in Uresti criminal trial, postpones closing arguments

Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra postponed closing arguments in the criminal trial of state Sen. Carlos Uresti and co-defendant Gary Cain until Tuesday, handing the jury its instructions for deliberations before recessing for the holiday weekend. Closings were expected Friday, but arguments over instructions for the jury delayed proceedings, and the court is closed Monday for Presidents Day. …

Ezra said all of the money generated by FourWinds was “tainted” since the company’s original setup by former CEO Stan Bates was fraudulent.

“The scheme began the day Mr. Bates set up this sham operation. And the fact that it made money doesn’t detract from the fact that (the funds) were tainted,” Ezra told the lawyers, reporters and other observers in the courtroom.



Houston Chronicle – February 17, 2018

Hollingsworth, Koniski, Zirogiannis: How disasters like Harvey make air pollution worse

When Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast in August 2017, many industrial facilities had to shut down their operations before the storm arrived and restart once rainfall and flooding had subsided. These shutdowns and startups, as well as accidents caused by the hurricane, led to a significant release of air pollutants. Over a period of about two weeks, data we compiled from the Texas’ Air Emission Event Report Databaseindicates these sites released 2,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and other pollutants. …

But, as we document in a newly published study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, they also occur regularly during the routine operation of many industrial facilities, sometimes in large quantities.

And, even if unintended or unavoidable, the pollutants released during these events are in violation of the U.S. Clean Air Act (CAA).



Dallas Morning News – February 16, 2018

Texas regulators wrestling with how to be sure firms like Oncor pass tax-cut savings to consumers

Oncor has already agreed to return its estimated $245 million in tax rate savings to consumers. But getting the money from the electricity distributor to customers’ bank accounts is not as easy as it sounds.

Texas utility regulators are asking transmission companies like Oncor to keep track of how much they save from the recently enacted corporate tax rate cut from 35 percent to 21 percent. The companies, which are state-regulated monopolies, also will be evaluated separately by the staff of the Texas Public Utility Commission.

In many cases, transmission costs — set by the state — are intertwined with retail electricity rates — which are determined by the market.



KATC (Lafayette) – February 16, 2018

Largest oil and gas lease sale in history announced

The Department of Interior will offer 77.3 million acres offshore Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida for oil and gas exploration and development, according to Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt.

The region-wide lease sale, which is the largest in U.S. history, is scheduled for March 21, 2018, and will include all available unleased areas in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. In 2017, offshore leases helped the Department raise a billion dollars more in revenue for the year than was made off energy revenues in 2016.


Oil & Gas


CNBC – February 19. 2018

Oil hits highest level in nearly two weeks on Asian equity recovery

Oil prices extended gains to hit their highest level in nearly two weeks on Monday, buoyed as Asian shares joined a global recovery in equity markets and by worries over tensions in the Middle East.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel could act against Iran itself, not just its allies in the Middle East, after border incidents in Syria brought the Middle East foes closer to direct confrontation.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for March delivery was up 74 cents, or 1.2 percent, at $62.42 a barrel by 0217 GMT, after earlier touching its highest since Feb. 7.

London Brent crude was up 46 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $65.30, after rising more than 3 percent last week.



24/7 Wall St. – February 16, 2018

US oil rig count rises by 7 as crude price remains steady

In the week ended February 16, 2018, the number of land rigs drilling for oil in the United States totaled 798, up by seven compared to the previous week and 201 higher compared with a total of 597 a year ago. Including 177 other land rigs drilling for natural gas, there are a total of 975 working rigs in the country, unchanged week over week and up by 224 year over year. The data come from the latest Baker Hughes North American Rotary Rig Count released on Friday.



Midland Reporter Telegram – February 16, 2018

Permian Basin rig count is 433, decrease of 4

Oil drilling activity picked up in a wide range of areas from Alaska to Oklahoma to the Gulf of Mexico, while the number of rigs in West Texas’ booming Permian Basin actually declined by four, according to weekly data collected by Houston’s Baker Hughes oilfield services firm.

The Permian has 433 rigs drilling for oil — which is more than half of all the nation’s rigs — compared to 437 a week ago. Midland County is unchanged for a total of 47 and Reeves County is down one for a total of 72.

Texas also stayed flat overall with the Permian dip offset by small increases in other parts of the state such as South Texas’ Eagle Ford shale and the Panhandle’s Granite Wash region, which are up one for a total of 70 and 12, respectively.



Brownsville Herald – February 16, 2018

TCEQ issues LNG notice

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued a notice Feb. 15 that it has made a preliminary decision and prepared a draft permit following an expedited review of an application for air permits from Rio Grande LNG and Rio Brave Pipeline.

TCEQ also announced the date of a public meeting for the Rio Grande-Rio Bravo application: Thursday, March 8, at 7 p.m. at the Brownsville Event Center, 1 Events Center Blvd.

Rio Grande LNG is three companies that have applied to the state and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to build a plant for liquefying and shipping natural gas transported to the Valley via pipeline.



Bloomberg – February 16, 2018

Refiner Sees ‘Good Idea’ in Exporting U.S. Oil

Andeavor, which refines the equivalent of a supertanker of crude every 48 hours, is “seriously” considering going into the oil-export business.

Chief Executive Officer Greg Goff was asked Friday during the San Antonio, Texas-based company’s earnings conference call if the fourth-biggest U.S. refiner would consider the idea as another marketing outlet.

“We need to consider everything and look at where the opportunity is,” Goff said. “I think you have a good idea.”



Hydrocarbons Technology – February 16, 2018

LINN Energy signs agreement to divest stake in properties in West Texas

LINN Energy has signed a definitive agreement to divest its stake in assets in West Texas to an undisclosed buyer for $119.5m.

The assets being divested comprise around 28,000 net acres in West Texas with 2017 net production totalling 6,300 barrels of oil equivalent a day (boed), proved developed reserves of 14.4 million barrels of oil equivalent (mmboe) and proved developed PV-10 of around $106m.

The annualised field level cash flow on these assets stands at around $32m.



Bloomberg – February 16, 2018

Venezuela’s Ex-Oil Chief Sued by Houston Energy Firm Over Bribe Demands

Former Venezuelan oil minister Rafael Ramirez, already accused of corruption by his own country, now faces a lawsuit from a Houston energy firm alleging that it lost almost half a billion dollars over its refusal to pay bribes for contracts.

Harvest Natural Resources Inc. said that because it rebuffed four separate $10 million bribe demands from associates of Ramirez, Venezuela’s power ministry withheld approval for Harvest to sell its energy assets in the South American nation. That resulted in losses of $470 million, according to a complaint filed Friday in Houston federal court.

A Venezuelan public prosecutor said in December, just after Ramirez resigned his post as the nation’s ambassador to the United Nations, that the former head of state-run oil producer Petroleos de Venezuela was linked to a scheme to sell crude illegally.



San Antonio Express News – February 16, 2018

San Antonio’s Andeavor Logistics buys pipeline for $180 million

San Antonio-based pipeline and storage company Andeavor Logistics announced Thursday it has purchased a nearly 600 mile-long pipeline system for $180 million.

Andeavor Logistics said it bought the 575 mile Wamsutter Pipeline System from Plains All American Pipeline, the company disclosed in its fourth quarter 2017 earnings release Thursday. The company said the pipeline system serves the Salt Lake City refinery market, including Andeavor’s Salt Lake City refinery. Andeavor Logistics is also planning to spend upwards of $150 million to build and operate a natural gas liquids transport and storage system called the North Dakota Logistics Hub.



Houston Chronicle – February 16, 2018

Lawyer says leak off Louisiana remains a ‘long-term problem’

A 13-year-old oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico remains a “long-term problem” without a clear solution for eliminating slicks that often stretch for miles off Louisiana’s coast, a government lawyer recently told a federal judge.

Up to 16 oil wells are possibly leaking at the site where a company’s platform toppled during Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Justice Department attorney John Roberson said during a court proceeding in Washington last Friday. Roberson said federal regulators haven’t decided whether to require Taylor Energy Co. to plug any of those wells, according to a court transcript.

A company lawyer insisted there is no evidence any wells are still leaking.




Forbes – February 16, 2018

Granite Gets Bigger In Water Infrastructure With Layne Purchase

There’s been a lot of talk this week about infrastructure with the unveiling of the Trump administration’s $200 billion infrastructure plan. It’s also renewed interest in infrastructure stocks, some of which have seen their share prices rise recently.

Now comes a good-sized merger in the infrastructure industry: Granite Construction’s purchase of Layne Christensen announced Wednesday for $565 million, including debt. The stock-for-stock deal works out to $17 per share, a 33% premium for Layne shareholders who will end up with 12% of the combined company.

Why did Granite go after Layne? Quite simply, to expand in the water infrastructure business.



Platts – February 16, 2018

Enterprise’s ethylene export project could eclipse Odfjell: CEO

Norwegian chemical shipper Odfjell’s proposed ethylene export facility in Houston is less likely to be built if Enterprise Products Partners’ similar project moves ahead, according to CEO Kristian Verner Morch.

During the company’s quarterly earnings call on Thursday, Morch acknowledged the “competing project” without identifying Enterprise or its joint venture partner, London-based Navigator Gas, and said if it goes forward, there was a “less likelihood” of Odfjell building its project as well.

“We have said from the beginning that if you want to invest $350 million roughly in the first-of-its-kind export facility, we do not want to do that without having security that we have customers that support it, come hell and high water,” Morch said. “We were not able to get that and we still have discussions on it.”



Oil Price – February 14, 2018

Russia Is Taking Over Syria’s Oil And Gas

It finally happened…

In accordance with an energy cooperation framework agreement signed in late January, Russia will have exclusive rights to produce oil and gas in Syria.

The agreement goes significantly beyond that, stipulating the modalities of the rehabilitation of damaged rigs and infrastructure, energy advisory support, and training a new generation of Syrian oilmen. Still, the main international aspect and the key piece of this move is the final and unconditional consolidation of Russian interests in the Middle East.



Global Research – February 15, 2018

Engdahl: Will Lebanon be the Next Energy War?

A new geopolitical confrontation is shaping up in the Middle East, and not only between Israel and Syria or Iran. Like most conflicts there, it involves a fight for hydrocarbon resources—oil and gas. The new focus is a dispute between Israel and Lebanon over the precise demarcation of the Exclusive Economic Zone between the two countries. The prime actors at present, in addition to the governments of Israel and Lebanon include Russia, the Lebanese Hezbollah, Syria, Iran and the US in the shadows. The latest Israeli attacks on alleged Iranian bases or Hezbollah camps inside Syria are closely tied to the Israeli aim to prevent a land link from Iran through Syria to the Hezbollah home-base infrastructure in Lebanon. The whole situation has the potential to lead to an ugly wider war nobody wants, at least almost nobody.



Lubbock Avalanche Journal – February 16, 2018

Public Utility Commission asks for Final Order in LP&L’s bid to join ERCOT

The Public Utility Commission gave Lubbock Power & Light a few more instructions Thursday, and predicts a final vote on LP&L’s bid to join the Electric Reliability Council of Texas grid should take place at the next meeting March 8.

With LP&L having already entered into agreements with both parties, there was thought the PUC may cast a final vote Thursday. But during the meeting, the three-member board accepted the agreements, and directed representatives of LP&L to draft a final order with a few specific details for final approval at the commission’s next meeting.



Dallas Morning News – February 16, 2018

Texas regulators wrestling with how to be sure firms like Oncor pass tax-cut savings to consumers

Oncor has already agreed to return its estimated $245 million in tax rate savings to consumers. But getting the money from the electricity distributor to customers’ bank accounts is not as easy as it sounds.

Texas utility regulators are asking transmission companies like Oncor to keep track of how much they save from the recently enacted corporate tax rate cut from 35 percent to 21 percent. The companies, which are state-regulated monopolies, also will be evaluated separately by the staff of the Texas Public Utility Commission.

In many cases, transmission costs — set by the state — are intertwined with retail electricity rates — which are determined by the market.



Big Bend Now – February 15, 2018

Pipeline releases gas without notice to local officials; pipeline spokesperson disagrees

Members of the Presidio community were left out of the loop as Energy Transfer Partners held a scheduled 30-hour gas release at the TransPecos Pipeline east of Presidio beginning last Tuesday morning, according to local officials and area landowners.

A pipeline spokesperson said officials were contacted. Presidio County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Joel Nuñez also confirmed that the sheriff’s office wasn’t notified of the blowout. The sheriff’s office was notified of the release by U.S. Border Patrol personnel.

… According to a TCEQ air emission report, the pipeline blowout included the release of an estimated 3,592 pounds of butane, 32,138 pounds of carbon dioxide, 587,653 pounds of ethane, 2,242 pounds of isobutane, 1,251 pounds of isopentane, 5,866,202 pounds of methane, 190,117 pounds of nitrogen, 1,137 pounds of pentane, and 35,969 pounds of propane between 9am Tuesday, February 6 and 9pm on Wednesday, February 7.



Platts – February 16, 2018

FERC’s power storage final rule likely to affect peakers, scarcity pricing

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s new final rule mandating the integration of electric storage into wholesale power markets is likely to affect the viability of peaking resources and mitigate power price spikes during scarcity events, observers said Friday.

On Thursday, FERC approved a final rule to require each independent system operator to alter its tariff to create market participation rules recognizing and accommodating the physical and operational characteristics of storage so it can participate in wholesale power markets.

ISOs have up to 270 days after the rule’s publication in the Federal Register to file necessary tariff changes and 365 days thereafter to implement the changes.



Wall St. Journal – February 18, 2018

Puerto Rico Utility to Reduce Energy Reserves Amid Cash Shortfall

Puerto Rico’s power company will reduce its operating energy reserve to save money amid a cash shortfall, a move that could destabilize the U.S. territory’s fragile electrical grid.

William Rios, director of generation at the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, said Sunday that a plan to reduce its reserve by 450 megawatts wouldn’t affect customers and would help save $9 million a month.

Public Affairs Secretary Ramon Rosario said while the measure is needed, it could affect a grid still experiencing frequent blackouts as nearly 250,000 customers remain without power more than five months after Hurricane Maria. The Category 4 storm destroyed two-thirds of the island’s power-distribution system and caused the longest blackout in U.S. history.


Alternatives and Renewables


Bloomberg – February 15, 2018

Tesla Seeks Upgrade to Grid to Recognize World’s Biggest Battery

The world’s biggest battery, built by Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc. in Australia, is doing its job too well.

The response time for Musk’s Powerpack batteries to feed power into the grid when outages hit is less than 200 milliseconds, Tesla said in a submission to the nation’s energy markets rulemaker. However, the rules, written with large coal and gas generators in mind, gives them a leisurely six seconds to respond. That’s prompted Tesla to call for a shake up of Australia’s old-fashioned grid. Like most Musk pursuits, Tesla wants things done faster. It’s called for a new system that address technical restraints and better values the dispatch of emergency power to the grid from fast-response technologies — such as its Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia that delivers electricity at lightning speed.



Power Electronics – February 7, 2018

Atwell: The True Cost of Solar Energy

Americans have seen some interesting changes in the Oval Office to say the least, but one thing that has not changed much is our consumption of renewable energy. Solar and wind energy made up47% of new electric capacity last year, and the renewables sector has grown steadily since the mid-2000s.

Part of the reasoning behind this is cost. Installation costs for solar infrastructure have fallen 70% since 2006. Many homeowners have also done away with their electricity bill, thanks to net metering. But while the technology has become more accessible to homeowners and enterprises alike, there is a hidden cost to solar energy that lies in hefty government subsidies.




Austin American Statesman – February 16, 2018

State’s top business group boosts political activity ahead of primaries

The state’s most powerful business lobbying group has been beefing up its political donations, in keeping with a vow to be more proactive after spending much of 2017 on the defensive as social conservatives in the Legislature pushed measures — such as the so-called bathroom bill — that it viewed as bad for the Texas economy.

The rift between the Texas Association of Business and some leaders of the socially conservative faction of the state’s Republican Party was laid bare anew recently, when Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick canceled a scheduled appearance at its annual conference and took swipes at the organization while speaking at a conservative policy foundation.

Patrick lumped the business group — traditionally considered a bastion of mainstream Republicanism — among the “moderates, liberals and progressives” that he said are out of step with Texas, noting in his speech that the word “business” in a group’s name “does not necessarily mean they’re being run by conservative Republicans.”



San Antonio Express News – February 16, 2018

Chasnoff: Uresti bought ads on Google before trial

In the three months before the criminal trial began, from Oct. 16 to Dec. 29, Uresti paid Google nearly $17,000 in political expenditures for “advertising,” according to his most recent campaign finance report.

Uresti, however, is not on the ballot this year. (Only about half of state senate seats are up for re-election due to staggered elections.) For that reason, James Smith, director of digital media at the Austin-based Lee Tilford Agency, called the senator’s recent expenditures for online advertising “flakey” — and odd.

“That’s a lot of money to spend and not be in cycle,” Smith said. “The only reason you put money into Google is to advertise. It makes zero sense why someone would advertise if they’re not running. … If you’re not on the ballot, you have nothing to advertise.” … How many potential jurors saw the senator’s online ads? It’s unclear what ads Uresti purchased through Google.



Dallas Morning News – February 15, 2018

Climate change to bring North Texas longer droughts, heavy rains, 120-degree temps within 25 years

The United States has just come off a record year for weather and climate disasters and, by most accounts, it’s only going to get worse.

Last year hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria; the wildfires and floods in California; and tornado outbreaks in the Midwest and the South delivered $306.2 billion in damages, more than any year in history when adjusted for inflation.

Texas is particularly vulnerable to a changing climate. It has had more costly weather-related disasters than any other state, and those events will happen more often as air and ocean temperatures climb, scientists say.



Utility Dive – February 15, 2018

DOE taps 9 ‘clean coal’ projects for funding, support

The U.S. Department of Energy has selected nine projects for funding and support as part of the Trump Administration’s work to rebuild the ailing industry and find new and “cleaner” ways to utilize the fuel.

DOE last August announced $50 million in possible funding for pilot projects to develop “transformational coal technologies.”

DOE said the projects selected for Phase I of the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) represent a range of technologies that demonstrated “technical success at the small-scale pilot stage,” and will now focus on project schedules, costs and funding, an environmental assessment.



Bloomberg – February 15, 2018

Trump’s Gas-Tax Hike Goes Nowhere in Congress

Despite backing from groups as wide ranging as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the lobby for truckers — and now President Donald Trump — a proposal to raise gas tax for the first time in 25 years appears to be going nowhere fast on Capitol Hill.

Trump surprised a bipartisan group of House and Senate committee leaders Wednesday at the White House by offering to support a 25 cent-per-gallon increase in the tax on gas and diesel fuel dedicated to improving roads, highways and bridges. But that wasn’t swaying Republican opinion Thursday.

“I don’t think there is support for it right now,” Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the second-ranking House Republican, said in an interview Thursday.



Houston Chronicle – February 17, 2018

Bullet train sparks fight as old as Texas: progress v tradition

The fight over Texas Central Railway – a.k.a. the Texas Bullet Train – rests on many of the contentious fault lines that shape the Lone Star State. City interests versus rural identity. Urban dwellers versus people who want their stars at night to shine big and bright.

Mostly, it is about land. Who controls it, what’s the best use for it and how much of it can the two metro areas – Houston and Dallas – claim so their economic futures are secure.

“How do you achieve that balance?” Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle asked. He supports the project despite the strong opposition of many in his district.


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