REPOST: Landers: The latest oil and gas boom may carry Texas for years

Texas produced $110 billion worth of oil and natural gas in 2009, and analysts think that the industry will continue to boom in the years to come. Read the reasons why from


In Texas, oil and natural gas are synonymous with boom and bust. A new field or a new technology brings a drilling rush and spectacular wealth. Then, just when nearly everyone has borrowed to the max, the bottom falls out.

Not this time, says John Auers, an oil analyst with Turner, Mason & Co. engineering consultants in Dallas.

“This is a more sustainable and potentially longer-lasting boom,” he said. “The early ’80s were great times, but they became bad pretty fast. I don’t think that’s going to happen going forward.”

The men and women pushing double and triple the former amount of oil out of underground Texas in the last few years try not to call it a boom, because booms go bust.

But it’s hard to find a better word for it.

In 2009, Texas oil production averaged less than 1.1 million barrels a day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Last year, production averaged 2.6 million barrels a day. In December, it was nearly 2.9 million barrels a day. The state produced $110 billion worth of oil and natural gas for the year.

The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry, uses a more conservative set of production numbers than the federal government. But Chairman Barry Smitherman says the state is on the road to producing 5 million barrels a day before 2023.

The all-time peak for the state came in 1972, when production averaged 3.4 million barrels a day.

So how is this time different?

First off, because many people in the industry think Smitherman is right. Pioneer Natural Resources of Irving says it is sitting on one of the world’s largest oil reservoirs in the West Texas Permian Basin.

Auers agrees. “The Permian is really the monster of all of them, and they’re really just getting going,” he said.

The Eagle Ford basin, running from Laredo to Corpus Christi, produced hardly any oil in 2009. Now, by federal estimates, it’s producing more than 1.3 million barrels a day.

Producers say these are early days at these oil plays. Drillers have dramatically improved the efficiency of their wells as they learn more about the best way to use fracking and horizontal drilling.

Another reason this time might be different is that Texas is seeing large capital investments from conservative industrialists, who are betting more than $75 billion on energy abundance. Steel, plastics and petrochemical plants are going up along the Gulf Coast.

Some of these investments are in Corpus Christi, where memories of hard times run deep.

China’s Tianjin Pipe Co. expects to begin production from a $1 billion mill near Corpus Christi later this year. Nearby, Voestalpine, Austria’s largest steelmaker, is planning a $700 million iron ore processing plant.

Cheniere Energy is building a $10 billion liquefied natural gas plant to export Texas gas to Asia. Planning is underway to raise the city’s Harbor Bridge from 135 feet to 208 feet by 2017 to accommodate larger vessels.

The Eagle Ford is “definitely a big game changer for South Texas,” said Jim Lee, an economist at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

“It’s never better here,” he said. “The housing market has never been this strong. Construction, both industrial and residential, has never been this strong. We’re just trying to cope with the growth down here.”

Many still question the consequences of new drilling technologies on the environment. And a price collapse could push all of this off the tracks.

But — maybe? — this time is different.

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REPOST: Analyst urges broader look at Amazon oil resources’ local impacts

Amazon has vast oil resources. Ironically though, part of the populace  still use basic means of living such as cooking in wood because gas pipelines aren’t available for them to use. As the oil production strengthens, much is to be done about this issue. This article has the details.


Increasingly disruptive protests are likely if oil, gas, and mining companies and national governments don’t pay closer attention to indigenous populations’ needs as Western Amazon basin resources are developed, an expert warned.

“They usually are ignited by past grievances that have not been resolved,” said Patricia I. Vasquez, an independent analyst who previously was a Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the US Institute for Peace, at a Mar. 21 launch of her new book, “Oil Sparks in the Amazon: Local Conflicts, Indigenous Populations, and Natural Resources.”

“The Amazon is obviously a very challenging place with a unique environment and lack of infrastructure,” Vasquez said during the event at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “There also are large numbers of indigenous people who are poor and marginalized, especially compared to the nonindigenous population. A strong political commitment is required to resolve these conflicts.”

In her book, Vasquez said she examined 55 such conflicts in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia from 2004 through 2011 when a period of high crude oil prices and strong demand brought investors to an area previously considered to be economically marginal.

She also weighed conflicts on a 1-5 scale, with 5 representing the most violent confrontations. “As oil contracts grew quickly, social and environmental conflicts did too,” Vasquez observed. “Whenever there is a problem or issues, the communities demand a local government presence in addition to national government representatives. If it’s not there, they’ll tie things up until it is.”

Causes of protests

Confrontations can result from either structural flaws in the national resource management system, which are more difficult to address, or temporary problems resulting from a company’s behavior, she indicated. In the first case, revenue can be poorly distributed, resulting in construction of a massive soccer stadium instead of new drinking water systems, according to Vasquez.

“A lot of natural gas that’s produced in the Amazon is shipped to the coast for export,” she said. “Meanwhile, a huge number of indigenous people in the area continue to use wood for their cooking. Gas pipelines haven’t been built to their homes because it wasn’t considered commercial.”

International companies and nongovernmental organizations also can aggravate the situation, Vasquez said. “For most companies, they’re interested only in the 30-40 years they’ll be there, creating a paternalistic relationship that generates resentment,” she said.

“When international NGOs become active in the area, grassroots organizations compete for their support and resulting additional exposure,” Vasquez continued. “Sometimes, environmental organizations and other international NGOs have global agendas which don’t always coincide with what communities want, such as jobs.”

There can be a difference when stakeholders’ views become cohesive instead of polarized, she said, adding that the presence of good institutional mediation also can be positive.

“During my research, I discovered the work of the Peruvian Ombudsman was relatively beneficial,” Vasquez noted. “It appears to be the only institution which has forged a dialogue among stakeholders when the conflict reaches a very high intensity. It doesn’t solve the conflict, but has a high degree of legitimacy.

Accessible, versatile

“The people can take their claims to it easily and for free, which is very important,” she said. “It also is immune from prosecution, and can present cases in the inter-American judicial system which has helped protect indigenous populations’ rights and interests.”

The problems deserve more attention, three other experts agreed. “I think this is one of the most defining issues in social and economic development right now,” said Christopher Sabatini, senior policy director at the Americas Society and founding editor of Americas Quarterly.

“There’s rising demand for resources,” he maintained. “Governments are tying their ability to address poverty and social needs to their ability to attract resource investments. The potential of this to reshape our socioeconomics is tremendous.”

Roger-Mark De Souza, director of the Wilson Center’s Global Sustainability and Resilience Program, said, “Conflicts can cause direct impacts, such as environmental destruction, and indirect impacts, such as mechanisms communities adopt to cope that may not necessarily be beneficial. But natural resources also can contribute to economic growth and sustainable livelihoods with the right policies.”

Robert E. McGuire, who directs Latin American and Hemispheric Studies at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, said simply getting a resource from the point extraction to a distant delivery point can be as big a problem. “I once heard an official say more oil has been spilled out of pipelines in Colombia than from the Exxon Valdez,” he said.

“The most important point is to start listening to the voices of the voiceless—people who live in areas feeling the greatest immediate impacts with the least influence on what’s happening,” McGuire said.

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REPOST: Nigerian Navy cracks down on Illegal crude oil refineries

Tons of illegally produced fuel were eliminated by the Nigerian Navy. Read  more about this news here:


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The Nigerian Navy eliminated 260 illegal refineries and destroyed 100,000 tons of illegally produced fuel, according to Yahoo news.

The source reported that $20 million dollars worth of gasoline are stolen from Nigeria and sold on the world market every day.Shell reported that it lost $1 billion in oil thefts in 2013.

Illegal oil refineries that siphon the supply of crude without government consent are becoming an increasing problem in Nigeria. Cross Ebikpade, a former militant, said that destroying the illegal refineries will have little effect, as they use very easy to find equipment like oil drums.

“You can burn the site today but by next week the operators are back in business,” he said.

Additionally, Shell reported that there was a leak in its underwater pipeline that resulted in its closing the Forcados export terminal, according to Fox News. The cause of the leak is still being investigated.

According to Shell spokesperson Precious Okolobo, the export line was closed as soon as the leak was detected. Nigeria’s government says that sometimes thieves will hack into pipelines to steal the oil and sell it on the black market

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REPOST: Brighton suspends oil and gas drilling applications

What’s the cause of the sudden suspension of oil and gas drilling in Brighton? Read this news from this article.


Brighton is suspending applications for oil and gas drilling in the city, effective immediately.

The city council approved an emergency ordinance Tuesday night saying that no applications for drilling will be accepted, processed or approved until July 15, according to a news release from Brighton officials.

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City staff recommended the council pass the measure to allow time for the creation of a revised regulations policy that address “issues of local concern that are unique to Brighton and to take into consideration state regulations that have been adopted over the last year, as well as additional regulations currently being considered by the state.”

The staff will entertain input and feedback from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and other organizations, concerning the new policy regulations, according to the news release.

“This temporary suspension is not a ban on oil and gas drilling,” Mayor Dick McLean said in the release.

“For our community, this temporary time out is about creating certainty for businesses working toward building our energy future and ensuring that Brighton will always be a great place to live, work, play and learn.”

The emergency ordinance may be rescinded by council before July 15 if new regulations are adopted.

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REPOST: Fossil Fuels to Keep Dominating Energy Consumption Mix

It is believed that fossil fuel will still be a huge part of energy consumption. Read more about this news from


Despite more than 25 years of efforts to reduce fossil fuel consumption and boost renewable energy use, fossil fuels will keep dominating the global energy consumption mix, said International Energy Agency (IEA) Chief Economist Fatih Birol.

In 1987, a number of countries kicked off a major effort to reduce their consumption of fossil fuels and increase use of renewable energy resources. This global effort came after Norway’s then Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, issued a report on sustainable development at the request of the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report.

At that time, fossil fuels comprised 82 percent of the mix if energy resources used. Despite 25 years of subsidies and government policies, however, the percentage of fossil fuels in the global energy consumption mix remains at 82 percent.

“This tells us that economic effects are stubborn, and may be more powerful than policy drivers,” Birol noted.

However, the amount of fossil fuels consumed might have even been higher with efforts to curb fossil fuel consumption. Birol believes that fossil fuels will continue to heavily dominate global energy consumption.

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Natural gas consumption will grow to a level greater than oil and coal put together. Renewables also are forecast to grow significantly, primarily due to government policies. However, renewables will shrink without government subsidies to promote their use.

IEA sees continued growth in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, meaning the world remains perfectly on track for a temperature increase above a level accepted by scientists. World leaders will try again to address climate change in Paris this year after their failure in Copenhagen in 2009, Birol noted, adding that he believes carbon capture storage should be part of the equation for addressing climate change.

CO2 emissions from the United States, the second largest source of CO2, have improved since 2009. The United States and China are working closely to reduce emissions, and Europe continues to push its climate change agenda. Given these factors, Birol said he wouldn’t be surprised to see positive news on CO2 emissions in the future.

Nearly all countries agree that climate change is an issue that needs to be addressed, Birol said. But who should take on the largest burden of the clean up? China and other developing countries say they shouldn’t get all the blame, pointing out that the amount of coal burned by these countries during the Industrial Revolution still lingers in the atmosphere. However, this argument does not hold water, given the fact that emissions levels from OECD and non-OECD countries are now more or less equal.

China also has argued that emissions can be measured only by megatons, but on a per capital basis, and that China’s 1.3 billion population is much larger and not comparable with other nations. While China may have a point on the per capital basis argument, this argument also is not valid, given that China’s CO2 emissions are overtaking Europe and will overtake that of OECD countries if things don’t change. But Birol believes that “able French diplomats” will help world leaders to reach an agreement with China’s CO2 emissions at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015.

Chinese renewables capacity will grow larger to that than all of the United States, Japan and Europe combined. Hydropower will serve as a main source of renewable energy resources in China and other emerging countries. While strong growth will be seen in renewables, all renewable sources except for hydropower will have difficulty competing with fossil fuels without generous government subsidies.

Birol noted that Germany, Spain and Italy are cutting renewables due to financial difficulties, which in turn have boosted renewable energy prices. As a result, some countries are switching back to burning coal.


IEA believes that Brazil’s deepwater oil production will rise significantly, although not as high as official estimates, to 4 MMbopd. The South American country will become a major exporter of oil, eventually joining the ranks of the top six oil producers in the world, said Birol. He considers Brazil a success story not only for raising its oil production growth, but reducing its domestic oil consumption by utilizing hydropower and other renewables.

However, $60 billion a year investment is needed for Brazil to realize its production potential, and attracting this investment may be difficult because of local content and other requirements. These requirements may put tension on the supply chain and delay some projects, Birol noted.

Significant investment will be needed not only in Brazil, but worldwide to ensure the oil needed to meet future demand will be available. Birol estimates that $15.1 trillion in investment is needed over the next 20 years for upstream oil and gas, with 30 percent or $4 trillion of that investment needed in North America to ensure that the U.S. shale revolution continues.

This investment will be required not only to meet new demand – which is just a small part of the story – but to meet existing production demand by enhancing production from existing fields or finding new fields to replace fields in decline.

“If you invest $3 in upstream over the next 20 years, $2 would be needed to maintain production, and $1 would be needed to meet future growth,” Birol noted.

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REPOST: U.S. Steps Up Scrutiny of Freight Train Safety

Ways on how to ensure the safety of freight trains are currently being evaluated by officials from rail and petroleum industries. Read more from this New York Times article:


After meeting with federal regulators on Thursday, officials from the rail and petroleum industries agreed to examine quick ways to improve the safety of freight trains carrying crude oil following a spate of fiery accidents in recent months.

Railroad companies will look into the possibility of rerouting oil convoys outside populated areas, or slowing down the trains to reduce the impact of an accident, among other things, said Anthony Foxx, the transportation secretary, who was host of the closed-door meeting in Washington.

The Obama administration is under mounting pressure to tackle safety concerns after recent episodes underscored the dangers of shipping large quantities of crude oil aboard unpressurized railcars. In the last seven months, there have been four major accidents involving crude oil trains, including one that derailed in North Dakota on Dec. 30 and forced the evacuation of hundreds of people.

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The danger was highlighted in July when a runway train in Canada destroyed the town of Lac-Mégantic, killing 47 people. A train carrying crude oil from the prolific Bakken region also derailed and exploded in Alabama in November, though no one was injured.

About 10 percent of the nation’s daily oil production is now shipped across the nation to refineries aboard trains that can measure more than one mile long, going through cities like Chicago, St. Louis and Seattle, as well as countless smaller communities.

The surge in production has far outpaced pipeline capacity — more than two-thirds of the Bakken production is transported by train — leaving both the rail industry as well as federal officials scrambling to tackle the hazards to public safety after the accidents.

“The industry, if they are motivated, can undertake preventative steps that will enhance the safety of the movement of these materials across the country,” Mr. Foxx said. He described the meeting in a conference call with reporters as a “call to action.”

But he declined to identify industry attendees, saying only that they included chief executives of major railroads, as well as representatives from the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s main lobby and trade group. Regulators from the Federal Railroad Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration also attended.

Officials stressed these were the first steps of a more comprehensive review of safety standards, with a particular focus on the type of tank cars used to carry the crude oil. But that review would be lengthy.

While that is underway, Mr. Foxx said, the rail industry would also work on new standards for tank cars within 30 days.

Mr. Foxx also said he would like to beef up safety inspections. He said there are about a million hazardous shipments transported by rail every day. The pipeline safety agency, for its part, has just 50 safety inspectors.

“We will continue assessing our own role from a regulatory standpoint on an ongoing basis,” he said. “But today the industry stepped up.”

Joseph C. Szabo, the federal rail agency’s administrator, said operators would re-evaluate crude oil movements in similar ways to those it undertakes when transporting highly toxic materials.

“Part of our expectations would be that there would be a heightened effort, upping the game, relative to operating practices, crack inspections, and all those other components that are part of a more thorough risk evaluation,” Mr. Szabo said in the conference call.

The accidents have also highlighted hazards with the kind of crude oil that comes out of the Bakken region. Because of the lack of pipeline infrastructure in that new oil producing region, crude oil is loaded on railcars that huge convoys consisting of 100 cars or more known as unit trains.

Safety experts have questioned whether the Bakken oil — a light, sweet grade that is easy to refine — is also more volatile and more prone to explode in an accident than other types of oil traditionally produced in the United States.

That question has led federal regulators to begin wholesale testing of Bakken oil as part of an effort to better classify and label shipments. This month, the Transportation Department issued a safety alert that confirmed the flammable nature of the oil and said more testing would be necessary to examine other factors like its gas contents or corrosiveness.

At the meeting, petroleum industry officials pledged they would share their own data about the oil. Officials with the pipeline safety agency, which is undertaking the tests, said the results would be available soon.


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REPOST: Six Ways the U.S. is Changing

Why is US’ demographics changing? Read the factors affecting this from this article:


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The population of the United States is growing, but barely. According to data released this week by the Census Bureau, the number of Americans grew by less than 1% – the lowest growth rate since the 1930s. What does that mean for the country? And what else can we learn about the nation’s changing demographics? Here are six takeaways from the Census’s latest numbers.

1. The recession lingers

Between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2013, the U.S. population only grew by 0.72%, the lowest rate since 1937. Part of that has to do with less state-to-state migration, which means fewer people are moving around, finding better jobs, marrying and having kids. “Growth is slow,” says Ken Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire, “and I think it’s an effect from the recession.” Johnson says that while many economists say the recession’s over, he doesn’t see it playing out demographically. Rising birth rates and domestic migration are often a sign of a healthy economy, and both remain depressed.

2. People are moving to Florida again

Before the recession, Florida gained roughly 280,000 people a year. In 2005, 632,000 people left other parts of the country for the Sunshine State. But people started to leave during the recession, leading to a net loss in population. A large part of the state’s economy relies on continued growth — building subdivisions and housing, for example – and as it slowed, fewer people moved there while some of those who relied on construction jobs left. While Florida’s net population gain isn’t near where it was in 2005 and 2006, it has rebounded. Part of the reason is older New York residents fleeing the cold for the Florida sun. Andy Beveridge, a sociology professor at Queens College, says by 2014 Florida (pop. 19.5 million) will likely eclipse New York (19.6 million) as the third most populous state.

3. North Dakota’s oil boom has legs

The biggest percentage jump from 2012 to 2013 happened in North Dakota, which has seen a steady flow of workers coming to the state thanks to the oil and gas boom. But it’s not all energy jobs. “The growth is more widespread than just in the oil-producing areas,” Johnson says. “It also means there’s more money coming into the state and more opportunities. But migration is what’s fueling that rapid growth.”

4. Old and white = population loss

The only two states that lost population in 2013 were Maine and West Virginia, both of which have older, non-Hispanic populations. Whites tend to have lower fertility rates than other groups, and an older population will lead to fewer births. In Maine, the death rate has also been slowly growing as the population ages. In 2011, the state had more people die than were born for the first time. West Virginia has been losing younger residents as it coal jobs disappear, Johnson says.

5. Like California, with lower taxes

Both Nevada and Arizona continued to see higher growth rates than the rest of the country. Americans have been moving to the Southwest for decades, a region that has traditionally been a retirement destination for many in the Northeast and Midwest. But a number of businesses have also moved to the area in part to be as close to California as possible without paying the state’s higher tax rates. Still, Arizona and Nevada are lagging behind population growth rates from the mid-2000s.

6. The U.S. is becoming Europe

The population increase is so low that some experts believe that the U.S. will soon face the same demographic challenges of Europe: an aging population without enough young people. While it’s unclear how big of a factor low birth rates are in the latest figures, Johnson predicts that about 1 million births didn’t occur because of the recession. The U.S. birth rate has been falling for decades. Since the recession, it’s down to about 1.9 births per female. “The only thing that’s kept us away from becoming Europe is immigrants, or we’d already be there,” says Beveridge. But even immigrant birth rates have fallen in the last couple decades. According to the Pew Research Center, rates for foreign-born women decreased by 14% between 2007 and 2010 and fell 6% for U.S.-born women.

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