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EXTRACTED: Daily News Clips 3/8/23

Mark Hefflinger, Bold Alliance (Photo: Bryon Houlgrave/Des Moines Register

By Mark Hefflinger

March 8, 2023



  • Reuters: U.S. regulator orders lower pressure on Keystone pipeline system after spill

  • Living On Earth: CO2 Pipeline Safety Risks

  • Sioux City Journal: Moville landowner doesn’t want CO2 pipeline surveyors on her land

  • KFYR: Burleigh County Commission approves pipeline safety ordinance

  • Dyersville Commercial: Supervisors approve legal counsel for pipeline fight

  • KIOW: Hancock County Board to Meet with Summit Carbon Solutions

  • Associated Press: California Eyes Pipeline Construction for Capturing Carbon

  • Troy Media: Pathways Alliance injects $10 million to advance oil sands CCS pipeline

  • Santa Maria Times: Santa Barbara County planners delay decision on oil pipeline valve replacement appeals

  • Bloomberg: Williams CEO Armstrong on Natural Gas Pipelines, Storage

  • Reuters: Enbridge expected to supply more Gulf Coast LNG export facilities


  • Roll Call: Carbon capture, a federal spending target, has much to prove

  • Politico: Ohio train accident spills into permitting debate

  • Roll Call: Westerman sees bipartisan path for permitting overhaul

  • E&E News: N.Y. Project Hailed By Schumer Shows Permitting Dilemma 

  • E&E News: Sierra Club Sues FERC Over Freeport LNG Extension

  • U.S. Dept. of Justice: Court Finds Gross Negligence, Orders Oil Company to Pay United States and State of California $65 Million



  • Reuters: Chevron CEO says natural gas markets fundamentally changed by war

  • Argus Media: US NGL exporters eye firming Chinese demand in 2023

  • Guardian: Is hydrogen really a clean enough fuel to tackle the climate crisis?

  • Natural Gas Intelligence: Oxy Subsidiary Says Gulf Coast CCS Hub to Enter Service by 2026

  • Reuters: US oil output to grow by 500,000 bpd in 2023, says Occidental Petroleum exec

  • Bloomberg: Peak-Oil Fears Cast Shadow Over US Supply Outlook as Costs Climb

  • Globe and Mail: Indigenous communities downstream of Imperial Oil leak start their own water testing

  • Canadian Press: N.W.T. says lack of notice on oilsands tailings spill goes against deal with Alberta


  • Reuters: Yellen warns climate change could trigger asset value losses, harming US economy


  • The Hill: It’s up to Biden to stop a climate and environmental disaster in Alaska


Reuters: U.S. regulator orders lower pressure on Keystone pipeline system after spill

“The U.S. pipeline regulator said on Tuesday it would require TC Energy (TRP.TO) to reduce operating pressure on more than 1,000 additional miles (1,609 kilometers) of its Keystone pipeline that spilled about 13,000 barrels of oil in rural Kansas in December,” Reuters reports. “The Canadian pipeline operator completed a controlled restart of the 622,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) pipeline to Cushing, Oklahoma, on Dec. 29 last year, returning it to service after a 21-day outage following the biggest U.S oil spill in nine years. The company’s “operating, maintenance, and/or integrity management programs may be inadequate to address the repetitious pattern of failures related to the original design, manufacture, and construction of Keystone pipeline,” the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) said in its order. The amended corrective action order requires TC Energy to keep the operating pressure on the affected pipeline segment under the previously agreed upon 923 pounds per square gauge (psig) limit. In addition, operating pressure on the rest of the pipeline extension from Steele City, Nebraska to the Cushing storage hub and on the entire 1,025-mile main line from the Canadian border to refineries in Illinois, must not exceed 72% of the specified minimum yield strength (SMYS). This effectively amounts to a suspension of the special permit that PHMSA issued to TC Energy in 2007, allowing the pipeline to operate at a stress level of 80% of its SMYS, and the order requires TC Energy to review the pressure restriction monthly. The pressure reductions will lower crude flow rates on the entire Keystone system, which could affect price differentials between U.S. and Canadian crude, Credit Suisse analyst Andrew Kuske said in a note. TC Energy will also be required to submit an independently conducted root cause failure analysis, followed by a remedial work plan and proposed measures to mitigate consequences of a failure, according to the order… “The PHMSA said it issued the order without a hearing considering various factors that include “the increasing severity of spills in recent years” and “the possibility of future failures,” while its investigation into the cause of the December spill was ongoing.

Living On Earth: CO2 Pipeline Safety Risks

“Proponents of carbon capture and storage hope to expand a network of pipelines that transport carbon dioxide from source to sink so that it can’t get into the atmosphere to warm the planet. But these pipelines carry high-pressure CO2 that can be dangerous, even lethal. Bill Caram, the executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, explains these safety concerns,” Living On Earth reports. “…Pipelines can also be a source of spills for everything from oil and natural gas to carbon dioxide from carbon capture and storage technology. Carbon capture and storage has long been a hope of fossil fuel companies and carbon heavy industries like power plants and factories. It allows industry to emit carbon dioxide, business as usual, and safely store it below ground where it can’t warm the planet as a greenhouse gas. Proponents see carbon capture and storage as another tool in the fight against climate change but critics say it’s a relatively new technology with a lot of unknowns. And it’s expensive though tax incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act and the bipartisan Infrastructure Bill could make carbon capture and storage more economically feasible. Another concern is safety, especially when it comes to pipelines transporting carbon dioxide from where it is produced to where it will be stored. For more I’m joined now by Bill Caram, the executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust. Welcome to Living on Earth, Bill!.. “So we have pretty good models and formulas to figure out the potential impact radius, the area around the pipeline that would be impacted by a failure, for hydrocarbon pipelines, for oil and gas pipelines. Because CO2 is heavier than air and it doesn’t ignite, it can move kind of long distances away from the pipeline in kind of unpredictable ways at these dangerous and lethal concentrations. And so how do we figure out which pipelines have the potential to impact a community? There’s a lot of work to be done in this area. We don’t have a model that we can just point to and say, “Use that model, run it on your whole pipeline and see where it could impact communities.” There’s a lot of R&D being done on that right now but it’s an unanswered question of the best way to do it. And this is important because once an area of a pipeline is determined to have the ability to impact a community, the operator has higher safety standards for that section of pipeline. More inspections, you know, higher quality of pipe. And so if we’re not measuring that properly, we can have long sections of pipe that might impact a community that aren’t being inspected as often as they should and aren’t built to the high specifications they should. It’s definitely one of those things that keeps me up at night about these new CO2 pipelines.”

Sioux City Journal: Moville landowner doesn’t want CO2 pipeline surveyors on her land
Nick Hytrek, 3/7/23

“Vicki Hulse doesn’t remember ever receiving a certified letter from a pipeline company informing her it planned to survey her land, much less denying acceptance of it,” the Sioux City Journal reports. “Had she received those letters, Hulse testified Tuesday, she still wouldn’t have let survey crews onto the land she and her husband, William, own north of Moville, Iowa, and in the route of Navigator Heartland Greenway’s proposed liquid carbon dioxide pipeline. “I just feel that against my property rights as an owner they can just come on my property whenever they want against my will. … I don’t think that’s right,” Hulse said. After being twice denied entry to the land, which lies in the pipeline’s proposed route, last summer, Navigator sued the Hulses in August to get a temporary injunction allowing survey crews to enter the property. The couple responded with a counterclaim that Iowa’s laws giving pipeline companies the right of entry to private land to survey and examine it are unconstitutional. District Judge Roger Sailer in October denied Navigator’s request for the temporary injunction. After a quick one-day trial Tuesday in Woodbury County District Court, he’ll now decide whether to grant the company’s request for a permanent injunction and also rule on the constitutionality of the pipeline laws… “Hulse’s attorney, Brian Jorde, challenged Rogers’ recollection of the conversation in light of Hulse’s testimony that she’d never received notification about the surveys. “How can someone reject a letter that they never received?” Jorde asked… “After concluding evidence Tuesday, Sailer gave Navigator five days to file additional post-trial briefs and Hulses five additional days after Navigator’s deadline. He’ll review the case and issue a ruling as quickly as possible after that, he said. Navigator has filed similar lawsuits in Clay and Butler counties against other landowners who have denied access to their property. Those landowners also have filed constitutional challenges similar to the Hulses’. The Clay County case is scheduled for trial in April. The Butler County cases are scheduled to go to trial in May.”

KFYR: Burleigh County Commission approves pipeline safety ordinance
Bella Kraft, 3/7/23

“The Burleigh County Commission unanimously approved a pipeline health and safety ordinance on Monday evening,” KFYR reports. “The ordinance is aimed at creating safety for residents around the proposed Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline which is slated to be constructed five miles north of Bismarck. The safety ordinance would require companies building hazardous liquid pipelines to submit an emergency plan to local officials in case of a leak or disaster. The commission is also considering another ordinance that would set requirements for how close a pipeline could be to schools, homes and animal feedlots. “I don’t think we should wait on acting on this ordinance. We could sit and wait for a while for something else to happen. I don’t think we need to wait. I don’t think we should wait. I think we need to get this before the PSC gets too far down the trail,” said Burleigh County Commissioner Jerry Woodcox.”

Dyersville Commercial: Supervisors approve legal counsel for pipeline fight
Mike Putz, 3/7/23

“The Delaware County Board of Supervisors added a tool to its arsenal as it fights a proposed carbon capture pipeline planned for parts of Delaware County. And now, they won’t be fighting alone,” the Dyersville Commercial reports. “The Board approved a petition to intervene at its Feb. 27 meeting with Timothy Whipple, an attorney with Ahlers and Cooney, P.C… “Helmrichs emphasized the action taken by the Board is not an ordinance, but it does give supervisors some authority… “Helmrichs said joining the other counties makes sense for Delaware County. “The counties are similar in size and Navigator would like to come through all five. With the counties working together, we can make better use of our money by pooling it. We have similar things in our land use plans and similar things in our comprehensive plans. We aren’t all identical, but there are a lot of things that are the same.” “…The supervisors’ decision to seek a petition to intervene instead of passing an ordinance to stop the pipeline comes several weeks after Madlom attended a meeting of county supervisors in Des Moines. Shelby County and Story County have both adopted ordinances and both are being sued by carbon capture pipeline companies as a result. At a work session with county residents following that conference, Madlom said he was advised against an ordinance, saying, “speaking with other supervisors from Shelby County, they would like to see other counties pursue other avenues instead of a lawsuit.” “…In addition to attending IUB meetings, Whipple will provide additional guidance as the county moves forward in its pipeline fight, should it choose to proceed with an ordinance in the future.”

KIOW: Hancock County Board to Meet with Summit Carbon Solutions
AJ Taylor, 3/2/23

“The Hancock County Board of Supervisors will meet on Monday at 9am,” KIOW reports. “…The supervisors are expected to discuss with TurnKey Logistics, Summit Carbon Solutions and Ellingson Company, about crossing of Hancock County drainage districts and drainage district tiles. This is in preparation for the possible construction of the pipeline.”

Associated Press: California Eyes Pipeline Construction for Capturing Carbon

“In its latest ambitious roadmap to tackle climate change, California relies on capturing carbon out of the air and storing it deep underground on a scale that’s not yet been seen in the United States,” the Associated Press reports. “The plan — advanced by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration — comes just as the Biden administration has boosted incentives for carbon capture projects in an effort to spur more development nationwide… “He directed the powerful California Air Resources Board to drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels and build massive amounts of carbon dioxide capture and storage. To achieve its climate goals, California must rapidly transform an economy that’s larger than most nations, but fierce opposition to carbon capture from environmental groups and concerns about how to safely transport the gas may delay progress — practical and political obstacles the Democratic-led Legislature must now navigate. Last year, the California state legislature passed a law that says no carbon dioxide may flow through new pipelines until the federal government finishes writing stronger safety regulations, a process that could take years. As a potential backup, the law directed the California Natural Resources Agency to write its own pipeline standards for lawmakers to consider, a report now that is weeks overdue… “We do not expect to see [carbon capture and storage] happen at a large scale unless we are able to address that pipeline issue,” Rajinder Sahota, deputy executive officer for climate change and research of the air board, told AP. State Sen. Anna Caballero, who authored the carbon capture legislation, told AP the state’s goal will be to create a safety framework that’s even more robust than what the federal government will develop. But she downplayed any urgent need to move forward with pipeline rules, telling AP smaller projects that don’t require movement over long distances can start in the meantime… “If the pipeline moratorium slows projects for three or four years, Brown told AP, “why would you put your money into those projects in California when you can do it in Texas or Louisiana or somewhere else?'”

Troy Media: Pathways Alliance injects $10 million to advance oil sands CCS pipeline
Deborah Jaremko, 3/7/23

“Canada’s oil sands producers have taken a $10 million step to advance building one of the world’s largest carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects,” Troy Media reports. “Engineering firm Wood will now begin design work on the 400-km pipeline to be the project’s backbone, connecting an initial 14 oil sands facilities to a storage hub in northern Alberta. The project, being developed by the Pathways Alliance, is expected to remove up to 12 million tonnes of emissions annually by 2030, at a cost of $16.5 billion. Based in Scotland with a long history in Canada’s oil sands, Wood has designed and managed more than 600,000 kilometres of pipelines around the world, the company says… “Early engagement is underway with more than 20 Indigenous communities along the proposed pipeline route. Detailed engineering on the storage hub is progressing in a carbon sequestration evaluation agreement with the Government of Alberta. Pathways plans to file its regulatory application for the CCS pipeline before the end of this year.”

Santa Maria Times: Santa Barbara County planners delay decision on oil pipeline valve replacement appeals
Mike Hodgson, 3/7/23

“A decision on three appeals of a permit to install 16 new valves on two oil pipelines, one along the Gaviota Coast and the other from there into Los Padres National Forest en route to Kern County, was put off by a split vote of the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission last week,” the Santa Maria Times reports. “The 3-2 decision directed the Planning and Development Department staff to figure out the extent of additional environmental analysis that might be needed to determine the impacts of the valve replacement work, restarting the flow of crude oil through the pipeline and potential pipe ruptures and spills… “Staff was directed to bring the report to the commission at its April 26 meeting — 25 days after the deadline set by Assembly Bill 864 to install the “best available technology” to reduce the amount of oil released in a spill on existing pipelines in the Coastal Zone. AB 864 was drafted in response to the May 19, 2015, rupture in the Gaviota Coast pipeline, designated Line 901, near Highway 101 that released more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil. The pipelines have been shut down since the 2015 incident. The oil flowed down a drainage culvert to the Pacific Ocean just west of Gaviota State Park, affecting 25 miles of coastline, according to a staff report. To comply with AB 864, Plains Pipeline LP sought and received a permit to install 16 new valves at various points along Line 901 and Line 903 to halt a reverse oil flow. That decision was appealed by the Tautrim family, Gaviota Coast Conservancy and GreyFox LLC. “There is no more dangerous facility in the county of Santa Barbara than the oil facility we’re dealing with,” Barry Cappello, representing the Tautrim family, who said he was Santa Barbara city attorney during the 1969 offshore oil spill, told the Times.

Bloomberg: Williams CEO Armstrong on Natural Gas Pipelines, Storage

“Williams President and CEO Alan Armstrong says he is hopeful on permitting reform and the company is investing in storage. He also discusses natural gas pipelines and clean water act, in an interview with Bloomberg’s Alix Steel at the CERAWeek conference in Houston,” Bloomberg reports. 

Reuters: Enbridge expected to supply more Gulf Coast LNG export facilities

“Energy infrastructure company Enbridge Inc is expected to supply two to three more liquefied natural gas export facilities throughout the U.S. Gulf Coast “before too long,” up from the four it currently supplies, Chief Executive Greg Ebel told Reuters. “Ebel added that the Canadian pipeline operator is focused on export opportunities. Enbridge previously acquired the Moda Ingleside Energy Center, a major crude export terminal that connects the prolific Permian and Eagle Ford shale oil basins to international markets. Enbridge will continue to look at opportunities to develop in that region, Ebel told Reuters on the sidelines of an energy conference in Houston.”


Roll Call: Carbon capture, a federal spending target, has much to prove
Benjamin J. Hulac, 3/6/23

“As part of its economic recovery plan, the Obama administration in 2009 tried to invigorate a nascent form of technology known as “carbon capture and storage,” or CCS,” Roll Call reports. “The Energy Department invested $1.1 billion in 11 projects — eight coal facilities and three industrial sites — to show how the technology could trap and hold carbon dioxide emissions from existing plants. Seven of the eight projects were never built. Two of the three industrial locations began operating. And the CCS coal facility that did come online closed down in 2020. All told, the department spent about $300 million more than planned on projects that were never built, according to a Government Accountability Office review… “Now, more than a decade after it tried to germinate a domestic fleet of power plants and industrial facilities outfitted with carbon-trapping hardware, the U.S. is setting aside billions of dollars to spur a new wave of the technology that leading climate scientists say is necessary but remains costly, rare and unproven at scale… “For decades, carbon capture has been used primarily in what is known as “enhanced oil recovery,” a technique used to get more fossil energy out of the ground by injecting pressurized carbon dioxide beneath. “That’s not a climate solution because it produces more oil,” Rissman told Roll Call. Instead, carbon capture can be effective in trapping emissions from industrial processes, like the making of cement or steel… “Fossil fuel companies use carbon capture “as a way to avoid hard conversations about phasing out fossil fuels or actual emissions reductions,” Collin Rees, U.S. program manager at Oil Change International, a climate-action advocacy group, told Roll Call. “The subtext is that it can allow business as usual, that it can allow us to not phase out fossil fuels by 2030,” Rees told Roll Call, “because CCS will save the day.” Emails the House Oversight and Accountability Committee obtained last year during its inquiry into climate disinformation by large oil companies show industry executives are wary of the public sense that carbon capture efforts are meant to extend the lifespan of fossil assets. “We want to be careful to not talk about CCUS as prolonging the life of oil, gas or fossil fuels writ large,” Marnie Funk, an adviser in Shell’s Washington, D.C., office wrote colleagues in 2019, when asked for advice before a meeting with environmentalists. “We want to proceed carefully in any conversation about expanding 45Q credits or getting [the] government to pay for CCUS.”

Politico: Ohio train accident spills into permitting debate

“Last month’s toxic train derailment is hardening the divide between Democrats and Republicans over how to overhaul the nation’s energy permitting process,” Politico reports. “Democrats see the accident as a warning sign that easing requirements and speeding up environmental reviews could lead to future disasters. Republicans take it as proof that the U.S. needs to build more energy infrastructure like pipelines to keep more chemicals, oil and natural gas off the roads and rails… “The divide: Democrats argue the Ohio accident highlights the need for strict environmental and safety regulations. “You get things like [East Palestine] when you take shortcuts,” said Democratic Rep. Jared Huffman of California. Republicans, on the other hand, say the derailment proves how critical it is to build more energy infrastructure. They have made clear that they will only support a permitting overhaul that includes relaxed pipeline reviews. “I think one of the points to be made is you’re carrying this liquid in the pipeline underground, it can’t derail,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a top Republican from West Virginia, said in a recent hearing. “It’s safer. There’s no question about that.” (While pipelines can’t derail, it’s worth noting they come with their own safety concerns.)”

Roll Call: Westerman sees bipartisan path for permitting overhaul
David Jordan, 3/6/23

“House Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., remains optimistic that there will be bipartisan support for a permitting overhaul this Congress, legislation he said is necessary to modernize the nation’s bedrock environmental regulations,” Roll Call reports. “…However, in an interview with CQ Roll Call, he noted that White House officials and some Democratic members of the committee have voiced a willingness to support changes to the permitting system in some form. “People might put on a facade about wanting to stand up and protect the foundational environmental laws, but everybody knows that things aren’t happening,” Westerman told Roll Call. “We’re not building the decarbonizing infrastructure that they want, and we’re causing energy prices to go higher because of the attack on fossil fuels, so there is a pathway to get to a better place.” “… While some members — most notably ranking member Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz. — said the changes Westerman supports would weaken protections, Westerman told Roll Call the system would still guarantee robust environmental reviews… “Instead, he told Roll Call a focus on a wider range of technologies — including nuclear, carbon sequestration or wood pellets produced from a sustainable forest — could help produce energy that reduces emissions, remains affordable and can be utilized in the developing world. He also spoke enthusiastically about the role that biochar, a technique of heating biomass to create a form of carbon charcoal that can be used to enrich soil, could have as a carbon capture and sequestration technology.”

E&E News: N.Y. Project Hailed By Schumer Shows Permitting Dilemma 
Kelsey Brugger, 3/7/23

“Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer cheered the replacement of a gas-fired power plant with renewable energy infrastructure Friday in an area here known as ‘Asthma Alley’ as part of the clean energy transition and the Democrats’ success in promoting environmental justice,” E&E News reports. “But Schumer (D-N.Y.) did not address permitting reform legislation opposed by environmental justice advocates that the Biden administration argues is necessary to build out necessary infrastructure to transmit renewable energy around the country. That’s at the heart of divisions within the Democratic Party on whether to change how agencies approve both renewable and fossil fuel energy infrastructure. Schumer celebrated that Equinor and BP bought NRG Energy’s Astoria Gas Turbines, a so-called peaker power plant used when energy demand is high that Queens residents and activists have been trying to shut down.”

E&E News: Sierra Club Sues FERC Over Freeport LNG Extension
Catherine Morehouse, 3/7/23

“The Sierra Club on Monday filed a lawsuit against FERC for extending the construction deadline for Freeport LNG, which was forced to shut down last year following an explosion at the export plant,” E&E News reports. “Sierra Club filed the suit with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit after FERC rejected the environmental group’s challenge last month. The extension specifically relates to the construction timeline for a fourth natural gas liquefaction unit that would increase its export capacity to more than 20 million tons per annum of natural gas per day. Sierra Club had argued that extending the timeline should require additional review under the National Environmental Policy Act, arguing that the explosion at the plant, among other things, constitute a change big enough to require additional review. But FERC argued that such an analysis is only necessary when the agency makes ‘substantial changes’ to the proposal or circumstances change in some way that could alter the project’s impact on the environment. ‘Neither is the case here,’ FERC wrote in rejecting the environmental group’s petition.”

U.S. Dept. of Justice: Court Finds Gross Negligence, Orders Oil Company to Pay United States and State of California $65 Million

“On March 2, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California entered final judgment against HVI Cat Canyon Inc., formerly known as Greka Oil & Gas Inc., in a civil suit brought jointly by the United States, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Coast Guard, and by the State of California on behalf of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Central Coast Region. The United States and California filed the suit alleging that HVI Cat Canyon, which previously owned and operated multiple oil and gas production facilities in Santa Barbara County, California, was liable for: 12 oil spills into waters of the United States in violation of the Clean Water Act; 17 oil spills into waters of the state in violation of state law; Reimbursement of the federal and state governments’ costs of cleaning up the oil spills; Natural resource damages under state law for harm to fish, plant, bird, or animal life and habitat; and Numerous violations of federal Oil Pollution Prevention Regulations identified in 16 EPA inspections across 11 facilities… “The court found that the 12 spills into waters of the United States, which occurred from 2005 through 2010, resulted from HVI Cat Canyon’s gross negligence… “The court also ruled that HVI Cat Canyon had committed a total of 60 violations of the federal regulations at 11 facilities for a total of 86,842 days of violation. Ultimately the court held HVI Cat Canyon liable to the United States for $40 million in civil penalties for the spills, $15 million in civil penalties for the violations of federal regulations, and $2.5 million in cleanup costs. The court also held HVI Cat Canyon liable to California for $7.7 million in civil penalties and nearly $200,000 in natural resource damages and cleanup costs.”


Jonathan Thompson, 3/6/23

“Even from a distance it’s clear that an oil and gas well called “State Senate #2” in New Mexico has seen better days. The pumpjack sits idle, tumbleweeds surround the once-moving parts, and the earth smells of crude saturating the soil,” Writers on the Range reports. “According to state records, this well last produced oil in 2007, and even then it was at a rate of about 25 to 50 barrels per year. Though the state inexplicably lists the well’s status as “active,” it’s not. And the listed owner is a company that no longer exists in any solvent form. In other words, State Senate #2 meets the criteria for an “orphaned” oil and gas well. It’s just one of more than a million such wells nationwide, which are a growing environmental threat resulting from decades of policy failure by state and federal regulators. “Orphaned” is an inaccurate term. The parent companies that originally drilled and profited from these wells mostly didn’t die—they fled. Once the wells stopped making money, they were sold to smaller, less solvent companies that then vanished into a haze of bankruptcy. The unplugged wells were left to ooze methane and other nasty stuff with no one around to clean it up. It’s abandonment, plain and simple… “Court records show the company’s reclamation bonds with the Navajo Nation and federal government add up to less than $130,000, or about $2,500 per well. That means federal taxpayers — you and me — are on the hook for the remaining $3.7 million and change. And that’s just for one company’s wells in one location… “The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act authorized $4.7 billion in federal funds for cleaning up abandoned oil and gas wells. On the one hand, it’s necessary to end this massive threat to the climate, the environment and public health. But the truth is that it’s also a corporate bailout.”


Reuters: Chevron CEO says natural gas markets fundamentally changed by war

“The global natural gas market has been more fundamentally changed for the long term than the oil market by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Chevron Corp Chief Executive Mike Wirth said on Monday,” Reuters reports. “…Europe has turned away from dependence on Russian gas supplies and has no intention of changing that in the future, Wirth said in remarks at the CERAWeek energy conference. An attack that disabled the Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Europe means changes would be long-lasting, he added. “Gas markets, I think, are structurally changed for the longest,” Wirth said… “Wirth said maintaining secure and affordable supplies while at the same time managing the energy transition to the low-carbon industry of the future was “one of the greatest challenges of all time.” A disorderly energy transition could be “painful and chaotic”, Wirth said. “We have to be very careful about turning system A off prematurely and depending on a system that doesn’t yet exist and hasn’t been proven,” he said.

Argus Media: US NGL exporters eye firming Chinese demand in 2023
Abby Downing-Beaver, 3/7/23

“US midstream companies expect natural gas liquid (NGL) exports to rise this year as China’s economy reopens, increasing demand for propane and ethane as a petrochemical feedstock,” Argus Media reports. “The three main midstream firms that export propane, butane and ethane — Enterprise Products, Targa Resources and Energy Transfer — are hopeful of Chinese import demand growth after the country relaxed its Covid-19 restrictions in the fourth quarter last year. This should in turn support downstream petrochemical demand, boosting the need for propane and ethane imports for China’s growing fleet of propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plants and ethylene crackers. At least five new PDH units in China are scheduled to come on line this year, according to Houston-based Enterprise. This could be as high as 12 new plants requiring 9mn t/yr of propane demand, although if they all came on stream they would be unlikely to operate at capacity, according to Argus Consulting.”

Guardian: Is hydrogen really a clean enough fuel to tackle the climate crisis?
Nina Lakhani, 3/7/23

“…Why all the hype about hydrogen?” the Guardian reports. “The short answer is that the fossil fuel industry sees hydrogen as a way to keep on drilling and building new infrastructure, and Friends of the Earth has tracked how it has successfully deployed its PR and lobbying machines over recent years to get policymakers thinking that hydrogen is a catch-all climate solution. Research by climate scientists (without fossil fuel links) has debunked industry claims that hydrogen should be a major player in our decarbonised future, though hydrogen extracted from water (using renewable energy sources) could – and should – play an important role in replacing the dirtiest hydrogen currently extracted from fossil fuels… “Extracting hydrogen is energy intensive, so the source and how it’s done both matter. Currently, about 96% of the world’s hydrogen comes from coal (brown) and gas (grey), with the rest created from nuclear (pink) and renewable sources like hydro, wind and solar. Production of both grey and brown hydrogen release carbon dioxide (CO2) and unburnt fugitive methane into the atmosphere. This super-polluting hydrogen is what’s currently used as the chemical base for synthetic nitrogen fertilisers, plastics and steel among other industries. Blue hydrogen is what the fossil fuel industry is most invested in, as it still comes from gas but ostensibly the CO2 would be captured and stored underground. The industry claims to have the technology to capture 80-90% of CO2, but in reality, it’s closer to 12% when every stage of the energy-intensive process is evaluated, according to a peer-reviewed study by scientists at Cornell University published in 2021… “Green hydrogen is extracted from water by electrolysis – using electricity generated by renewable energy sources (wind, solar, hydro). Climate experts (without links to fossil fuels) say green hydrogen can only be green if new renewable sources are constructed to power hydrogen production – rather than drawing on the current grid and questionable carbon accounting schemes. The industry disagrees: “Strict additionality rules requiring electrolytic hydrogen to be powered by new renewable energy is not practical, especially in the early years, and will severely limit the development of hydrogen projects,” BP America told Guardian. “There may be some small role in truly green hydrogen in a decarbonised future, but this is largely a marketing creation by the oil and gas industry that has been hugely overhyped,” Robert Howarth, professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University, a co-author of the paper on blue hydrogen, told Guardian.

Natural Gas Intelligence: Oxy Subsidiary Says Gulf Coast CCS Hub to Enter Service by 2026

“Occidental Petroleum Corp. subsidiary 1PointFive has leased more than 55,000 acres along the Texas coast to develop a carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) hub, management said Thursday (March 2),” Natural Gas Intelligence reports. “The Bluebonnet Hub would be sited in Chambers, Liberty and Jefferson counties southeast of Houston. The hub as designed would boast capacity to hold about 1.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), 1PointFive said. Bluebonnet, which is expected to be operational by 2026, would capture CO2 from nearby refining, petrochemical and manufacturing facilities. The CO2 would then be stored underground in saline formations that are not associated with oil and gas production… “In addition, 1PointFive and a subsidiary of Enterprise Products Partners LP are advancing a CO2 transportation solution to gather CO2 from regional emitters and deliver it to the hub… “The company is advancing multiple CCS efforts through its Oxy Low Carbon Ventures business. Projects include a direct air capture facility in the Permian Basin that is slated to enter commercial operation by mid-2025. It also has a slew of potential CCS hubs proposed for the Gulf Coast and Midcontinent. Oxy also is working with Energy Transfer LP on a CO2 pipeline network connecting point source emitters in the Lake Charles, LA, area with Oxy’s Magnolia sequestration site in Allen Parish, CEO Vicki Hollub said during Oxy’s latest earnings call.”

Reuters: US oil output to grow by 500,000 bpd in 2023, says Occidental Petroleum exec

“U.S. oil production will grow by about 500,000 barrels per day this year, with 80% or 90% of that coming from the Permian basin, Frederick Forthuber, president of Oxy Energy Services at Occidental Petroleum Corp said on Tuesday at the CERAWeek conference in Houston,” Reuters reports. “Oil output growth in the U.S. has moderated, and is anticipated to remain slower as companies have shifted their focus to investor returns and faced headwinds such as inflation and supply chain constraints…”

Bloomberg: Peak-Oil Fears Cast Shadow Over US Supply Outlook as Costs Climb
Devika Krishna Kumar and Mitchell Ferman, 3/7/23

“The specter of peak oil that haunted global energy markets during the first decade of the 21st century is once again rearing its head,” Bloomberg reports. “Major US oil producers are warning that production from one of the fastest growing sources of supply appears likely to top out by the end of the decade. ConocoPhillips and Pioneer Natural Resources Co. are among those saying the American shale-oil juggernaut soon will be a spent force as the best drilling targets are exhausted and financing new wells gets more difficult. “You see the plateau on the horizon,” ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Officer Ryan Lance said during a panel discussion at the CERAWeek by S&P Global conference in Houston on Tuesday. Once US crude production peaks around 2030, it’ll plateau for a time before commencing a decline, he added. Government and private-sector researchers have been cutting forecasts for 2023 US oil-supply growth in the face of surging cost inflation, labor shortages and investor demands that more cash be diverted from drilling to dividends and buybacks. Although output in the world’s biggest economy is set to continue rising for a least a few more years, the zenith is fast approaching, executives and analysts said. “I wish we could get world leaders to realize that we need hydrocarbons for another 50 years,” said Pioneer CEO Scott Sheffield, who expects US production to peak in five or six years.”

Globe and Mail: Indigenous communities downstream of Imperial Oil leak start their own water testing

“The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation in Alberta, which is directly downstream from the Kearl oil sands, only learned of leaking from the site in the wake of a 5.3-million litre spill from a drainage pond on the same site last month,” the Globe and Mail reports. “Slave River flowing through Fort Smith, a small town that straddles the Alberta-Northwest Territories boundary, is being tested for contamination from toxic water seepage at an oil sands project 500 kilometres away. Imperial Oil Resources Ltd. IMO-T, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and the Alberta government all insist no contaminated water has entered any waterways, and therefore would not have travelled to their northern neighbours, but trust within the territory is running low. The Fort Smith Métis Council has taken matters into its own hands. Last week it began testing the Slave River for the arsenic, dissolved metals and hydrocarbons that have been leaking onto Crown lands since May from the Kearl oil sands project, owned by Imperial Oil. Testing has since widened to the Salt, Taltson and Little Buffalo rivers. The environmental co-ordinator for the Fort Smith Métis Council, Jon McDonald, told the Globe and Mail that testing equipment has been set up near the town’s boat launch, and that results would be shared directly with the community and the territory’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources… “It’s sad, because our quality of life relies on the river,” Mr. McDonald told the Globe and Mail.

Canadian Press: N.W.T. says lack of notice on oilsands tailings spill goes against deal with Alberta

“Alberta didn’t live up to the terms of a deal it has with the Northwest Territories to inform it about threats to its shared watershed after two major oilsands tailings spills, the territory’s environment minister said Friday,” the Canadian Press reports. “Shane Thompson told CP the lack of communication isn’t encouraging as Alberta and the federal government work out the terms under which tailings will be treated and released into the Athabasca River. “The bilateral agreement says Alberta is supposed to advise us with any ecological changes that happen and they didn’t do that,” he told CP. “This event underlines our position. The government of the N.W.T. will not support the release of tailings unless rigorous science shows how to do it. We also need to see the science.” Employees at Imperial Oil’s Kearl first reported seepage from a tailings pond last May to the Alberta Energy Regulator. A second release of at least 5.3 million litres of water was reported in early February from a storage pond… “Thompson told CP his government was never officially notified about the spill, despite the 2015 legally binding Mackenzie Basin Bilateral Water Management agreement with Alberta. That agreement emphasizes several times the importance of mutual and prompt notification of changes on the watershed, including during an emergency… “Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault told CP he is deeply concerned about the reports about the Kearl mine tailings ponds. He told CP his first thoughts are for the health and well-being of families in Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and other affected communities. “I have reached out to both Chief (Allan) Adam from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation as well as my counterpart in Alberta, Minister Sonya Savage, to get to the bottom of the situation from their perspectives and offer the unwavering support of the federal government,” Guilbeault said in a statement.”


Reuters: Yellen warns climate change could trigger asset value losses, harming US economy
Andrea Shalal, 3/7/23

“Climate change is already having a major economic and financial impact on the United States and may trigger asset value losses in coming years that could cascade through the U.S. financial system, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will warn on Tuesday,” Reuters reports. “Yellen will tell a new advisory board of academics, private sector experts and non-profits there has been a five-fold increase in the annual number of billion-dollar disasters over the past five years, compared to the 1980s, even after taking into account inflation. “As climate change intensifies, natural disasters and warming temperatures can lead to declines in asset values that could cascade through the financial system. And a delayed and disorderly transition to a net-zero economy can lead to shocks to the financial system as well,” she said in remarks prepared for delivery at the advisory board’s first meeting… “Yellen said the new Climate-related Financial Risk Advisory Committee, set up last October by the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), would boost U.S. efforts to mitigate the risks that climate change poses to financial stability… “The meeting comes amid a slew of new regulations on climate-related risk management issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC)and the Federal Reserve after FSOC, a top U.S. regulatory panel, first identified climate change as an “emerging threat” to U.S. financial stability in October 2021. The Federal Insurance Office has also issued a proposal to collect data from insurers to assess climate risk, and the Fed in January said it would conduct a pilot climate scenario analysis to study the bank’s climate risk-management practices. And in April the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is due to release a new rule on companies’ climate-related disclosures.”


The Hill: It’s up to Biden to stop a climate and environmental disaster in Alaska
Ben Jealous was named the seventh executive director of the Sierra Club in November 2022, 3/7/23

“No president has accomplished as much in the fight to stop the climate crisis as Joe Biden. But the president is facing one of the most consequential choices of his administration: Keep the country on track to achieve his administration’s ambitious climate goals, or endorse the largest oil and gas project on federal lands ever,” Ben Jealous writes for The Hill. “It may have an innocuous name — Willow — but that gentle-sounding title is a poor effort to dress up ConocoPhillips’ massive oil and gas drilling proposal on Alaska’s North Slope. If President Biden allows them to move forward, it could have long-term consequences for the lands, wildlife and communities not just of Alaska, but worldwide. That’s because ConocoPhillips’ proposed drilling operation would be one of the single largest sources of carbon pollution in the world. Over its lifespan, Willow could emit nearly 300 million metric tons of carbon pollution into the atmosphere. That’s equivalent to operating 76 coal-fired power plants — one-third of all the coal plants currently in the U.S. Some are calling it a “carbon bomb,” and we’re dangerously close to it going off… “Willow is a climate disaster waiting to happen. It is irreconcilable with the climate goals we need to meet to take on climate change, and allowing it would do irreversible damage to this treasured landscape. President Biden can be a climate hero and prioritize climate action, environmental justice, and a transition to a clean energy future, or he can lock us into the economy and energy of the past. We need him to make the right choice. We need him to say no to Conoco and stop Willow.”

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