View by Date
Printable Version of This Page

July 26, 2017

Lead Stories

Business Recorder

July 21, 2017

World’s first Solar-Powered Windows

In order to make our home energy neutral, a tech startup has recently created the world's first commercial, completely transparent solar-power-generating windows. A startup named Physee designed the windows in a way that they have solar cells installed in the edges at such particular angles that permits the incoming solar light to be successfully modified into electricity. The CEO of the startup Ferdinand Grapperhaus exclaimed, “Large commercial estates consume a lot of energy. If you want to make these buildings energy neutral, you never have enough roof surface. Therefore, activating the buildings' facades will significantly contribute to making the buildings energy neutral.” These solar-powered windows are able to generate approximately 8 to 10 watts of power. Grapperhaus informed Live Science, “This enables the user to charge a phone per every square meter (11 square feet) two times a day.”

Click Here for More

Utilities Stories

El Paso Times

July 22, 2017

Pickett's bill seeks to stop higher electric rates for solar homes

Texas state Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, doesn't think El Paso Electric should charge residential customers with solar systems more for electricity than non-solar customers. So, Pickett on Tuesday, the first day of the state Legislature's special session, filed a bill to forbid Texas electric utilities from charging a higher rate or special fee for residential customers with solar systems. The bill won't likely go anywhere in the 30-day special session. Special session rules only allow lawmakers to vote on items identified as priorities by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. Pickett's legislation does not fall under those priorities. But, Pickett said, he wants to stir further debate on the company's proposal. "If not this special session, perhaps the next regular session a discussion about this inequity needs to take place," Pickett wrote in a letter he sent Wednesday to Mary Kipp, El Paso Electric chief executive officer, notifying her of his bill filing and his opposition to charging solar customers extra for electricity.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 20, 2017

Tomlinson: Houston company helps H-E-B keep the lights on

The next time the wind blows and the lights go out along the Texas coast, odds are your local H-E-B will be open for business, providing food, ice and a place to cool down, thanks to a new power player in Houston. After years of struggling with finicky diesel generators, the grocer has contracted with Enchanted Rock Energy to provide backup power from on-site natural gas generators at 50 locations in Houston and will eventually in introduce them at stores across the state. Using an innovative business model, Enchanted Rock will operate the generators from a control room in downtown Houston and will make money using them to back up the state's electric grid almost every day. The company's patent-pending generators, digital control room and ability to sell power to the grid could transform the electric reliability industry.

Click Here for More

Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Reuters

July 20, 2017

China seen making 25 percent more solar panels in 2017

China's solar industry is expected to produce 25 percent more panels in 2017 than last year, supported by domestic sales and demand from the United States and emerging markets, the head of a Chinese industry association said. China was expected to produce solar panels with a combined capacity of 60 gigawatts (GW) this year, said Wang Bohua, secretary general of China's photovoltaic industry association. China produced panels with capacity of 48 GW in 2016. Despite growing global demand, China's solar industry faced challenges ranging from possible tariffs abroad to inadequate grid connections at home, Wang told an industry gathering.

Click Here for More

Solar Power Portal (UK)

July 20, 2017

Solar PV fires predominantly caused by installer error, government report concludes

Fires involving solar panels are most commonly caused by errors in the installation process rather than any particular technological faults, a new report by both the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and the government has concluded. And the UK solar industry has leapt to solar’s defence, arguing that it has an “exceptional” safety record compared to other, far more mainstream consumer electronics. This morning the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published a series of reports it commissioned to the BRE on fire safety in solar panels. While fire safety in buildings has come to prominence following last month’s Grenfell tower fire and later brought into a solar PV context by a much-publicised fire in Bow Wharf – the cause of which has still not been confirmed – the report has been years in the planning.

Click Here for More

Duke Chronicle

July 23, 2017

Smoggy skies: Why solar energy isn't as efficient as it could be

According to a new study, air pollution may have yet another harmful effect—reduction of solar energy production. Researchers from Duke, the Indian Institute of Technology at Gandhinagar and the University of Wisconsin at Madison performed the research, which appeared last month in Environmental Science & Technology Letters. The investigators—including Mike Bergin, professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Drew Shindell, professor of climate sciences at the Nicholas School of the Environment—found that solar energy production was reduced by about 17 to 25 percent in India, China and the Arabian Peninsula due to particulates in the air. “The main reason we care is that [pollution] kills people because it's toxic to breathe, but it also damages our food supply—and now, we find yet another thing,” Shindell said. “If you really did the economic analysis of these things, you would find that this is yet another reason why the apparently cheap, but very dirty fossil fuels are actually not so cheap.”

Click Here for More

Regulatory Stories

Texas Monthly

July 21, 2017

New Energy in the Senate Republican Primary

Houston energy lawyer Stefano de Stefano announced that he will run against Ted Cruz in the Texas primary race, according to the Houston Chronicle. De Stefano will be tabling his legal career with Diamond Offshore Drilling, a deepwater drilling contractor that posted a $1.6 billion revenue in 2016, to focus on the race. The political novice says that he will “leverage his private sector leadership and negotiation acumen” to help small business owners and entrepreneurs in Texas. As a senator, he said he would focus on “supporting the economic engines of the state by simplifying regulations that limit competitiveness.” ... It’s unclear if Texas’s energy giants will choose to back one of their own, but they’ve been steadily pumping black gold into Cruz’s coffers for years. According to OpenSecrets, the oil and gas energy gave more money to Cruz than any other candidate in any national race in 2016, coming in at $1,457,628 in total contributions. In his 2012 Senate race, oil and gas gave Cruz $780,282, more than any other congressional candidate that year.

Click Here for More

July 25, 2017

Lead Stories

San Antonio Express News

July 24, 2017

SEC investigation of FourWinds Logistics revealed in Uresti case

The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating FourWinds Logistics, a San Antonio oil- field services company that imploded in 2015 and triggered a criminal probe into six individuals — including state Sen. Carlos Uresti The agency revealed the almost year-long probe in a court document Friday seeking to quash a subpoena from Uresti, a San Antonio Democrat. Uresti has asked the SEC to turn over documents it has provided the Justice Department, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Services. The SEC’s Fort Worth office opened the investigation Aug. 23, two days after the San Antonio Express-News first reported on FourWinds’ demise and allegations by some investors that the company had defrauded them. Uresti testified in the SEC’s FourWinds investigation June 28, providing authorities more than 340,000 pages of documents that he mostly received from the U.S. Attorney’s office in the criminal case, the SEC disclosed in its filing. Mikal Watts, a lawyer for Uresti, said the senator gave eight hours of testimony.

Click Here for More

Midland Reporter Telegram

July 24, 2017

Water management becoming increasingly significant issue

Technology has unlocked billions of barrels of crude and natural gas underneath the Permian Basin. But a perhaps unintended consequence of those technological advances is they have also created an expanding need for water to be used in oil field operations. The average well requires between 500,000 and 700,000 barrels of water — that’s more than 21 million gallons — to be hydraulically fractured, a figure that is expected to only continue climbing as operators drill longer laterals and complete their wells with bigger fracturing jobs, requiring even more water. Where will that water come from? Operators are increasingly focused on reducing or eliminating their demand for fresh water by recycling and reusing produced or flowback water. Wells in the Delaware Basin alone are producing enough water to support fracturing operations, said Bridget Scanlon, senior research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin’s Bureau of Economic Geology.

Click Here for More

Austin American-Statesman

July 24, 2017

PEC director disputes claim that ‘retaliation’ led CEO to resign

The Pedernales Electric Cooperative board member at the center of controversy regarding his racially tinged Facebook post last November said Monday that there was never any retaliation against co-op employees who complained about it, contradicting allegations from the utility’s former chief executive before he resigned in protest in May and received $1.1 million in separation pay. James Oakley, who also serves as Burnet County judge, told the American-Statesman he doesn’t believe John D. Hewa resigned because of retaliation against employees who spoke out about perceived racism at the co-op, as Hewa initially stated. Oakley implied that other factors were at play in Hewa’s abrupt exit, raising the issue of Hewa’s “performance” unprompted. “I am not authorized to comment on the performance of former CEO John Hewa,” Oakley said. He declined to elaborate, saying “it’s up to the reader to imply what they want” from the comment.

Click Here for More

Bloomberg

July 24, 2017

Barclays Oil Sale Triggers a Huge Number of Trades in Exotic Options

Barclays Plc sold the last part of its oil book to an unidentified buyer, triggering a surge in trading of exotic options written in the era of higher crude prices, according to people familiar with the matter. The sale was signaled by several large options trades at 9:35 a.m. in London in some of the world’s major oil markets including West Texas Intermediate crude, where 48 million barrels of contracts changed hands. That represents more than a quarter of the entire volume on an average trading day. Barclays flagged in December that it was winding down the energy business, housed in its macro-trading unit. Monday’s transaction marked the final sale of the business, the people said. Many of the contracts traded on Monday were suggestive of a bygone era of oil prices above $100 a barrel. The strike prices for some of the options were far from today’s prices, suggesting they may have been part of deals struck years ago. Three of the 4 largest trades would profit if crude rises above $90, $95 or $125 a barrel by the end of this year.

Click Here for More

Phys Org

July 21, 2017

Researchers work to improve recovery from tight shale reservoirs

A significant amount of U.S. domestic oil production comes from shale. Extracting oil and gas from these unconventional reservoirs normally requires drilling horizontal wells and using hydraulic fracturing techniques. Yet predicting the full effect of these techniques is still uncertain because the understanding of how fluid flows through shale is still evolving. Dr. David Schechter's research group has developed a new type of simulator that better illustrates and predicts the effects of these techniques. This robust simulator draws on data from laboratory experiments and combines it with known geologic data on fractures. Then it uses unstructured gridding and newly developed coding to create models that improve the understanding of how fractures affect reservoir flow, how fracturing fluids with added surfactants (soaps) affect oil recovery, and which enhanced oil recovery processes are best for different reservoir situations

Click Here for More

Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

July 25, 2017

Oil extends gains as OPEC moves to cap Nigeria output

Oil prices extended gains on Tuesday after OPEC moved to cap Nigerian oil output and Saudi Arabia pledged to limit exports next month to help rein in global oversupply. London Brent crude for September delivery was up 7 cents at $48.67 a barrel by 0039 GMT after settling up 54 cents or 1.1 percent on Monday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 10 cents at $46.44. OPEC member Nigeria had been exempt from the cartel's deal with non-OPEC producers led by Russia to cut oil output by a combined 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) from January 2017 to March 2018.

Click Here for More

UPI

July 24, 2017

Texas energy sector facing slight headwinds

Strong job growth in Texas was apparent, though some energy sector indicators are still presenting headwinds, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said. A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas found job growth in the state was 3.6 percent and the overall forecast for the year was 2.8 percent, an upward revision from 2.6 expected in its last forecast. "Strong job growth in June and a rebound in the leading index pushed the job forecast to its highest level this year," Keith R. Phillips, the fed's assistant vice president, said in a statement. "Growth in the second quarter was 2.8 percent, the fastest we have seen since the end of 2014."

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 24, 2017

Houston's Layne Christensen finishes water pipeline

The Houston water well company Layne Christensen has laid its last segments of 22-inch polyethylene pipe in the Delaware Basin, and is just days from opening its 20-mile pipeline to oil and gas operators here. The Delaware, the southern lobe of the prolific Permian Basin, is a desert, full of thorny mesquite trees and pesky agave lechuguilla — also called shin daggers — a cactus that trips up horses and pierces skin. Oil and gas companies must find water here for hydraulic fracturing operations to work. Layne, based in The Woodlands, has landed some big fish as its first customers.

Click Here for More

Bloomberg

July 24, 2017

Halliburton Sees Drillers `Tap the Brakes' on Shale Boom

Halliburton Co., promising to be disciplined in adding more fracking gear to the oilfields, says U.S. explorers are "tapping the brakes" on drilling as the price of oil struggles to breach $50 a barrel. The comments come days after Baker Hughes data found that explorers reduced the number of U.S. rigs for the second time in four weeks. The decline and the statements by Halliburton, the world’s biggest provider of fracking services, could bolster confidence that spending by the shale industry may be slowing as efforts by OPEC and its allies to raise oil prices have faltered. ... "Today, rig count growth is showing signs of plateauing and customers are tapping the brakes," Halliburton Executive Chairman Dave Lesar said on a call. "This demonstrates that individual companies are making rational decisions in the best interest of their shareholders. The comments came after Halliburton reported that it swung to a profit in the second quarter as revenue rose 29 percent from a year earlier to $4.96 billion. That’s more than $1 billion higher than the company reported a year earlier.

Click Here for More

Bloomberg

July 24, 2017

Abramowicz: Goldman Rallies Bears on Energy Junk Debt

For years, bond traders have been hard-wired to "buy the dip." This has often worked well in a world awash in central bank cash, when any sell-off has quickly been answered by a rally.But this time may be different when it comes to junk-rated debt of energy companies. These securities have been rebounding in force from a painful 2014 and 2015, even as the fundamental backdrop deteriorates. Bullish investors seem to be betting that oil prices have stabilized, are heading higher and that the lower-rated companies that rely on these prices are in relatively healthy condition. But these buyers may very well be wrong.Energy companies still have too much debt and will struggle if oil prices fall. This adds up to a potentially toxic combination for some oil companies, especially those with excessive leverage.

Click Here for More

San Antonio Express News

July 24, 2017

Texas Power Brokers: Uresti attorney Watts once again plays defense

Speaking at a San Antonio Trial Lawyers Association luncheon earlier this month, high-powered attorney Mikal Watts recounted the federal raid at his law firm in 2013, his subsequent indictment, trial and exoneration on charges that he made up fake clients to sue BP over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. A large screen off to Watts’ right trumpeted the title of his presentation, “Skinned Alive: An innocent man’s persecution by the U.S. Department of Justice.” Watts contends the charges against him, his brother David and a paralegal were politically motivated. The Democratic mega-donor most notably hosted a $38,800-a-plate fundraiser in 2012 at his Dominion estate for President Barack Obama. Watts is a highly successful local trial lawyer whose firm has won more than a combined $4 billion in settlements and jury verdicts against some major corporations, including Ford Motor Co. and the Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. over the Explorer SUV rollovers. He said he’s convinced he was put through his own criminal case “so that I would be prepared to counsel my friend.”

Click Here for More

Rigzone

July 24, 2017

ETP's $4B Rover Line Hits Another Snag, This Time In W. Virginia

Energy Transfer Partners LP's Rover pipeline, the biggest natural gas pipeline under construction in the United States, received more bad news after West Virginia told the company to stop some work, citing environmental violations, regulators said on Monday. The $4.2 billion pipeline already faces sanctions for violations in Ohio and a federal ban on drilling activity that has delayed the anticipated startup of the project's first phase to the late summer from July. West Virginia's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued the order to stop activity in certain areas on July 17, which was made public on Monday in a U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission filing. The state, in the filing, noted sediment deposits and improper erosion controls, along with other violations.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 24, 2017

Tomlinson: Showdown in Venezuela to hit oil markets and Houston

President Donald Trump issued a statement last week warning that if Maduro goes through with his plans, "the United States will take strong and swift economic actions," which could include suspending the importation of 700,000 barrels of oil a day. But such an oil embargo would have major implications for China, Russia, Texas and Houston. Finding a solution to Venezuela's political and economic crisis will not be easy. The majority of Venezuelans have turned against Maduro since his ruling party nationalized every major industry, jailed opposition leaders, mismanaged oil assets and impoverished the country. Maduro and his top generals have allegedly resorted to corruption and drug trafficking to keep the regime afloat. Now they fear criminal prosecution, both at home and abroad, should they give up power. Efforts to negotiate a power-sharing deal have repeatedly failed.

Click Here for More

Longview News Journal

July 19, 2017

Plains All American sets Permian pipe expansion

Plains All American will continue to grow its pipeline capacity coming out of West Texas' prolific Permian Basin, adding 120,000 barrels a day to a pipeline between Midland and Cushing, Oklahoma. The Houston company said it has sufficient commitment from shippers to expand the Sunrise pipeline by 180 miles between the Texas towns of Colorado City and Wichita Falls. The pipeline system connects to terminals in Cushing. Pending regulatory approval, the additions are expected to be in use by mid-2019.

Click Here for More

Austin American-Statesman

July 24, 2017

First Reading: Why haven’t the Wilks brothers given Gov. Abbott so much as a straw of deer semen this election cycle?

I think this is a question worth contemplating, not only because it is interesting in its own right, but because, when we find the answer, we may understand why it is that Greg Abbott, and not Ted Cruz, is more likely to be next (Republican) president after Donald Trump, assuming that we have another (Republican) president, after Donald Trump. First some background. If Tom and Ray Magliotti of Massachusetts were Car Talk’s Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers, Farris and Don Wilks of Cisco are the frick and frack of right-wing fracking money in Texas and nationally. The Wilks bothers first burst on the national scene two summers ago. From Teddy Schleiffer of CNN on July 27, 2015. Washington (CNN) – Two low-profile Texas brothers have donated $15 million to support Sen. Ted Cruz, a record-setting contribution that amounts to the largest known donation so far in the 2016 presidential campaign. Farris and Dan Wilks, billionaires who made their fortunes in the West Texas fracking boom, have given $15 million of the $38 million that the pro-Cruz super PAC, Keep the Promise, will disclose in election filings next week, according to sources outside the super PAC with knowledge of the giving.

Click Here for More

UPI

July 20, 2017

India starts path to cut oil, gas exports

The government of India said it held its first advisory council meeting to lay out an ambitious road map to cut oil and gas imports by 10 percent. Indian Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan chaired the first meeting for the body tasked with cutting oil and gas dependency. During the meeting, the ministry said expanding domestic oil and gas developments, including shale reserves, and coal-bed methane could help the country achieve its goals for the start of the next decade. ... Nearly half of India's energy comes from oil and natural gas. GE estimated that India could exhaust its proven resources within the next 25 years, but added that barely a quarter of the country's reserves have been explored.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 22, 2017

Eisinger: Enron investigation steeled Mueller for the long road ahead

It seems safe to assume that nobody read Donald Trump Jr.'s damning emails with a Kremlin-connected lawyer more closely than Robert Mueller. Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, will surely be looking into the now-infamous meeting, including the president's son; the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and his campaign chairman at the time, Paul Manafort. As he does, will Mueller be able to build a case that goes all the way to the top? That could depend on what lessons he learned from overseeing the task force that investigated one of the biggest fraud cases in American history: the collapse of the energy giant Enron.

Click Here for More

London Evening Standard (UK)

July 24, 2017

Oil and gas skills crisis ‘bringing back retirees’ says top recruiter SThree

A shortage of maths and science graduates entering the energy sector has forced ex-contractors to come out of retirement to fill the skills gap, one of the country’s biggest recruiters said on Monday. Sthree chief executive Gary Elden said the lure of quick riches in the start-up tech industry meant it was harder to fill technical roles in the oil and gas sector and traditionally attractive routes like banking. “If you look at the oil and gas market people are coming out of retirement to take up contract roles because of the shortage,” he said. “You can’t find experienced people with the skills.” ... Around 9% of the company’s profits come from the energy division, based in Houston, Texas, compared with its biggest sector IT, which accounts for 44%.

Click Here for More

Bloomberg

July 24, 2017

America's Biggest Oil Port Wants to Be a Two-Way Street

The biggest U.S. oil-import hub wants to grab a piece of surging North American crude exports. Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the only terminal along the U.S. Gulf Coast able to handle a fully laden supertanker, is gauging interest from shippers in sending crude overseas on the world’s biggest ships by early next year. The port would continue to take in foreign oil, LOOP LLC said in an emailed statement Monday. Ports are competing to fill the needs of domestic oil producers looking for outlets for their growing supply. At the same time, the boom from U.S. shale fields and Canadian oil-sands mines has reduced refiners’ need for imported oil. LOOP’s ability to handle tankers capable of carrying 2 million barrels in their holds would reduce shipping costs for companies looking to send crude to refiners in Asia. ... “LOOP is the most obvious place for U.S. crude exports since as a deepwater port it makes it more manageable to load up a large ship such as a VLCC,” Sandy Fielden, director of commodities and energy research at Morningstar Inc., said by phone from Austin, Texas.

Click Here for More

Huffington Post (HuffPost)

July 19, 2017

Boss Of Coal-Hauling Railroad Says ‘Fossil Fuels Are Dead’

The CEO of freight railroad CSX Corp., one of the largest U.S. haulers of coal, warns that the days of transporting and burning coal are numbered. “Fossil fuels are dead,” Hunter Harrison told analysts Wednesday, according to media reports. “That’s a long-term view. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to be two or three years, but it’s going away in my view.” For that reason, he said, CSX will cease making investments in coal. “Unless something changes drastically in the market, we’re not going to go out and put a double track in, or buy locomotives or anything for coal,” Harrison said, according to E&E News. “Having said that, the last carload of coal that’s shipped out of this country, I want to be the carrier that shipped it.”

Click Here for More

Utilities Stories

Utility Dive

July 24, 2017

Texas muni to shut Gibbons Creek coal plant for most of the year

The Texas Municipal Power Agency (TMPA) told the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) that it plans to operate the 470 MW coal-fired Gibbons Creek power for only five months of the year. TMPA said it is not economical to run the plant in Anderson, Texas, except during the hottest months, from June through September. The agency must sell the plant by Sept. 2018 or its board will have to decide whether to shutter it completely. TMPA says the plant cannot effectively compete with generation fueled by low cost natural gas and against an influx of wind power in ERCOT, a trend the grid operator expects to push up to 10 GW of coal-fired generation offline by the next decade.

Click Here for More

Denton Record Chronicle

July 22, 2017

Is Denton's electric rate relief a live wire?

Denton Municipal Electric has proposed a slight rate decrease next year, a change that could save $1.33 on the average homeowner's $116 monthly electric bill. Commercial customers could save more, from $20 to $500 or more each month, depending on their electric usage. The rate decrease may signal a new era for DME, where ratepayers finally enjoy the savings coming from renewable energy generated at wind and solar farms. Or, it could be the lull before the storm. Denton's Public Utilities Board is scheduled to review the proposed rate change Monday; the Denton City Council's review comes Tuesday. Then, behind closed doors, both bodies will be briefed on contracting irregularities at DME.

Click Here for More

Dallas Morning News

July 24, 2017

Thousands near Greenville and in West Texas are about to get much cheaper electric bills

About 54,000 Texans can expect significantly lower electric bills thanks to a $400 million deal struck between Texas' largest regulated utility, Oncor, and Sharyland, a Hunt family-owned utility. The agreement gives Sharyland $380 million worth of power transmission lines in west Central Texas and $20 million. In exchange, Oncor gets 54,000 Sharyland customers, which is estimated to be worth $400 million. Geoff Bailey, an Oncor spokesman, said Sharyland residential customers could see their electric bills drop by at least $50 or $60 per month. The transaction announced Monday is subject to Public Utility Commission approval.

Click Here for More

Los Angeles Times

July 24, 2017

Warren Buffett is building up a 'recession resistant' energy powerhouse

From California to the Midwest, billionaire investor Warren Buffett is steadily building an energy powerhouse. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy subsidiary has gobbled up utilities and natural gas pipelines and tapped into clean energy production, including from Southern California’s abundant geothermal resources. The latest move by Berkshire Hathaway Energy is the planned $9-billion purchase of Dallas-based Oncor, a regulated electricity service provider with 10 million customers and more than 3,700 employees. It’s one of the nation’s largest power transmission companies. ... Berkshire Hathaway appears to be doing all it can to counter a purported death spiral of economic harm that power companies face because of growing energy efficiency regulations, consumers generating their own power with rooftop solar panels and the advent of electricity storage options in homeowners’ garages.

Click Here for More

Denver Post

July 24, 2017

New power accord likely to be struck soon in mountain states

Utilities in the mountain states are edging closer to joining forces with electricity providers stretching from North Dakota to northern Texas in a move that backers say could save Colorado households $68 a year on average. “From my perspective, it is highly likely,” Southwest Power Pool president and CEO Nick Brown said of the highlanders joining forces with the lowlanders. An informal alliance of utilities in the region known as the Mountain West Transmission Group, which includes Xcel Energy Colorado, Black Hills Energy, and Tri-State Generation & Transmission, began evaluating whether to join the Southwest Power Pool in January.

Click Here for More

Bloomberg

July 22, 2017

Japan Captures More Photographs of Likely Melted Fukushima Fuel

A trove of new images captured in the past few days show what is likely to be melted nuclear fuel from inside one of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima reactors, a potential milestone in the cleanup of one of the worst atomic disasters in history. Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., Japan’s biggest utility, released images on Saturday of mounds of black rock and sand-like substances at the bottom of the No. 3 reactor containment vessel at Fukushima, which is likely to contain melted fuel, according to Takahiro Kimoto, an official at the company. A survey on Friday found black icicles hanging from the above pressure vessel, which was “highly likely” to contain melted fuel. Kimoto noted it would take time to confirm whether this debris contains melted fuel.

Click Here for More

Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Houston Chronicle

July 24, 2017

Krishnamoorti: Welcome to 'all of the above' transportation

Electricity generation has moved in dramatic fashion toward an "all of the above" strategy, especially in Texas and other states where wind and solar are responsible for an increasing amount of power flowing through the grid. Wind energy accounted for about a quarter of power generation in Texas during the first quarter of 2017. Transportation, on the other hand, is still largely dependent on gasoline and diesel from crude oil, despite attempts to use hydrogen, biofuels and natural gas as cleaner alternatives. Recent announcements from Volvo and Tesla, however, signal a sea change. Volvo has pledged to become the first major car manufacturer to go electric, with every new model starting in 2019 equipped with an electric motor – all electric, hybrid or plug-in hybrid. Tesla will deliver the first of its Model 3 all electric cars later this month, priced at about $35,000.

Click Here for More

Oil Price

July 15, 2017

Tesla Faces Stiff Competition In Energy Storage War

A week after Tesla announced it had won a tender for the installation of the world’s biggest battery storage system in Australia, Siemens and AES launched a joint venture that focuses exclusively on battery storage systems. The first comments from observers suggest that this joint venture, called Fluence, could turn into stiff competition for Tesla, and there are facts to support this suggestion. Tesla has 300 MW worth of battery-powered storage systems across 18 countries. AES and Siemens boast a combined 463 MW of such projects across 13 countries. Tesla has a gigafactory and plans to build three more. AES has a decade of experience in energy storage systems, and Siemens has more than a century of experience in all things energy technology as well as an established presence in over 160 countries around the world. It certainly looks like the energy storage sector just got a lot more exciting. Bloomberg’s Brian Eckhouse quotes AES’ chief executive, Andres Gluski, as saying that energy storage is “the holy grail for renewables.”

Click Here for More

Regulatory Stories

Dallas Morning News

July 24, 2017

Congress' deal on Russia sanctions features changes sought by Big Oil and key Texas Republican

Texas Rep. Pete Sessions went to bat for Big Oil. And won. The Dallas Republican led the charge in raising concerns that portions of a bill to toughen sanctions on Russia would harm energy companies like Irving-based Exxon Mobil by preventing them from pursuing some major projects across the globe. And a new bipartisan deal to advance the sanctions now features changes to address those worries. While an earlier version passed by the Senate would've banned U.S. businesses from working on international oil projects that involved any sanctioned Russian partners, the new one would bar U.S. companies only from projects that include at least a 33 percent stake by those Russians.

Click Here for More

San Antonio Express News

July 23, 2017

SAEN: Texas should do more to punish air polluters

The Legislature should raise the maximum fine for violating air permits from $25,000, which is not a deterrent for these companies. The TCEQ should make it policy to always pursue the maximum fine. The TCEQ should fine polluters by the numbers of chemicals released into the air. Many emissions events involve multiple chemicals, so the fines would stack. Finally, the TCEQ should be challenging the repeated industry claim that these emission events are unavoidable. Critics say the TCEQ rarely does this. This isn’t a question of reducing emissions. It’s a question of following the rules to protect the health and safety of Texans.

Click Here for More

Bloomberg

July 21, 2017

U.S. Owns 700 Million Barrels of Oil. Trump Wants to Sell It

The weather was hot and humid on July 21, 1977, the day the U.S. government began stockpiling oil. It started small. Just 412,000 barrels of Saudi Arabian light crude stashed in a Southeast Texas salt cavern. In the wake of the Arab oil embargo, which sent prices through the roof and forced Americans to ration gasoline, creating a national reserve seemed like an obvious way to protect U.S. consumers from global supply shocks. “It’s hard to imagine if you weren’t there,’’ said John Herrington, the Energy secretary under President Ronald Reagan, who pushed to expand the reserve in the 1980s. “We were lining up at gas stations. We were turning down our thermostats.’’ Forty years later, the world has changed, and Washington is torn on whether the Strategic Petroleum Reserve has outlived its usefulness. The U.S. is awash in crude, imports are declining, yet the stockpile remains the largest in world, ballooning to nearly 700 million barrels of crude, enough to offset U.S. production for more than two months, stored in some 60 caverns in Texas and Louisiana.

Click Here for More

Washington Post

July 24, 2017

Trump leaves Sessions twisting in the wind while berating him publicly

President Trump and his advisers are privately discussing the possibility of replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and some confidants are floating prospects who could take his place were he to resign or be fired, according to people familiar with the talks. Members of Trump’s circle, including White House officials, have increasingly raised the question among themselves in recent days as the president has continued to vent his frustration with the attorney general, the people said. ... Another scenario is that Trump could make a recess appointment, said Steve Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law. Under that plan, Trump could choose an attorney general during the August recess who would serve until the end of the next Senate session, which would run to Jan. 3, 2019. That person would have the same authority as someone who is confirmed by the Senate, Vladeck said. Among the names being floated as possible Sessions replacements are Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, according to people familiar with the conversations.

Click Here for More

The Hill

July 24, 2017

Trump administration seeks to repeal Obama fracking rule

The Trump administration is proposing to completely repeal Obama-era standards governing hydraulic fracturing on federal land. The proposal from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is due to be published Tuesday in the Federal Register. The landmark 2015 regulation set standards in areas such as disclosure of fracking chemicals and integrity of well casing. It was the Obama administration’s attempt to update decades-old regulations to account for the explosive growth in fracking for oil and natural gas in recent years. The repeal is the latest in a long string of environmental regulations from Obama that Trump is working to undo.

Click Here for More

July 24, 2017

Lead Stories

San Antonio Express News

July 21, 2017

More frac sand woes for Uresti co-defendant Bates

The latest venture for ex-FourWinds Logistics CEO Stan Bates, who was indicted with state Sen. Carlos Uresti in a criminal fraud case in May, apparently has run into some troubles. Bates’ San Antonio-based Bates Energy Oil & Gas this week sued a Utah company for refusing to accept delivery on more than 40,000 tons of frac sand, which is used in fracking to extract oil and gas from shale rock. Like Bates Energy, FourWinds traded frac sand. But FourWinds imploded in 2015, with some investors saying they were defrauded. A federal grand jury indicted Bates, Uresti and company consultant Gary Cain on a combined 22 charges in May. Uresti recruited a couple of the investors and served as FourWinds’ outside general counsel for a short time. Bates, 45, hasn’t let the FourWinds fiasco sidetrack his efforts to reap profits in the oil patch. He started a similar company, Bates Energy, where he is CEO and president.

Click Here for More

Dallas Morning News

July 21, 2017

NextEra suing Texas regulators who rejected its offer to buy Dallas' Oncor

There's a new skirmish in the long-running battle over the future of Dallas-based Oncor, the state's largest regulated utility. The company's old suitor — NextEra Energy — is suing the Texas Public Utility Commission over its rejection of an $18.7 billion offer for Oncor. Texas regulators determined in April that the deal wasn't in the "public interest" and also rejected two subsequent appeals. The lawsuit, filed in Austin state court last week, comes as Berkshire Hathaway and Wall Street hedge fund Elliott Management are in a race to buy Oncor. It's not clear how the litigation might affect that. ... NextEra officials are asking a judge to review the PUC's final order rejecting its offer to buy Oncor. The court filing repeated some of NextEra's earlier claims that the PUC erred in its ruling, which overstepped its authority and was an "abuse of discretion."

Click Here for More

Austin American-Statesman

July 21, 2017

Giovanetti: How Abbott could introduce regulatory agencies to reality

While the TABC is the focus of unwanted attention for its profligacy, the most harmful temptation for regulators is omniscience — and for that we turn to the Public Utilities Commission, which has twice denied bids to purchase Oncor, Texas’ massive electric utility. In 2016, the commission rejected an $18 billion offer from Hunt Consolidated — two years after Oncor’s majority shareholder filed for Chapter 11 protection. This April, the commission rejected an $18.4 billion offer from NextEra Energy that had already been approved by the Obama administration. When regulators come to believe themselves omniscient, they think they know how an industry or a transaction should work — and they insist that companies bend to their regulatory will. ... The Public Utilities Commission thought Oncor’s new owner should not control Oncor’s board. That’s right: In their delusions, three appointed bureaucrats at the commission imagined that someone should be willing to pony up $18 billion for the company — but should not be able to control it.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 23, 2017

Texas oil fields fuel meth boom

MIDLAND - Eddy Lozoya never failed a drug test in the three years he hauled water and sand across the West Texas oil patch, even though he used at least $200 a day in cocaine to keep his eyes open on brutally long days behind the wheel of a Kenworth T600 semi-truck. Lozoya, like his fellow truckers, found ways to beat the tests and keep driving. Earning six-figure salaries, they consumed cocktails of drugs to push themselves to their physical limits on trips between scattered drilling sites that could last 36 to 48 consecutive hours. They would drive their 35-ton vehicles in tight, single-file formations, blowing air horns when the sleepiest among them began drifting off the road. "We always had cocaine," he said. Lozoya, a recovering addict at 23, is among the thousands of oil field workers who have succumbed to the mix of money, boredom and drugs that often accompanies energy booms.

Click Here for More

Politico

July 23, 2017

Republicans brewing Russian scandal to target greens

Republicans are trying to conjure up a Russian scandal they can get behind. GOP House members and at least one Trump Cabinet member are pushing years-old allegations from conservative activists that Russia has funneled money to U.S. environmental groups to oppose fracking. The story has reappeared in conservative circles in recent weeks — a respite, perhaps, from the steady drip-drip of news reports about dealings between Russians and President Donald Trump’s inner circle. Allegations have circulated for years that Moscow has sought to discourage European countries from developing their own natural gas supplies as an alternative to Russian fuel. And conservatives have sought to extend those concerns to the U.S. — though there’s little but innuendo to base them on.

Click Here for More

Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

July 24, 2017

Oil steady after fall ahead of OPEC/non-OPEC meeting

Oil prices were little changed on Monday following a steep fall in the previous session amid growing expectations that the joint OPEC and non-OPEC ministerial meeting later in the day would address rising production from Nigeria and Libya, two OPEC members exempted from the cuts. Six OPEC and non-OPEC ministers will meet on Monday in St Petersburg to discuss the market outlook and compliance with output cuts. They may recommend a conditional cap on Nigerian and Libyan oil production, sources familiar with the talks said. The joint OPEC/non-OPEC ministerial committee could also discuss a deeper cut in production, but more studies are needed, according to one of the sources. London Brent crude for September delivery was unchanged at $48.06 a barrel by 2228 GMT on Sunday.

Click Here for More

24/7 Wall St.

July 21, 2017

Oil Rig Count Up by 393 From Year Ago; Crude Oil Price Inches Higher

The number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States in the week ended July 21 totaled 764, up by 393 from a year ago. Including 186 other rigs drilling for natural gas, there are 950 working rigs in the country, up by 488 the same from last year. The data come from the latest Baker Hughes North American Rotary Rig Count released on Friday. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil for August delivery settled at $46.79 a barrel, down 0.7% on Thursday, the contract’s final day of trading. WTI for September delivery traded down 2.4% on Friday at $45.75. Crude prices added a few cents to trade at $45.83 after the rig count data were released.

Click Here for More

Midland Reporter Telegram

July 21, 2017

Midland County rig count surges

The Permian Basin rig count edged one higher as a whole this week, but Midland County saw a significant jump. Midland County, which sits at the heart of the Midland subbasin, added six rigs, for a countywide total of 47. By count, it’s second behind Reeves County in the Delaware subbasin, which lost two rigs this week and had 66 rigs total. The Permian had 374 rigs; Midland and Reeves counties accounted for 30 percent of all activity in the nation’s most active basin. Other counties with double-digit rig counts were Lea, New Mexico. (30); Eddy, N.M. (25); Loving (25); Howard (23); Martin (23); Culberson (17); Upton (16); Pecos (15); Glasscock (14); Reagan (12); Sterling (12); and Andrews (10).

Click Here for More

Bloomberg

July 21, 2017

These Billionaire Texas Brothers Are Buying Canadian Fracking Shares

Calfrac Well Services Ltd. surged after Texas investment firm Wilks Brothers LLC boosted its stake in the fracking company in a bet on a rebound in Canada’s beaten down oil patch. Calfrac rose 4.5 percent at 1:20 p.m. in Toronto to its highest intraday since June 14, even as U.S. oil prices fell. The company’s shares have risen more than 40 percent since a low on June 26, despite lagging commodity prices. Closely held Wilks Brothers said after market close on Thursday it holds about 16.4 million shares in Calfrac after raising its stake to 12 percent from 10 percent. That would make the firm the second-largest shareholder behind Matco Investments Ltd., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Wilks Brothers is also the top holder of Calgary-based Trican Well Service Ltd. with about a 7.3 percent stake, according to the data.

Click Here for More

Lafayette Advertiser

July 21, 2017

Permian Basin, Gulf to lead U.S. to '18 production record

U.S. daily crude oil production in 2018 may shatter a record established nearly a half-century ago, the Energy Information Administration has suggested. The average production will be 9.9 million barrels per day next year, the federal agency revealed this week, up from 9.3 million barrels this year and more than the 9.6 million barrels produced in 1970, the landmark year. Leading the U.S. production charge will be Permian Basin operations in western Texas and southeastern New Mexico and operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

Click Here for More

Amarillo Globe News

July 22, 2017

TCEQ: Phillips 66 Borger Refinery leads state in particulate emissions

Phillips 66’s Borger Refinery emitted more particulate matter than any other oil refinery from 2012 to 2016, according to data from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The refinery exceeded its allowed particulate threshold 34 times over those five years, spewing more than 300 tons in total. Emission outbursts ranged from six minutes and 20 pounds to more than two weeks and 124,000 pounds. Particulate matter is a mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets that get into the air. The smaller particles are easier to inhale and can lead to lung and heart disease, especially in children and seniors.

Click Here for More

WFAA

July 24, 2017

Battle over wastewater injection wells in Lake Arlington

An Arlington citizens group promises it's ready to resume battle to oppose any wastewater injection wells near Lake Arlington. A proposal to drill such a well close to the lake was recently withdrawn by Oklahoma-based Bluestone Energy. "We wanted this outcome," said Ranjana Bhandari, founding member of citizens group Liveable Arlington. "We hope that Bluestone withdrew its application in the face of community pressure." In paperwork filed with the Texas Railroad Commission to withdraw its application, the company did not explain its reasoning. But the decision came after loud public complaint and opposition from city leaders in Arlington and in Fort Worth, where the well would have been physically located.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 22, 2017

Local company gives 'man camps' an upgrade

The name "man camp" doesn't exactly instill imagery of luxurious hotel accommodations. But, as the West Texas oil patch booms again, so does the need for temporary worker housing in remote Permian Basin locations. The leaders of The Woodlands-based Target Logistics admittedly cringe at the "man camp" name made infamous in isolated North Dakota locales across the Bakken Shale. They prefer the corporate-sounding "turnkey workforce lodge," or something more akin to a small workforce village.

Click Here for More

Dallas Morning News

July 22, 2017

Texas leads nation in employment growth, adds 40,200 jobs in June

Texas led the nation in employment growth in June, adding 40,200 jobs to the state's economy, its biggest gain in a single month since January. The state's unemployment rate inched downward to 4.6 percent, slightly higher than the nation's jobless rate, which is at 4.4 percent. Texas was one of 10 states where the unemployment rate fell. Economists say the Lone Star State's jobless rate is at a healthy level, given the huge volume of new residents.

Click Here for More

Dallas Morning News

July 20, 2017

The private world of T. Boone Pickens: Get an exclusive look at oil magnate's massive Panhandle ranch

By 8 a.m., T. Boone Pickens has finished his cereal on the screened-in porch at the Mesa Vista Ranch. He looks out at the parklike setting that surrounds the 23,000-square-foot main house in this remote corner of the Panhandle. For those who think of Pickens as a Bick Benedict oil giant, the scene is a revelation. “I laugh at myself in a cowboy hat,” he says. At the office and at the ranch, he wears sneakers and a country club sweater. The house is called the lodge and it sits in the middle of acres of manicured fescue grass, shaded by hundreds of trees -- cottonwoods, pear oaks, native hackberries and Pickens’ favorite, sycamores.

Click Here for More

Washington Post

July 24, 2017

Schlumberger CEO Blames U.S. Investors for Stagnant Oil Prices

U.S. investors are driving down the price of oil by shoveling too much money into American shale companies, the chief executive of Schlumberger Ltd. SLB -0.73% , the world’s largest oil-field service firm, said Friday. Paal Kibsgaard, an outspoken energy executive based in Paris, blamed the surge in U.S. drilling for crude prices that are mired below $50 a barrel. “What we are currently witnessing is that the U.S. equity investors and U.S. companies have spooked the market," he told analysts and investors on a call to discuss the company’s second-quarter earnings.

Click Here for More

North Austin Patch

July 17, 2017

Oil Exposure Impairs Coral Fish Behaviors, Texas Researchers Find

The ingesting of just a few drops of oil can impact the higher-order thinking of coral fish, causing them to make poor decisions, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found. They liken this altered behavior to decisions made by adult humans after one too many cocktails. In a paper published Monday in Nature Ecology & Evolution, a team of fisheries biologists led by Jacob Johansen and Andrew Esbaugh of The University of Texas Marine Science Institute have discovered that oil impacts the higher-order thinking of coral reef fish in a way that could prove dangerous for them — and for the coral reefs where they make their home.

Click Here for More

Washington Post

July 18, 2017

Catholic nuns in Pa. build a chapel to block the path of a gas pipeline planned for their property

COLUMBIA, Pa. — The end of the road, where the street suddenly stops and the towering wall of corn begins, always called out to Linda Fischer. She would pedal her bike there slowly as a child, back before they built any houses on the road, when it was just the cornstalks growing thick toward the sky. It was the silence she found there, the holiness she felt in that stillness, that led her to dedicate her life to God. Fischer has always known this land as sacred. Now the 74-year-old nun and her sisters in their Catholic order suddenly find themselves fighting to protect the land from an energy company that wants to put a natural gas pipeline on it. “This just goes totally against everything we believe in — we believe in sustenance of all creation,” she said. The pipeline company first sought without success to negotiate with the nuns. Now as Williams Cos. tries to seize the land by eminent domain, the order is gearing up for a fight in the courtroom — and a possible fight in the field, as well. There, smack in the path of the planned pipeline, the nuns have dedicated a new outdoor chapel.

Click Here for More

Forbes

July 20, 2017

Mexico´s Oil And Gas Reform Gains Momentum

For the first time in almost eight decades, Mexico carried out a bid round to auction oil and gas blocks to private firms on July 15, 2015. Twenty-five bidders showed interest (18 individual firms and 7 consortiums) but low prices of crude put off most of them. With the price for the Mexican blend averaging at $49.71 per barrel in the first 6 months of 2015, down from $95.10 per barrel in the first semester of 2014, only 2 out of the 14 blocks were awarded. However, this context did not discourage the international consortium of Sierra Oil & Gas (Mexico), Talos Energy (U.S) and Premier Oil from (UK), which narrowly outbid Texas’ Hunt Overseas Oil Company for Block 2 and Norway’s Statoil for Block 7. On July 12, 2017, almost two years after placing a winning bid on Block 7, the consortium made public that “estimates for the Zama-1 well are in excess of 1 billion barrels”, which according to Pablo Medina, an industry analyst for Wood Mackenzie, “is one of the 20 largest shallow-water fields discovered globally in the past 20 years”.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 21, 2017

Schlumberger reports big U.S. revenue gains onshore

The world's largest oilfield services company said Friday it's continuing to grow its revenues In North American shale and even internationally as the industry slowly creeps toward a rebound. Schlumberger's second-quarter progress is primarily driven by the booming U.S. onshore market, especially in West Texas' Permian Basin. The company's onshore North American revenue jumped a whopping 42 percent from the first quarter of the year. That compares favorably to a 23 percent increase in the active U.S. drilling rig count during the same period, noted Schlumberger Chief Executive Paal Kibsgaard. But despite Schlumberger's second-quarter revenues of $7.46 billion showing positive growth, the energy giant still posted a quarterly loss of $74 million because of $510 million in one-time impairment charges, primarily from its work in Venezuela, which remain mired in political and economic turmoil.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 20, 2017

DePillis: Whatever oil and gas companies are doing to recruit women, it's not working

The tech industry gets a lot of attention these days for being unfriendly to women, with sexual harassment seemingly running rampant and the small share of women in computer science declining. Well, guess which industry also has a serious — and perhaps worse — gender gap. That's right: Oil and gas, where women make up only 14.5 percent of the workforce, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to 25.5 percent of computer and mathematical occupations and 47 percent of the workforce overall. The reasons those gender divides exist are different across the two industries. But the remedies, according to a comprehensive study by the consulting firm BCG, are similar: Upper management needs to be dead serious about the problem, and convey it's a priority to people doing the hiring.

Click Here for More

Amsterdam News

July 20, 2017

First woman to head OPEC snared in multibillion dollar fraud scheme

Lavish lifestyles are nothing out of the ordinary in New York City, home of the rich and glamorous. But some recent over-the-top purchases set off alarm bells at the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI’s International Corruption Squads in two cities, the IRS-Criminal Enforcement Division and the aptly named Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. The purchases included a $50 million condo located in one of Manhattan’s most expensive buildings, One 57 at 157 W. 57th St., as well as the Galactica Star, a yacht with an $80 million price tag. The buyers were no ordinary hedge fund Wall Street types. They were oil dealers, signing “oil swap” contracts—buying crude, selling refined—with Nigeria’s state-owned oil company. One of the conspirators included the former oil minister herself.

Click Here for More

Bloomberg

July 19, 2017

The Fossil Fuels Project That Pits Trump’s Base Against Itself

For a landmark fossil-fuel program deep in Trump country, it’s not environmentalists who are the biggest threat. It may be Donald Trump himself. The $3.8 billion project in Lake Charles, Louisiana, would take waste from oil refining and turn it into synthetic natural gas while capturing emissions. Those products would be turned into high-value chemicals like methanol and hydrogen. Carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas blamed for global warming, would be injected into the Earth to stimulate oil production. For the promoters, the project could spur 1,000 jobs, use General Electric Co.-licensed equipment and showcase cutting-edge machinery to help decarbonize oil. The catch: the technology isn’t broadly proven, so banks won’t yet finance it. That means there are few sources of project debt. The most obvious lender would be a U.S. Energy Department program that some Republicans are intent on neutering.

Click Here for More

Utilities Stories

Texas Standard

July 17, 2017

In El Paso, going off the electric grid could cost you

An electric company in West Texas wants users of alternative energy to pay for the privilege of living off the grid. El Paso Electric has set up a separate rate structure to bill customers using alternative energy sources like solar panels. Those customers would be required to reimburse the utility company the amount of money they’re saving from using alternative energy sources. Ryan Maye Handy reports on utilities, oil and gas for the Houston Chronicle, and has been following the story. She says that utility companies are trying to find a way to deal with customers they see as competitors. “They are trying to charge these customers for the electricity they use, but the customers are also using their own electricity and putting it back into the grid. So it’s like there are mini-generators out there that the utility now has to compete with,” Handy says.

Click Here for More

Associated Press

July 23, 2017

Robot finds likely melted fuel heap inside Fukushima reactor

Images captured by an underwater robot showed massive deposits believed to be melted nuclear fuel covering the floor of a damaged reactor at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. The robot found large amounts of solidified lava-like rocks and lumps in layers as thick as 1 meter (3 feet) on the bottom inside of a main structure called the pedestal that sits underneath the core inside the primary containment vessel of Fukushima's Unit 3 reactor, said the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. On Friday, the robot spotted suspected debris of melted fuel for the first time since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused multiple meltdowns and destroyed the plant. The three-day probe of Unit 3 ended Saturday. Locating and analyzing the fuel debris and damage in each of the plant's three wrecked reactors is crucial for decommissioning the plant.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

Click Here for More

Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Austin American-Statesman

July 21, 2017

A Texas hyperloop? ‘For sure,’ Elon Musk says

If Elon Musk’s plans work out, Texans might have to find something other than traffic to complain about. The Tesla, SpaceX billionaire got Twitter talking Thursday when he tweeted he had “just received verbal govt approval” for an underground hyperloop, a high-speed tube transportation system. According to the Hill, a hyperloop could shuttle passengers from New York to Washington D.C. in half an hour or less. When another Twitter user inquired about the possibility of building a hyperloop in Texas, Musk’s response was promising: "Can Texas haz hyper loop too? Dallas - Houston - San Antonio - Austin (a girl can dream...)" Musk wrote "For sure. First set of tunnels are to alleviate greater LA urban congestion. Will start NY-DC in parallel. Then prob LA-SF and a TX loop."

Click Here for More

Dallas Morning News

July 22, 2017

Teens turn up the heat in annual solar car race

At the annual Solar Car Challenge, the sun is your friend — even when that means a ride in 152-degree heat. High schools from throughout the country — and beyond — wrapped up four days of competition Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway. While the day's official high hit 101 degrees, racers encountered beyond-sweltering temperatures on the track and in the pit. They took the heat in stride, though, because a cloudy day could ruin a shot at racing cars that take months — sometimes more than a year — to build. "We call this 'the brain sport,'" said volunteer Matthew Tunnell, who competed in the challenge throughout high school. "It's weirdly grueling, and it's all about thinking ahead."

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 21, 2017

Canada to install electric car charging stations along Trans-Canada Highway

The Canadian government plans to install 34 battery-powered charging stations for electric vehicles along eastern stretches of the Trans-Canada Highway, using technology from a Dallas-based subsidiary of Swiss company Leclanché North America. The Canadian government will spend more than $25 million funding the project, which will install the stations in early 2018 along a 1,860 mile stretch through the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba. The installation will be overseen by Leclanché and eCAMION, a Toronto-based energy storage company. The lithium ion battery stations will be able to charge three electric vehicles at a time. The batteries offer faster charging for cars -- cars will be fully charged in 20 minutes, instead of after six to eight hours.

Click Here for More

Regulatory Stories

Washington Post

July 23, 2017

Why even foes of Venezuela’s government are wary of U.S. oil sanctions

It’s the “nuclear option” against Venezuela — a U.S. oil embargo that would hit the government of President Nicolás Maduro where it most hurts: the wallet. As the crisis in Caracas intensifies, that lever has never been closer to being pulled. The Trump administration confirmed this past week that “all options are on the table” — including a ban on Venezuelan oil — if a July 30 vote aimed at changing the Venezuelan constitution isn’t called off. Venezuela's political opposition is portraying the ballot as illegal, as well as a pivotal step on the path to turning the country into a dictatorship. Protests have been going on for three months. The United States has imposed sanctions on Venezuelan officials before. In February, the Treasury Department froze Vice President Tareck El Aissami's U.S. assets over his alleged involvement in narcotics trafficking. (El Aissami denies the charges.) But an oil embargo is a far more powerful tool.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 22, 2017

The next big idea in the fight against climate change

How many of you remember when the closures of iron and steel plants and the related industries occurred in the states bordering the Great Lakes, leading to what is known as the "Rust Belt"? How many remember the legions of fans rooting for Detroit and Pittsburgh and New York at Rockets and Oilers and Astros home games? An economic wave similar to the one that hit the iron and steel and coal industries lies ahead for the oil and gas industry, and Houston is at the center of the bull's-eye. The tsunami is climate change, and the global response to it. There are solutions, but we must identify and begin to implement them. The Earth's climate is changing, and humans are at the center of it. You can argue about it all you want, but the reality is that the facts keep piling up, and the world is responding.

Click Here for More

Forbes

July 19, 2017

Silverstein: Green Energy Advocates May Now Have Energy Secretary Perry's Ear

Renewable energy is expected to get a green light from the U.S. Department of Energy — the same agency whose head has questioned whether wind and solar power has displaced coal plants that typically run around clock. Renewable energy has long had its detractors, or those who feel that it would be uneconomical without subsidies and those grid operators who worry that it is intermittent — the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine — and therefore it is unreliable. Energy Secretary Rick Perry indicated last April he may fall into this camp — odd because Texas, where he served as governor, has the country’s largest share of wind generation. He thus ordered a study on the issue, which could come out as early as today — one that Bloomberg is reporting will contradict the positions taken by President Trump and the words spoken earlier by Perry.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 21, 2017

E15 bill stalls in Senate, as oil state senator pushes back

Efforts by oil lobbyists to squelch legislation expanding the sale of gasoline with higher concentrations of ethanol seems to be working. The bill, introduced earlier in March by a bipartisan coalition of Midwestern lawmakers, is still sitting at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. It was not included on a list of bills to be debated next week, because it "does not have the support necessary to pass the committee," a spokesman for the committee said Friday. With time winding down in the Senate, ethanol advocates say they do not expect a vote on the legislation before the Senate goes on recess in August. "We will continue to work with our bipartisan sponsors to enact this bill to provide drivers across the country cleaner fuel options year-round," said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor.

Click Here for More

Texas Public Radio

July 20, 2017

GOP Effort To Make Environmental Science 'Transparent' Worries Scientists

Groups that represent industries from farming to fracking are supporting a legislative push to rewrite how government handles science when drawing up regulations. And the whole effort has scientists worried. Consider, for example, the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act, or HONEST Act, which passed the House in the spring and now is with the Senate. Just how "honest" it is depends on whom you ask. The HONEST Act says the EPA can't take a particular action based on scientific research unless that research is "publicly available online in a manner than is sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results."

Click Here for More

KUOW

July 21, 2017

Climate warrior? Champion of 'Big Oil'? Canada's leader wants to be both.

For a lot of Americans these days, Justin Trudeau is the anti-Donald Trump, especially on things like climate change. While President Trump moves to pull America out of the Paris climate accords, Canada’s prime minister describes carbon pollution as one of the globe's biggest dangers. And not long after taking office in 2015, Trudeau unveiled a sweeping national plan to pivot Canada to a new economy based on renewable energy. He called it a “down payment on [a] cleaner future.” Trudeau’s plan is bold. He wants to end Canada’s use of coal to generate electricity. He’s proposed a national tax on carbon pollution, and he wants to make big investments in clean energy technology. This is the Justin Trudeau who grabs headlines in the US — green and progressive.

Click Here for More

July 21, 2017

Lead Stories

Reuters

July 20, 2017

Exxon sues U.S. over fine levied for Russia deal under Tillerson

Exxon Mobil Corp sued the U.S. government on Thursday, blasting as "unlawful" and "capricious" a $2 million fine levied against it for a three-year-old oil joint venture with Russia's Rosneft. The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday morning slapped the world's largest publicly traded oil producer with the fine for "reckless disregard" of U.S. sanctions in dealings with Russia in 2014 when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was Exxon's chief executive. The lawsuit and the Treasury's unusually detailed statement on Exxon's conduct represented an extraordinary confrontation between a major American company and the U.S. government, made all the more striking because Exxon's former CEO is now in President Donald Trump's Cabinet.

Click Here for More

Texas Tribune

July 20, 2017

Environmental groups sue EPA over lax Texas air pollution permits

A Washington, D.C.-based environmental advocacy group sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday, arguing the federal government isn't properly policing air pollution permits the state of Texas issued to some of the largest industrial facilities in the U.S. The Environmental Integrity Project — founded by former EPA officials — alleges that permits the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) issued to mega-plants across the Houston, Dallas and East Texas regions are illegal because the limits set on their emissions are too high, allowing them to spew too much pollution into the air. The suit, filed in federal court, also claims the permits are so vague and complicated that TCEQ employees aren’t always sure if a plant is in violation, and therefore fail to adequately punish bad actors.

Click Here for More

Dallas Morning News

July 20, 2017

Schnurman: Is Warren Buffett a white knight for Texas' Oncor? Don't forget the 'battle of billionaires'

Twice in two years, Warren Buffett has been drawn into a “battle of the billionaires.” That was the headline in The Wall Street Journal this month, after hedge fund owner Paul Singer challenged Buffett’s plan to buy Texas' largest regulated utility, Oncor Electric Delivery Co. It was also the headline for a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story in 2016, after Buffett clashed with Elon Musk over solar policy in Nevada. It’s too early to know whether Singer’s play will get traction, but the showdown in Nevada had major consequences for everyone, including Buffett’s utility. NV Energy, bought by Berkshire in 2013, was criticized by homeowners, employers, politicians and celebrities. Those included actor Mark Ruffalo and Musk, who leads Tesla Motors and SpaceX, and is chairman of SolarCity.

Click Here for More

KUT

July 20, 2017

This Crude Oil Pipeline Runs Right Under South Austin

“When the Longhorn pipeline was put back in operation in the 1990s, a lot of people were very surprised to see that it was practically in their backyards in South Austin,” Christian says. One of those people was Austin-based environmental engineer Lauren Ross. ... Ross says when she heard about the rupture in Bastrop last week she was really glad that it was crude oil and not gasoline, "because crude oil is not as flammable, so it’s safer.” She also imagines that the incident taught a lot of people in South Austin that a pipeline runs underneath them. It crosses into Austin around the Onion Creek neighborhood and runs west into Circle C. But it’s not all built of the same material. When the pipeline was reopened around 20 years ago, Ross says, workers "did completely replace [the pipeline] through the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone and in the watershed of Pedernales River [with] state-of-the-art pipeline." “If you go to the Dove Springs neighborhood or to Bastrop, those pieces of pipe were not replaced.”

Click Here for More

Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

July 21, 2017

Oil nudges up, hovers below $50 level ahead of OPEC meeting

Oil prices nudged up on Friday ahead of a key meeting of major oil producing nations next week, but held below the $50 per barrel level that was briefly breached for the first time in 6 weeks in the previous session. International benchmark Brent crude futures rose 6 cents to $49.36 per barrel in thin trading by 0116 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $46.99 per barrel, up 7 cents. During the previous trading session both benchmarks rose to their highest levels since early June in choppy trading, having been pushed higher by data showing U.S. crude and fuel inventories fell sharply last week.

Click Here for More

Forbes

July 20, 2017

Investors Squeezing Oil & Gas Developers To Cut Methane

Oil and gas developers may soon be feeling the effects of a one-two punch — an adverse court ruling dealing with their methane emissions and now an investor-led initiative pushing them to be more transparent. Natural gas, of course, has become the fuel of choice — a fuel that markets itself as far less pollutive than coal. But methane is its main component, which is 84 times more potent than CO2, although its lifespan is 20 years compared to 100. Indeed, methane makes up about 25% of the global warming today. That’s why the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) is rounding up the support of the investment community to get those energy companies to measure their methane releases, report them to shareholders and to work to capture them by using “off-the-shelf” technologies.

Click Here for More

Associated Press

July 20, 2017

State trade group can weigh in on Dakota Access pipeline

A judge deciding whether to temporarily shut down the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline said Thursday that he will allow North Dakota's main energy trade group to weigh in. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg might also allow some national energy and manufacturing groups to have a say, though he didn't immediately rule. The groups, including the North Dakota Petroleum Council, maintain their input is important because none of the parties in a lawsuit over the $3.8 billion pipeline to move North Dakota oil to Illinois speaks for the general oil industry. The pipeline has been operating nearly two months, but Boasberg in mid-June ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to further review its impact on the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has sued along with three other tribes over fears of environmental harm. Boasberg is mulling whether to shut down the pipeline while the work is completed.

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle

Click Here for More

CNBC

July 20, 2017

Energy titan T Boone Pickens says his health is declining, still 'mentally strong'

T. Boone Pickens, a titan of the U.S. oil patch, on Thursday said his health is deteriorating following several strokes, but he remains "mentally strong" and will keep working. Pickens, founder and chairman of BP Capital, penned a post on LinkedIn titled "Embracing (or Accepting) Mortality" after suffering what he called a "Texas-sized fall" last week that required hospitalization. "Just a year ago I felt immortal, wearing my age with pride, even joking about it," Pickens wrote. "But things have changed for me since the strokes. I clearly am in the fourth quarter, and the clock is ticking and my health is in decline, much as it is with others in my stage of life."

Click Here for More

Austin Business Journal

July 20, 2017

Central Texas bankruptcies on rise; Filings littered with individual medical debt, oil and gas failures

Bankruptcies are trending upward in Austin and across Texas for the first time since the end of the Great Recession. It’s yet another economic indicator that shows the state’s economy isn’t as robust as it has been during the past couple of years. The Austin Business Journal has been chronicling a slowdown in the region's economic growth since late last year. According to a fresh ABJ analysis of data compiled by the American Bankruptcy Institute, the 12-month rolling average of the number of bankruptcies filed per month at the Austin-based U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Texas increased year-over-year by 5.1 percent in June to 670 per month. The 12-month rolling average of bankruptcies filed in Austin has been rising since January 2017, when this trend line rose into the positive for the first time since November 2010.

Click Here for More

Midland Reporter Telegram

July 20, 2017

Permian oil industry has bounced back from price downturn

Drilling rigs increasingly dotting the Permian Basin horizon, along with a paper blizzard of drilling permits from the Railroad Commission, are signs the area’s oil and gas industry is rebounding from the most recent price collapse. Amarillo Economist Karr Ingham, who prepares the Texas Permian Basin Petroleum Index, attributed its May surge to those factors, along with a hefty 61 percent jump in natural gas wellhead prices. He said the index not only jumped from April to May but is up 15.6 points from May 2016 levels, its eighth consecutive monthly increase. Still, he continued to caution that those “spectacular” numbers may not last without significant improvement in crude oil prices. He explained that May crude prices were only slightly higher than year-ago levels and have even retreated from those levels. The May average of $45.06 was just 3.9 percent above last May’s average of $43.38 while the year-to-date average of $47.37 is 38.5 percent higher than the year-ago average of $34.20.

Click Here for More

World Oil

July 19, 2017

Mexico sets a date for deepwater oil, gas tenders

Mexico's oil regulator, the National Hydrocarbons Commission, set Jan. 31 as the date for the next round of auctions for deepwater oil and gas tenders in the Gulf of Mexico. The so-called 2.4 auctions will offer 30 areas, of which 10 are in the Cordilleras Mexicanas deepwater basin, 10 others in the Salina basin, nine in the Perdido Fold Belt off the U.S.-Mexico maritime border and one more in the Yucatan platform. The Cordilleras Mexicanas deepwater basin is home to national oil company Pemex's Lakach natural gas project and located east of the Gulf Coast port of Veracruz.

Click Here for More

Reuters

July 20, 2017

U.S. fines Exxon Mobil over Russia sanctions violations

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday said it was fining global oil company Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) $2 million for violating sanctions on Russia in May 2014. The heads of the company's U.S. subsidiaries signed eight documents between May 14 and May 23, 2014 with Igor Sechin, the head of Russia's largest oil producer, Rosneft, Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control said in a statement on its website. Sechin had been blacklisted by the United States just weeks earlier. The Treasury unit, which enforces sanctions, found ExxonMobil had not voluntarily self-disclosed the violations, "and that the violations constitute an egregious case."

Click Here for More

Oil & Gas Investor

July 20, 2017

Laredo Petroleum Confirms Midland Basin's Medallion Pipeline On The Market

Laredo Petroleum Inc.'s (NYSE: LPI) valuable Medallion-Midland Basin crude oil pipeline system is for sale, the Tulsa, Okla.-based company said July 19. Laredo, which owns a stake in Medallion, said that a process has been initiated to potentially sell 100% of the pipeline's ownership interests. The company owns 49% of the ownership interest in the Medallion pipeline system through its subsidiary Laredo Midstream Services LLC.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 20, 2017

As Russia consumes Washington, oil companies pulled in

International energy companies, which have long eyed the vast oil and gas reserves of Russia, are coming under increased scrutiny for their interactions with Moscow as U.S.-Russian relations become increasingly fraught following Russian interference in last year's presidential election. The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday leveled a $2 million civil fine against Exxon Mobil for violating sanctions against Russia three years ago, when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson led the Texas oil company. At the same time, Congress is debating a package of expanded sanctions that would prohibit American companies from engaging in deals in which Russian firms are also involved - whether the project is in Russia or not. That could keep oil companies with significant U.S. operations out of oil and gas projects from Turkey to Venezuela. The actions don't appear to be directly linked. But their close proximity indicates the increasing risks to the U.S. oil industry from its long-standing ties with Russia, potentially leading companies to pull back from dealings with Moscow, said Richard Sawaya, a former oil lobbyist who now represents some of the country's largest corporations for the National Foreign Trade Council.

Click Here for More

Oil & Gas 360

July 20, 2017

Frac Sand Demand Will Break Records in 2017: Credit Suisse

The current shale resurgence has led to a surge in drilling and completions activity. Modern completions need tremendous amounts of sand, meaning that demand for sand has skyrocketed in the past year. A recent note released by Credit Suisse outlines the current development in frac sand supply and demand. Total U.S. demand for frac sand was highest in 2014, when the country consumed 56 million tons. Demand fell off during the downturn, and in 2015 and 2016 the U.S. consumed 48 and 34 million tons of sand, respectively. Increased activity has meant demand for sand is likely to break records in 2017, with 73 million tons of demand projected. More and more wells are being completed, according to the EIA. In 2016, an average of 590 wells were completed each month. In 2017, completions have been growing steadily, and 872 wells were completed in June.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 20, 2017

Woodlands company sees profit in mixing water and oil

PECOS - A Houston water well company, hoping to float sagging revenues and remake itself, is tapping a West Texas aquifer, building miles of pipeline and pioneering a new way to get water to the oil field. Layne Christensen, based in The Woodlands, is completing a six-well, 100,000-barrel-a-day pipeline from Pecos to the heart of the Delaware Basin, one of the busiest and most prolific oil fields in the United States. "It's a really big deal for us," said Layne chief executive Mike Caliel. Oil and gas companies are thirsty for water. Hydraulic fracturing, the process of pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into a well under such high pressures the shale rock cracks and releases oil and gas, has revolutionized the industry. But oil companies need at least 500,000 barrels of water to frac a modern well. And much of that water is now trucked rather than piped to the well.

Click Here for More

Forbes

July 19, 2017

Why The Oil Industry Might Prefer Rail To Pipelines In Turbulent Times

The recent re-emergence of crude-by-rail is a bit surprising. The rail industry charges higher prices than pipeline operators do, and anti-competitive practices by the rail industry during the Standard Oil era are arguably why pipelines got built in the first place. So why did producers and refiners choose a more expensive, less competitive option? One answer is that pipelines take a long time to build, and these days, any new fossil fuel infrastructure faces environmental opposition. Maybe the return of crude-by-rail was simply a stopgap: pipeline investment would (and did) eventually come, and in the meantime trains were better than nothing. This “easy” answer, however, ignores crude-by-rail’s fundamental benefit: flexibility. Crude-by-rail allows producers and refiners to deliver to, or source from, more than one location. Today, crude oil produced in the Bakken is now being refined in diverse regions—from Pennsylvania to Texas to Washington—thanks to the extensive nature of the existing rail infrastructure.

Click Here for More

Wall St. Journal

July 20, 2017

Gas Everywhere but No Way to Ship It

Accidents happen, but these were expensive ones by any measure. Energy Transfer Partners had hoped to have the first phase of its massive Rover pipeline up and running by now, transporting natural gas from America’s most prolific natural gas basins to other parts of the country. Rushing to complete construction in a tight regulatory window, the company allegedly spilled drilling fluid into a protected wetland and then demolished a historic house adjacent to the pipeline. Federal investigations into both have likely delayed startup possibly until the fall for a project to take gas extracted in Marcellus and Utica shale regions in Appalachia.

Click Here for More

Bloomberg

July 18, 2017

What If Big Oil’s Bet on Gas Is Wrong?

Talk to a Big Oil executive these days, and the chances are they’ll steer the conversation toward gas. “In 20 years, we will not be known as oil and gas companies, but as gas and oil companies,” Patrick Pouyanne, chief executive officer of French giant Total SA, told a conference in St. Petersburg last month. Pouyanne and his peers have pitched the fuel as a bridge between a fossil-fuel past and a carbon-free future. Gas emits less pollution than oil and can be burned to produce the power that grids will need for electric cars. But with the cost of renewable technologies falling sharply, some are warning that the outlook may not be so rosy. Forecasters are beginning to talk about peak gas demand, spurred by the growth of alternative power supplies, in the same breath as peak oil consumption, caused by the gradual demise of the internal combustion engine.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 18, 2017

How to squeeze a supertanker into the Panama Canal

A year after a new and expanded Panama Canal opened to the world's shipping industry, for the world's largest oil tankers the famed 48-mile route still remains too small. According to a report by the research firm Morningstar, "the impact of the expansion on energy shipments so far has varied by commodity." "Flows of liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG, and liquefied natural gas, or LNG, traveling south through the canal from the U.S. Gulf to South America and Asia have increased substantially. At the same time, transits of crude oil and refined products through the canal have declined," wrote Sandy Fielden, director of oil and products research at Morningstar.

Click Here for More

Utilities Stories

San Antonio Express News

July 20, 2017

After governor’s veto, CPS Energy steps in to fund ozone monitors

CPS Energy will take over the funding for six air quality monitors that were shut down last month after a budget veto by Gov. Greg Abbott. A contractor working for CPS will begin collecting ozone and weather data at the six stations in Bexar, Comal and Guadalupe counties, the utility announced in a news release late Wednesday. “Each and every day, we serve our community by providing electric and gas service, so providing a solution to something as important to our community as air quality makes perfect sense,” the city-owned utility’s president and CEO, Paula Gold-Williams, said in a prepared statement.

Click Here for More

Green Tech Media

July 20, 2017

Former US Chief Sustainability Officer: The Military Is Leading the March Toward Energy Independence

The U.S. is at a transformative moment in electricity. And the military is helping us move toward a new era of independence. The U.S. electrical grid was ranked by the National Academy of Engineering as the greatest achievement of the 20th century, and it was this vast infrastructure that helped to power our economy, enhance our communities and light up our lives. But the centralized power grid is not perfect, and it faces an array of risks from natural disasters to human and cyber attacks. As electricity becomes more and more critical in our lives, wide-ranging blackouts won't just be a personal annoyance -- they could cripple our economy. A diversified energy portfolio that includes renewable generation creates a more resilient grid. A recent draft of a report from the Department of Energy also concluded that wind and solar energy create a more reliable grid.

Click Here for More

Platts

July 20, 2017

Texas city tells ERCOT it plans to operate coal-fired plant seasonally

The Texas city of Garland, near Dallas, has told the Electric Reliability Council of Texas it plans to mothball its 470-MW coal-fired plant on a seasonal basis, starting October 17. In a suspension of operations notice filed with ERCOT late Wednesday, Garland said it now wants its Gibbons Creek plant in Grimes County to operate June 1 to September 30 each year. According to S&P Global Market Intelligence data, the plant was put in service in 1983 and is currently operated by the Texas Municipal Power Agency. The capacity factor for the plant peaked at over 99% in July 2011 for the past seven years, when the peakload in the footprint for the month hit over 65 GW.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 20, 2017

Utility finishes work on electric loop in eastern New Mexico

Xcel Energy says construction crews have wrapped up work on another segment of a transmission line that makes up a new power loop around one eastern New Mexico community. The utility announced this week that it has energized a 10-mile segment of the line between two substations that straddle Roswell. ... The work is part of a larger effort by Xcel to bolster the grid across the utility's service area in eastern New Mexico and Texas.

Click Here for More

Wall St. Journal

July 20, 2017

Canadian Utility Hydro One to Buy Avista for $5.3 Billion

Hydro One Ltd. H -2.80% said Wednesday it has agreed to buy Avista Corp. AVA +19.18% for 6.7 billion Canadian dollars ($5.3 billion) in cash, as the Canadian utility company seeks to expand its North American footprint. Hydro One will pay $53 a share for Avista stock, a 24% premium from the closing price Tuesday. The company will issue $2.6 billion in debt and offer Hydro One shares to fund the transaction, which is expected to create an electric- and gas-utility holding company with more than $25.4 billion in assets combined. ... Avista, incorporated in 1889, will maintain its existing headquarters in Spokane, Wash., and will continue “essentially as it is today,” the companies said. Avista has utility operations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. The companies said no workforce reductions are anticipated.

Click Here for More

Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Houston Chronicle

July 20, 2017

Houston's Sunnova wants to help drive a power revolution

John Berger, CEO of the Houston-based solar panel company Sunnova, wants to empower Houston residents to go off grid -- or at least reduce their dependence on the electric grid a much as possible. Berger, who started as an energy analyst for Enron and went on to found a renewable energy installation company and a venture capital firm, sees Sunnova as part of this power revolution. Now, most Americans rely on merchant power companies to produce electricity -- even in Texas, where electricity was deregulated 15 years ago. Homes of the future should be connected to the grid, but also have solar panels and natural gas generators, Berger said.

Click Here for More

Texas Monthly

July 8, 2017

A Texas Company Wants to Spread Wind Power Across the U.S.

Clean Line Energy Partners, much like myriad other companies based in Houston, is jockeying for the opportunity to provide energy to the rest of the country. “If you have gas in one area, you put it in a pipeline and ship it to where it’s needed,” says Sarah Bray, the Vice President of Communications at the company. “You put coal on a train and bring it to where it’s needed, delivering it to a market and it goes through the local utility grid. That’s kind of our business model.” But Bray isn’t talking about oil and gas, or any of the fossil fuels that have helped build Houston’s reputation as the energy capital of the world. She’s talking about renewable energy: abundant, cheap, and untapped wind power in the United States. To transport it, Clean Line has proposed building five transmission lines—three in the Midwest and two in the Southwest—each hundreds of miles long. The company’s vision, Bray says, is to “go to the windiest areas where there’s no transmission, but there are wind farms waiting to be developed, and build power lines to the market where there’s need.”

Click Here for More

Regulatory Stories

The New Yorker

July 19, 2017

Poll: Overwhelming Majority Of Americans Fear A Major New War

Non-stop smaller wars, and officials always playing up the risk of bigger wars to get bigger military budgets have always had Americans worried about a new major war being on the horizon, but the latest NBC/SurveyMonkey poll shows that such fears have been growing dramatically in recent months. This new poll showed an overwhelming majority, 76% of Americans, are now worried that the US will get drawn into a new “major war” in the next four years. This is an increase of 10% over the last time the question was asked, in mid-February. As far as who the US might get into that major war with, the plurality went to North Korea, with 41% of Americans believing that the isolated nation is the “greatest immediate threat” to the US. ISIS was second at 28%, Russia at 18%, with China and Iran rounding out the top 5. Interestingly, the threats split heavily along party lines in the US, with Republicans much more likely to see ISIS as the greatest threat, and Democrats viewing Russia as a much bigger threat.

Click Here for More

Minneapolis Star Tribune

July 20, 2017

Homeland security secretary says ports a terrorism priority

Security at shipping ports around the U.S., including testing containers and vessels for biological and radiological hazards, is a top priority to preventing terrorism, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Thursday. As he rode aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Aspen, near the Port of Los Angeles, Kelly viewed an array of new equipment used to test for radiation and biological threats. "The threat always changes, so we always have to be on top of that," Kelly said as the vessel cruised through the Pacific Ocean off Southern California. While he was aboard, members of the Coast Guard conducted a training demonstration, simulating the boarding of a ship with a radiological threat.

Click Here for More

The Hill

July 20, 2017

White House details plan to roll back environmental regs

The Trump administration provided details for its aggressive plan to roll back environmental regulations Thursday. In the first regulatory agenda of the Trump administration, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget detailed when and how agencies plan to repeal numerous Obama administration rules regarding air and water pollution, fossil fuel extraction and more. Many of the rollbacks had already been announced, though some new timelines or justifications were revealed.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 20, 2017

Oil majors lobby for changes on Russian sanctions bill

The world's largest oil and gas companies are urging Congress to make changes to legislation expanding sanctions against Russia and Iran. A provision within the bill that would prohibit American companies from engaging in energy projects in which Russian firms are also engaged - whether the project is in Russia or not - has oil and gas companies protesting it could affect critical drilling and pipeline projects all over the globe. "The concerns have resonated with some members of Congress and there are efforts underway to change some elements of the bill," Jeffrey Turner, an attorney with the law firm Squire Patton Boggs, said at an event at the Atlantic Council in Washington Wednesday.

Click Here for More

Washington Post

July 20, 2017

Will proposed cuts undermine Trump’s vision of ‘energy dominance’?

On May 22, a day before the release of the Trump budget, senior Energy Department officials completed a presentation about a proposed 69 percent cut in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The first slide featured sunny photos of an electric car charger, a wind turbine, a transmission stanchion, and a house with solar panels and an American flag. The second-to-last slide was not so upbeat. The proposal would mean a 30 percent reduction in staff. “Achieves cost savings by aligning workforce to smaller EERE program,” the slide said blandly. The next day, about 100 federal employees filed into the wood-paneled auditorium at the Energy Department headquarters to hear about the proposed changes.

Click Here for More

Washington Post

July 20, 2017

The Energy 202: Jon Huntsman's Russia connections run through Chevron

This week, after a long wait, President Trump officially announced his nominee for what will surely be the most difficult diplomatic post of the Trump presidency, the U.S. ambassadorship to Russia. By picking Jon Huntsman, the mild-mannered former Republican governor of Utah who served as President Obama's ambassador to China and who is unlikely to generate much controversy on either side of the aisle in the Senate, Trump attempts to thread a narrow political needle as special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation into Russia's role in the 2016 election looms.

Click Here for More

The Hill

July 18, 2017

Hauter McKibben: Senate energy bill would fan the flames of climate change

In a frantic attempt to demonstrate that Senate Republicans are capable of governing despite their shameful attempt to yank health insurance away from 22 million Americans, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) moved in late June to advance a huge, 800-page energy bill to the Senate floor. In his rush to get something — anything — done, he bypassed the standard committee review process and pushed the legislation straight to the full Senate floor. There are plenty of compelling reasons for Senator Schumer (D-N.Y.) to marshal Democratic opposition to McConnell’s bad energy bill. The most basic is that Republicans and the Trump administration are clamoring for a win — literally anything they can point to as business getting done. They seek to strip healthcare from many of the most vulnerable Americans in order to generate huge tax cuts for the wealthiest few.

Click Here for More

July 20, 2017

Lead Stories

San Antonio Express News

July 19, 2017

San Antonio’s CPS Energy guards against 94,000 attempted cyberattacks per day

CPS Energy withstands roughly 94,000 attempted cyberattacks a day as hackers in China, Russia and elsewhere scour its network for weaknesses to try to infiltrate the city-owned utility and disrupt power supplies in Texas. “We can’t take this lightly, and we are not arrogant about this, our protection level,” Fred Bonewell, CPS’ chief safety and security officer, said at the utility’s headquarters Monday. “We thwart the vast majority of those. And those that have gotten through, which are very few, we have been able to quarantine and isolate so that it does not impact our systems.” The utility is taking every precaution, Bonewell said, and cybercriminals have had little luck actually getting into the system. Since 2015, three hackers were able to infiltrate CPS’ network, and all were quickly quarantined and removed from the system, he said.

Click Here for More

Dallas Morning News

July 19, 2017

Appeals court throws out $535M verdict for Dallas' Energy Transfer in closely-watched pipeline dispute

A state appeals court is tossing out a landmark $535 million jury verdict for Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners in a closely watched business dispute over a failed pipeline partnership. ETP won the verdict in 2014 against Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners LP over a failed partnership to build an oil and gas pipeline from Cushing, Okla. to Houston. Enterprise instead negotiated a secret identical deal with Enbridge Partners of Canada for $4.4 billion. The three-judge appeals court in Dallas ruled that ETP and Enterprise had no actual business partnership since initial written agreements required both companies' consent.

Click Here for More

Forbes

July 19, 2017

Berman: Permian Reserves May Be Much Smaller Than You Think

Pioneer Natural Resources CEO Scott Sheffield claims that output may exceed 160 billion barrels of oil. Even credible sources like Wood Mackenzie believe that Permian Wolfcamp growth alone will add 3 million barrels per day by 2024. The EIA, however, estimated that 2015 Permian tight oil reserves were only 782 million barrels (Table 1). That seems low and is considerably less than the 5 billion and 4.3 billion barrels attributed to the Bakken and Eagle Ford plays, respectively. I estimate that there are approximately 3.7 billion barrels of proved Permian tight oil reserves using 2016 10-K SEC filings for leading operators in the plays.

Click Here for More

Platts

July 19, 2017

ERCOT forecast to hit July peakload record Thursday and Friday

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas could see power demand top 68 GW Thursday and Friday, setting new highs for July as heat is forecast to build across ERCOT through Friday. The grid operator projected peakload to reach 68.6 GW Thursday and 68.1 GW Friday, both for the hour ending 5 pm CDT (2200 GMT), topping the current all-time high for July at 67.7 GW set in July 2015 and nearing the forecast peakload of 68.7 GW for July. In the day-ahead market, ERCOT North Hub on-peak physical power was little changed in the low $40s/MWh for Thursday delivery on Intercontinental Exchange, while balance-of-the-week on-peak was slightly lower in the high $30s/MWh.

Click Here for More

Associated Press

July 19, 2017

Researchers gaining better understanding of seismicity

Efforts to fill in the gaps of what is not known about seismicity in the Lone Star State is beginning to pay off. Peter Hennings, a principal investigator in the Center for Integrated Seismicity Research at the University of Texas’ Bureau of Economic Geology, said additional data points from a larger number of monitoring stations revealed, for instance, seismic activity around Pecos that is more frequent than thought, with almost continuous microseismic events that can’t be felt at the surface. Addressing members of the Midland chapter, Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists (SIPES) Wednesday at Midland Country Club, Hennings said researchers are about halfway finished with their work studying seismicity in the Fort Worth Basin and are in the process of turning their attention to the greater West Texas region.

Click Here for More

Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

July 20, 2017

Oil stable after large fall in US fuel stocks, but markets remain bloated

Oil prices held steady on Thursday following solid gains the previous day when falling U.S. fuel inventories lifted the market. However, Brent crude oil prices remain below the key $50 per barrel mark on concerns about high supplies from producer club OPEC despite a pledge to cut output in a bid to tighten the market. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices,were at $49.67 per barrel at 0132 GMT, just 3 cents below their last settlement. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $47.08 per barrel, 4 cents below their last close. Prices jumped nearly 2 percent in the previous session on news of falling fuel stocks in the United States.

Click Here for More

Daily Forex

July 19, 2017

American Petroleum Institute Report Shows Unexpected Increase

The latest data from the American Petroleum Institute for the week ending on 14th July, showed an increment of 1.63 million barrels after a drop of 8.13 million barrels last week. Markets were expecting a drop of around 3.0 million barrels for the week, with the Petroleum Institute going back to register an expected increase in the inventories. Gasoline showed a drop of 5.45 million barrels after a drop of 0.8 million last week. The distillation inventories showed a drop of 2.9 million barrels after a rise of 1.2 million earlier. The fuel data had a great influence in reducing the pressure on the market and balancing the main data, especially with optimism that the draw on gasoline should help support the use of refineries and support the demand on crude oil.

Click Here for More

Associated Press

July 20, 2017

Panel: Dakota Access-style protests could become commonplace

Well-funded and organized protests like the one involving the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline may become commonplace, officials said Wednesday as they urged the industry to prepare for such activity. The struggle over the recently completed $3.8 billion pipeline was discussed at an annual oil industry conference in Bismarck, with a panel dissecting what the industry learned. Native Americans and other opponents worried about the pipeline's effect on the environment established a massive encampment in North Dakota to protest it. "The opponents will not rest," said Craig Stevens, a spokesman for Grow America's Infrastructure Now, a pro-pipeline coalition of businesses, trade associations and labor groups.

This article appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle

Click Here for More

San Antonio Express News

July 19, 2017

San Antonio’s Howard Energy building $150 million storage and export facility in Corpus

San Antonio-based pipeline company Howard Energy Partners is making its first foray into the Port of Corpus Christi with a $150 million storage facility that will serve as an entry point to the Mexico and overseas export markets. “One of the big focuses is diversifying the company both geographically and across the hydrocarbons and that just means everything from gas to oil,” Brad Bynum, Howard Energy’s president and co-founder, said in a phone interview. Howard Energy, which does most of its business in natural gas pipelines, storage and processing, owns and operates more than 500 miles of pipelines and 220,000 barrels of liquid storage capacity in Brownsville. The company is building the Corpus facility through subsidiary Maverick Terminals Corpus. This will be the company’s biggest project to date and its first foray into Corpus Christi. It will also allow the company to export more crude oil and refined product.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 19, 2017

Select Energy buying Houston's Rockwater in water services merger

Two of the biggest water management companies for the drilling and fracking industry are merging in a combination of Texas rivals. Select Energy Services said it will acquire Houston-based Rockwater Energy Solutions in an all-stock deal valued at more than $470 million. Select, which just went public this spring, is headquartered north of Dallas in Gainesville. The companies each employ about 2,000 people. As oil and gas companies are increasingly drilling deeper wells both vertically and horizontally in shale rock with more hydraulic fracturing stages, so to is the demand growing for water per well. The water is used along with sand and chemicals to unlock and extract the oil and gas from beneath the surface. Wells now routinely use up more than 20 million gallons of water each.

Click Here for More

Gas Compression Magazine

July 18, 2017

Freeport LNG Wants 4th Liquefaction Train

Freeport LNG Development and FLNG Liquefaction 4 LLC have filed an application with the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) seeking authorization to site, construct, and operate additional natural gas liquefaction facilities at Freeport LNG Development existing Quintana Island Terminal in Brazoria County, Texas, USA, as well as associated pretreatment and pipeline facilities, for the purpose of liquefying domestic natural gas for export to foreign countries. The Train 4 Project will be constructed as an expansion of the Liquefaction Project currently under construction at the terminal. The Project will add a fourth liquefaction train (Train 4) to provide additional export capacity of a nominal 5.1 million tonnes per annum LNG.

Click Here for More

Forbes

July 18, 2017

The New Face Of Big Oil: How Vicki Hollub Made Oxy The Top Player In The Permian

As the first woman to run a big American oil company, Vicki Hollub has quickly made Occidental Petroleum leaner, smarter, gentler--and poised to gusher cash for the next half-century. ... South Curtis Ranch is an 11,000-acre "unit" that Occidental Petroleum operates in the Permian Basin, a 300-mile swath of West Texas and southeastern New Mexico that produces a quarter of America's oil. Hollub, 57, feels at home here. A decade ago, she was running Oxy's entire million-acre Permian position. The work consisted mostly of injecting carbon dioxide into 100-year-old shallow, conventional fields to coax out the more stubborn oil. Then came advances in directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing that enabled oil companies to unlock deeper, trickier oil-soaked rock. Output from the Permian has doubled in the past five years to 2.5 million barrels a day (bpd), with hundreds of new rigs deployed even in a world of $45 oil.

Click Here for More

Pleasanton Express

July 19, 2017

Frack sand mine to move to Martin Marietta property

Nearly six months ago, 100 local residents gathered on Old Applewhite Road in northern Atascosa County, to protest a proposed frac sand mine processing facility in the area. Following several productive meetings and negotiations with the concerned citizen’s group “Not Just Dust- Bruce Rd.” the Pennsylvania-based company Preferred Sands has decided to move to the Martin Marietta’s property on Highway 16. “We’re happy they are doing it,” said Jessica Hardy, vice-president of Not Just Dust. “We are hoping this one sets a precedent for the other ones.” Not Just Dust president Russell Wilson said, “Preferred Sands came to the table and negotiated. They accepted our conditions as responsible corporate citizens.”

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 19, 2017

Mining for sand in the booming frac sand business

Oil prices may remain weak, but business is booming for oil in Texas shale plays, especially in West Texas' Permian Basin. That means the demand for sand is skyrocketing to churn out oil and gas as part of the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process. The industry is moving quickly to produce more sand than ever to meet the demand of an oil and gas sector that is using up to 20 times more sand per well than it did during the peak of the last energy boom. Across the state, already home to nearly 10 frac sand mines, operators are moving to expand or open new facilities, setting the stage for Texas to become a bigger player - and competitor - in an industry long dominated by purer Wisconsin and Minnesota sands.

Click Here for More

The Hill

July 18, 2017

Koch-backed group: Congress shouldn't propose new foreign tax

An advocacy group backed by wealthy GOP donors Charles and David Koch is pushing back against the idea of a minimum tax on U.S. companies’ foreign earnings. Lawmakers are looking at a foreign minimum tax as they work on rewriting the tax code and discuss how to prevent U.S. companies from shifting profits overseas. But Americans for Prosperity (AFP) views the idea as counterproductive. “Policymakers in Washington should be focused on making the American economy more competitive, rather than looking for new revenue streams from American businesses and their customers,” AFP chief government affairs officer Brent Gardner said in a statement Monday. “Just like every other misguided tax hike, extracting more revenue from American companies comes out of the pockets of customers and consumers.”

Click Here for More

Politico

July 19, 2017

Lobbyists cash in on dispute between Qatar, Saudi Arabia

Washington lobbyists are looking to cash in on the standoff between Qatar and a Saudi Arabia-led bloc of countries as the two sides scramble for influence with Congress and the Trump administration. The Middle East has been increasingly volatile since Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, abruptly cut off relations with Qatar last month. The Saudi-led bloc has denounced Qatar over its alleged support for terrorist groups and ties to Iran, and it has restricted land, air and sea travel to the tiny Persian Gulf state.

Click Here for More

Associated Press

July 20, 2017

AP Explains: What are Trump's options in Venezuela?

WHAT CAN TRUMP DO? In February, the Trump administration imposed sanctions against Venezuelan Vice President Tareck El Aissami, accusing him of playing a major role in international drug trafficking - a charge he denies. Then in May it imposed sanctions on eight supreme court justices who voted to strip the opposition-led congress of many of its powers earlier in the year. Rubio's tweets indicate the administration may be thinking of doing the same for Cabello and other high-ranking Venezuelans. The individual sanctions freeze targets' assets in U.S. banks, bar travel to the U.S. and make it illegal for Americans to do business with them. Venezuelan experts say it's not clear if top officials are vulnerable to such measures, but said expanding the list of targets throughout the army hierarchy could force some military officials to reconsider the cost of supporting Maduro's government. A more powerful and risky weapon is cutting back on U.S. imports of Venezuelan oil, a measure with the ability to severely damage Maduro's government and create broad chaos in Venezuela.

This article appeared on the News 12 Brooklyn NY website

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 19, 2017

BP weighs launching new IPO

Global energy giant BP said Tuesday it's considering taking its pipeline business public through an initial public offering. BP said the publicly traded spinoff, tentatively called BP Midstream Partners, would house its Gulf Coast and Midwest pipeline assets that transport its crude oil, natural gas and refined products. While no decision is made, BP said the IPO offers the opportunity to grow its pipeline business, while also giving investors new venues to find value.

Click Here for More

UPI

July 19, 2017

IEA: U.S. has unique role in oil, LNG

The United States stands in a unique position in the energy market with a robust shale oil sector and prospects for liquefied natural gas, the IEA said. Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency, met in Washington with U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry to discuss global oil and gas market developments. According to the IEA, spending on shale oil exploration and production is on pace to grow by more than 50 percent this year, while U.S. natural gas will account for 40 percent of new global production in the next five years. "The United States stands today at the heart of a twin energy revolution -- a booming shale oil and gas industry and also rising supplies of liquefied natural gas," Birol said in a statement.

Click Here for More

Bloomberg

July 19, 2017

U.S. Gas Industry Worries Trump Coal Push Leaves It in the Dark

As Energy Secretary Rick Perry considers whether the U.S. should do more keep coal and nuclear power plants online, natural gas producers are trying to ensure they aren’t left in the dark. Lobbyists for the natural gas industry are telling the administration their fuel is just as reliable as coal or nuclear, and that gas-fueled plants have the added advantage of being able to ramp up quickly to respond to price spikes or a drop in wind speeds. The lobbying push illustrates how fulfilling President Donald Trump’s pledge to save coal has downsides for other fossil fuel interests, including those closely allied with the president. "We’re not taking shots at coal and nuclear," but it’s important to "tell the whole story," said Marty Durbin, executive vice president and chief strategy officer at the American Petroleum Institute. "We want to make sure if they go down this road, they understand" that reliability is about more than the fuel itself, he said.

Click Here for More

The Hill

July 20, 2017

House votes to streamline pipeline reviews

The House voted Wednesday to streamline the federal permitting process for a variety of oil and natural gas pipelines. Lawmakers voted 248-179 on the Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act, a bill by Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) to designate the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as the lead agency for interstate gas pipeline permitting and require other agencies to coordinate with FERC and conduct simultaneous reviews. The chamber also voted 254-175 to pass the Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act, a bill by Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) to give FERC responsibility for permitting oil and gas pipelines and electric transmission lines that cross the Canadian or Mexican borders, such as the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Click Here for More

Wall St. Journal

July 18, 2017

Ecuador to Pump Over OPEC Oil Limit

Ecuador has broken ranks with fellow OPEC members as the South American country’s energy minister said it could no longer hold up its end of an agreement to cut oil production. Ecuador is among the smallest producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, but the news is a symbolic setback for the 14-nation cartel, which has tried to juice the oil market by withholding oil supplies. OPEC’s output cuts have so far failed to raise prices, which remain stuck at or below levels in November, when the group struck its original agreement.

Click Here for More

Reuters

July 19, 2017

U.S., Canada, Mexico agree on fast-paced NAFTA talks - sources

U.S., Mexican and Canadian officials have agreed to an aggressive timetable to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), sources said, aiming to conclude early next year to avoid Mexico’s 2018 presidential elections. The plan is to hold seven rounds of talks at three-week intervals, according to two Mexican officials who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue. Described by one Mexican official as a "very aggressive calendar," the sources said the goal was to conclude the talks before the electoral campaign was in full swing.

Click Here for More

Utilities Stories

AWEA

July 19, 2017

Giggin: Renewables on the grid: Market-based solutions support reliability

AWEA supports creating markets for grid reliability services as the most cost-effective way to ensure electric reliability. Renewable resources are already able to provide many of these grid reliability services as well as or better than conventional power plants. As shown in the following table, wind plants already exceed the reliability services contributed by conventional power plants, particularly for the reliability services that are the most critical for keeping the lights on. As the table below shows, no single energy source excels at providing all of the reliability services that are needed to keep the lights on. As a result, grid operators have always used a division of labor and a market-based approach to provide reliability services, ensuring the resource mix meets the grid’s needs in the most economical way.

Click Here for More

Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Daily Caller

July 19, 2017

Report: Up To 100 Solar Power Companies Are On Verge Of Bankruptcy

Up to 100 Japanese solar companies are on the verge of bankruptcy this year due to reductions in subsidies, according to Tuesday report by the corporate credit research company Teikoku Databank. The report concludes that roughly 50 Japanese solar companies already went out of business during the first six months of 2017. This is more than double the number of companies that went under during the same period in 2016. The number is a significant increase in solar bankruptcies, as only 251 companies have gone under since January 2006. Many of the bankruptcies are due to cuts in a major solar subsidy. Japan launched a feed-in tariff to financially benefit solar power in 2012, but has progressively cut spending on it. The government has announced that it intends to entirely remove the feed-in tariff in the early 2020s.

Click Here for More

Business Insider

July 18, 2017

Elon Musk says it's possible to power the US entirely with solar

Speaking on Saturday at the National Governors Association Summer Meeting in Rhode Island, Elon Musk told his audience — including 30 United States governors — that it’s possible to power the nation with solar energy. “If you wanted to power the entire U.S. with solar panels, it would take a fairly small corner of Nevada or Texas or Utah; you only need about 100 miles by 100 miles of solar panels to power the entire United States,” Musk said. “The batteries you need to store the energy, to make sure you have 24/7 power, is 1 mile by 1 mile. One square-mile. That’s it.” Why solar? Well, as Musk explained, as far as energy sources go, we can count on solar to come through for us: “People talk about fusion and all that, but the sun is a giant fusion reactor in the sky. It’s really reliable. It comes up every day. If it doesn’t we’ve got bigger problems.”

Click Here for More

International Business Times

July 17, 2017

Elon Musk believes a surprisingly small battery can power the entire United States

Elon Musk believes the entire United States can be powered by a field of solar panels measuring 100 miles by 100 miles - equivalent to approximately 0.003% of the country's land mass. Energy captured here, the Tesla and SpaceX boss says, would be stored in a battery measuring one square mile and located, along with the millions of solar panels, in a location with regular sunlight but a low population density, like Nevada, Texas or Utah. Musk was speaking at the National Governors Association on 15 July, during a discussion called Ahead of The Curve. He said: "If you wanted to power the entire United States with solar panels, it would take a fairly small corner of Nevada or Texas or Utah; you only need about 100 miles by 100 miles of solar panels to power the entire United States...The batteries you need to store the energy, so ensure you have 24/7 power, is one mile by one mile. One square-mile. That's it."

Click Here for More

Futurism

July 17, 2017

Scientists May Have Just Created the Most Absorbent Solar Cell Ever

Scientists have developed a solar cell that is capable of converting direct sunlight into electricity with 44.5 percent efficiency — making it, potentially, the most efficient solar cell in the world. Current solar technology only converts electricity with a maximum efficiency of about 25 percent. The impressive cell works by stacking multiple layers of solar hardware into a single cell, each of which absorbs a different aspect of the solar spectrum. This new tech is innovative compared to other cells in two regards. First, it uses transfer printing, which allowed the scientists to assemble the component parts with a high degree of precision. Second, it uses materials derived from gallium antimonide (GaSb) substrates, which are usually reserved for infrared lasers and photodetectors, in order to absorb every part of the direct sunlight. Matthew Lumb, lead author on the study, stated that “our new device is able to unlock the energy stored in the long-wavelength photons, which are lost in conventional solar cells, and therefore provides a pathway to realizing the ultimate multi-junction solar cell.”

Click Here for More

Regulatory Stories

Politico

July 20, 2017

McCain diagnosed with brain tumor

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been diagnosed with a brain tumor following an operation to remove a blood clot above his left eye. McCain and his family are considering options for treating the tumor, including radiation and chemotherapy. The 80-year-old McCain has previously successfully been treated for skin cancer. “The Senator and his family are reviewing further treatment options with his Mayo Clinic care team. Treatment options may include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation," said a statement from the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. “The Senator’s doctors say he is recovering from his surgery ‘amazingly well’ and his underlying health is excellent.”

Click Here for More

Renewables Now

July 19, 2017

DoE lab studying Gulf of Mexico wind, marine energy prospects

The US government’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is studying the feasibility of offshore wind and marine energy projects, including the idea of ocean-based solar energy, in the . The new project is funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Among the planned activities is a site-specific economic analysis to identify the offshore wind locations offering the best conditions for developers. NREL’s team will also be working to determine the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for offshore wind on the Gulf Coast.

Click Here for More

Think Progress

July 19, 2017

The hidden fossil fuel giveaway at the center of the 2018 House budget

In order to raise $1.5 billion for the federal government, the House has hidden a proposal in its budget to open the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Environmentalists question whether opening up the refuge to drilling would even come close to generating that much revenue, and they say this is yet another giveaway to the fossil fuel industry. The 2018 House budget, released this week, calls for $5 billion in “reconciliation” from the Natural Resources Committee, and $1.5 billion of that is expected to be from oil development in the refuge, which is currently off-limits to oil companies. “They have to find new revenue, so it has to be areas that are currently closed off,” pointed out Leah Donahey, a senior campaign director with the Alaska Wilderness League. The Congressional Budget Office, which recently looked at revenue from the refuge in the proposed White House budget, estimated that lease sales to oil companies would bring in an additional $3 billion, split evenly between the federal government and the state of Alaska, between now and 2027. (The White House had estimated $3.6 billion.)

Click Here for More

Texas Monthly

July 12, 2017

Susan Combs Joins Trump’s Assault on the Endangered Species Act

While the national news media has been fixated on President Donald Trump’s Russian connections, failures on tax and health care revisions, and the lack of his promised border wall, his administration has been building a U.S. Department of Interior team to effectively dismantle the Endangered Species Act. Trump’s latest addition is the appointment of former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs as assistant secretary of interior for policy, management, and budget. A Vassar College graduate from a ranching family in Brewster County, Combs is no stranger to the critter versus people wars. Combs has been vocal in her opposition to how the Endangered Species Act, signed into law by President Nixon in 1973, has been implemented.

Click Here for More

Los Angeles Times

July 17, 2017

GOP establishment figures Pete Wilson and George Shultz endorse California cap-and-trade plan

Two well-known names in the Republican Party establishment are weighing in to back Gov. Jerry Brown's cap-and-trade proposal. Former Gov. Pete Wilson and former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz issued letters Monday backing the proposal, which faces a decisive vote. Wilson, in a letter to Republican lawmakers, pitched the plan as the least negative option within the state's existing efforts to combat climate change. "The choices are limited, and unfortunately you are faced with what you can do to make a bad situation better," Wilson said, noting alternative efforts, such as a carbon tax, would be "truly disastrous for our state."

Click Here for More

The Hill

July 19, 2017

GOP takes aim at reforming Endangered Species Act

Congressional Republicans launched efforts Wednesday aimed at reforming the Endangered Species Act to make it more friendly for states, landowners, industry and others. The debates in the House and Senate were on bills with specific, limited purposes, not the full-scale comprehensive reforms that Republicans and some industries have been craving. Nonetheless, the GOP made it clear that they want to make significant changes to the law that they see as outdated, ineffective and unnecessarily costly for states and land users. Democrats, meanwhile, see the proposals as significant threats to a bedrock environmental law and a handout to industries, including oil and natural gas.

Click Here for More

Washington Post

July 19, 2017

In the push to deliver on campaign promises, Interior’s energy drive looms large

With control over more than 500 million acres of public land and hundreds of millions of acres offshore, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is moving rapidly to promote American production of coal, oil and gas — a critical piece of President Trump’s vision for “making America great again.” In the past few weeks alone, Zinke has lowered the price companies must pay the government for offshore drilling; acted to accelerate approval for onshore drilling permits; approved exploratory drilling in the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea; and scheduled lease sales on Western lands the Obama administration had deemed off limits. And Zinke’s moves have immediate impact. While Trump’s ambitious plans to overhaul the tax code and renegotiate international trade pacts remain far off, and his campaign to roll back environmental regulations will take months to produce results for industry, Zinke is taking concrete action to deliver on one of Trump’s most important campaign promises.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 18, 2017

Perry urges Canada, Mexico on North American energy strategy

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Tuesday that he is bullish that the United States can come to a deal on a "new North American energy strategy" with Mexico and Canada that would increase energy production and exports while improving security on the countries' power grids, pipelines and "energy systems" at large. Perry, speaking at a news conference with the director of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, said he discussed the prospect of North American cooperation on energy during a visit with Mexican officials in Mexico City last week. As an example of the potential, he pointed to the recent discovery of up to 2 billion barrels of crude off Mexico's Gulf Coast by Houston company Talos Energy, the first major find since Mexico opened its energy sector to foreign companies three years ago. "Mexico is going to be a massive influence in the energy markets going forward," Perry said.

Click Here for More

July 19, 2017

Lead Stories

Reuters

July 18, 2017

U.S. uncompleted well backlog hangs over oil market: Kemp

U.S. oil and gas exploration and production companies are drilling new wells faster than they can be fractured and hooked up to gathering systems, creating a growing backlog of drilled but uncompleted oil and gas wells. By June, the number of drilled but uncompleted oil and gas wells across the seven largest shale plays had topped 6,000, according to estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The estimated number of uncompleted wells across the seven plays has risen by more 1,000 since December 2016, the agency reported on Monday ("Drilling productivity report", EIA, July 2017). ... The problem is concentrated in the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico, where the number of uncompleted wells has risen by more than 800 since December and more than 1,000 since June 2016.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 18, 2017

Venezuelan oil sanctions would have ‘huge’ impact on Texas refineries, consumers

The Port of Corpus Christi is railing against potential sanctions on Venezuelan crude imports, saying that curbing the third-biggest oil importer to the U.S. would hurt American refiners across the Gulf Coast. Charles W. Zahn Jr., Port of Corpus Christi Commission chairman, warned President Donald Trump in a letter Friday of the devastating effects that restrictions on Venezuelan oil would have on the U.S. market. The port’s commissioners are scheduled Tuesday to vote on the letter, which Zahn said he believes will pass. “We want him to take into consideration the fact that if he issues sanctions against Venezuelan crude coming into the United States it’s going to have a significant economic impact on refineries in the United States that are operated by the state-owned Citgo,” Zahn said, referencing the American-based refinery subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., also known as PDVSA.

Click Here for More

San Francisco Chronicle

July 17, 2017

Marin, San Mateo counties sue Big Oil over climate change

Two Bay Area counties and a Southern California city concerned about rising sea levels sued 37 of the world’s biggest oil and coal companies Monday, claiming the fossil fuel giants should pay for damages wrought by climate change — a first-of-its-kind challenge that some liken to the high-stakes litigation of the tobacco industry in the 1990s. Marin County, San Mateo County and Imperial Beach (San Diego County) filed separate but nearly identical lawsuits in their respective Superior Court offices that seek to tie fossil fuel development to climate-related problems in coastal areas. Lawyers for the three communities worked together to document such effects as more frequent flooding and beach erosion as well as the possibility that water will eventually inundate roads, airports, sewage treatment plants and other real estate. ... The suits are the latest in a small but growing effort to hold Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell and other major energy companies accountable for the effects of global warming. Legal experts say the challenge is more comprehensive than previous endeavors, and is based on better climate science and more evidence to support a claim of conspiracy among oil company executives. ... Lawyers for Marin and San Mateo counties and Imperial Beach seek to show that the energy companies have created a public nuisance — legally, something that causes widespread harm. It’s the same doctrine that state attorneys general used in the late 1990s to win a $206 billion settlement from the tobacco industry over the health costs of cigarettes.

Click Here for More

CNBC

July 18, 2017

How a billionaire hedge fund manager plans to transform the biggest American power producer without getting burned

Billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer and fellow activist investor Charles John Wilder have their work cut out for them with their latest gamble: overhauling a major player in the utility space, a sector that has humbled some of the world's savviest investors in recent years. The two are behind a plan to transform NRG Energy, the nation's largest independent power producer, from a sprawling giant with significant clean energy holdings to a smaller and simpler generator and seller of electricity. If they succeed, they will at least create a more valuable company for shareholders. But they also stand to reshape the competitive landscape through major acquisitions and score a win in an industry that has confounded the likes of Goldman Sachs and Warren Buffett. Analysts say the surge in NRG's share price last week reflects investors' confidence in Wilder, 59, who won a board seat in February after partnering with Singer, 72, to push for change. Now the head of energy investment firm Bluescape Energy Partners, Wilder made his name by turning around Texas power company TXU before selling it in the largest ever leveraged buyout in 2007.

Click Here for More

Popular Science

July 18, 2017

Fracking pollution stays in waterways long after the fracking is done

Dumping fracking water into rivers, lakes, and streams can cause lasting environmental damage, according to a recent study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology—even if you treat it first. The study used lake sediment to reconstruct the history of produced water (a byproduct of fracking) in a Pennsylvania watershed, and assess the long-term impacts of the resulting pollution. In an area where fracking waste was legally released into surface water ecosystems, they were able to detect elevated levels of salt—and radioactive chemicals—some distance away. “When it comes to oil and gas waste water management, the impact to water quality and sediment quality can occur on a much larger scale than we had previously thought,” says lead study author William Burgos, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Penn State University. “This study documents that these contaminants travelled at least several tens of kilometers, and that they’re still buried there five to ten years later.”

Click Here for More

Henley Standard (UK)

July 17, 2017

'Energy tree' that could be solution to climate change

A BUSINESSMAN from Henley hopes his invention will revolutionise the way in which household electricity is generated. Harry Corrigan is working with scientists at Brunel University to develop the Energy Tree, a 16ft device which looks exactly like a tree but will function as both a giant solar panel and a wind turbine. He says it will generate at least 12,000 kilowatt hours per year, almost four times the amount that a typical three-bedroom home in Britain consumes annually. The estimated purchase cost of the “tree” is about £15,000 but this could come down gradually as the technology improves. Its “leaves” will be made of a thin layer of photovoltaic film, which converts sunlight into electricity, coated in a protective substance to increase their flexibility so they bend and flutter in the wind.

Click Here for More

Oil & Gas Stories

Platts

July 18, 2017

Trump administration weighing sanctions on imports of Venezuelan oil

The Trump administration is considering a ban on US imports of Venezuelan crude oil, one of a number of sanctions considered in response to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's pledge to rewrite that country's constitution. During a briefing with reporters Tuesday, a senior administration official said sanctions on crude oil imports, as well as targeted sanctions on individuals were being weighed, but declined to comment in detail. "All options are on the table," the official said, adding that sanctions could be imposed before July 30. "All options are being discussed and debated." The official said that administration officials were "mindful" of the impact potential sanctions on crude imports would have on US businesses and consumers and said all economic effects were being studied.

Click Here for More

CNBC

July 19, 2017

Oil dips on rising US crude inventories, high OPEC supplies

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices,were at $48.73 per barrel at 0128 GMT, down 11 cents, or 0.2 percent, from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $46.28 per barrel, down 12 cents, or 0.3 percent. U.S. crude stocks rose last week, adding 1.6 million barrels in the week to July 14 to 497.2 million barrels, industry group the American Petroleum Institute said late on Tuesday.

Click Here for More

Associated Press

July 18, 2017

Months needed for additional study of Dakota Access pipeline

Additional environmental review of the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline is likely to take the rest of the year to complete, U.S. officials said in court documents in which they also advocate for keeping the line operating during the study. Developer Energy Transfer Partners also is asking U.S. District Judge James Boasberg to keep the line open, saying a shutdown would cost the Texas-based company $90 million each month. The $3.8 billion pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois was finished after President Donald Trump pushed through its completion despite opposition and an ongoing lawsuit by American Indian tribes, who fear environmental harm. Since June 1 it has been moving nearly half of the daily oil production in North Dakota, the nation's second-leading producer behind Texas — a total so far of more than 18 million barrels, or 756 million gallons.

This article appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Click Here for More

Dallas Morning News

July 18, 2017

Rick Perry's message on liquefied natural gas exports from Texas: 'If you meet the rules, here's your permit'

The Trump administration is pushing for increased exports of natural gas and other energy sources as it seeks U.S. "energy dominance" in the global market, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Tuesday. He and President Donald Trump have offered a "comforting" message to energy companies seeking to export liquefied natural gas, or LNG, at huge terminals in Texas, Louisiana and other states, Perry said: "If you meet the rules, here's your permit." Perry also said he has not seen a widely expected department study into the reliability of the electric grid. A draft version leaked to news outlets indicates that renewable power and federal regulations have had little impact on reliability.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 18, 2017

Apache, oil drilling, become part of life in Balmorhea

Oil and gas men filled La Cueva de Oso at lunchtime on Monday. Nine American pickup trucks parked side-by-side out front. A side room was blocked off for a team working Apache Corp.’s Alpine High, the oil field that, at least initially, divided this small town. Thais Zuniga, 18 and a brand-new graduate of Balmorhea High, served half the tables. She and her friends talked about the oil drilling at school, she said. One still thinks Apache is going to ruin the community. “But the rest of us, we’re fine,” she said. “As long as they don’t mess with our water.” Apache, a Houston oil and gas company, announced almost a year ago that it had discovered 15 billion barrels of oil and gas under 350,000 acres here in West Texas. Many worried: Visitors from near and far flock to the famous spring-fed pool at nearby Balmorhea State Park. If oil and gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing broke into the springs and ruined the pool, what, they asked, would be come of this 500-person town, already struggling to make ends meet?

Click Here for More

Austin American-Statesman

July 18, 2017

Cleanup continues after 50,000-gallon oil spill in Bastrop County

“There is no definitive timetable for completion,” Magellan Midstream Partners, which owns the Longhorn pipeline, said Monday of the cleanup. “The work will continue as long as is necessary in order to ensure that it is done in accordance with all applicable regulations and to the satisfaction of state and federal regulators.” On Friday, Magellan said it had safely recaptured all the spilled oil with vacuum trucks. The next step was to conduct excavation activities to remove and replace the contaminated soil. The damaged section of the Longhorn pipeline was repaired over the weekend, according to Magellan. On Sunday, it resumed normal operations, carrying crude oil from the Permian Basin in West Texas to Houston. Environmental and oil and gas specialists had gone into overdrive to clean the spill starting last week, when more than 100 emergency responders, cleanup crews, local, state and federal workers and Magellan employees flooded the area, Magellan spokesperson Tom Byers said at the time.

Click Here for More

UPI

July 18, 2017

Magellan could see financials dinged by Texas pipeline spill

A spill from a Texas oil pipeline could add to pressure from a weak market and hurt the bottom line for Magellan Midstream Partners, an investment service said. Magellan said during the weekend that repairs were made to its Longhorn pipeline system and the network was back in service less than a week after a contractor working on the pipeline struck a fitting during routine maintenance activities, causing a spill. A similar incident caused the release of about 1,000 barrels of oil from a pipeline system operated by Magellan in Oklahoma two years ago. A report from Zacks Equities Research put Magellan (NYSE: MMP) at sell. "We would like to inform investors that Magellan's non-fee based assets continue to be under pressure due to weak crude prices," the report read.

Click Here for More

SE Texas Record

July 18, 2017

Eminent domain fight between Denbury Green Pipeline and rice farmers now before Texas SC

After suffering a recent defeat, Denbury Green Pipeline Texas has taken its eminent domain case against Texas Rice Land Partners to the highest court in the Lone Star State. On July 12, Denbury filed a petition for writ of mandamus, requesting Texas Supreme Court justices issue a writ directing a Jefferson County judge to vacate a June 29 order preventing the company from “accessing its easement” on the rice farmers’ land. The condemnation case has been snaking its way through Texas courts for the better part of a decade and began when area landowners James E. Holland and David C. Holland (Texas Rice Land Partners) and tenant Mike Latta were approached by Denbury to conduct a survey on their land with plans to build a gas pipeline through the property.

Click Here for More

Midwest Energy

July 18, 2017

Rover Pipeline problems continue in Ohio and Michigan

Ohio’s Rover Pipeline project faces continuing problems, with more spills of drilling mud, ongoing questions about diesel fuel contamination, and orders issued last week by both the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “The significant thing that is very new here is that Ohio EPA has said that they are working very closely with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,” observed Cheryl Johncox at the Sierra Club. FERC issued a July 12 order that echoes multiple directives from the Ohio EPA’s July 7 order to Energy Transfer Partners. Energy Transfer Partners, the Texas-based company that runs the pipeline project, has also now acknowledged Ohio EPA’s regulatory authority, Johncox noted. “Those are pretty big significant changes to this conversation.”

Click Here for More

San Antonio Business Journal

July 18, 2017

NuStar Energy moves forward with two cross-border pipeline projects

After years of waiting, San Antonio-based midstream company NuStar Energy now has the green light to move forward with two cross-border pipeline projects in South Texas. The U.S. State Department issued three presidential permits on June 29 giving NuStar Energy LP (NYSE: NS) approval for a cross-border project in Laredo and another in Peñitas. In a press conference titled "Unleashing American Energy," President Donald Trump announced the permits for NuStar as one of six new initiatives to transform the U.S. into an energy exporter. "We're here today to usher in a new American energy policy — one that unlocks millions and millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth," Trump said.

Click Here for More

Oil & Gas Investor

July 18, 2017

Reemerged BJ Services Planning To Go Public In $100 Million IPO

BJ Services Inc., a fracking company recently spun out of Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHGE), aims to go public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The 145-year-old Houston company said July 14 it filed a registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed IPO of up to $100 million of its common stock. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined. Late last year, Baker Hughes entered an agreement with private equity funds CSL Capital Management and Goldman Sachs’ West Street Energy Partners to form a new North American fracking company operating under the BJ Services brand.

Click Here for More

Corpus Christi Caller Times

July 18, 2017

Company gets lease agreement at Port of Corpus Christi; plans pipeline to Mexico

The Port Authority awarded a 30-year lease to Maverick Terminals Corpus LLC, which plans to build a transcontinental pipeline from the Coastal Bend to Mexico. The measure, approved Tuesday, gives the company access to 41 port-owned acres on the north side of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. Maverick Terminals wants to build and operate a multi-service facility on the site, including a rail terminal, a storage structure for petroleum and petroleum products and the new Oil Dock 20. ... Maverick Terminals is a subsidiary of San Antonio-based Howard Energy Midstream Partners. Howard Energy Partners also operates terminals at the Port of Brownsville and Port Arthur.

Click Here for More

Houston Chronicle

July 18, 2017

BASF expands in Houston area

The world's largest chemical company is expanding in the Houston area. Germany-based BASF said it completed two plastic and chemical expansions just outside of Houston at its Pasadena complex. The capacity expansions contribute to the production of plasticizers used to soften and increase the flexibility of rigid materials like polyvinyl chloride, called PVC. BASF said it increased its production of dioctyl terephthalate, or DOTP, which is a general purpose plasticizer, by 60,000 metric tons a year.

Click Here for More

Utilities Stories

Austin American-Statesman

July 18, 2017

Ex-Austin Energy worker, advisory board members face ethics complaints

A former Austin Energy supervisor signed off on more than $8 million in payments to a company his brothers worked for without disclosing that conflict of interest, the city’s investigative auditor said in an ethics complaint. The complaint was one of three that auditors filed Monday claiming conflict of interest violations at the city. The others involve members of two city commissions who voted to recommend funding for organizations where they also worked or served. All three will go to Austin’s Ethics Review Commission to evaluate. The complaint involving Austin Energy says that Stefan Sasko, a distribution electrician supervisor who retired in January, served as project manager approving payments to Pike Electric without disclosing that two of his brothers were Pike employees working on the Austin Energy contract.

Click Here for More

Denton Record Chronicle

July 18, 2017

Denton Energy Center's troubled past makes future uncertain

A pair of $100 million contracts under a cloud. Denton Municipal Electric general manager's sudden resignation 10 days ago. Two high-level employees fired, but not before they filed a lawsuit against the city. It’s hard to pinpoint the moment when DME management went off the rails. But one thing about the Denton Energy Center project is clear: A handful of DME executives got on board two years ago and put the pedal to the floor. Construction continues on the new Denton Energy Center. The large building behind this expanded substation will be the location of the center.DRC Construction continues on the new Denton Energy Center. The large building behind this expanded substation will be the location of the center. The Denton Energy Center is a new natural-gas fired generating plant under construction on 100 acres near Denton Enterprise Airport.

Click Here for More

Minnesota Public Radio

July 11, 2017

Report: Solar plus storage can beat natural gas in Minnesota

A new report from the University of Minnesota's Energy Transition Lab shows adding energy storage is becoming a cost effective way to meet electricity demand in the state. The report looked at several scenarios, including a common one in the summer: A hot day when electricity demand is much higher than usual because of air conditioning. "What would be more cost effective: to build a conventional plant or to put in a big battery? Or, alternatively, to put in a big battery and a big solar array at the same time? [The consultants] found that putting in solar plus storage was actually cost effective right now," said Ellen Anderson, who directs the Energy Transition Lab.

Click Here for More

Forbes

July 16, 2017

Conca: French President Macron's Nuclear Dilemma

French environment and energy minister, Nicolas Hulot, announced in June that the country would keep the previous President’s promise to reduce the amount of nuclear energy from 75% to 50% of the country’s electricity generation, and replace it with wind and solar energy as part of a plan to fight global warming. ... At almost 75%, France has the largest share of nuclear power in its electricity mix of any major country. The country’s 12% hydro is nothing to sneeze at, either, with only about 6% non-hydro renewables. With only 7% fossil fuel, France has achieved more in its fight against global warming than any other country in the world – but only because of its nuclear fleet. ... To cut France from 75% nuclear to 50% means closing about 18 of their 58 reactors. Replacing that much energy with wind would require quadrupling all non-hydro renewables, the equivalent of building 40,000 MW of wind turbines.

Click Here for More

Alternatives & Renewables Stories

India Times

July 16, 2017

Solar sector sees $4.6 billion funding

Solar energy sector witnessed corporate funding of USD 4.6 billion globally in the first six months this year, marginally higher than the year-ago period, says a report. Mercom Capital Group said the total corporate funding, including venture capital funding, public market and debt financing, stood at USD 4.6 billion in the first half of this year. The funding amount was USD 4.5 billion in the January- June period of last year.

Click Here for More

Bloomberg

July 17, 2017

States Can Recharge Rooftop Solar

Almost overnight, it seems, the decade-long expansion of rooftop solar in the U.S. has come to an end. Installations are set to fall by 2 percent this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Partly to blame is a widening campaign to end a key customer incentive, homeowners' ability to sell their extra energy back to the grid at retail prices. Power companies pressing for this change argue that the practice shifts costs from the affluent owners of solar-powered homes to poorer ratepayers. That's misleading. Net metering, as it's called, has a negligible effect on most utilities' retail rates, especially in states where rooftop solar has only just begun to catch on. Still, getting these prices right, and treating all consumers fairly, is a complicated business. To encourage wider use of emissions-free energy, state regulators need to carefully weigh all the costs and benefits -- including the cost of greenhouse-gas emissions to the climate -- and set an appropriate price for rooftop solar power that's returned to the grid.

Click Here for More

Utility Dive

July 18, 2017

loomberg: August eclipse could hurt 9,000 MW of solar output

Grid operators in California and other regions began preparing for the solar eclipse months ago. The California ISO expects to buy more regulation service and more flexible ramping services during the eclipse to fill what could be a 1,365 MW increase in load as a result of obscured solar panels. ... The Texas grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), expects the eclipse to dim about 600 MW of solar output. And the PJM Interconnection estimates the eclipse could affect as much as 2,500 MW of solar output. According to minutes from a recent PJM Operating Committee Meeting this month, North Carolina will likely experience the greatest impact to its solar output during the eclipse.

Click Here for More

Business Insider

July 15, 2017

A futuristic $5.25-million boat that fuels itself has begun a 6-year voyage around the world

A boat that fuels itself is setting off around the world from Paris on a six-year journey that its designers hope will serves as a model for emissions-free energy networks of the future. Energy Observer will use its solar panels, wind turbines and a hydrogen fuel cell system to power its trip. The 5 million-euro ($5.25 million) boat heads off Saturday from Paris toward the Atlantic.

Click Here for More

New York Times

July 18, 2017

NYT: A Brighter Future for Electric Cars and the Planet

There is simply no credible way to address climate change without changing the way we get from here to there, meaning cars, trucks, planes and any other gas-guzzling forms of transportation. That is why it is so heartening to see electric cars, considered curios for the rich or eccentric or both not that long ago, now entering the mainstream. A slew of recent announcements by researchers, auto companies and world leaders offer real promise. First up, a forecast by Bloomberg New Energy Finance said that electric cars would become cheaper than conventional cars without government subsidies between 2025 and 2030.

Click Here for More

Regulatory Stories

Roll Call

July 14, 2017

Trump Stances Could Affect Cross-Border Energy Trade

When President Donald Trump signed an executive order in April to impose a tariff on Canadian softwood lumber, the administration and its supporters heralded the move as an equalizing measure meant to bolster domestic timber production. For Trump, the tariff was the latest move meant to build on his “America First” campaign platform. The action his administration took amounted to a tariff in the form of an import tax totaling around 20 percent for softwood lumber imports from Canada. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross estimated the measure could result in $1 billion a year from Canadian lumber imports, which make up about one-third of the U.S. lumber market. But the tactic — and others like it that have been floated by the White House — has the potential to stem not just this type of trade, but also a burgeoning cross-border energy industry at the heart of Trump’s economic priorities. According to the Congressional Research Service, the value of the energy trade between the United States and its North American neighbors exceeded $140 billion in 2015, with $100 billion in U.S. energy imports and over $40 billion in exports.

Click Here for More

Dallas Morning News

July 18, 2017

House approves Texan's bill to delay Obama-era ozone standards for reducing pollution

The House on Tuesday approved Texas Rep. Pete Olson’s bill to delay the timeline for states to meet ozone standards, mostly along a 229-199 party-line vote. The Pearland Republican’s bill, H.R. 806, would give states until October 2026, over nine years, to reach the 2015 ozone standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration. The bill also would limit future regulations that crack down on the pollutant. The bill includes seven Texas co-sponsors: Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan; Rep. Henry Cuellar D-Laredo; Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Pilot Point; Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas; Rep. Randy Weber, R-Friendswood; Rep. Brian Babin; R-Woodville; and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio.

Click Here for More

The Hill

July 18, 2017

House budget could lead to Alaska refuge drilling

The House GOP budget proposal released Tuesday could lead to oil and natural gas drilling being permitted in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The blueprint from the House Budget Committee for fiscal year 2018 asks the Natural Resources Committee to pass legislation to reduce the government’s deficit by $5 billion over 10 years. Democrats and environmentalists harshly criticized the blueprint, calling it a veiled attempt to clear the way for ANWR drilling since revenues from associated fees and royalties would help the government’s coffers.

Click Here for More

The Hill

July 18, 2017

Senate panel begins moving $38.4B energy, water spending bill

A Senate Appropriations Committee panel on Tuesday approved a $38.4 billion bill to fund federal energy and water programs, including the Department of Energy (DOE), in 2018. The legislation would increase spending for the DOE and other programs by $629 million next year. Total funding in the bill is about $900 million more than that set aside in the House and is $4.1 billion more than the budget request President Trump released in May. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the energy and water subcommittee, said the bill provides record amounts of funding for several federal efforts, including the DOE’s Office of Science, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

Click Here for More

Politico

July 18, 2017

Trump to nominate Huntsman as Russian ambassador

The White House formally announced its plans to nominate former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman as the ambassador to Russia, signaling its intent to put the one-time Trump campaign critic in a leading diplomatic role. Huntsman, who sharply criticized President Donald Trump during the 2016 Republican primaries for his statements and rhetoric about women, previously served as ambassador to Singapore under former President George W. Bush and the ambassador to China under former President Barack Obama. He was reportedly offered the position back in March, a move the Trump administration publicly solidified Tuesday.

Click Here for More