Oil, gas and fracking – headlines

July 17, 2013

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Chevron granted access to environmental activists’ email accounts

Alexander White, The Guardian
Oil giant Chevron has been granted access to "more than 100 email accounts, including environmental activists, journalists, and attorneys" involved in a long-running dispute involving damage "caused by oil drilling" in Ecuador, reports the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) which, with EarthRights International (ERI), is opposing the New York court’s decision says:

After years of litigation, an Ecuadorian court last year imposed a judgment of over $17 billion on Chevron for dumping toxic waste into Amazon waterways and causing massive harm to the rainforest. Instead of paying, Chevron sued more than 50 people who were involved in the Ecuador lawsuit, claiming they were part of a conspiracy to defraud the oil giant. None of the individuals represented by EFF and ERI has been sued by Chevron or accused of wrongdoing.

Both EFF and ERI have warned that Chevron’s subpoenas will have a "chilling effect" on people who would speak out against the oil company’s activities in Ecuador and elsewhere…
(15 July 2013)

Peak Oil and Energy Independence: Myth and Reality

James W. Murray, Jim Hansen, Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Despite the recent uptick in production of natural gas and liquid fuels in the United States, increasing energy resource scarcity and reliance on unconventional fossil fuel sources will make energy independence for the nation very unlikely. Rather, geologists, economists, environmentalists, and resource managers are looking with interest at when the use of fossil fuels is expected to peak—will that occurrence be driven by the market or by supply? What level will emissions reach before this peak is reached?

Report is behind a paywall.
(9 July 2013)

As Fracking Rises, Peak Oil Theory Slowly Dies

David Blackmon, Forbes
On July 3, the administrators of The Oil Drum, a blog/discussion forum site dedicated to and frequented by those who advocate for “Peak Oil” theory, announced the site would close at the end of July, marking an end to an eight-year existence. During that period of time, “Peak Oil” theory has basically gone the way of the California Condor, from widespread existence and acceptance in the oil and gas environment to near extinction as its environment has dramatically shifted thanks to the discovery of and ability to access massive oil shale reservoirs not just in the United States, but all over the world…
(16 July 2013)

Polish minister denies shale gas exodus by US firms

Arthur Neslen, Euractiv
Widespread reports that two US energy giants are planning to end their shale gas fracking operations in Poland are false and spread by “gossips,” the country’s deputy environment minister has told EurActiv.

Marathon Oil and Talisman have recently declared plans to withdraw from Poland, as ExxonMobil did last year, over doubts about the true potential of its shale gas fields.

But Piotr Woźniak, Poland’s deputy environment minister, said that as far as he was concerned, Marathon and Exxon were still invested in Polish shale…

A recent report by the US Energy Information Administration lowered its estimate of Poland’s shale reserves from 187 to 148 trillion cubic feet.

Warsaw disputes this. “We disregard foreign estimates,” said Woźniak, who is a former economy minister. “We have our own which is done by the Polish Geological survey and we stick to this, as do the investors – or possibly not, if they don’t wish to.”
(16 July 2013)

French President insists shale gas ban is staying put

James Murray, Business Green
French President Francois Hollande has sought to end speculation France could soften its controversial moratorium on shale gas development, stating unequivocally that the ban will remain in place as long as he remains in office.

A French court is due to rule this week on an appeal against the ban on fracking, after developer Schuepbach Energy sought to challenge to 2011 moratorium.

The ruling comes following a debate within the government over whether to rethink the policy. French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg recently floated the idea of creating a state-backed company to assess the potential for shale gas drilling, while recently sacked Environment Minister Delphine Batho alleged that her opposition to fracking was one of the reasons behind her exit from government… 
(15 July 2013)

US to begin exporting ‘fracked’ gas

David Shukman, BBC
US gas produced by the controversial technique of "fracking" is due to be exported for the first time.

A $20bn project to prepare an export terminal is under way in Louisiana.

The huge facility on the Gulf of Mexico was originally designed to import natural gas to the US.

But within two years of opening, the owners decided to reverse the process…

The first shipments are scheduled for 2015.

According to Shell, one of the major producers of shale gas in the US, prospects have gone through a surprisingly rapid transformation.

Peter Brett, manager of Shell’s onshore well operations in the US, told BBC News that there is "massive potential"…
(16 July 2013)

Shale Skeptics Take On Pickens as Gas Fuels Policies

Edward Klump, Bloomberg
Where others see a U.S. energy revolution of cheap and abundant fuel, David Hughes sees a short-term bubble that will bring higher economic and environmental costs.

The Canadian geoscientist, founder of the consulting company Global Sustainability Research, is part of a movement pushing back against conventional wisdom that the U.S. is on the verge of energy independence amid surging oil output and a 100-year supply of natural gas. Projections of 2,384 trillion cubic feet of gas supplies provide false confidence because they don’t adequately account for the cost of production declines of as much as 47 percent a year that come with drilling in shale, Hughes said…
(14 July 2013)

Interior chief defends ‘fracking’ rules amid GOP, industry attacks

Ben Geman, The Hill
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, facing fresh GOP criticism, on Wednesday defended plans to impose new regulations on oil-and-gas “fracking” on public lands.

Republicans and industry groups say the planned regulations are not needed, arguing that state regulation of hydraulic fracturing provides safe oversight…
(17 July 2013)

Gas drilling image via Skytruth/flickr

Tags: Energy Policy, justice, Oil, oil industry, peak oil, Politics, privacy, Shale gas