Category: Oil

BP oil spill caused biggest dolphin die-off in Gulf history – study

RT, May 21

The 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused an unprecedented number of fatal diseases in roughly 1,300 dolphins over the course of five years, according to a new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Up to now, the link between oil spill exposure and dolphin deaths has been inconclusive, but this study changes that. The results are from a forensic investigation that was part of NOAA’s long-term ecological analysis of the Deepwater incident that began in 2013. The spill itself leaked 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf over five months in 2010.

“No feasible alternatives remain that can reasonably explain the timing, location and nature of this increase in death,” co-author Stephanie Venn-Watson of the National Marine Mammal Foundation in San Diego said in a Wednesday press conference.

California oil spill: State of emergency declared, up to 105,000 gallons leaked

RT, May 20

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency over Tuesday’s oil spill off the Santa Barbara County coast. It follows news that up to 105,000 gallons of oil leaked out from the ruptured pipeline.

“This emergency proclamation cuts red tape and helps the state quickly mobilize all available resources,” said Governor Brown in a statement. “We will do everything necessary to protect California’s coastline.”

Brown’s office added that six boom boats, three 65-foot collection vessels and hand crews coordinating with the state as clean-up efforts continue. California state oil spill, wildlife and emergency officials are also working to alleviate the situation.

Originally, US Coast Guard officials estimated that the approximately 21,000 gallons of oil had spilled out of a pipeline operated by Plains All American Pipeline, though this calculation is being investigated. The type of oil was later identified as crude, and officials said the spill had stretched out to approximately nine miles across Santa Barbara County’s Refugio Beach.

The company stated to AP that the 105,000 gallon estimate was a “worst-case scenario”and that it does not know exactly how much oil actually seeped into the ocean. The pipeline itself is onshore, but oil traveled down a storm drain before hitting the Pacific Ocean.

Oil spill in Gulf of Mexico is far worse than previously reported: investigation

AP, April 16

OVER THE GULF OF MEXICO — Down to just one full-time employee, Taylor Energy Company exists for only one reason: to fight an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico that has gone largely unnoticed, despite creating miles-long slicks for more than a decade.

The New Orleans-based company has downplayed the leak’s environmental impact, likening it to scores of minor spills and natural seeps that the Gulf routinely absorbs.

But an Associated Press investigation has revealed evidence that the spill is far worse than what Taylor — or the government — has publicly reported. Presented with AP’s findings, the Coast Guard provided a new leak estimate that is about 20 times greater than one recently touted by the company.

Outside experts say the spill could be even worse — possibly one of the largest ever in the Gulf, albeit still dwarfed by BP’s massive 2010 gusher.

Obama Vetoes Keystone XL Bill

The Canadian Press, By Alexander Panetta, February 24

Washington – U.S. President Barack Obama made good Tuesday on a threat to veto a bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, bringing the two sides in the long-running controversy to a rare point of agreement: their battle is far from over.

”The president’s veto of the Keystone jobs bill is a national embarrassment,” said the top Republican in the House of Representatives, John Boehner.

”We are not going to give up in our efforts to get this pipeline built — not even close.”

[…]

Even the White House concurred that the issue is far from settled. It pointed out that Tuesday’s announcement was a step in a long, winding process — not a final destination.

The president cast the veto as a matter of procedural principle. In his letter to Congress, Obama said the bill he was scrapping had improperly tried to usurp presidential authority.
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This almost forgotten metric is suddenly driving the oil market

Bloomberg News, By Lynn Doan & Dan Murtaugh, February 18

San Francisco & Houston – It was like clockwork.

Every week since 1944, Baker Hughes Inc. would release its survey of how many rigs were out drilling for U.S. oil and gas. And every week, oil and gas traders would, for the most part, overlook it.

What a difference a slide in oil of $50 (U.S.) a barrel makes. This past Friday, traders were bent over their desks, staring at their screens, waiting for 1 p.m. ET to see whether drillers extended their biggest-ever retreat from U.S. oil fields. (They did.) Oil futures spiked within minutes of the count, closing at the highest level in four days.

“I don’t think I’ve heard ‘Baker Hughes’ more in my life than I have in the past month,” Dan Flynn, a trader at Price Futures Group in Chicago, said by phone recently. “It’s like I’m saying it in my sleep.”

The sudden interest in Houston-based Baker Hughes’s rig counts shows how desperate traders have become to find the bottom of the oil market after the biggest collapse since 2008. The company, which was Hughes Tool Co. 71 years ago when it first released the weekly count, is the third-biggest oil field service provider in the world.

Naked Capitalism: Wolf Richter: The Chilling Thing Devon Energy Just Said About the US Oil Glut

This is the brutal irony: drillers are hoping that rising production achieved with greater efficiencies allows them to meet their interest costs; but rising production pressures the price of oil to a level that may not be survivable long-term for many of them. They can lose money, burn through cash, and keep themselves above water through asset sales for only so long. And this is the terrible fracking treadmill they’ve all gotten on and now can’t get off.

Globe and Mail: CNRL’s warning to oil sands: Cut costs or face ‘death spiral’
Bloomberg: What’s behind Buffett’s exit from Big Oil

US oil workers on largest national strike since 1980

US union leaders have launched a large-scale strike at nine refineries after failing to agree on a new national contract with major oil companies.

BBC, February 1

It marks the first nationwide walkout since 1980 and impacts plants that together account for more than 10% of US refining capacity.

The United Steelworkers Union (USW) began the strike on Sunday, after their current contract expired and no deal was reached despite five proposals.

The USW said it “had no choice”.

“This industry is the richest in the world and can afford to make the changes we offered in bargaining,” USW International Vice President of Administration Tom Conway said in a statement.


Reuters: Workers strike for second day at nine U.S. oil, chemical plants

East Coast offshore drilling proposed for first time

Five-year offshore drilling plan to include Atlantic coast as well as Gulf of Mexico and Alaska.

Al Jazeera, By Renee Lewis, January 27

The Department of the Interior (DOI) has released a draft proposal of its five-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing, which includes opening up areas of the Atlantic Ocean that have previously been off-limits, a move that worries conservationists.

The proposal includes 14 potential lease sales of drilling sites, including 10 in the Gulf of Mexico, three off the coast of Alaska and one in the middle to southern Atlantic, according to a DOI announcement on Tuesday. It said areas off the Pacific coast were not included in the draft proposal due to West Coast states’ historical opposition to oil and gas development. “The safe and responsible development of our nation’s domestic energy resources is a key part of the President’s efforts to support American jobs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said in the release.

[…]

“This is a balanced proposal that would make available nearly 80 percent of the undiscovered technically recoverable resources, while protecting areas that are simply too special to develop,” Jewell said.

The Methane Monster Roars

Truthout, By Dahr Jamail, January 13

During a recent hike in Washington State’s Olympic National Park, I marveled at the delicate geometry of frost-covered ferns. White crystalline structures seemed to grow from the green leaves, encasing them in a frozen frame of temporary beauty.

Progressing further up into the mountains, I stopped to lunch and sip hot coffee from a thermos while gazing across a river valley at a snow-covered mountainside, sizing up a frozen waterfall for a possible ice climb in the future. Yet I found myself beginning to wonder how many more winters ice would continue to form there.

The disparity of the beauty before me with my troubled thoughts about the planet has found no reconciliation. I had been collecting data and conducting interviews for articles about methane releases in the Arctic for weeks, and pondering the information through the holidays only led me into depression. Going out into the mountains helped, but also provoked grave concerns for our collective future.

[…]

According to a study published in Nature Geoscience, twice as much methane as previously thought is being released from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, a 2 million square kilometer area off the coast of northern Siberia. The recent study’s researchers found that at least 17 teragrams (17 million tons) of methane are being released into the atmosphere each year, whereas a 2010 study had found only seven teragrams heading into the atmosphere.

Louisiana Senate Candidates Race to Hold Lame Duck Votes On Keystone XL Pipeline

ABC News, By Arlette Saenz, November 12

After two years of inaction on the Keystone XL pipeline, it could be a Louisiana Senate run-off that finally forces Congress to vote on the measure.

The so-called Bayou Brawl was on full display on Capitol Hill Wednesday as the two candidates – Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu and Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy – raced to be first to hold a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline.

Fresh off the campaign trail, Landrieu, D-La., implored Senate Republicans Wednesday to allow a vote on the Keystone XL pipeline in the lame duck session, saying it would be a good moment for future Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to work in a bipartisan manner.

“I believe it is time to act. I believe that we should take the new majority leader at his word and stop blocking legislation that is broadly supported by the American public and has been for quite some time,” Landrieu, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee, said on the Senate floor. “I want to say yes to majority leader, to new majority leader Mitch McConnell. The time to start is now.”

But Republicans on the other side of the Capitol are working swiftly to hold a vote of their own on the pipeline, a measure that is sponsored by Landrieu’s opponent Cassidy. The House Rules Committee announced it was holding a meeting Wednesday night to consider the Keystone XL pipeline bill, described as an “emergency measure,” and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the measure would be considered on the House floor Thursday.

The Senate agreed to hold a vote on Keystone XL as early as Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Bloomberg News reported that Senate Democrats were considering holding a vote on Keystone XL to help Landrieu in her December 6 run-off in Louisiana. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called the idea a “bad joke.”

Politico: Democrats could allow Keystone vote before Landrieu runoff
AP: Immigration, Keystone XL dominate first day of lame duck session
Washington Post: House, Senate to vote on Keystone XL pipeline
Washington Post: Landrieu throws Hail Mary, GOP may score
Update: Rosebud Sioux Tribe: House Vote in Favor of the Keystone XL an Act of War, November 14

Rosneft Says Exxon Arctic Well Strikes Oil

Bloomberg, By Ilya Arkhipov, Stephen Bierman & Ryan Chilcote, September 27

Russia, viewed by the Obama administration as hostile to U.S. interests, has discovered what may prove to be a vast pool of oil in one of the world’s most remote places with the help of America’s largest energy company.

Russia’s state-run OAO Rosneft (ROSN) said a well drilled in the Kara Sea region of the Arctic Ocean with Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) struck oil, showing the region has the potential to become one of the world’s most important crude-producing areas.

The announcement was made by Igor Sechin, Rosneft’s chief executive officer, who spent two days sailing on a Russian research ship to the drilling rig where the find was unveiled today. The well found about 1 billion barrels of oil and similar geology nearby means the surrounding area may hold more than the U.S. part of the Gulf or Mexico, he said.

“It exceeded our expectations,” Sechin said in an interview. This discovery is of “exceptional significance in showing the presence of hydrocarbons in the Arctic.”

[…]

The development of Arctic oil reserves, an undertaking that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars and take decades, is one of Putin’s grandest ambitions. As Russia’s existing fields in Siberia run dry, the country needs to develop new reserves as it vies with the U.S. to be the world’s largest oil and gas producer.

Output from the Kara Sea field could begin within five to seven years, Sechin said, adding the field discovered today would be named “Victory.”

The Kara Sea well — the most expensive in Russian history — targeted a subsea structure named Universitetskaya and its success has been seen as pivotal to that strategy. The start of drilling, which reached a depth of more than 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), was marked with a ceremony involving Putin and Sechin.

Via Zero Hedge: Russia Discovers Massive Arctic Oil Field Which May Be Larger Than Gulf Of Mexico

Russia Will Only Get Worse. Maybe.

Putin is on the horns of a dilemna. For the first time since the dismantling of the Soviet Union, Russia faces a severe economic crisis – after enjoying years of relative prosperity – and she has a warmongering chief executive. This is a nexus of events that will shape and define Russia for at least the next decade.

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Feds approve oil exploration off US Eastern Coast

Associated Press, By Jason Dearen, July 19

St. Augustine Beach, FL – The Obama administration has sided with energy developers over environmentalists, approving the use of underwater blasts of sound to pinpoint oil and gas deposits in federal Atlantic Ocean waters.

The regulatory decision is the first real step toward what could be an economic transformation in East Coast states, potentially creating a new energy infrastructure, thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenue. But it dismayed people who owe their livelihoods to fisheries and tourism, and activists said it stains President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy.

“Opening vast stretches off the East Coast to oil and gas has no place in an otherwise historic agenda to combat climate change,” said Michael Jasny, a marine mammal expert with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The cannons will substantially increase the noise pollution in Gulf Stream waters shared by whales, dolphins and turtles, sending powerful sound waves reverberating through the deep every ten seconds, for weeks at a time.

World Needs Record Saudi Oil Supply as OPEC Convenes

Bloomberg, By Grant Smith, June 9

OPEC ministers say they will almost certainly leave their oil-production ceiling unchanged when the group meets this week. What really matters for markets is whether Saudi Arabia will respond to global supply shortfalls by pumping a record amount of crude.

Just six months ago, energy analysts predicted output from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would climb too high and Saudi Arabia needed to cut to make room for other suppliers. They changed their minds after production from Libya, Iran and Iraq failed to rebound as anticipated, and industrialized nations’ stockpiles fell to the lowest for the time of year since 2008. Saudi Arabia may need to pump a record 11 million barrels a day by December to cover the other member nations, says Energy Aspects Ltd., a consultant.

“Now it’s not whether the Saudis will make room, but whether they’ll keep it going and maintain enough spare capacity,” said Jamie Webster, a Washington-based analyst at IHS Inc., an industry researcher. “OPEC is increasingly having a hard time just doing its job of bringing all the barrels needed.”

Even as the North American shale revolution propels U.S. production to a three-decade peak, supply in other parts of the world is faltering. A battle for political control in Libya, pipeline attacks in Iraq and prolonged sanctions against Iran are preventing those nations from reviving output. While U.S. crude inventories rose to a record in April, restrictions on exports are keeping those supplies in the country, tempering forecasts that global oil prices will decline this year.

Russia joins global dash for shale in policy volte-face

Officials at the Kremlin are no longer dismissing shale’s promise as a mirage.

The Telegraph, By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, May 26

St. Petersburg – Russia is launching a strategic drive to unlock its shale oil wealth as crude output stagnates and reserves run low in the West Siberian fields, aiming to replicate America’s technology leap in a near total reversal of policy.

The Kremlin has launched an “action plan” to master fracking methods and lure investors into the Bazhenov prospective, a shale basin the size of France to the east of the Urals. Officials are no longer dismissing shale’s promise as a mirage. “We are clearing away the administrative barriers to exploration. This is the urgent challenge we are now facing,” said Kirill Molodtsov, the deputy energy minister.

The US Energy Department estimates that Russia has 75bn barrels of recoverable shale oil resources, the world’s largest deposits. The Bazhenov field is 80 times bigger than the US Bakken field in North Dakota, which alone produces 1m barrels a day.

BP joined the scramble on Saturday by signing a deal to explore for shale in Volga Urals with Rosneft, even though Rosneft’s chairman Igor Sechin is on the US sanctions list.

“I see BP investing in other projects. We are very pleased to be a part of Russian energy complex,” said BP’s chief executive, Bob Dudley, adding that he had been urged by President Vladimir Putin to start fracking in Russia.