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Oil, gas and fracking - headlines

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Study raises new concern about earthquakes and fracking fluids

Sharon Begley, Reuters
Powerful earthquakes thousands of miles away can trigger swarms of minor quakes near wastewater-injection wells like those used in oil and gas recovery, scientists reported on Thursday, sometimes followed months later by quakes big enough to destroy buildings.

The discovery, published in the journal Science by one of the world's leading seismology labs, threatens to make hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," which involves injecting fluid deep underground, even more controversial.

It comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducts a study of the effects of fracking, particularly the disposal of wastewater, which could form the basis of new regulations on oil and gas drilling...
(12 July 2013)


OPEC Output Drops 1.2 Percent on Libya-Led Disruptions, IEA Says

Nayla Razzouk, Bloomberg
OPEC crude oil production in June dropped by 370,000 barrels a day, or 1.2 percent, mainly because of worsening supply disruptions in Libya, Nigeria and Iraq, according to the International Energy Agency.

The 12 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped 30.61 million barrels a day last month compared with 30.98 million barrels in May, the Paris-based IEA said today in its monthly oil-market report. That level still exceeds a target of 30 million that the group reaffirmed at its last meeting on May 31...
(11 July 2013)


Emerging nations to drive oil demand to a high, says IEA

AFP, The Daily Telegraph
Raising its demand forecast this year because of unseasonally cold weather, the IEA also signalled that in 2014 emerging economies will drive demand to a record 92m barrels a day.

The agency said improving prospects for global economic growth would pull demand, despite increasing efficiency in energy use in advanced countries.

But the overall tone of the IEA monthly report suggested that the oil market is heading into a sea of uncertainty, partly because oil production in the United States is "set to grow strongly"...
(11 July 2013)


The Issue is Trust, Not Pipelines vs. Railways

Tina Casey, Triple Pundit
Dozens of people are still missing in the aftermath of last weekend’s oil tank rail car disaster in Canada, but advocates of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline have already jumped on the tragic loss of life to advance their case for pipeline vs railway transportation.

In terms of corporate social responsibility and crisis response, we’re thinking that kind of utilitarian reaction to a horrible tragedy will do more harm than good to the oil industry overall, though.

There are two kinds of pitfalls here. First, in drawing more attention to fuel transportation statistics, Keystone advocates are also drawing more attention to the the fact that the global fossil fuel market is intensifying. That is putting increasing pressure on transportation routes, which necessarily results in at least some degree of increased risk to communities along those routes.

Second, Keystone advocates are in danger of raising more doubts about pipeline safety than they alleviate. Regardless of what picture the pipeline vs. railway statistics paint, pipelines are still part of an ongoing “crumbling infrastructure” conversation that will only intensify as the nation’s network of pipelines gets older.

With that in mind, let’s see exactly what points the Keystone advocates are trying to make…
(11 July 2013)


Unnatural Gas: How Government Made Fracking Profitable (and Left Renewables Behind)

J. Mijin Cha, Dissent Magazine
In his much-anticipated speech on climate change, President Obama proposed smart, modest policies that would help decrease greenhouse gas emissions through support for renewable energy development and increased energy efficiency measures, prepare the country for the climate change that is already occurring, and lead international climate efforts, including phasing out fossil fuel subsides and stopping funding for new coal plants overseas. While he stopped short of proposing anything groundbreaking, such as a carbon tax, the measures would be an improvement over the current climate stalemate.

Yet the president’s continued embrace of natural gas development threatens to counteract any of his proposed climate initiatives. In the speech, Obama continuously mentioned that we are the leading producer of natural gas and proposed advancing production of oil and gas in the Bakken formation (a rock formation beneath parts of Montana, North Dakota, and Canada)—code words for expanding hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations. Unfortunately, fracking is not the energy panacea its supporters claim it is. The environmentally destructive nature of the process negates any net greenhouse gas benefit from natural gas. Estimates of the amount of available gas that can be tapped economically widely vary, as highlighted in Timothy Mitchell’s article in Dissent. And while fracking may release deposits of oil and gas that were previously unavailable, there will ultimately still come a time when the finite fossil fuel resources run out...
(27 June 2013)


Colorado joins in suit to knock down Longmont fracking ban

Mark Jaffe, Denver Post
Gov. John Hickenlooper's administration has joined a lawsuit, filed by an oil and gas trade association, seeking to invalidate Longmont's voter-adopted citywide ban on a key drilling technology...
(12 July 2013)


The shale gas revolution: is it already over?

Ugo Bardi, Cassandra's Legacy

link to data

The production of natural gas in the US has not been increasing for about two years. Fitted with a Gaussian function, it shows a peak in the second half of 2012 and, from then on, a tendency to decline. Decoupled in its various components, the data show that shale gas production is still increasing, but not fast enough to compensate for the decline of conventional gas production.

Are we already seeing the end of the "shale gas revolution"? It is too early to say but, surely, these data agree with the viewpoint of those who had been seeing the whole story as a short lived financial bubble. (see, e.g., a recent series of statements by Arthur Berman)
(7 July 2013)


A clear decision: Sydney water catchment fracking ruled out for now

Ben Cubby, Sydney Morning Herald
Coal seam gas drilling has been ruled out of Sydney's drinking water catchment for the time being, after the state's planning assessment commission killed off an ambitious plan to extract billions of dollars of gas.

The potential impacts of drilling in the pristine bushland area between Sydney and Wollongong were too uncertain, the commission said...
(7 July 2013)


The trend is against bribes—except in the US

Steve LeVine, Quartz
Global transparency watchdogs are disputing the rationale for a US federal judge’s ruling that exempts American oil and mining companies from publicly divulging their payments to foreign states and their rulers.

The reproach—from Oxfam and Global Witness, the UK-based transparency watchdog—stems from a July 2 ruling by US District Judge John Bates. In his decision, Bates sided with oil and business lobbyists who asserted that if American companies were compelled to publicly reveal such payments, they would be at a competitive disadvantage to state-owned extractive companies that can keep them secret...
(4 July 2013)

Oil well pump jacks image via Richard Masoner/flickr

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