Daily Camera | 18 January 2017

Factions Clash as Council Tables Ordinance Legalizing Anti-Hydraulic-Fracturing Civil Disobedience

The City Council of Lafayette, Colorado, on 17 January voted to table an anti-hydraulic-fracturing ordinance that could impede oil and gas development within Lafayette through sanctioning acts of civil disobedience and nonviolent protest.

Golfers play a round at the Vista Ridge Golf Club with a drilling rig in the background in Erie, Colorado, in 2014. Lafayette, Colorado, leaders tabled an ordinance that would sanction nonviolent protests and acts of civil disobedience against hydraulic fracturing operations. Credit: Daily Camera file photo.

Golfers play a round at the Vista Ridge Golf Club with a drilling rig in the background in Erie, Colorado, in 2014. Lafayette, Colorado, leaders tabled an ordinance that would sanction nonviolent protests and acts of civil disobedience against hydraulic fracturing operations. Credit: Daily Camera file photo.

The decision, which was stalled on first reading to an unknown future date because of a lack of council members in attendance, came in front of an emotional and unwavering standing-room-only crowd that battled for nearly 3 hours of public comment over the future of hydraulic fracturing within Lafayette.

“We are not afraid of you—none of these people out there are afraid of you,” Cliff Willmeng, of East Boulder County United—the group that drafted the “Climate Bill of Rights and Protections”—said to representatives of Colorado Oil and Gas amid a chorus of cheers.

“We can’t avoid this fight,” he added. “It’s in our living room right now. It’s not one of those times in history where being afraid is going to help you.”

Coming just  2 years after a Boulder District Court judge tossed out the town’s voter-approved hydraulic fracturing ban, the 17 January decision delays driving a further wedge between the city and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association—once plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the community’s voter-backed hydraulic fracturing ban.

“With every fiber of my being, I appeal to you to please pass this climate bill,” Louisville resident Paul Bassis said. “Do it for your children, for our children, for the future. You have the opportunity to not just stand on the right side of history, but you can make history.”

The virtually unprecedented ordinance—a similar bill passed last year in Grant Township, Pennsylvania, the country’s first and only case, offering Lafayette leaders the sole successful legal model—would essentially legalize acts of civil disobedience and nonviolent direct action protest and would offer unparalleled immunity from arrest or detainment.

“It’s time to throw off the yoke of tyranny,” resident Stephanie Small said. “If the laws are unjust, we must disobey and change them. There are hundreds of us now, but soon there will be thousands.

“You will have to decide if you will be protecting or arresting us,” she added.

LinkedIn | 17 January 2017

The La Brea Platform Fabrication Yard 2004–2017: A Sustained Local Content Oil and Gas Service Business in Trinidad and Tobago

Back in 2004, the then government of Trinidad and Tobago, under the leadership of Prime Minister Patrick Manning and advised by the eminent professor Kenneth Julien among many others, initiated the construction of a platform fabrication yard at La Brea on the southwestern peninsula of the island of Trinidad.

This fabrication yard was financed by the government of Trinidad and Tobago and is considered to be a significant contributor to the thrust to expand value add from local content in the services sector of the oil and gas industry in the country. I served as Minister of Energy and Energy Industries (2002–06) in the government at that time. We were honored with a visit by my colleague minister from the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, then Algerian Minister of Energy Dr. Chakib Khalil, who took the opportunity to tour the newly commissioned facility. We were accompanied by several officials on the tour.

Since that time, several projects have been completed on this site. The main contractor is Trinidad Offshore Fabricators Limited, which is a joint venture between a local firm WeldFarb and Chet Morrison Contractors of Louisiana. Credit for this joint venture must be given to many actors, including the exploration and production companies who have been using this facility.

These projects have resulted in considerable in-country spend on projects that would ordinarily have been spent elsewhere but charged against these same projects in our country.

The University of Chicago | 26 December 2016

Study Suggests Hydraulic Fracturing Boosts Local Economies

The first nationwide study of the comprehensive local effects of hydraulic fracturing finds that, when costs and benefits are added up, communities on average benefit from allowing it.

Credit: Getty Images.

Credit: Getty Images.

In studying the economic effects of the technology that has become critical to US oil and natural gas production, Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago, and his coauthors take into account local changes in amenities, including factors that contribute to the quality of life such as truck traffic, criminal activity, and beliefs regarding negative health effects. The researchers found such costs are outweighed by the benefits, which total USD 1,200 to USD 1,900 a year for the average household.

In the last decade, hydraulic fracturing has helped deliver lower energy prices, enhanced energy security, and lowered air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. But there have been concerns over negative health and social effects outweighing the economic benefits for local communities where such drilling takes place.

“This study makes it clear that, on net, there are benefits to local economies—which we believe is useful information for leaders in the United States and abroad who are deciding whether to allow fracking in their communities,” said coauthor Chris Knittel, the George P. Shultz Professor of Applied Economics at the Massachusetts Institute Technology Sloan School of Management and director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.

Financial Times | 30 November 2016

Shell Tries To Stop Nigeria Spill Claims Reaching English Courts

Royal Dutch Shell is seeking to block a lawsuit being brought against it in the English courts by two Nigerian communities of more than 40,000 people over oil spills in the Niger Delta.

Credit: Bloomberg.

Credit: Bloomberg.

The High Court in London is being asked to decide whether it can hear the claims lodged against the oil major and its Nigerian subsidiary relating to allegations of environmental damage caused by oil pollution.

Shell says the claims should be heard in the Nigerian courts because they involve issues under Nigerian law and the alleged damage took place in the west African country.

However, Leigh Day, the law firm acting for the claimants, argues the case should be heard in London. It says that similar cases have languished in the Nigerian justice system for years.

The hearing is being closely watched because it could potentially open the floodgates to more global companies being sued in the English courts.

The first claim is being brought on behalf of 2,335 people from the Bille kingdom, mostly fishermen who claim their environment has been devastated by oil spills over the past 5 years, though pollution and sabotage has occurred over the nearly 6 decades since Shell began producing oil there. The second is on behalf of the Ogale community, which consists of about 40,000 people.

Lord Goldsmith QC, for Shell, told the High Court on 22 November that the claim concerned “a uniquely Nigerian problem” and so should be heard in Nigeria.

“We do not minimize the problems that local people have suffered from the issue of pollution,” Lord Goldsmith told the court. “The question is how to deal with that. We say it is not going to be by coming to a London court but by looking to a holistic solution in Nigeria.”

Tulsa World | 21 November 2016

Pawnee Nation Sues US Claiming Oil, Gas Well Leases on Tribal Land Were Improperly Approved

Linking recent oil and gas activity to the state’s largest earthquake, the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma has filed a lawsuit against the federal government, asking a judge to void recently approved drilling permits on tribal land and halt the issuance of new ones.

The lawsuit, filed 18 November in Tulsa federal court, claims numerous drilling permits and leases on tribal-owned lands held in trust have been improperly approved by the Interior Department, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

“In doing so, BIA and BLM also have run roughshod over Pawnee natural resource protection laws, disregarded a tribal moratorium on new oil and gas approvals, and violated the agencies’ trust responsibilities to the Pawnee,” the lawsuit alleges in its complaint.

The lawsuit was filed by the tribe’s Attorney General Don Mason on behalf of the tribe and Pawnee Nation member Walter R. Echo-Hawk in the US District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma based in Tulsa.

Troutman Sanders via Mondaq | 10 November 2016

EPA Releases Environmental Justice 2020 Action Agenda

EPA has released “EJ 2020 Action Agenda,” its action plan for addressing environmental justice (EJ) for 2016 through 2020. The agenda builds on the foundation established in its last EJ strategic plan, Plan EJ 2014, which laid the groundwork of EJ practices with guidance and tools to integrate EJ in EPA’s programs and policies. The agenda is framed by three overarching goals with priority areas and examples of key actions for each goal, as well as measures to evaluate progress.

The first goal is to deepen EJ practice within EPA programs to improve the health and environment of overburdened communities.

The second goal is to work with partners to expand EPA’s positive impact within overburdened communities.

The final goal is to demonstrate progress on significant national environmental justice challenges.

Energy4me Named Best Outreach Program at 2016 World Oil Awards

SPE’s Energy4me program won top honors in the Best Outreach Program category at the World Oil Awards in Houston. The awards ceremony, now in its 15th year, seeks to recognize and honor the upstream industry’s top innovations and innovators.

Energy4Me's award for best outreach program.

Energy4Me’s award for best outreach program.

Also being honored by World Oil, Nathan Meehan, 2016 SPE president, received the Lifetime Achievement award. This award is bestowed on an individual who has made both significant strides and impacted the oil and gas industry throughout his or her career.

In all, awards were given out in 18 categories that encompass the full breadth of the upstream industry. Today’s innovations, many of which would have seemed far-fetched a generation ago, are enabling operators to find and produce hydrocarbons more safely, economically, and efficiently.

“I’m so very proud of the work that Energy4me accomplishes in classrooms and workshops around the world,” said Glenda Smith, SPE vice president for communications. “Under the leadership of Liz Johnson, the Energy4me team of Kim LaGreca and Zunaid Jooma delivers online educational resources to educators while helping students learn balanced information about the industry.”

Also vying for the best outreach program award were PetroChallenge at NExT, a Schlumberger company, and the VIP Consultant Program at Paradigm.

In awarding the program, the World Oil Awards said that the program has “increased awareness and, through its workshops, created opportunities for students to enter the industry. The program has contributed, by using hands-on activities, to the increased interest and passion of the students, leading them to choose engineering as their career path.”

The judges also said that Energy4me’s hands-on activities ensure that many students will be exposed to the various career paths in the industry and will contribute to increasing manpower and available human resources in the future.

Energy4me and World Oil share a commitment to oil and gas education. Each year, the World Oil Awards endows a leading university that provides education for careers in the petroleum industry, with much-needed funding to equip the next generation of innovators. Since the inception of the World Oil Awards, donations have been distributed to 32 universities as varying as the University of Houston and the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. This year’s beneficiary is the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University in Houston.

Visit Energy4Me here.

The Guardian | 2 November 2016

Expert Stresses Role of Corporate Social Responsibility in Oil, Gas Business

An oil and gas expert and chief operating officer of LEKOIL Nigeria, Leke Adedipe, has recommended corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a strategy for building profitable oil and gas business.

He said that businesses can derive a lot of benefits by initiating and executing developmental projects in their host communities.

Adedipe made this recommendation while speaking on the topic, “CSR as a Business Strategy: Social Initiatives as a Profitable Business Model” at the 2016 University of Liverpool Alumni Business and Career Fair, in Lagos.

He stated that firms that give back to their host communities are more likely to enjoy a good and mutually beneficial relationship with them. According to him, such relationships could also lead to reduced cost of operations for the firm because its assets and resources would be protected by the locals.

He said socially responsible corporate organizations stand a better chance of addressing and managing risks and opportunities associated with the nature of their business.

Reuters | 13 October 2016

Activists Disrupt Key Canada/US Oil Pipelines

Climate-change activists on 11 October disrupted the flow of millions of barrels of crude from Canada to the United States in rare, coordinated action that targeted several key pipelines simultaneously.

Activists are seen attempting to shut down an oil pipeline valve after cutting chains at a valve station for pipelines carrying crude from Canadian oils sands to US markets near Clearbrook, Minnesota. Credit: Climate Direct Action/Handout via Reuters.

Activists are seen attempting to shut down an oil pipeline valve after cutting chains at a valve station for pipelines carrying crude from Canadian oils sands to US markets near Clearbrook, Minnesota. Credit: Climate Direct Action/Handout via Reuters.

Activists in four states were arrested after they cut padlocks and chains and entered remote flow stations to turn off valves in an attempt to stop crude moving through lines that carry as much as 15% of daily US oil consumption. The group posted videos online showing the early morning raids.

Protest group Climate Direct Action said the move was in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has protested the construction of a separate USD 3.7 billion pipeline carrying oil from North Dakota to the US Gulf Coast over fears of potential damage to sacred land and water supplies.

Officials, pipeline companies and experts say the protesters ran the danger of causing environmental damage themselves by shutting down the lines. Unscheduled shutdowns can lead to a build-up of pressure and cause ruptures or leaks, they said.

The activists had studied for months how to execute the shutdowns safely, said Afrin Sopariwala, a spokeswoman for the group.

“We are acting in response to this catastrophe we are facing,” Sopariwala said, referring to global warming.

Reuters | 29 September 2016

Whiting CEO: Tribal Service Deals Could Help Dakota Pipeline Impasse

The chief executive of North Dakota’s largest oil producer, Whiting Petroleum, says the standoff over the USD 3.7 billion Dakota Access pipeline could be solved by giving economic opportunities, including supply and delivery contracts, to the Standing Rock Sioux and other Native Americans.

Thousands of protesters from all over the world have joined with the Sioux to oppose the pipeline, which would transport oil within half a mile of tribal land in North Dakota. Federal regulators temporarily blocked construction of the pipeline earlier this month under the Missouri River, mollifying opponents but irking the fossil fuel industry.

The Standing Rock Sioux say the pipeline’s construction would destroy tribal burial sites. They also worry that any future leaks would pollute their water supply.

Jim Volker, Whiting’s chief executive office (CEO), said those concerns would be best addressed through economic opportunities, including contracting with American Indian-owned firms for water hauling and other oilfield service needs across oil-producing regions.

“We as an industry like to see them provide those services,” Volker said in an interview on the sidelines of the Independent Petroleum Association of America’s Oil and Gas Investment Symposia conference in San Francisco.

“It does provide a better standard of living for them. It does provide a direct tie to the energy business and makes them and their tribal leaders more inclined to want to have more energy development.”

Reuters | 23 September 2016

US, Canada Aboriginal Tribes Form Alliance To Stop Oil Pipelines

Aboriginal tribes from Canada and the northern United States signed a treaty on 22 September to jointly fight proposals to build more pipelines to carry crude from Alberta’s oil sands, saying further development would damage the environment.

The treaty came as the politics around pipelines have become increasingly sensitive in North America, with the US Justice Department intervening to delay construction of a contentious pipeline in North Dakota.

The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion was signed by 50 aboriginal groups in North America, who also plan to oppose tanker and rail projects in both countries, they said in a statement.

Targets include projects proposed by Kinder Morgan, TransCanada, and Enbridge.

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association declined to provide immediate comment.

FuelFix | 15 September 2016

Can a Huge New Oil Field and a Famous Artesian Spring Get Along?

Executives from the Houston oil and gas exploration company Apache are driving to the tiny West Texas town of Balmorhea. There, they hope to quell fears that hydraulic fracturing operations from the company’s recently discovered Alpine High oil field won’t contaminate—or use up—the town’s famous teal-blue spring waters.

Apache announced the Permian Basin discovery early in September. It said it expected to find more than 15 billion bbl of oil and gas under its 350,000 acres in the prairie north of the Davis Mountains.

The revelation surprised the industry. It also made Balmorhea State Park fans nervous.

The park is centered around a 3.5 million-gallon pool filled and fed by the San Solomon Springs. It stays a cool 72 to 76 degrees even during the heat of a Texas summer. Park travelers say they are worried that Apache’s drilling operations could spoil the spring, contaminate the water, or just use it all up.