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May 25, 2016

Christian v. Gates: How the Railroad Commission race was won

Micro-targeting voters, key endorsements held more value than money

Last night’s squeaker of a race for the Republican nomination to Texas Railroad Commission – won by less than one percentage point – left Travis McCormick biting his nails.

As election night neared, the campaign manager for former state Rep. Wayne Christian steered clear of predicting the GOP runoff outcome between his candidate and Gary Gates, a businessman who struck it rich in Houston-area real estate but hadn’t met the same success in politics.

“I thought it was a coin toss. I thought it would be close, whichever way it went,” McCormick said today. “It depended on how many people were going to show up. If another 200,000 people showed up that we hadn’t been able to touch with a piece of mail or phone call or radio I think we could have been in trouble. It all boiled down to turnout.”

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By Polly Ross Hughes


May 25, 2016

Christian v. Gates: How the Railroad Commission race was won

Micro-targeting voters, key endorsements held more value than money

Last night’s squeaker of a race for the Republican nomination to Texas Railroad Commission – won by less than one percentage point – left Travis McCormick biting his nails.

As election night neared, the campaign manager for former state Rep. Wayne Christian steered clear of predicting the GOP runoff outcome between his candidate and Gary Gates, a businessman who struck it rich in Houston-area real estate but hadn’t met the same success in politics.

“I thought it was a coin toss. I thought it would be close, whichever way it went,” McCormick said today. “It depended on how many people were going to show up. If another 200,000 people showed up that we hadn’t been able to touch with a piece of mail or phone call or radio I think we could have been in trouble. It all boiled down to turnout.”

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By Polly Ross Hughes


May 24, 2016

RRC: Gary Gates leads Wayne Christian with 55%

By Polly Ross Hughes


May 24, 2016

Volatile prices, regulation shaking up energy business models

On utility side, execs expect big surge in renewable power, survey finds

More than nine of 10 energy executives (94 percent) see significant changes to their business models in the next five years, with unpredictable swings in commodity prices and the regulatory environment acting as driving forces, according to a new survey.

KPMG Global Energy Institute’s annual survey of 150 senior executives in the U.S. found that top priorities include new growth strategies and executing changes in their business models. They expect to direct capital toward business acquisitions and transforming their business models.

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By Polly Ross Hughes


May 20, 2016

Water board to review five-year water forecasts for energy needs

EDF suggests that evolving energy trends, climate change need consideration

The Texas Water Development Board has sent estimates of water usage for the state’s energy industry in its five-year plan out for additional review, but environmentalists say the ultimate solution for accuracy in five-year water plans would be to incorporate climate change.

Three key environmental groups – Environmental Defense Fund, Texas Center for Policy Studies and Sierra Club – called the estimates in the plan for the steam-electric water users group overly dated and possibly up to 40 percent too high. Director Matt Nelson, who presented the plan to the full TWDB yesterday, acknowledged the concerns and said outside consultants would be returning a draft proposal with new estimates in the near future.

The 2017 water plan has its own interactive website that can be broken out by region.

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By Kimberly Reeves


May 18, 2016

Oil group hurls barbs at new study on man-made earthquakes

Lead author is on research team he’s accused of trying to preempt

A scientific study published today that explores nine decades of links between Texas earthquakes and oil and gas activities prompted a stinging industry attack, accusing its authors of trying to preempt state-funded research underway to identify the “true cause” of increasing seismic activity.

A Historical Review of Induced Earthquakes in Texas,” published Wednesday in the journal Seismological Research Letters, is the work of lead author Cliff Frohlich, a senior research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. Co-authors include several Southern Methodist University scientists who published a study last year concluding that oil and gas activities likely caused a rash of earthquakes in the Azle-area of North Texas.

“The report seeks to preempt proactive research efforts currently underway designed to identify the true cause of seismic events in the state of Texas,” said Ed Longanecker, president of the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO).

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By Polly Ross Hughes


May 17, 2016

EnerVest seizes oil depression to buy Eagle Ford assets

Company and partners purchase $1.3 billion in Karnes County properties

Houston-based EnerVest Ltd. and its institutional partners announced Tuesday new acquisitions in the once red-hot Eagle Ford Shale, bringing its purchases there since last September to $1.3 billion in properties producing more than 17,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

“This is a great time in the commodity price cycle to buy oil assets, especially in one of the hottest plays in the U.S.,” EnerVest CEO John B. Walker said in a statement. “With approximately $1.7 billion remaining in our latest fund, we are focused on acquiring the highest margin, best quality assets during the depression of our industry.”

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By Polly Ross Hughes


May 17, 2016

Market forces leading ERCOT to cleaner electric grid

Natural gas, wind, solar can fuel all Texas’s new power for 20 years

Market forces will likely be the driving force leading Texas’s primary electric grid during the next 20 years to a cleaner power future, propelled by continued affordable and abundant natural gas, a new report released this morning shows.

“Over the next 20 years, due to the free market alone, ERCOT can expect to see a cleaner grid that relies on Texas-produced natural gas, wind and utility-scale PV solar power at little additional cost to consumers,” concludes the fourth grid-forecasting study conducted by The Brattle Group for the Texas Clean Energy Coalition.

A few caveats are in order, though. The report did not take into account reliability concerns that could arise from the timing of coal-fired power plant retirements (such as too many at the same time) as coal’s contribution shrinks from an estimated 34 percent now to only six percent in 2035.

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By Polly Ross Hughes


May 16, 2016

Another 350 offshore oil and gas workers getting laid off

Ensco Offshore says it plans to shut down four rigs

Another 350 oil and gas employees who work in international waters of the Gulf of Mexico have been targeted for layoffs that began May 11, the Texas Workforce Commission reported today.

Ensco Offshore Co. reported in a letter dated last Wednesday that the layoffs are the result of its plans to close or “stack” four offshore rigs (identified as EDS-3, EDS-4, EDS-5 and E8500).

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By Polly Ross Hughes