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Oil and Gas Roundup — June 25

June 24, 2015
TOPICS: In the news
A roundup of oil and natural gas industry news from around the state, nation and world:

The Shale Brothers: Bloomberg profiles Doug and Dave Lawler

Here’s a question most brothers might have answered with the gun option: Do you jump on that 9-foot alligator or do you do the more sensible thing and shoot it in the head, given that it weighs a few hundred pounds and could bite you with the force of, say, 12 pit bulls?

If you’re the Lawler brothers, who did not get to be two of the hardest-nosed CEOs in the oil industry by making easy decisions, there was only one answer: Jump on it!

So they did—Doug first, of course, since, as he likes to note, he is 17 months older than his “little brother,” Dave.

Doug, 48, clambered atop the gator, which had just been dragged unhappily up a bank from a South Carolina wetland as part of a staged hunt. Things started going south pretty quickly. While Doug managed to push the gator’s mouth shut, the reptile had other ideas and writhed free, jaws snapping.

Gators aren’t that picky. A tough-as-iron businessman is as good to eat as one of those hapless Florida poodles that get snatched off leashes from the rim of golf-course ponds every year.

Little brother Dave, not to be left out of the action, jumped in (with mutual friend Trey Ingram recording a video for posterity) and helped to seal the gator’s mouth shut with duct tape. The beast was eventually vanquished.

“It really was scary,” Doug recalls of the hunt, which they had bought in a charity auction.

Dave gives his brother one of those “I wasn’t really scared” looks. The Lawlers like each other as much as they love to rib each other.

Bloomberg News has a feature profile of Doug and Dave Lawler at

Iranian crude could pinch U.S. producers without export freedom, paper warns

The United States should not permit Iran to put as much as 1 million barrels per day in crude on the world market without also giving American producers the freedom to sell their oil overseas, according to a Republican white paper released Tuesday.

The paper, written by Republican staff on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, asserts that if the United States lifts sanctions against Iran, a flood of crude from the country could send oil prices down across the globe.

The paper notes the “great geopolitical irony” that “lifting sanctions will boost Iranian oil exports at a time when federal law and regulations generally prohibit American oil exports.”

If the Obama administration or Congress do not relax those restrictions, “such a shift in would grant Iranian oil producers access to global markets but deny it to American producers,” the paper concludes.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the head of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has been pushing for an end to the nation’s longstanding export ban, which applies only to raw, unprocessed crude, and does not affect gasoline, diesel and refined petroleum products.

There are already exceptions for some Californian crude, oil extracted on Alaska’s North Slope and shipments to Canada, but export advocates say more outlets are needed for domestic production that was surging before prices plummeted last year.

Read more at FuelFix.

House votes to weaken Obama’s climate rule

The House voted Wednesday to delay the Environmental Protection Agency’s climate rule for power plants and let state governors opt out of complying.

The bill, passed 247-180, is a major blow to the main pillar of President Obama’s effort to reduce the greenhouse gases that cause climate change, although the White House has promised a veto to protect his legacy.

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s power subpanel, sponsored the legislation as House Republicans’ principal response to the EPA’s climate rule. The rule has become the most controversial aspects of the Obama administration’s environmental policy, and one of its most controversial regulations.

Under the bill, state governors could opt out of adopting state plans for the EPA’s regulation if such a plan would harm electricity rates, reliability or important economic sectors in the states.

The regulation’s enforcement would also be delayed until all court challenges are resolved.

The GOP believes that the rule will not withstand judicial review, so the delay is designed to ensure that the regulation never takes effect.

“They’ve picked up a shotgun and pointed it at the heart of the American economy, our power generation,” Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) said of the EPA.

But Democrats warned it would ultimately gut the regulation intended to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

Read more at The Hill.

Federal judge temporarily halts BLM HF rule

A judge in Wyoming’s federal district court has issued a temporary stay against implementation of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's hydraulic fracturing rule that would have gone into effect June 24.

Following a Tuesday hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction, Judge Scott Skavdahl ruled that the final rule’s effective date would be delayed at least until after the U.S. Department of Justice filed an administrative record in the lawsuit.

After the administrative record is filed on July 22 under the current schedule, all parties in the lawsuit will have seven days to supplement their legal papers. The court is expected to issue a final decision on the preliminary injunction motion in August.

Earlier this month, North Dakota filed a request in Wyoming’s federal district court for a preliminary injunction against BLM to stop its hydraulic fracturing rule from going into effect. Wyoming, Colorado and Utah also filed requests to block the rule, along with the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), the Western Energy Alliance (WEA) and the Ute tribe in Utah.

“The court’s decision today was an important first step in holding BLM accountable to the standards the Administrative Procedures Act imposes on federal agencies,” said Mark Barron, an attorney with BakerHostetler who argued on behalf of IPAA and WEA during the hearing.

According to Kathleen Sgamma, WEA vice president of government and public affairs, “BLM was ill-prepared to implement an extremely complex rule in a short period of time.”

She noted that BLM’s Washington, D.C., office had not provided sufficient guidance to state and field offices to implement the rule, creating confusion on how companies were expected to comply with it.

Read more at Bakken Magazine.
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