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August 1, 2015

Deepwater U.S.-Mexico pact needs work, says study

2012 agreement not in line with international law

A 2012 Gulf of Mexico pact on deepwater oil and gas reservoirs that span maritime borders of the U.S. and Mexico diverges from standard international legal practice, a new study concludes.

The study focuses on large oil and gas discoveries taking place in deep and ultra-deep waters from reservoirs that straddle invisible international barriers on the ocean floor.

It found that it’s standard to find the most efficient way to develop shared resources and to preserve them as a single unit. But an unusual provision in the U.S. and Mexico’s 2012 Transboundary Hydrocarbon Agreement allows a nation to unilaterally exploit a disputed oil reserve in the absence of a unitization agreement.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

August 1, 2015

Yippee yi yo kayah

Austin Energy takes 1st at Lineman’s Rodeo

First, Austin Energy’s lineman displayed their artistic grace in PowerUP, aired as part of PBS’ Arts in Context series. Now, they’re showing off their macho side.

The linemen seen around Texas’ capital city working on poles and transformers took first place for best overall scores in the journeymen division at the 19th Annual Texas Lineman’s Rodeo in Seguin last weekend.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 30, 2015

Cheniere inks deal to sell LNG to Chilean power plant

Company looks forward to ‘being a reliable supplier of LNG’

Texas exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) gained momentum Thursday with a Cheniere Energy Inc. subsidiary landing an LNG sale and purchase deal with Central El Campesino of Chile.

Cheniere Marketing International LLP announced from Houston that the Central El Campesino power plant under development by the Chilean company Biobiogenera, in association with Electricite de France, agreed to buy 0.6 million tons per year of LNG over 20 years, starting in 2019.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 30, 2015

ERCOT issues 1st electric conservation plea this summer

July temperatures sparked record-setting demand yesterday

The grid operator for most of Texas, amid record-setting July electric demand, put out its first system-wide conservation request this summer on Thursday morning, predicting tight supplies between 3-7 p.m.

As temperatures rose this week, electric demand hit three consecutive July records, pushing past 67,000 megawatts (MW) yesterday for the first time since 2011, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 30, 2015

Economists: Why Texas’ economy can handle oil crash

NAFTA boosted state’s export prowess, ability to weather shocks

Texas’ economic resiliency in the face of an oil price crash resulted in part with help from the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada, concludes a paper published in The International Trade Journal.

The Texas economy has been better able to withstand oil price volatility and economic disruptions nationally after passage of NAFTA, notes Vance Ginn, an economist in the Center for Fiscal Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 29, 2015

Patterson on Bush: Put less focus on ‘covering his derriere’

Past land czar smarts after critical state audit on oil-gas contract

Former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson defended an oil-and-gas-related contract under his watch Wednesday before accusing current Land Commissioner George P. Bush of dropping him “in the grease” and “covering his derriere.”

At issue is criticism from the State Auditor’s Office this week of “significant weaknesses” in three Patterson-era contracts, including a more than $1 million contract with Grant Thornton LLP. The General Land Office (GLO) contracted the firm to conduct four royalty audits for the land agency’s oil and gas holdings. 

Patterson noted that state government audits are normally a two-way street in which the auditor and subject are engaged in the process. Ordinarily state agencies provide a rationale for certain decisions when the state auditor finds an apparent discrepancy, he said.

That didn’t happen as Patterson left the agency and Bush took over, Patterson said.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 28, 2015

Federal appeals court tells EPA to relax, rewrite Texas pollution limits

Cross-state air pollution rule overreached for 13 states, court finds

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected specific air pollution limits under the EPA’s Cross State Air Pollution Rule for 13 states Tuesday – including its controversial emissions budget for Texas that conservative state leaders have long decried as unfair and unfounded.

While the Supreme Court upheld the cross-state rule last year as a valid way to regulate air pollution that wafts from one state into another, the lower federal appeals court sent the emissions limits for Texas and a dozen states back to EPA to rewrite and relax the emissions budgets. The court determined the limits were overly broad.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 27, 2015

Floating LNG terminal offshore Puerto Rico gets FERC nod

Texas company to build, operate project, reducing electric costs, emissions

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has given an environmental green light (with conditions) to a floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal offshore Puerto Rico to be built and operated by Excelerate Energy of The Woodlands, the company announced Monday.

“We are pleased to receive the order from FERC after nearly four years of extensive environmental review,” Excelerate CEO Rob Bryngelson said in a statement.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 27, 2015

Goodrich selling Eagle Ford oil reserves for $118 million

Retains 58% of acreage for future development, retires debt

Goodrich Petroleum Corp., an independent oil and gas company based in Houston, announced Monday an $118-million agreement to sell proved oil reserves and related leasehold in the Eagle Ford Shale counties of LaSalle and Frio.

The company said it has entered into a definitive agreement, effective July 1, to sell the oil property, which averaged about 2,850 barrels of oil equivalent per day (75 percent of it oil) during the first quarter of 2015.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 23, 2015

EPA proposes voluntary methane reduction plan

Industry prefers voluntary effort, environmental group critical

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a voluntary program to nudge the oil and gas industry to reduce its methane emissions, but environmental critics aren’t impressed.

The Natural Gas Star Methane Challenge Program would let oil and gas companies set goals for reducing emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas emitted during production, and then report on their annual progress.

The idea is to encourage industry to adopt best practices for patching leaks and maintaining equipment identified as culprits in methane emissions released into the atmosphere while the EPA eyes future regulations to limit the emissions by up to 45 percent by 2025.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 23, 2015

Fairway Energy to build crude oil storage in Houston

Aims to serve midstream needs of incoming shale oil

A Houston-based company announced Thursday that it has raised funds to begin construction on the 10-million-barrel Pierce Junction Crude Oil Storage project to convert existing underground salt domes on the city’s south side city to serve the Gulf Coast refining market.

Fairway Energy Partners LLC said it had closed a private equity offering for the first phase of the project to convert three underground caverns at the Pierce Junction Salt Dome and to build pipelines, brine ponds, interconnections and pumping capacity needed for commercial service.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 22, 2015

Uranium Producers of America name Kingsville man president

Harry Anthony also serves as senior advisor to Uranium Energy Corp.

Harry Anthony, senior adviser to Corpus Christi-based Uranium Energy Corp., has been elected president of the national Uranium Producers of America (UPA), the company announced Wednesday.

Anthony of Kingsville previously served as a board member and chief operating officers at UEC and brings 45 years experience in the energy arena to the national trade group, which promotes the domestic uranium mining and conversion industry.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 21, 2015

Zion to retire early next year after 20 years of leading TPPA

Public power group begins search for new ED this fall

Mark Zion, executive director of the Texas Public Power Association (TPPA) for the past 20 years, said today he plans to retire from the organization in early 2016.

“Serving public power in Texas for two decades has been a privilege,” Zion said, announcing his pending retirement at TPPA’s annual statewide conference in San Antonio.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 21, 2015

Wind to power HP’s Texas clean data centers

Tech firm purchase to expand South Texas solar farm

Hewlett-Packard (HP) said this morning it plans to power its Texas data centers under a 12-year contract with SunEdison to provide 112 megawatts (MW) from its expanding Texas wind farm.

“The 112 MW of locally generated wind electricity is sufficient to power 100 percent of HP’s Texas-based data center operations, the equivalent of powering 42,500 homes each year,” the company said, “and will avoid the emission of more than 340,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.”

The agreement will also allow HP to reach its 20 percent greenhouse gas reduction goal by the end of fiscal year 2015, five years ahead of schedule, the company noted.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 21, 2015

Porter makes it official: He’s seeking another term at RRC

Longest-serving energy regulator could face third Sunset Review

Texas Railroad Commission Chairman David Porter made it official Monday that he plans to run for another six-year term, and has just over $1 million in his campaign fund for the effort.

Porter’s campaign reported raising $209,000 in its most recent campaign finance report, bringing his total to $1.065 million as of July 15.

“I’m running for another term so that I can continue working with my fellow commissioners to provide conservative leadership and maintain a stable, predictable regulatory climate,” said Porter, a quiet politician who was elected chairman last month.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 20, 2015

Five Point Capital invests $75 million in start-up midstream company

EVX Midstream to focus on Permian Basin, Eagle Ford, Mid-Continent

Banking on the idea that lower oil prices don’t negate the need for midstream oil, gas and water gathering, processing, treatment and transportation services, Five Point Capital Partners LLC announced its $75 million equity commitment today to form EVX Midstream Partners LLC.

The Woodlands-based independent, midstream company plans to focus its services in the Permian Basin, Eagle Ford Shale and Mid-Continent oil, gas and water markets.

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By Polly Ross Hughes

July 20, 2015

EDF: ‘Texas is ripe for clean energy’

Predicts ‘no stopping’ the green power train

Coal-generated power is shrinking in Texas while natural gas and renewable energy sources gain ground, according to an article by Peter Sopher and Sarah Ryan of the Environmental Defense Fund.

They contend that the greener trend for powering Texas will only continue. Along with the state’s buildup of the CREZ (Competitive Renewable Energy Zone) transmission lines that carry West Texas wind to densely populated Texas cities, they credit the greening of Texas power generation to the state’s competitive market.

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