The Denver Post | 3 July 2017

Anadarko Caps More Than 6,000 Flowlines To Comply With State Order Following Firestone Blast

Anadarko Petroleum said late on 30 June that it has tested more than 4,000 active oil and gas lines and plugged another 2,400 inactive ones per a state order issued after a fatal home explosion in Firestone, Colorado, in April.

In this 4 May 2017 file photo, workers dismantle the charred remains of a home at the location where a gas line leak explosion killed two people inside their home in Firestone, Colorado. Credit: Brennan Linsley/Associated Press.

“We are looking at everything,” said John Christiansen, a spokesman for the Houston-area company. “We aren’t taking any chances.”

On 17 April, gas from an abandoned flowline still attached to an Anadarko well in Firestone’s Oak Meadows neighborhood ignited in the basement of 6312 Twighlight Ave., killing Mark Martinez and Joey Irwin as they worked on a water heater.

Right after the explosion, Anadarko shut down 3,000 vertical wells similar to the one implicated in the blast and, 10 weeks later, has brought only 30 of them back into production.

The company has pledged to permanently shut-in a half dozen wells located near the Oak Meadows neighborhood, which Century Communities built on top of an old oil and gas field criss-crossed with numerous flowlines.

The 2,400 inactive lines plugged under the state order were 2 or 3 in. in diameter. As an added precaution, the company capped another 3,600 1-in. lines no longer in use, bring the total number of abandoned lines to 6,000 plus.

Christiansen said the bulk of the abandoned lines were located on tank farms, or facilities that store and process oil and gas coming from surrounding wells. In Weld County, Colorado, Anadarko has switched to a tankless system where oil and gas is transported on larger pipelines and handled at a centralized facility.

Also per the state order, the company said it has pressure tested more than 4,000 active lines and that 99.6 percent had passed. The 16 that failed are undergoing repairs and will be retested.

“There are no hydrocarbons flowing through them,” Christiansen said.

Read the full story here.

Reuters | 19 June 2017

Tunisia Gasfield Protesters Reach Deal, Production To Restart: Government

Protesters blockading oil and gas fields in southern Tunisia have reached an agreement with the government to end a sit-in and allow production to restart immediately, the government and protesters said on 16 June.

Protests over jobs in southern Tataouine and Kebili provinces hit oil and gas production in a region where French company Perenco and Austrian producer OMV operate. The deal calls for jobs in oil companies and development projects.

Labor Minister Imed Hammami told a press conference the agreement would allow production to restart immediately.

“It is an agreement that addresses all our demands for the region, and we will end the sit-in,” Tarek Haddad, one of the protest leaders at the Kamour site, told Reuters.

The deal calls for 1,500 jobs in oil companies, a budget of 80 million dinars (USD 32.66 million) for a development fund and another 3,000 jobs in environmental projects.

Protesters were pressing demands for jobs and a share of the country’s energy wealth and forced the closure of two oil and gas pumping stations in Kamour in Tatatouine and in Kebili.

Read the full story here.

Bloomberg | 19 June 2017

Blast Backlash Hangs Over Drillers

Two months after a Colorado home exploded near an Anadarko well, the reverberations are still rattling the oil industry, driving down driller shares and raising fears of a regulatory backlash.

The 17 April blast, which killed two people and injured a third, was followed a month later by a second deadly explosion at an Anadarko oil tank in the state. The incidents have revived calls to restrict drilling near populated areas within Colorado’s rich Niobrara shale formation, the fourth-most productive shale basin in the US. They have also spurred the state to order new inspections around thousands of oil and natural gas wells.

While the repercussions aren’t expected to kill off operations in Colorado, they could raise costs for an industry already walking a financial tightrope, with oil prices down 14% this year. Since 2 May, when authorities publicly tied Anadarko to the home explosion, company shares have lost about 14%, while the S&P 500 Energy Index is down less than 1%.

“Something like that will be remembered,” said Joe Ryan, an environmental engineering professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder who studies the industry. “Even if statistically it’s infrequent, that may be the kind of thing that pushes the public to say, ‘we have to see improvement.’”

Other drillers active in Colorado have also seen their shares slide, with Extraction Oil and Gas falling 8% and Noble Energy down almost 5%.

Read the full story here.

Forbes | 7 June 2017

Column: Another Hydraulic Fracturing Time Bomb Lurks Beneath the US

You’ve heard about the earthquakes; the controversial claims of flammable tap water; and the potential contamination of streams, lakes, and drinking water aquifers, but the system that’s supposed to pay for these calamities may itself be a pending disaster.

Machinery used to fracture shale formations stands at a Royal Dutch Shell hydraulic fracking site near Mentone, Texas, on 2 March 2017. Credit: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg.

Most states protect taxpayers from cleanup costs by requiring oil and gas producers to buy a surety bond that will pay in the event of a disaster. But those bond amounts, nearly everywhere in the US, are woefully inadequate to pay likely cleanup costs, said Ryan Kellogg, a professor of public policy at the University of Chicago.

“In just about any state, the bond amounts are absolutely laughable,” Kellogg said, calling the system a sham. “The bond amounts are minuscule compared to what reclamation costs often turn out to be.”

And reclamation projects are likely to multiply in coming decades as the more than 1.7 million hydraulically fractured wells in the US age.

The Mineral Leasing Act requires a bond of USD 10,000 for a single lease on federal land. With an average of five wells per lease, that comes to USD 2,000 per well. That number was set in 1960 and has never been increased, according to economists, even to adjust for inflation. Yet, a well blowout can cost tens of millions of dollars to clean up, according to various studies of this issue. A well that’s merely orphaned—abandoned without being properly sealed—costs about USD 13,000 to reclamate.

Sometimes, the responsible party disappears by the time cleanup costs become evident.

“Sometimes you’re able to go back and find the firms and actually make them liable for doing the cleanup,” said Kellogg, an associate with the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago. “A lot of the time … the taxpayers have to clean it up because the firms that caused the problem are long gone and you can’t find them or they’ve gone bankrupt.”

States have bond requirements of their own, but most of those are also inadequate, economists say.

Read the full column here.

The Associated Press | 25 May 2017

Anadarko To Shut Down Well Linked to Fatal Colorado Explosion

The company that owns a gas well linked to a fatal home explosion in Colorado says it will permanently shut down that well and two others in the neighborhood.

Anadarko Petroleum announced the shut-down on 24 May in Firestone, where a 17 April explosion killed two people. Investigators blamed the explosion on unrefined, odorless natural gas from a severed 1-inch (2.5-centimeter) pipeline.

The pipeline was thought to be out of service, but investigators say it was still connected to a well near the home.

Read the full story here.

FuelFix | 23 May 2017

Texas Supreme Court Says Landowners Can Sue Over Oil and Gas Contamination

The Texas Supreme Court ruled late in April that the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas regulator, does not have exclusive jurisdiction over environmental contamination cases, which can be settled in court.

The decision came from a years’ long dispute between a rancher, Jimmy McAllen, and the Denver-based Forest Oil, which McAllen accused of polluting his property and exposing him to radiation. Forest Oil, now a part of the Houston-based Sabine Oil and Gas, argued that McAllen couldn’t sue the company and seek millions in damages through the court system because only the Railroad Commission has jurisdiction over contamination cases. Forest Oil objected to paying damages in addition to being forced to clean up McAllen’s property.

But on 28 April, the Supreme Court issued a ruling affirming the previous decision of an appeals court: McAllen had every right to sue, the court said, and that the law did not intend for the Railroad Commission to be a property owner’s sole recourse in pollution case.

Read the full story here.

The Hill | 17 May 2017

Lawmakers Push Back Against Trump Offshore Drilling Review

More than 100 members of Congress are urging the Trump administration not to open up the Atlantic or Pacific oceans for oil and gas drilling as part of the Interior Department’s review of federal offshore policies.

In a letter released on 15 May, the members said drilling in the Atlantic or the Pacific would imperil local economies based on fishing and tourism, which they said would both be threatened by the effects of a potential oil spill.

“We do not believe that new oil and gas exploration or production activity in the Atlantic and Pacific Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) is compatible with the sustainable coastal economies on which so many of our constituents and communities depend,” the members wrote.

“As you conduct a review of our nation’s existing oil and gas leases, we again strongly urge you to reject proposals to open the Atlantic and Pacific OCS Regions to new offshore drilling and exploration.”

Democrats make up the bulk of the members signing the letter, though a handful of Republicans joined as well, including lead authors Reps. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), and Mark Sanford (R-SC).

President Trump signed an executive order in April requiring the Interior Department to reconsider the 5-year offshore drilling plan the Obama administration finalized last year. That plan did not include lease sales for the Atlantic, Pacific or Arctic oceans.

Read the full story here.

Longmont Times-Call | 17 May 2017

Anadarko Disconnects All 1-in. Lines Following House Explosion

Anadarko Petroleum announced on its website on 16 May that it is permanently disconnecting 1-in.-diameter return lines from all vertical wells in Colorado—the same type of pipe that carried odorless gas that fueled a house explosion in Firestone, Colorado.

This graphic shows a typical vertical well and underground lines. Credit: Anadarko Petroleum.

The company also plans to fund methane detection equipment for homeowners in the Oak Meadows neighborhood as well as the cleanup of the neighborhood park adjacent to the leveled house, the website says.

“I think the main reason why is to provide some greater transparency around the actions we’ve taken,” spokesman John Christiansen said, adding that officials are “doing what we can to help folks feel safe in their homes and to give them some confidence around the things that we are doing.”

Information about operational and regulatory actions was added as a tab on the Colorado website in the wake of the tragedy that killed two men nearly a month ago.

“As we get updates, what we’re aiming to do is provide updates to residents,” he said.

Read the full story here.

Premium Times | 27 March 2017

Geologist Hired by Shell Says Firm Concealed Data on Nigerian Oil Spill

The global oil giant Shell is concealing data showing thousands of Nigerians are exposed to health hazards from a stalled cleanup of the worst oil spills in the nation’s history, a German geologist contracted by the multinational has said.

In a letter to the Bodo Mediation Initiative, Kay Holtzmann, a geologist hired by the Dutch-British multinational, disclosed that an environmental study found “astonishingly high” pollution levels with soil “literally soaked with hydrocarbons” in the Bodo community.

Holtzmann also disclosed that Shell “fiercely opposed” environmental testing.

The people of Bodo in the oil-producing Niger Delta region should get urgent medical tests, the geologist wrote in the letter dated 26 January, obtained by the Associated Press.

Bodo is part of Ogoniland, where the failure to clean up oil spills was called an environmental scandal in 2011 by the UN Environment Program.

The cleanup was part of a British out-of-bounds settlement in which Shell paid USD 83.5 million to 15,600 fishermen and farmers for damages from two oil spills caused by old pipelines in 2008 and 2009 that devastated thousands of hectares of mangroves and creeks.

Lawyers alleged 500,000 bbl of oil spilled, but Shell said it was only 1,640 bbl and initially offered the community USD 50,000 in compensation.

The agreement was reached through British law firm Leigh Day, which said on 24 March it has received no response to a 30 January letter to Shell asking for the data from Holtzmann, who was hired by Shell to manage the cleanup.

Read the full story here.

Reuters | 10 March 2017

Shell CEO Urges Switch to Clean Energy as Company Plans Hefty Renewable Spending

The oil and gas industry risks losing public support if progress is not made in the transition to cleaner energy, Royal Dutch Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said on 9 March.

Ben van Beurden, chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell, speaks during a news conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February 15, 2016. Credit: Reuters/Sergio Moraes.

The world’s second-largest publicly traded oil company plans to increase its investment in renewable energy to USD 1 billion a year by the end of the decade, van Beurden said, although it is still a small part of its total annual spending of USD 25 billion.

The CEO said that the transition to a low-carbon energy system will take decades and government policies including putting a price on carbon emissions will be essential to phase out the most polluting sources of energy such as coal and oil.

“If we’re not very careful, with all the good intentions and advocacy that we have, we may, as a sector and society, not make the progress that is needed,” van Beurden said at the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston.

He said the “biggest challenge” the company faces is maintaining public acceptance of the energy industry.

“I do think trust has been eroded to the point that it is becoming a serious issue for our long-term future,” he continued. “If we are not careful, broader public support for the sector will wane.”

The Anglo-Dutch company is one of the most vocal supporters of a carbon tax and has invested heavily in bringing on new supplies of natural gas, a cleaner burning fuel source.

“This is the biggest challenge as we have at the moment as a company … the fact that societal acceptance of the energy system as we have it is just disappearing.”

Read the full story here.

Reuters | 7 March 2017

Oklahoma Native American Tribe Sues Energy Companies for Quake Damage

The Pawnee Nation filed a lawsuit on 3 March in tribal court in Oklahoma against 27 oil and gas producers, seeking damages for an earthquake they said was caused from man-made activity related to hydraulic fracturing.

The Native American group claimed that wastewater injected into disposal wells helped trigger a 5.8-magnitude earthquake in September, the strongest on record in the state, that damaged several Pawnee Nation buildings, including several that are more than 100 years old.

Lawyers for the Pawnee Nation said they believe the case is the first of its sort filed in a tribal court. They are seeking at least USD 250,000 in damages.

Most of the companies were listed as “John Does” in court papers.

Attorneys for two of the companies named in the suit, Oklahoma City-based Cummings Oil and Tulsa-based Eagle Road Oil, could not be reached for comment.

The American Bar Association said the civil powers of tribal courts extend to “consensual relations” with nonmembers and non-Indians, including contractual relations.

Headquartered about 60 miles west of Tulsa, the Pawnee Nation has 3,500 enrolled tribal citizens. It has a separate earthquake-related lawsuit pending in federal court against the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Land Management.

One tribal building was declared structurally unsound after the earthquake, forcing officials to move two departments and a branch of government, the lawyers said.

Read the full story here.

OHH | 10 February 2017

Oilfield Helping Hands Named 2017 Beneficiary of OTC Distinguished Achievement Awards Luncheon

Oilfield Helping Hands (OHH), a nonprofit charitable organization composed of volunteers devoted to providing financial assistance to oilfield workers in financial crisis, has been named the 2017 beneficiary of the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) Distinguished Achievement Awards Luncheon.

OTC will hold the Distinguished Achievement Awards Luncheon on 2 May 2017 at NRG Center in Houston. The event recognizes industry achievements, raises funds for a chosen organization, and provides an excellent opportunity for industry leaders to network with colleagues from around the world.

Joe Fowler, chairman of the OTC Board of Directors, said, “We’re proud to name Oilfield Helping Hands as this year’s beneficiary. The event’s Executive Advisory Board was most impressed by the organization’s commitment to helping families that have been a part of our industry and have hit hard times.

“Specifically, Oilfield Helping Hands assists families in financial crisis due to medical and other serious circumstances. It works diligently to keep costs low to ensure as much money as possible can go directly toward benefitting the families,” Fowler continued.

Gregory Rachal, president of OHH, said, “The OTC Distinguished Achievement Awards Luncheon does more than just support great causes in the industry, it also raises awareness about them. We’re beyond proud that Oilfield Helping Hands has been chosen as this year’s beneficiary and know this honor will have a positive impact on the lives and wellbeing of several worthy families in need. To date, we have distributed more than USD 3.3 million to hundreds of families across the US. Thanks to OTC, we are confident that we’ll be able to support even more oilfield families experiencing financial crisis.”

Read more about OHH here.