Archive | Natural Gas

WWF Warns About Drilling Risk in Mediterranean

Biodiversity in the eastern Mediterranean Sea could take a deadly hit if drillers rush in on recently discovered gas-rich fields, the World Wildlife Fund warned Wednesday.

The international environmental organization warned that gas drilling in the area shared by Turkey, Israel and Egypt could ravage the sea’s ecosystem, which would take at least a millennium to regrow.

Gas drillers have been eager to capitalize on the recently discovered Leviathan gas field, a deepwater area off the Israeli coast that may hold as much as 16 trillion cubic feet of gas, AFP reports.

The West Nile Delta gas field, another potentially lucrative region for drillers, was discovered earlier this year. That field is located off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt.

But the eastern Mediterranean is home to rare species that are millennia old, including deep-sea sponges and cold water corals. Sergi Tudela, head of WWF’s Mediterranean Fisheries Program, says this makes them particularly vulnerable.

Tudela said that once the sea is tapped for gas, “it can take a millennium or more before the unique micro-ecosystem grows again, so the most fragile and valuable species and under-sea areas must be left untouched by gas development,” according to AFP.

WWF appealed to the European Union and a number of Mediterranean countries to prohibit deep-sea drilling and industrial development in the areas.

Posted in Aquatic Life, Drilling for Oil, Natural Gas0 Comments

Hydraulic Fracturing, “Fracking,” Facing Scrutiny

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday released a preliminary version of a plan to study the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water.

Hydraulic fracturing, known as “fracking,” is a natural gas drilling technique that creates fragmentation in reservoir rock formations. Using pressurized water and chemicals, drillers bore deep underground to release gas or oil from rocks. Opponents of the process say that it contaminates ground water and poses serious health and environmental risks.

Responding to public outcry over the potential safety hazards, Congress enlisted the EPA to review the effects of fracking on water supplies. The agency is expected to release initial results of the study by the end of next year, Reuters reports.

The draft issued Tuesday outlined a plan to investigate reports of water contamination in three to five sites where drilling has already occurred.

The agency will also oversee two to three case studies to assess water quality before, during, and after the hydraulic fracturing process.

The draft will be up for public comment and review by the agency’s science advisory board on March 7 and 8.

Posted in Natural Gas0 Comments

Chesapeake Energy Plans to Trim Debt by $5B

Chesapeake Energy Corp., the second-largest natural gas producer in the U.S., plans to sell $5 billion in assets to shrink its debt burden.

The Oklahoma City-based company announced Monday that it will sell all of its Fayetteville Shale holdings along with investments in two companies.

After word of the sale broke out, the company’s shares rose as much as 7 percent Monday, Reuters reports.

The Fayetteville shale, a 487,000-acre natural gas field in central Arkansas, will likely appeal to big oil companies, which have recently been showing interest in natural gas.
Chesapeake will also sell its 25.8 percent investment in Frac Tech Holdings LLC and its 20 percent stake in Chaparral Energy Inc.

The new plan aims to clear 25 percent of the company’s debt by 2012.

Chesapeake has previously been active in acquiring natural gas properties all over the country, but low natural gas prices have prompted the company to shift focus to oil.

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Gas Explosion Rocks Philly Neighborhood; 1 Dead

A gas explosion in Philadelphia Tuesday evening killed one person and injured five more, officials said.

The unexpected blast from a gas main left three people in critical condition and forced dozens of people to evacuate their homes in Philadelphia’s Tacony neighborhood.

Philadelphia Executive Fire Chief Daniel A. Williams said the one casualty was a Philadelphia Gas Works employee, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday.

PGW spokesman Cameron Kline said three additional workers were hospitalized in the University Hospital burn unit and remain in critical condition.

A fourth PGW employee was treated and released, spokeswoman Rebecca Harmon told The Associated Press.

Also among the injured was a firefighter who was reportedly in stable condition as of Wednesday morning.

The incident occurred at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday when a 12-inch gas main exploded, Kline said.

Emergency officials and utility employees were dispatched to the scene earlier after receiving reports of a gas smell. They had evacuated homes on the street and were working to locate the leak when the explosion occurred.

The blast broke a water main and leveled the building, UPI reports.

PGW says it is unclear what triggered the explosion.

Posted in Energy & Fuels, Natural Gas0 Comments

Gas Prices: Crude Oil Tops $90

Gas prices edged up at the pump Tuesday as crude oil costs surged on the New York Mercantile Exchange, passing $90 a barrel.

Benchmark oil for February delivery rose $1.80, or more than 3 percent, to $91.05 a barrel in midday training on fears about the closed Trans Alaskan Pipeline.

The 800-mile line, which supplies oil to the lower 48 states and contributes 9 to 11 percent of the country’s daily oil resources, was shut down to repair a leak.

Meanwhile, a presidential panel investigating the Deepwater Horizon oil spill recommended that the oil industry and government take on additional precautions to prevent another environmental catastrophe. The group advised increasing the liability limit for damages associated with offshore drilling, increasing budgets and training for offshore drilling, and putting more focus on the opinions of federal scientists regarding drilling.

The report caused traders to speculate that the government will impose new restrictions on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Heating oil prices rose 3.29 cents overnight to $2.589 per gallon. Reformulated blendstock gasoline gained 0.5 cents to $2.4593 per gallon. Henry Hub natural gas prices shed 4.7 cents to $4.352 per million British thermal units.

At the pump, the national average for a gallon of unleaded gasoline edged up from Monday’s $3.088 per gallon to $3.089.

Posted in Natural Gas, Oil & Petroleum0 Comments

Cuomo Nominates Joe Martens for DEC Commissioner

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has nominated Joe Martens to serve as commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Martens, who has served as president of the non-profit group the Open Space Institute since 1998, has played a key role in acquiring land for conservation, sustainable development and sustainable farming in the Adirondacks and elsewhere.

He will replace Peter Iwanowitz, who has held the post since late October after Gov. David Paterson dismissed Alexander B. Grannis.

Grannis was fired over a leaked memo condemning the agency’s layoffs. He has since been hired as first deputy comptroller in the office of Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

Martens, who will need to wait for Senate approval to begin his work, previously served as deputy state secretary of energy and the environment from 1992-94 under Cuomo’s father, Gov. Mario Cuomo.

Environmental groups like the National Resources Defense Council have praised Cuomo’s choice to appoint Martens. “Joe Martens’ experience, judgment, and temperament make him the right person at the right time to meet the challenges that DEC faces,” said Ashok Gupta of the NRDC, according to the New York Times. “He has the support and key relationships with the business and environmental community that will allow him to hit the ground running.”

Martens will take over as the DEC works to complete an analysis of the environmental impact of the controversial “hydro-fracking” process in New York State’s Marcellus Shale region.

Posted in Laws & Regulations, Natural Gas, Policies, Politics & Politicians, U.S. Federal Government Agencies, U.S. State & Local0 Comments

Oil Prices Dip Slightly

Oil prices settled at $91.12 per barrel of benchmark grade crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange Wednesday, and other energy commodities fell as the East Coast worked to dig itself out from Monday’s snow storm.

Energy prices usually climb as the weather gets colder, but industry analysts say that most traders have locked in their energy contracts for the year, and investors still buying are looking ahead to 2011, The Associated Press reports.

Heating oil for January delivery fell less than a penny to $2.524 per gallon, gasoline for January delivery fell 1.47 cents to $2.3909 per gallon, and natural gas for February shed 3.1 cents at $4.257 per 1,000 cubic feet, AP reports.

At the pump, the national average price of unleaded gasoline was $3.061 per gallon, up 1.2 cents from Tuesday’s $3.049, AAA said.

Posted in Energy Industry, Natural Gas, Oil & Petroleum0 Comments

Gas Prices Will Rise to $5 by 2012, Shell Exec Warns

Gas prices will climb to $5 and rationing will be necessary by 2012 if ineffective governing continues, a former Shell executive said Tuesday.

John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil, told the Platts news service that political indecision could lead to all-time high prices at the pump and national shortages as soon as a year down the road.

“The politically driven choices that are being made, which are non-choices, essentially frittering at the edges of renewable energy, stifling production in hydrocarbon energy — that’s a sure path for not enough energy for American consumers,” Hofmeister said, according to UPI.

He predicted that lawmakers will panic when they “suddenly” realize they need to rework the U.S. energy strategy around 2012.

“When American consumers are short or prices are so high — $5 a gallon for gasoline, for example, by 2012 — that’s going to set a new tone,” he added.

Hofmeister also expects that the newly Republican-controlled House will make for political gridlock in 2011, fixing energy dependency on hydrocarbons and preventing the exploration of sustainable methods.

The national average price of unleaded gasoline rose Tuesday to $3.049 per gallon, up from $3.042 Monday, AAA said. Oil was up 10 cents at $91.03 a barrel on the Nymex.

Posted in Biofuels & Biomass, Energy Industry, Natural Gas, Oil & Petroleum0 Comments

Wind Power Green but Costs More Green

LONDON, Sept. 28 (UPI) — Wind power, while good for the environment, carries a price tag twice that of a natural gas- or coal-fired power station, British researchers say.

A report by the U.K. Energy Research Center said Britain’s massive expansion of wind farms, both offshore and on land, was based on underestimated costs of wind power in the mid-2000s, the Daily Mail reported Tuesday.

Over the next 10 years, the British government plans to build up to 10,000 new wind turbines to meet tough climate change targets, the newspaper said.

Instead of the predicted falling costs, in the last five years the cost of buying and installing turbines and towers at sea has gone up 51 percent, the report said.

Once the bill for building and maintaining an offshore wind farm is spread over the 25-year lifespan of a typical installation, each kilowatt hour of electricity costs 24 cents.

That’s nearly twice as expensive as electricity from conventional coal and gas power stations, which costs 13 cents, and more than nuclear, which costs 16 cents, the report said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Coal, Electricity, Natural Gas, Other, Wind0 Comments

Oil Platform Fire Cause Unknown But No Oil Spilled; Owner Had History of Safety Violations

A day after an oil platform fire in the Gulf of Mexico, more details regarding the incident and the oil platform owner, Mariner Energy, have come to light. Speaking to reporters today, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asserted that the incident was a run-of-the mill industrial accident and not an example of a failure in regulatory oversight, noting “It’s not another Deepwater Horizon issue, it appears to be another industrial accident.”

Despite Salazar’s statements, more details emerged today about past safety violations by Mariner Energy and its predecessor, Forest Oil. The Washington Post has noted that federal records show Mariner Energy has a history of safety violations including:

  • In June, Mariner Energy paid a $20,000 federal fine for an alleged regulatory violation on an offshore platform.
  • In May, Mariner Gulf of Mexico LLC paid a $35,000 fine for allegedly taking inadequate steps to control hydrogen sulfide pollution.
  • In 2006, Forest Oil had several crew members on another oil platform who were so concerned about safety problems that they took a boat to shore. Their boss stayed behind and was killed when equipment ejected from the well.

Fortunately, the oil platform fire on Thursday did not lead to an oil or natural gas leak, as was initially feared.

In fact, had the oil platform fire not occurred in such close proximity to the BP Deepwater Horizon location in the Gulf of Mexico, it is unlikely much notice would have been paid to the accident at all.

Posted in History, Hydrogen, Natural Gas, Oil & Petroleum0 Comments

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