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Oil and Gas Roundup — Dec. 4

December 04, 2015
TOPICS: In the news
A roundup of oil and natural gas industry news from around the state, nation and world:

State rig count up as U.S. number falls

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in Oklahoma increased by two this week to 84, according to oilfield service company Baker Hughes. The nationwide rig count was off seven to 737.

Of the other major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas lost 3 to 333, North Dakota fell two to 60, Louisiana dropped four to 60, New Mexico (40) and Pennsylvania (29) were unchanged and Colorado fell by one to 27.

This time last year, there were 211 rigs operating in Oklahoma and 1,920 nationwide.


House backs sweeping energy bill to boost oil, natural gas

Defying a White House veto threat, the Republican-controlled House on Thursday approved a sweeping bill to boost U.S. energy production, lift a four-decade ban on crude oil exports and modernize the aging electric grid.

The first major energy legislation in nearly a decade, the bill would also speed natural gas exports and hasten approval of natural gas pipelines across public lands. It also would advance cross-border projects such as the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which lingered for more than seven years before being rejected last month by President Barack Obama.

The vote was 249-174. The Senate still must consider the measure.

"The days of energy scarcity are long in the rearview mirror, and passing (the energy legislation) takes an important and necessary step forward," said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the bill's chief sponsor.

Passage of the legislation comes just days after Obama traveled to Paris for an international conference on climate change. Administration officials involved in negotiations are pressing for a far-reaching agreement designed to put the world on a path toward reducing the carbon pollution blamed for global warming.

Democrats criticized the House bill as "backward-looking," saying it promotes fossil fuels such as oil and gas while doing nothing to support renewable forms of energy such as solar and wind power.

Read more at News9.


Columbia, LA Times quietly update websites to disclose anti-oil and gas interests funded their work

New information uncovered by a conservative online newspaper reveals that a funding disclosure statement made by the Columbia School of Journalism was mysteriously added days after its now-infamous climate reports were published by the Los Angeles Times.

The quiet addition of funding sources was first reported today by the Daily Caller. The revelation is also noteworthy, given that the school’s dean just yesterday pointed to the disclosure as evidence that the school has always been transparent about its funding. A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Times said earlier this week that the newspaper had no need to include the disclosure in its stories, since it was presumably always disclosed on Columbia’s website.

Following an Energy In Depth review of online records from late last month that showed how funding from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund was not revealed by the Los Angeles Times, the newspaper has also quietly updated one of the stories to include the disclosure. This update, which is not included in the first story of the series, appears to have been made within the past three days.

Steve Coll, the Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, penned a letter this week in response to concerns raised about stories from several of the program’s researchers, which were published in October by the Los Angeles Times.

One of the concerns was that the Los Angeles Times did not disclose the role that the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) — whose president declared earlier today in Paris a “moral imperative” to “end fossil fuel investments” — played in financing the project. This raises questions about whether the Columbia researchers had disclosed that information to the Times, or if the Times had purposefully omitted it.

Read more at Energy In Depth.


Groups appeal suspension of federal oil, gas drilling rules

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Environmental groups have appealed a judge's decision to suspend new rules for oil and gas drilling on federal land across the U.S. pending the outcome of a legal challenge to those rules.

The rules should be allowed to take effect to protect land, water and wildlife from practices including hydraulic fracturing, the Sierra Club and others argue in court documents.

On Sept. 30, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl in Wyoming disagreed and blocked the rules from taking effect while the lawsuit contesting them moves ahead.
The environmental groups, which have sided with the federal government in the case, appealed Skavdahl's decision Nov. 27 to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The case itself remains before Skavdahl in Casper.

The plaintiffs are Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, North Dakota, the Ute Tribe and two petroleum industry groups, the Western Energy Alliance and the Independent Petroleum Association of America. They say the rules would be costly for industry and cause economic harm to the states.

The rules initially were set to take effect June 24 but Skavdahl suspended them the day before, telling federal officials to submit more information about how they developed their regulations.

The rules would require petroleum developers to disclose to regulators the ingredients in the chemical products they use to improve the results of fracking. Developers also would have to pressure-test well bores to make sure they wouldn't leak.

Opponents of the rules likely will prevail on the merits of their arguments, Skavdahl wrote in September while extending the suspension.

He cited a law that prohibits the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating fracking. Just because the EPA lacks that authority, doesn't give the Interior Department leeway to do so, the judge wrote.

— Associated Press


Mexico’s Pemex oil company to open 5 gas stations in U.S.

Mexico’s national oil company launched its first gasoline station outside of the country’s borders on Thursday in Houston, the first of several stations planned for the city.

After Mexico opened its borders to foreign investment in the country’s oil fields in 2014, state-owned Petróleos Mexicanos, know as Pemex, has started to test its brand strength by competing in the U.S., with that effort beginning in Houston, said José Manuel Carrera Panizzo, the company’s chief of alliances and new business development.

“We want to be put to the toughest test,” Carrera said of the competitive Texas gasoline market. “We’re trying to bring Mexico closer to American consumers.”

“In terms of historic importance, it’s the first time Pemex puts a gas station outside the Mexican borders,” he said. “We’re very excited.”

Carrera said Pemex is initially opening just five U.S. stations as a pilot test for the brand, but may eventually expand further. The other four gas station openings are all in the Houston area — three in Southeast Houston and one in West Houston.

Carrera said Pemex is specifically marketing to Mexican nationals and Hispanic consumers. The gas station includes a taco shack in the convenience store, but the gasoline is U.S.-produced and all the other convenience store items are standard American fare.

— FuelFix

 
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