Topic A: Energy - Analysis, discussion & commentary on energy exploration, development and innovation
Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 2, 2015

EPA Increases Ethanol in Gasoline Supply

The Associated Press reports that “the Obama administration is boosting the amount of corn-based ethanol and other renewable fuels in the U.S. gasoline supply despite sustained opposition by an unusual alliance of oil companies, environmentalists and some GOP presidential candidates.”

“The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday issued a final rule designed to increase production of ethanol to be blended with gasoline through 2016, a decision that could reverberate in Iowa’s crucial presidential caucuses.”

“The agency said it will require more than 18 billion gallons of renewable fuels in 2016, most of it ethanol. The amount is less than was set in a 2007 renewable fuels law, but is more than was proposed by the EPA in May. The agency said that the demand for gasoline has risen since May, increasing the amount of renewable fuels that can be blended in.”

California Oil and Gas Chief Resigns

The Sacramento Bee reports that “Steven Bohlen, the head of California’s embattled oil and gas division, is resigning after about 18 months on the job.”

“In a resignation letter Monday obtained by The Sacramento Bee, Bohlen, supervisor of the state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, said he plans to return to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he previously worked.”

“He said in an interview that he will stay on as an unpaid science adviser to the division.”

Environmental Review for Oregon LNG Terminal Approved

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that “Federal regulators granted final environmental approval in late September for building a pipeline and port facilities for shipping Rocky Mountain natural gas to Asia via the Oregon coast.”

“The final environmental impact statement prepared for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found that building and operating the gas terminal and pipeline would cause some environmental damage.”

“However, it noted the problems would be reduced to less than significant with mitigation measures proposed by project developers.”

Topic A: Energy

Keeping Sand at Bay

Sand that gets inside of a well during oil and gas drilling operations can seriously damage equipment and even halt production.

To address this problem, BP created a special team that works in three core areas:

  • Anticipating potential sand behaviors. By analyzing reservoir rock and using numerical models, the team can predict when sand will be produced during different stages of drilling. As a result, they can minimize the amount of sand created while optimizing well production.
  • Listening to sand movements. The team uses a fiber-optic cable placed inside the well to sense noise and vibrations, helping to pinpoint the exact location of sand entry into a well.
  • Preventing sand from entering a well. The team is working on a potential solution that would use chemical glue that binds to sand grains while allowing hydrocarbons to flow. If effective, this solution will enable drillers to recover the same levels of hydrocarbons from different types of reservoirs.

House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy Bill Filled with Amendments

E&E Publishing reports that “lawmakers from both parties have filed dozens of amendments to the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s broad energy bill ahead of this week’s floor debate.”

“The House Rules Committee is scheduled to meet this evening and tomorrow to sort through the multitude of amendments to the bill (H.R. 8), which aims to increase efficiency, speed natural gas exports and boost the aging electric grid.”

“After months of bipartisan negotiations that collapsed over climate policy and other sticking points that Democrats wanted addressed in the measure, Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) moved the bill through committee in September with support from just three minority members”

PA Supreme Court to Hear State Forest Drilling Case

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that “the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a case over drilling in state forests that could reset expectations for what the government must do to show that it is conserving public natural resources.”

“The court’s seven justices, including three new members who will take their seats in January, appear poised to review the government’s obligations under the state constitution’s environmental rights amendment, which was given new respect with a 2013 Supreme Court decision that relied on it to upend key parts of a state Marcellus Shale drilling law, known as Act 13.”

“The court has agreed to hear arguments on two issues, one broad and one narrower: What is the proper standard for reviewing government actions and laws to see if they comply with the environmental rights amendment, and is it constitutional for the General Assembly to transfer money from state forest drilling out of a special fund set aside for conservation purposes?”

A Look at Energy Startups

“The Tulsa World recently spoke with three energy startups that have begun operations during the past year about what it’s like to open their doors in the midst of an extremely challenging commodity-price environment.”

“Although the business isn’t easy, the teams at Tulsa-based Atalaya Resources LLC, Armor Energy LLC and Oak Ridge Natural Resources LLC were able to offer some silver linings.”

Topic A: Energy

Using Technology to Breathe New Life into Oil Fields

The ability to cost-effectively recover more oil from existing fields makes good business sense, whether the commodity price is high or low.

Enhanced oil recovery, or EOR, has been around for decades, and BP has been researching and using EOR methods for more than 40 years. The challenge has been to deliver more cost-effective EOR technologies alongside conventional reservoir drainage approaches, like infill drilling, or displacement techniques such as waterflooding and gas injection.

One way that BP is enhancing its EOR is through a low-salinity waterflooding technology that has the potential to unlock previously unattainable oil in both existing resources and future discoveries.

Known as LoSal® EOR, BP’s enhanced recovery technology team discovered that reducing the salinity of sea water for waterflooding, instead of using conventional sea water, releases more molecules of oil from the rock surfaces.

As a result, more than 500 million barrels of additional net production could be unlocked from BP’s reservoirs using LoSal® EOR. The technology has the potential to unlock billions of barrels of oil from sandstone reservoirs worldwide.

To find out how BP is using LoSal® EOR and similar technologies to help provide the world with energy security, click here.

The Latest in a Trend of Global Warming Milestones

Mashable: “The planet has not been only record warm this year, it’s been so unusually mild that the temperature records themselves have set records of their own. This is the case with October 2015, according to new preliminary NASA data released Tuesday.”

“The information shows that October 2015 was by far the warmest October on record, dating back to 1880. Not only that, but October also had the largest temperature departure from average of any month on record.”

“Importantly, this was also the first time that a single month exceeded the 1-degree Celsius temperature anomaly, surpassing the 0.97 degree Celsius temperature anomaly in January 2007. This is a symbolic milestone, but one that will be broken more frequently as the climate continues to warm due to increasing amounts of greenhouse gases in the air because of human activities.”

“According to NASA, the January through October period ranks as the warmest such period in its 136 years of record-keeping, with a temperature anomaly of 0.82 degrees Celsius, or 1.45 degrees Fahrenheit. This beats global average temperature anomalies for the same period last year, which was 0.76 degrees Celsius, or 1.37 degrees Fahrenheit above average.”

Americans Increasingly Concerned with Global Warming

The most recent Yale Project on Climate Change newsletter announces the the release of their latest national survey: Climate Change in the American Mind: October 2015.

“This report details results from our latest national tracking survey about global warming beliefs, risk perceptions, conversations, perceived ethical dimensions, and the impact of Pope Francis on American views of global warming.”

“Here are a few interesting findings. Since spring 2015, the number of Americans who think global warming will cause harm has increased substantially. More think global warming will harm them personally (42%, +6 percentage points since spring 2015), people in the U.S. (56%, +7 points), people in developing countries (61%, +9 points), and future generations (70%, +7 points).”

“The number of Americans who say they discuss global warming with family and friends at least occasionally increased by 9 percentage points over the past six months, from 26% in spring 2015 to 35% in fall.”

“Majorities of Americans say global warming is a major environmental (69%), scientific (62%), or agricultural issue (56%). About half consider it a major health (49%) or economic issue (47%). Fewer consider it to be a major moral (24%), poverty (17%), social justice (17%), national security (14%), spiritual (8%), or religious issue (7%).”

The Case for High Gas Prices: Safety

City Lab: “In a sharp post on the topic, Joe Cortright at City Observatory points us to a very instructive study that sheds new light on how safety suffers when pump prices plunge. Or, if you prefer rosier goggles, how higher gas prices lead to fewer crashes.”

“During hard times, or when gas prices surge, people drive less: some shift to cheaper travel modes, some just stay home.”

“For the recent study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers gathered Mississippi crash data from April 2004 to December 2012 on a month-by-month basis. Then they collected gas prices over this period as well to see when safety connections emerged … For every 10 percent increase in gas prices, the lagged effect produced a 1.5 percent decrease in traffic crashes per capita.”

“The researchers extrapolate the findings to estimate what the broader safety impacts would be at either end of the gas price spectrum. If fuel costs had been at their lowest point ($1.81) over the entire study period, the researchers would expect 57,461 more crashes to have occurred—a 5.7 percent rise. But if fuel costs had been at their highest ($4.17) during this time, the expectation would be for 70,655 fewer crashes, or a 7 percent decline.”

Topic A: Energy

Connecting the Gulf from Port Fourchon

Time is money, and residents of cities like Washington, D.C. and New York are using online grocery services to manage their busy lifestyles. A recent study projects the expanding industry will grow by 21 percent from 2013 to 2018.

But offshore drilling rigs and platforms are places Peapod and Urban Grocery can’t deliver. Located southwest of New Orleans on the Louisiana coast, Port Fourchon fills this delivery gap. It’s the major base for BP and other energy and service companies working in the Gulf of Mexico.

Port Fourchon has long been a lifeline for the gulf’s offshore energy industry, doubling in size over the past 20 years. Now an average of 270 vessels dock there each day, taking tons of food, tools, fuels and countless other items out to sea to supply the operations offshore.

The activities surrounding Port Fourchon directly support 10,800 jobs and have a huge effect on the region’s economy. BP’s business efforts have been an essential element of that multimillion dollar financial boost.

More than 12,100 tons of groceries pass through the port yearly, equivalent to more than 100 statues of Abraham Lincoln from the Lincoln Memorial. The number of loaves of bread alone delivered each year from the port is enough to create a quarter-million sandwiches.

The BP facility at Port Fourchon is not a one-way delivery operation. About 65 percent of the equipment and tools sent out to the gulf make their way back to shore, along with waste material.

Learn more about how Louisiana helps BP deliver the energy that fuels America by visiting:


Conversation on US-China Energy and Climate Policy

USC’s US-China Institute writes: “During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent state visit to the U.S., energy policy took center stage as the world’s two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases outlined their shared desire for a global climate change agreement. Though the two countries might butt heads on economic and security issues, the agreement signals a new period of cooperation on climate issues. Kelly Sims Gallagher, director of The Fletcher Center for International Environment and Resource Policy and former senior policy advisor to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is at the forefront of energy and climate issues affecting the U.S. and China. She is particularly interested in the role of policy in spurring the development and deployment of cleaner, more efficient energy technologies, domestically and internationally. US-China Today spoke with Gallagher about US-China climate policy and the most effective strategies for tackling this existential threat.”

UK Government’s Pro-Gas Energy Policy Welcomed by Industry

Rigzone reports that “organizations representing the UK’s upstream oil and gas sector welcomed Wednesday an announcement from Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd that the government of an energy policy that will see natural gas playing a central role in future power generation.”

“Speaking at the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, Rudd set out her vision of an energy system that she said will put consumers first, deliver more competition, reduce the burden on bill payers and ensure enough electricity generation to power the nation.”

“Rudd said that in order to develop a cleaner, more secure energy network she would consult on closing the country’s coal-fired power stations by 2025. A key was to achieve this will be to introduce more gas into the energy mix.”

Analysis: Modest Future for Nuclear Power

Stratfor Global Intelligence writes: “With international climate negotiations set to begin in Paris at the end of the month, it remains to be seen whether leaders and experts can come together to sign a binding agreement on reducing global emissions. Regardless of the talks’ outcome, many countries are already working to reduce their emissions on a national level. From a geopolitical perspective, their efforts are less about potential environmental effects than they are about changes in the energy makeup of individual countries, and consequently, the cost of economic development.”

“Although much of the world’s focus is on variable renewable energies like wind or solar power as a solution to the emissions problem, nuclear power can also play a role in reducing the total emissions created during electricity production. Nuclear energy provides a low-emission energy source that does not vary with the weather and is not subject to the volatility of hydrocarbon markets. However, nuclear power must overcome its own set of constraints and obstacles to compete with other energy sources. And although global capacity for nuclear power is likely to expand in the coming decades, the United States probably will not substantially increase its own capacity. Instead, it will serve as a technological developer that helps other countries ramp up their use of nuclear energy.”

Topic A: Energy

BP Well Advisor Enhances Safe and Reliable Operations

As America’s largest energy investor over the past decade, BP is making important contributions to America’s energy and economic security. One way that the company does this, and does it safely, is through technology.

Drilling for, and producing oil and gas from deepwater reservoirs present many engineering and technical challenges. Oil and gas reservoirs can be as much as 35,000 feet below sea level, under hard rock, thick salt and tightly packed sands. So it is important to properly understand and manage the risks we face.

A technology called BP Well Advisor is helping drilling teams around the world to monitor oil and gas wells with unprecedented clarity, using dashboard-style consoles, to enhance operational safety and efficiency.

This technology, currently being used on many of BP’s rigs worldwide, acts as an early warning system and helps people working both offshore and onshore to view and respond to changes in well conditions and safety equipment.

Learn more about BP Well Advisor and what the company is doing in order to ensure safe and reliable operations.

Natural Gas to Play Large Role in Climate Talks: IEA

Bloomberg BNA reports that “natural gas, the ‘least carbon-intensive fossil fuel,’ could play a key role in reaching global climate goals, an issue at the center of upcoming talks in Paris, said the head of the International Energy Agency.”

“Fatih Birol, the agency’s new executive director, noted that energy production and use account for two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions, so energy policies will be key at the Paris talks starting Nov. 30, which have the aim of achieving a global deal to fight climate change, largely through commitments to cut carbon dioxide emissions.”

“Speaking at the agency’s Nov. 17–18 ministerial meeting, which brought together energy ministers from the Paris-based agency’s 29 members, including the world’s advanced economies and many of its biggest energy users and carbon dioxide emitters, Birol said IEA ministers approved his three-pillar plan for modernizing the agency’s strategy to face today’s ‘transformed’ global energy landscape.”

Saudi Minister: Increase Oil Production Investment

The Wall Street Journal reports that “Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali al-Naimi on Thursday called for more investment in petroleum production, warning that new output was needed this decade as global demand grows annually by more than a million barrels a day.”

“Mr. Naimi, one of the most influential figures in the global petroleum industry, said the investments had to be made despite a precipitous drop in the price of crude oil, which is down more than 60% from highs of $114 a barrel in 2014.”

“About $200 billion in new oil and gas projects have been delayed or canceled this year because of the drop in prices, according to Wood Mackenzie, the Scottish consultancy.”

Conversation on US-Japan Energy Policy

The Asia Society writes: “How will Japan continue to juggle its high demand for energy, its condition as an island nation with few natural resources, lingering concerns surrounding nuclear power following the Fukushima incident, and environmental issues associated with cheap coal and oil imported from the crisis prone Middle East? With powerful voices backing different energy sources, it seems no policy pleases everyone. Jeffrey Miller, Energy Attaché at the United States Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, joins Asia Society to discuss Japan’s struggle to find a balanced energy strategy and its global implications.”

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