Energy Gas and Oil

"A study of abandoned oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania finds that the hundreds of thousands of such wells in the state may be leaking methane, suggesting that abandoned wells across the country could be a bigger source of climate changing greenhouse gases than previously thought."

      State of Oil and Gas: We're Creating the Jobs

Someone asked me the other day to name the first president I voted for. My answer: “Abraham Lincoln.”

That’s a joke, of course, but it does illustrate a point: At 85, I’ve witnessed a lot of history. I’ve spent 60 years of it in the oil and gas industry, and while I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs in that sector, the state of the oil and gas industry has never been stronger. Less than a decade ago, a pervasive theory marked the industry, and it was one of global “peak oil.” I was a member of that club, believing U.S. oil production had “peaked” in 1970 and were in irreversible decline here, and elsewhere.

How wrong we were. The industry, driven by the innovation that marks private enterprise, has – once again – innovated. With stunning technological advances (chiefly the combination of fracking and horizontal drilling), we now have more energy reserves that any other nation on earth. Not only that, we have the cheapest in the world, too.

Today, the oil and gas business is the most dynamic industry in America. Unfortunately, they are still targeted by Washington, DC, as villains and increasingly blamed for everything from profiteering to earthquakes. If you want to blame that industry for anything, blame it for creating too many jobs.

Consider these statistics:

The nation’s lowest unemployment rate – 2.7 percent – is in North Dakota, home of the Baaken oil field.
Oilfield employment is so high in North Dakota that housing is in short supply, with rents in Williston, a city of only about 15,000 people, topping those in New York City and Los Angeles.
Midland, Texas, an oil and gas hub, has become one of the wealthiest towns in North America.
The oil and gas industry is now responsible for 10 million jobs, both direct and indirect.

U.S. oil production is up sharply, about 60 percent over the past five years, and growing.

Indigenous Groups: ‘No Keystone XL Pipeline Will Cross Our Lands’

Native American communities are promising fierce resistance to stop TransCanada from building, and President Barack Obama from permitting, the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.

"No Keystone XL pipeline will cross Lakota lands," declares a joint statement from Honor the Earth, the Oglala Sioux Nation, Owe Aku, and Protect the Sacred. “We stand with the Lakota Nation, we stand on the side of protecting sacred water, we stand for Indigenous land-based lifeways which will NOT be corrupted by a hazardous, toxic pipeline.”

Members of seven Lakota nation tribes, as well as indigenous communities in Idaho, Oklahoma, Montana, Nebraska and Oregon, are preparing to take action to stop Keystone XL.

“It will band all Lakota to live together and you can’t cross a living area if it’s occupied,” said Greg Grey Cloud, of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, in an interview with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. “If it does get approved we aim to stop it.”

The indigenous-led ‘Moccasins on the Ground’ program has been laying the groundwork for this resistance for over two years by giving nonviolent direct action trainings to front-line communities.

"We go up to wherever we’ve been invited, usually along pipeline routes," said Kent Lebsock, director of the Owe Aku International Justice Project, in an interview with Common Dreams. “We have three-day trainings on nonviolent direct action. This includes blockade tactics, and discipline is a big part of the training as well. We did nine of them last summer and fall, all the way from Montana to South Dakota, as well as teach-ins in Colorado and a training camp in Oklahoma.”

"We are working with nations from Canada and British Columbia, as well as with the people where tar sands are located," Lebsock added.

"As an example of this nonviolent direct action," explains Lebsock, in March 2012 people at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota held a blockade to stop trucks from transporting parts of the Keystone XL pipeline through the reservation.

In August 2013, members of the Nez Perce tribe blockaded megaloads traveling Idaho’s Highway 12 to the Alberta tar sands fields.

Descendants of the Ponca Tribe and non-native allies held a Trail of Tears Spiritual Camp in Nebraska in November to prevent the construction of the pipeline.

More spiritual camps along the proposed route of the pipeline are promised, although their date and location are not yet being publicly shared.

The promises of joint action follow the U.S. State Department’s public release on Friday of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). This report has been widely criticized as tainted by the close ties between Transcanada and the Environmental Resource Management contractor hired to do the report.

While the oil industry is largely spinning the report as a green-light for the pipeline, green groups emphasize that it contains stern warnings over the massive carbon pollution that would result if the pipeline is built, including the admission that tar sands oil produces approximately 17 percent more carbon than traditional crude.

The release of the FEIS kicked off a 90-day inter-agency review and 30-day public comment period. The pipeline’s opponents say now is a critical time to prevent Obama from approving the pipeline, which is proposed to stretch 1,179 miles from Alberta, Canada, across the border to Montana, and down to Cushing, Oklahoma where it would link with other pipelines, as part of a plan to drastically increase Canada’s tar sands production.

The southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline — which begins in Cushing, passes through communities in Oklahoma and East Texas, and arrives at coastal refineries and shipping ports — began operations last month after facing fierce opposition and protest from people in its path.

"Let’s honor the trail blazers from the Keystone XL south fight," said Idle No More campaigner Clayton Thomas-Muller. "Time for some action, and yes, some of us may get arrested!”


(via Common Dreams)

"Inauspicious as it may look, what happens on this patch of ground in the coming months could help determine the future of Britain’s, and even Europe’s, approach to shale gas. The energy source has made the United States, for one, suddenly self-sufficient in natural gas, but it raises environmental concerns that have made many countries on this side the Atlantic dead set against it. Shale gas is extracted by the technique known as hydraulic fracturing — or fracking, the harsh-sounding word that can stir the passions of the technology’s harshest critics. In France, the nation’s highest court recently upheld the government’s right to ban fracking. In Germany, fracking activity is suspended at least until a new government is formed. But within the European Union, Britain — struggling to confront its energy future as its North Sea oil reserves are depleted, dirty coal is demonized and nuclear power remains expensive and geopolitically fraught — stands out as the country in which the government has officially encouraged the development of shale gas. Prime Minister David Cameron has thrown his support behind shale gas drilling, hoping to reap some of the benefits seen in the United States."

      U.S. surpasses Russia as world’s top oil and natural gas producer with output at 25 million barrels per day

A gas drilling rig explores the Marcellus Shale outside the town of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania (AFP)The US was on pace to achieve global energy domination on Friday, overtaking Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil and natural gas producer.

New estimates released on Friday by the Energy Information Administration showed America pulling ahead of both countries in oil and natural gas production for 2013.

The rise to the top was fuelled by new drilling techniques, such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which have unlocked vast quantities of oil and gas from shale rock formations – especially in North Dakota and Texas.

      Texas is fracked: More than 30 towns will soon be out of water

Drought via Goodluz / Sutterstock

Despite the vast consensus of climate scientists, the highly publicized destructive effects of fracking on water supplies, fracking’s seismic impact, and the evidence of their own senses, the mentally deficient residents of Texas keep electing politicians who believe climate change is a myth, and who think the best course of action to address Texas’ crippling drought is several days of organized prayer. Really.

      Giant Fatberg Found Under London Has Surprising Use

Fat blocks a sewer.

"Clean" Energy?

Despite the disgust, as well as the inconvenience, there’s actually some good news about fatbergs. Made of dense fats and oils, the structures are highly caloric, which makes them helpful for producing energy.

Rob Smith, a man with the enviable title of London’s “chief flusher,” told us that simply removing the fat and burning it in a turbine can produce more than 130 gigawatt-hours of energy each year, or about enough to power 40,000 London homes. The city plans to put the 15-ton berg to the same use, creating some very real cracks in the term clean energy.

"Congressional supporters of unlimited exports argue that turning the U.S. into a major net exporter of LNG would not only boost our economy and create jobs, but also — seeming to defy the basic tenets of supply and demand — sustain low domestic natural gas prices, increase our energy security and propel us to energy independence. Some have even contended that such exports would smooth out boom-and-bust cycles and stabilize the price of natural gas. By law, the Natural Gas Act requires the Department of Energy to grant export permits of LNG to non-free trade agreement countries only if such exports are deemed in the public interest. LNG exports to countries the U.S. has free-trade agreements with, such as Canada and Mexico, do not require a public interest determination. On the Senate floor last month, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) argued, “What could be inconsistent with this for the public interest? This is something that would be cheaper gas for us and give us total independence in a matter of weeks.”"
A deeply flawed study that ignores the harmful environmental and health impacts of gas drilling is being used to rally for exports.