A unit of Halliburton Co. on Thursday agreed to plead guilty to one misdemeanor count of destroying evidence in connection with the April 2010 Macondo well blowout in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said. The settlement is subject to district court approval.
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Kansas state regulators have proposed a set of rules requiring oil and natural gas drilling companies to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking). A public hearing by the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) will he held Aug. 15 to review the draft rules as part of a 60-day public comment period now under way.
A bipartisan coalition of 34 senators has called on the Department of Energy (DOE) to speed up its processing of permit requests to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to foreign countries with which the United States does not have have a free trade agreement (non-FTA). At the current rate, the senators estimated that it could take the department up to two years to approve all of the non-FTA permits pending at DOE.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett is urging the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to proceed with a proposal to revise water quality regulations, a move that could ultimately open the basin to expanded Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker said her city has signed an agreement with locally based Reliant Energy, an NRG Energy Inc. company, to purchase more than 140 MW of renewable power through June 30, 2015. Parker said the city’s purchase of green power will account for half of its annual electricity demand, making it the largest municipal purchaser of renewable power in the nation, and in the top 10 overall nationally, according to federal energy statistical estimates. Through Reliant, Houston has purchased renewable energy credits (RECs) that are Green-E certified. Noting that they are “taking advantage of more cost effective and cost competitive REC prices,” city officials contend that they have maintained a relatively flat power price while also increasing the percentage of renewable energy in the city’s portfolio. Houston has committed $2 million for the two-year agreement, less than a cent/kWh on top of the city’s power price. In addition to purchasing green power, Houston has been purchasing and building renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar.
The market will ultimately cap the amount of natural gas that the United States exports, not policymakers, said an executive with CIBC World Markets at the Energy Information Administration’s Energy Conference Tuesday in Washington, DC. Hypothetically, “if we were to see Henry Hub prices in the $5.00-7.00/Mcf range, it would make incremental [liquefied natural gas export] projects difficult,” said CIBC World’s head of commodity strategy Katherine Spector. CIBC is a unit of the Canadian Bank of Commerce. “There is a point that this [exports] will not make economic sense…I don’t know what the magic number is.” When natural gas in Asia is priced at $16.00, and gas at Henry Hub is $2.00-3.00, “it’s a no brainer.”
NiSource Midstream Services LLC’s Big Pine Gathering System in the heart of the Marcellus Shale has begun serving XTO Energy Inc. under a long-term agreement. The 57-mile, 20- and 24-inch diameter system stretches into Pennsylvania’s Allegheny, Butler, Armstrong, Indiana and Westmoreland counties and interconnects to the Columbia Gas Transmission system, as well as Texas Eastern Transmission and Dominion Transmission. The system is anchored by XTO; a separate gathering agreement was recently signed with PennEnergy.
Separate reports confirmed the competitiveness of natural gas as a transportation fuel, with the price of compressed natural gas (CNG) maintaining a strong pricing edge over gasoline, diesel and other alternative fuels. At the same time, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is expanding its potential transportation options to include rail.
GE Oil & Gas has signed an $84 million agreement with the exploration and production arm of Mexico’s Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) to provide and install subsea high-capacity wellheads for deepwater and ultra-deepwater drilling projects in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM). The GOM is estimated to hold more than half of Mexico’s prospective energy resources, but it needs advanced technology to tap the oil and gas, according to GE. The high-technology subsea wellheads would provide a larger load, pressure capacity and a full-bore design, helping drillers reach greater depths. Pemex is to receive SMS800 and DWHC 700 wellheads, similar technology that GE already has installed at several Mexican oilfields including Perdido, Lakach and Kunah.