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Oil and Gas Roundup — Nov. 6

November 06, 2013
TOPICS: In the news
A roundup of oil and natural gas industry news from around the state, nation and world:

Enviro compares HF supporters to Assad’s chemical weapons scientists

An environmental activist responded to a pro-fracking op-ed by comparing drilling supporters to the scientists that worked on chemical weapons for Syria’s dictator.

“I am so happy to hear that the oil and gas industry was a blessing to your family,” wrote Zev Paiss, co-owner of the PR firm that runs the environmental group Frack Free Boulder, in the comments section of the article.

“There are always going to be people who seriously benefit from any situation,” Paiss added. “The scientists and their families who work on weapons of mass destruction depend on that regular paycheck too.”

Paiss’s remarks come as cities across norther Colorado are set to vote on whether or not to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the area. Diane Banning, the author of the Denver Post op-ed, wrote that the ban would hurt thousands of workers and their families, including her own.

Banning was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 after becoming a single mother who had two daughters to support. She was deeply in debt and had no health insurance. Her life turned around after she began working for the oil and gas industry. However, banning oil and gas drilling in the northern part of the state would hurt families, she writes.

“There are tens of thousands of Colorado families just like mine, and many single mothers, who depend on oil and gas jobs to put food on the table, pay the bills, get health care, save for college and plan for retirement,” Banning writes.

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Oklahoma's economy sees 6-month growth trend

State revenue collections increased in October with gross production tax on oil and natural gas, up 15.9 percent, Oklahoma State Treasurer Ken Miller said Monday at the state Capitol.

The trend reflects six months of positive growth for Oklahoma’s economy.

“Oklahoma’s economy appears resilient and is not yet showing negative effects of the 16-day shutdown of the federal government and the last minute avoidance of a debt ceiling crisis,” Miller said.

Growth was seen in all major tax categories, he said. However, the corporate income tax is down by 11 percent. The Oklahoma Tax Commission recently paid $11 million in refunds, due to amended returns filed for prior years, Miller said.

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U.S. shale boom to boost LPG exports, bring down prices

A U.S. energy drilling boom is revolutionising the niche market for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), bringing down global prices and challenging established exporters in the Middle East.

The changes are the latest sign of the global impact of a drilling renaissance in the United States that has already hit oil and natural gas. And like oil and gas, it is U.S. LPG producers who are set to gain the most, while established exporters may struggle with new competition in a suddenly altered landscape.

While LPG has been trading for many decades, the U.S. production boom is now attracting big trading houses on a larger scale.

"We are very involved in LPG, and we've taken substantial long-term positions," Ian Taylor, president and CEO of energy and commodities trading major Vitol Group told Reuters in an interview on Monday. LPG is an easier growth market than other booming energy sectors such as liquefied natural gas, he added.

Unconventional oil and gas drilling, including shale gas extraction from fracking, is controversial because it requires large amounts of water and chemicals to be pumped at high pressure into the earth, and some countries such as France and Bulgaria have banned the technology.

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U.K. review: Hydraulic fracturing a low risk to public health

The risks to public health from emissions caused by fracking for shale oil and gas are low as long as operations are properly run and regulated, the British government's health agency said on Thursday.

Public Health England (PHE) said in a review that any health impacts were likely to be minimal from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves the pumping of water and chemicals into dense shale formations deep underground.

Environmental campaigners have staged large anti-fracking protests in Britain, arguing that it can pollute groundwater and cause earthquakes.

Since there is currently no fracking in Britain, the PHE report examined evidence from countries such as the United States, where it found that any risk to health was typically due to operational failure.

"The currently available evidence indicates that the potential risks to public health from exposure to emissions associated with the shale gas extraction process are low if operations are properly run and regulated," said John Harrison, director of PHE's centre for radiation, chemical and environmental hazards.

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White House revisits ‘social cost of carbon’

The White House will seek new public comment on the “social cost of carbon" (SCC), a metric that helps regulators estimate the benefits of rules that cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) decision arrives amid criticism from industry groups and Republicans who say the Obama administration’s May 2013 upward revision of the SCC earlier lacked public input.

The "social cost of carbon" has lately been a flashpoint in wider political and lobbying battles over White House's climate change policy, especially planned Environmental Protection Agency carbon standards for power plants.

Howard Shelanski, the top White House regulatory official, said in a blog post late Friday afternoon that the administration was making new changes to the estimate, and would launch a public comment period "in response to public and stakeholder interest."

“These updated values reflect minor technical corrections to the estimates we released in May of this year. For example, these technical corrections result in a central estimated value of the social cost of carbon in 2015 of $37 per metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2), instead of the $38 per metric ton estimate released in May,” wrote Shelanski.

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