National and International Fracking News & Events

HBW Resources Hydraulic Fracturing Report (National &International)

Below is a summary of publicly available activities currently underway at the national and international level that could impact natural resource extraction, particularly related to hydraulic fracturing and shale development.  To better utilize this document, we have broken the information down by region. With numerous state legislatures now in session, HBW Resources is monitoring these activities to ensure that responsible and feasible policies based on sound science are advanced. Be sure to check each week for updates in various regions that pertain to your business operations.

  • Sen. Mary Landrieu (D, LA) took over the Chairmanship of the Senate Energy & Natural Resource Committee, while Rep. Doc Hastings (R, WA 4), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, announced his intention to not seek re-election
  • U.S. shale-gas production is expected to deliver an $50 billion cash infusion in the form of tax and royalty payments to strapped federal, state and local governments
  • Growth of U.S. shale oil production has and should continue to have a moderating effect on global oil prices
  • The U.S. market for fracking fluids was valued at $18.4 billion in 2012 and $26 billion for 2013. BCC Research projects the market to grow to nearly $37.3 billion by 2018, and register a five-year compound annual growth rate of 7.4% from 2013 to 2018
  • Apache Corporation announced an agreement to sell all of its operations in Argentina to YPF Sociedad Anonima for a cash payment of $800 million plus the assumption of $52 million of bank debt
  • An independent review of hydraulic fracturing in Nova Scotia will keep busy until May looking at more than 500 pieces of evidence
  • Three social action groups in Canada’s Northwest Territories have launched a petition against fracking operations in the territory
  • China has discovered a major shale gas block with a maximum daily output of 105,000 cubic meters
  • Taiwan will import 800,000 tons of U.S. shale gas every year, starting in 2017
  • Backers of shale gas scored a victory when a European Parliament committee exempted the industry from beefed-up environmental impact assessments
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D, LA) is taking over the top spot on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, giving the oil and gas industry ally a powerful role as she campaigns for re-election. Landrieu is set to wield the committee gavel alongside another senator from the oil patch — Lisa Murkowski (R, AK) — as a result of a leadership shuffle. Landrieu has not formally outlined her priorities for the panel, but she likely would seek to advance her proposal to give states a greater share of royalties for offshore oil and gas production near their coastlines. The former energy committee chairman, Sen. Ron Wyden (D, OR) convened a hearing on the Landrieu-Murkowski revenue-sharing bill last year, but the industry-backed measure is controversial and has a relatively high price tag, two big obstacles in an election year. Landrieu stressed she would move an “inclusive, bipartisan” agenda, with a focus on creating jobs. “Everything we do will be part of helping to build the middle class and expanding opportunities for entrepreneurs in the domestic energy sector,” Landrieu said in a statement. “Increasing domestic energy production and fortifying and expanding the infrastructure that connects producers, refiners and consumers will help us achieve this goal.”
Rep. Doc Hastings (R, WA 4) will not seek reelection in 2014, he announced. Hastings, the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, was first elected to the House in 1994. “Last Friday, I celebrated my 73rdbirthday and while I have the ability and seniority to continue serving Central Washington, it is time for the voters to choose a new person with new energy to represent them in the people’s House,” Hastings said in a statement. For more information, please contact HBW Resources.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R, TX) detailed a plan to expand domestic energy production by beating back a slate of Obama administration regulations that he says are standing in the way of a national oil and gas boom. Decrying U.S. energy policy as stuck in the 1970s, the Texas Republican laid out the major points of sweeping legislation he is preparing to introduce in the coming weeks. “Part of the reason we see this out-of-control regulatory state is that Congress has outsourced its responsibilities — has handed it to unaccountable regulators who don’t actually have to see the American people,” Cruz said during remarks to the Heritage Action for America’s 2014 Conservative Policy Summit. The senator’s plan, which he’s dubbed the “American Energy Renaissance Act,” would prevent the federal government from undermining the American Energy Renaissance and the jobs it creates through the following measures:          
  • Prevent federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing
    • Leave regulation of hydraulic fracturing in state hands
  • Improve domestic refining capacity
    • Streamline permitting process for upgrading and building new refineries
    • Repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard
  • Improve Process to Develop Energy Infrastructure
    • Approve and allow private sector to build the Keystone pipeline
    • Remove barriers to developing and approving additional national pipelines and cross-border energy infrastructure
  • Stop EPA Overreach and the War on Coal
    • Exclude greenhouse gases from regulation by EPA and other federal agencies
    • Stop certain EPA regulations that will adversely impact coal and electric power plants
  • Force Congress and the President to Vote on EPA Regulations that Kill Jobs
    • Require both Congress and the President to approve any EPA regulation that has a negative job impact
    • Support passage of the REINS Act, separate piece of legislation not included in this bill, which would require congressional approval of all major rules and regulations.
  • Broaden Energy Development on Federal Land
    • Increase energy development on federal land
    • Provide states the option of leasing, permitting and regulating energy resources on federal lands within their borders; or
    • If states do not wish to manage energy development on federal lands within their borders, the federal leasing, permitting and regulating will be reformed to increase energy development by:
      • Streamlining permitting for development on federal lands
      • Improving certainty in the leasing and development process
      • Expanding development of energy on federal lands
    • Expand energy development in National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska
    • Expand energy development on Indian lands
    • Open up the Coastal Plain of Alaska (ANWR) for development
  • Open Offshore Exploration
    • Expand the offshore areas of the Outer Continental Shelf available for development
    • Streamline the permitting process for additional offshore exploration
  • Expand U.S. Energy Exports.
    • Expand LNG exports by facilitating permits
    • End the crude oil export ban
    • Prevent excessively broad environmental review of coal export terminals
  • Dedicate Additional Revenues to a Trust Fund for Debt Reduction
    • Direct all additional revenues generated by exploration and drilling on federal lands (excluding the share allocated to the states) exclusively to national debt reduction—“Debt Freedom Fund.”
The growth of U.S. shale oil production has and should continue to have a moderating effect on global oil prices, according to a Fitch Ratings report titled “Global Impact of U.S. Shale Oil.” U.S. oil production has increased by 3 million barrels per day (mmbd) since its low point of approximately 5 mmbd in 2008. Projections have future production continuing to increase through 2019, perhaps to as much as 9.6 mmbd according to EIA estimates. The increase to date is equal to about 3% of total world consumption, which is enough to have a significant impact on world oil prices by preserving the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC) spare capacity. Fitch notes that rising U.S. production has offset ongoing supply disruptions in the Middle East, and raised expectations of higher future supply. Combined with other factors, this has contributed to a trend of increasing backwardation in the forward price curve for oil. While many of the benefits of the U.S. oil and gas fracking revolution accrue only to the U.S., Fitch believes all oil-consuming countries benefit from the stabilizing effect of increased U.S. output on world oil prices. This includes improvements to current account balances and lower inflation.
According to a new technical market research report, “The U.S. market for Fracking Fluids,” from BCC Research, the U.S. market for fracking fluids was valued at $18.4 billion in 2012 and $26 billion for 2013. BCC Research projects the market to grow to nearly $37.3 billion by 2018, and register a five-year compound annual growth rate of 7.4% from 2013 to 2018. The market for fracking fluid varies considerably based on geographic region. The fastest growth rate over the next five years will occur in the Northeast region. The region predominantly produces natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, located underneath Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia and also from the Antrim Shale, underneath the state of Michigan. The target fuel type for harvest strongly influences the fracking fluid market. Harvesting shale oil through hydrofracking uses approximately 10 times more fracking fluid than harvesting shale gas. Specifically, the shale oil process consumes 10.1 gallons of water per 1 million British Thermal Units (MMBtu) versus 1.2 gal of water per MMBtu for the shale gas process. Thus, though there is a much greater amount of technically recoverable resources (TRR) for gas shales, the market for fracking fluid in the oil shale regions is just as attractive. The greatest external market drivers for fracking fluids include the activities of the well operators and oil services companies, and both not only drive the discovery of new shales, but also influence the type of hydrofracking technology implemented to maximize extraction. Other factors that strongly influence demand include the technological progress of water treatment and recycling of fracking fluids, and the establishment of new water supply channels and substitutes for water during the fracking process. For more information, please contact us.
Freezing temperatures are hampering U.S. natural gas deliveries this winter despite ample production of the heating fuel, exposing weaknesses in a supply network strained by unprecedented demand. The United States is home to some of the world’s largest natural gas deposits and supplies have flooded the market over the last five years, erasing concerns about dwindling output. But the coldest winter in decades has drained stockpiles quicker than ever, forced rationing, and pushed prices to all-time highs, revealing the difficulties of storing and transporting fuel across the continent. Unlike for crude oil, there is no government run strategic reserve that can be tapped in times of emergency. In many ways it is no surprise that supply for natural gas is strained. January saw two blasts of arctic cold, boosting heating demand for homes and businesses in most of the country to record highs. Other heating fuels like propane and fuel oil have suffered supply shortages. The severe cold has also revealed potential structural shortfalls that could push prices higher not just this summer as depleted inventories are restocked, but in coming years if investments are not made to increase storage and pipeline capacity. With nearly two months of winter left, more gas has been pulled from the 400 U.S. storage sites this winter than the whole of last winter, towards a level that many analysts consider dangerously low. Gas stockpiles at the beginning of the withdrawal season in early November topped out at 3.8 trillion cubic feet (tcf) but have since fallen to just 1.9 tcf, nearly 20 percent lower than the same time last year, and are expected to finish winter around 1.2 tcf, according to a Reuters poll. Many analysts see 1 tcf as the base level before a loss of pressure makes it harder to draw more gas from storage. Some power providers have asked customers to use alternative fuels like heating oil. Prices have risen higher as utilities scramble to buy gas in the spot market to preserve falling stockpiles, a rare move so early in the season.
Inexpensive natural gas will have a greater impact on U.S. manufacturing over the next several years than is commonly assumed, giving the U.S. a powerful — and unique — cost advantage that will benefit a wide range of industries across the full value chain, from feedstock to finished goods. This cost advantage has already started to boost investment and employment and will persist for at least five years, according to new research released by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). While other studies have assessed the positive economic impact of rising U.S. production of natural gas on the domestic energy sector and on industries such as petrochemicals that use natural gas as a raw material, the new BCG analysis finds that virtually every manufacturer in the U.S. is poised to benefit — directly or indirectly. Low U.S. electricity prices in natural-gas-fired plants, for example, are already encouraging investment in energy-intensive industries such as steel and glass. Not yet visible are the advantages that makers of intermediate products, such as plastic-resin pellets, and makers of finished goods, such as plastic toys and plastic auto parts, will reap from cheaper inputs. Even in less energy-intensive industries, cheap natural gas will shave 1 to 2 percent off of U.S. manufacturing costs as the benefits eventually flow downstream through the value chain. The energy cost advantage is amplified by the fact that overall U.S. manufacturing competitiveness is already improving owing to relatively low labor costs compared with those of other developed economies, rapidly rising wages in China, and high productivity, as explained in previous BCG publications. The research is part of the firm’s ongoing Made in America, Again series produced by its Operations and Global Advantage practices. By 2015, natural gas will account for only 2 percent of average U.S. manufacturing costs and electricity will account for just 1 percent, according to BCG estimates. By contrast, natural gas will account for between 5 and 8 percent of manufacturing costs in Japan and in Europe’s major exporting economies, where it is more expensive, while electricity will account for between 2 to 5 percent in Japan and Europe. Cheap energy will also help further narrow the cost gap between the U.S. and China, where natural gas and electricity combined will account for 6 percent of manufacturing costs. For more information, please contact HBW Resources.
The Energy Information Administration said technological advances will increase the output of U.S. shale formations such as the Eagle Ford, even as it predicted the country’s overall crude oil production will decline. By implementing cutting-edge technology and experimenting with new processes, operators in domestic shale plays likely will surpass earlier production estimates, the information arm of the U.S. Department of Energy said in a monthly report. “Exploration and production companies are drilling many wells and constantly experimenting with new techniques to hydraulically fracture the tight formations,” EIA writes. “Technological innovation may cause a faster rise in drilling productivity than currently forecast.” As a result, EIA says it expects producers will overshoot the agency’s onshore estimate of 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd) for 2013 and forecast of 7.1 million bpd in 2015.
While the January jobs report was a disappointing for the national economy, it brought good news about growth in oil and gas. About 206,000 employees worked in the oil and gas extraction sector in January, about 1.8 percent more than in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nationwide, total employment was relatively stagnant at a seasonally adjusted 137.5 million. The employment story was positive across sectors of the energy industry. Manufacturing of petroleum and coal products had 112,700 employees on payrolls, a 1.6 percent increase from December. The chemicals sector grew by 1.2 percent to 796,100 people. Growth in coal mining was modest comparatively, with employment increasing just 0.2 percent to about 80,400 in January. The industry has been expanding rapidly in recent years, as the United States has experienced a boom in oil and natural gas production. Since January 2013, jobs in oil and gas extraction have increased by 6.6 percent.
Industrial and domestic waste materials are viable alternative sources of raw materials for engineering proppants — particles used to open rock fractures — for use in shale gas and oil recovery, according to Penn State material scientists John Hellmann and Barry Scheetz. Writing in the current issue of American Ceramic Society Bulletin, the researchers describe innovative approaches for engineering high-performance ceramic proppants from waste streams including mixed glass cullet, mine tailings and even drill-cuttings from shale gas wells themselves. According to Industrial Minerals, a market leading resource for minerals intelligence, each year more than 30 million tons of proppants are used in hydrofracturing, and demand is projected to increase to 45 million tons by 2017. Engineering proppants from waste materials offers not only a savings in costs but the additional environmental benefit of diverting millions of tons of waste from landfills. For more information, please contact us.
Recent advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques are being used to unlock vast stores of natural gas from underground shale-rock formations across the U.S. For government budgets, which were hammered by the drop in tax revenue resulting from the recession, this has created an unexpected and badly-needed windfall: In 2010, U.S. shale-gas production delivered an $18.6 billion cash infusion in the form of tax and royalty payments to strapped federal, state and local governments, according to a report by IHS. By 2013, those annual revenues are expected to hit $50 billion. Cumulatively over the next 25 years, unconventional gas development across the lower 48 states will generate nearly $1.5 trillion in tax and royalty payments—enough to put a significant dent in government deficits at every level. “By fully embracing America’s energy opportunity, we can accelerate growth, create millions of new jobs, free ourselves from some less-than-stable global suppliers, and create huge new revenues for government, which will help reduce budget deficits,” said Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in his 2013 State of American Business address in January. Skeptics have questioned projections of the shale-gas industry’s production levels and economic impacts. Through 2011 and 2012, critics accused the industry of exaggerating production figures and the potential of the Marcellus Shale, in particular, where the natural gas rush began around 2008.
Occidental Petroleum Corp. announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to sell its Hugoton Field assets to an undisclosed buyer for pre-tax proceeds of $1.4 billion. This sale was approved by the Board of Directors as part of Occidental’s strategic review to streamline and focus operations where it has depth and scale in order to better execute the Company’s long-term strategy and enhance value for shareholders. The Hugoton Field properties comprise interests in more than 1.4 million net acres in one of the largest natural gas fields in the United States, spanning southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle and eastern Colorado. Occidental’s average net production from the Hugoton Field properties in 2013 was approximately 110 million cubic feet equivalent per day, of which approximately 30 percent was oil. Occidental anticipates the transaction will be completed by April 30, 2014, subject to regulatory approval and transaction adjustments. Proceeds from this transaction will be used to partially fund the announced increase to the Company’s share repurchase program.
Oil and gas pipelines and the government agencies that regulate them are making progress in improving safety and responses by emphasizing greater involvement at all levels, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioner’s Natural Gas Committee learned on Feb. 10. “All sectors of the industry have embraced the goal of zero accidents through continuous improvement,” Jeffrey Wiese, associate administrator for pipeline safety at the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration, said at the session during NARUC’s 2014 Winter Committee Meetings. “Regulators don’t operate pipelines,” Wiese said, adding, “Our job is to influence those who do. Some of this involves enforcing regulations, but a lot of it involves working together.” Within the companies, he said PHMSA has found that “management has to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk,” adding, “But there also has to be commitment at lower levels.” For more information, please contact HBW Resources.
The EPA is vastly underestimating the amount of climate-warming methane that leaks into the atmosphere in North America from sources including natural gas operations, according to a study, “Methane Leaks from North American Natural Gas Systems” published in the journal Science. But the leaks are not enough to erase the climate benefits of switching from coal to natural gas for power generation, the researchers say, although they say the benefits in some cases will be “small” or nonexistent. The standard approach to estimating total methane emissions is to multiply the amount of methane thought to be emitted by a particular source, such as leaks at natural gas processing plants, by the number of that source type in a region or country. The products are then totaled to estimate all emissions. The EPA does not include natural methane sources, like wetlands and geologic seeps. The natural gas infrastructure has a combination of intentional leaks, often for safety purposes, and unintentional emissions, like faulty valves and cracks in pipelines. In the United States, the EPA established the emission rates of particular gas industry components, from wells to burner tips, in the 1990s. One possible reason leaks in the gas industry have been underestimated is that emission rates for wells and processing plants were based on operators participating voluntarily. One EPA study asked 30 gas companies to cooperate, but only six allowed the EPA on site. It is impossible to take direct measurements of emissions from sources without site access.
ICF International has released its first-quarter 2014 Detailed Production Report. The report, a new information product offered by ICF, provides a complete outlook for US and Canada natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGL), and oil production through 2035. The report’s production projections are linked to ICF’s Natural Gas-Strategic Outlook, which provides additional insight into the future of the North American natural gas market. The report contains many findings that will be of interest to oil and gas producers, field services companies, and the investment community. Some projected trends from the current report are:
  • In the short run, reduced gas-directed drilling activity will continue to slow gas production growth from “dry” gas plays such as the Haynesville Shale, the Greater Green River Basin, the Barnett Shale, and the Fayetteville Shale. However, these plays are likely to rebound as market growth firm gas prices.
  • Conversely, liquids-rich plays have fared much better in the relatively low gas price environment that persisted throughout much of 2013. Consequently, US NGL production, which has increased by more than 600,000 barrels per day during the past five years, is expected to continue to grow and will likely double by the end of the projection.
  • In today’s relatively high oil price environment, output from the unconventional oil plays, such as the Bakken, the Cline, the Niobrara, and the Eagle Ford, are likely to continue to grow.
  • While high oil prices could promote growth of bitumen production in Western Canada’s oil sands, continued delays in construction of new crude transport capability present risks.
ICF International has released its outlook for U.S. and Canada natural gas, natural gas liquids (NGL), and oil production through 2035 for oil and gas producers, field services companies, and the investment community. In the short run, reduced gas-directed drilling activity will continue to slow gas production growth from “dry” gas plays such as the Haynesville Shale, the Greater Green River Basin, the Barnett Shale, and the Fayetteville Shale; however, these plays are likely to rebound as market growth firms gas prices, according to ICF. Conversely, liquids-rich plays have fared much better in the relatively low gas price environment that persisted throughout much of 2013. Consequently, ICF predicts that U.S. NGL production — which has increased by more than 600,000 barrels per day during the past five years — will continue to grow, likely doubling by the end of 2035.

Backers of shale gas scored a victory when a European Parliament committee exempted the industry from beefed-up environmental impact assessments. The Parliament’s Environment Committee overwhelmingly approved an update of EU law overhauling how and when environmental impact assessments, or EIAs, are performed, calling for more public input on projects ranging from bridges and ports to intensive livestock farming. The updated law includes strengthened rules to prevent conflicts of interest in the EIAs while restricting exemptions and taking new environmental factors such as biodiversity and climate change into account when carrying them out. But a bid by members of European Parliament to include the early stages of shale gas exploration within the new EIA regime was left out at the urging of Britain, Poland, Lithuania and a handful of other EU member nations that are making big bets on shale gas.” Despite Parliament’s requests, mandatory environmental impact assessments for the extraction and exploration of shale gas, regardless of the expected yield, were not included in the agreement,” the committee said in a statement. The law initially included mandatory completion of the full EIA procedure at each stage of shale gas projects, including during the exploration of phase. Polish MEPs, however, objected, contending it would hamper research on potential deposits, and was removed over the objections of Green Party members. The measure now goes to the full House during the March 10-13 plenary session in Strasbourg. For more information, please contact us.

A new report, “Hydraulic Fracturing Markets by Resource and Well Type – Global Trends & Forecasts” has been released by RnRMarketResearch. The report estimates the hydraulic fracturing market in terms of volume and value. The volume of this market is estimated in terms of million hydraulic horse power (million hhp) and value in terms of $million. This has been broken down into component regions and further split into countries. The hydraulic fracturing market is mainly concentrated in North America, where many leading oil field service companies – Schlumberger (U.S.), Halliburton (U.S.), Baker Hughes (U.S.), and other medium and small players – operate. While the North American hydraulic fracturing market is reaching maturity, the Rest of the World’s (ROW) market is still in its infancy. Australia, China, and Poland are expected to lead the ROW hydraulic fracturing market. Apart from the regions mentioned above, other areas are not expected to show a very significant moment in the forecast period of the report i.e. 2012 to 2017. Hydraulic fracturing will prove beneficial for the developing countries such as India, China, and Brazil. As the energy demand in these countries is increasing, fulfilling this demand domestically will enhance their economic growth.
The Arctic region holds significant untapped oil and gas resources, but Arctic development faces major competition from unconventional oil and gas resources and other alternative hydrocarbon sources, according to a panelist speaking at the Arctic Technology Conference in Houston. Oil and gas exploration is not a new phenomenon in the Arctic. Approximately 500 wells were drilled above the Arctic Circle in the 1970s and 1980s. The oil and gas industry and academia have conducted extensive research and development into Arctic exploration and production, including full-scale modeling and testing. According to the U.S. Geological Survey’s 2008 Circum-Arctic Resource Appraisal, the Arctic contains 412 billion barrels of oil equivalent, 25 percent of the world’s oil and gas resources. The decline in oil prices in the mid-1980s prompted the oil and gas industry to abandon Arctic drilling. The Exxon Valdez incident of 1989 didn’t help the industry’s image in terms of Arctic oil and gas activity. Today, global oil and gas companies are refocusing their exploration and production efforts on the Arctic due to high oil prices in real and normal terms; the fact that oil and gas resources are becoming harder to replace due to resource nationalism; and incentives within Russia to encourage development, Edward Richardson, analyst with London-based Infield Systems, told conference attendees. “Oil and gas companies are turning to the Arctic to fill their hopper with discoveries for the next generation of projects,” said Richardson. As a result, capital expenditures for Arctic exploration and production are expected to grow between 2014 and 2018. However, some spending plans earmarked for 2017-2018 could be delayed until the early 2020s. Much of the planned capital expenditures for Arctic oil and gas activity will focus on Norway, northeastern Canada, the Russian sub-Arctic and the Russian Arctic Shelf. From 2014 to 2018, $3.4 billion is expected to be spent in Norway, $3.2 billion in northeast Canada, $3.2 billion in the Russian sub-Arctic, and $2.7 billion on the Russian Arctic shelf.
Apache Corporation and its subsidiaries announced an agreement to sell all of its operations in Argentina to YPF Sociedad Anonima for cash payment of $800 million plus the assumption of $52 million of bank debt as of June 30, 2013. YPF paid a $50 million deposit on the transaction, which is expected to be completed in the next 30 days. The transaction is subject to customary post-closing adjustments. “Over the past year, Apache has taken decisive steps to focus its portfolio on repeatable and profitable long-term growth in areas where the company has industry-leading positions, such as its deep inventory of liquids-rich drilling opportunities onshore North America and international assets generating large free cash flows. This transaction is consistent with that strategy,” said G. Steven Farris, chairman and chief executive officer. According to Miguel Galuccio, YPF CEO, “This is an excellent opportunity to add to YPF assets an active operation with significant reserves of conventional gas and non-conventional resources.” For more information, please contact HBW Resources.
Argentine state-run oil company YPF said that it had signed a memorandum of understanding for Malaysian energy company Petronas to invest in its massive Vaca Muerte shale formation. Under the preliminary agreement, the companies would jointly develop a 187-square-kilometer (72-square-mile) swath of Vaca Muerta in the southern Patagonia region, YPF said in a statement. YPF, which was nationalized in 2012 through a seizure of Repsol’s majority stake in the company, has been seeking international partners to help it develop Vaca Muerta. Vaca Muerta is considered one of the world’s biggest known deposits of unconventional energy, with 661 billion barrels of oil and 1,181 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources, according to YPF.
Western Australia’s Department of Health has outlined its concerns about the emerging unconventional gas industry, saying it could be a risk to water supplies and the atmosphere if handled poorly. Giving evidence to a Parliamentary inquiry today, two of the department’s senior officials said hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, potentially posed several dangers to public health. However, the agency said it was “happy” with how the Department of Mines and Petroleum was managing the development of new regulations that would govern fracking in Western Australia. The Health Department said it was most worried about the risk of contamination to groundwater or surface water supplies in the event the chemicals used in the fracking process escaped into the environment.
Three social action groups in Canada’s Northwest Territories have launched a petition against fracking operations in the territory after oil giant ConocoPhillips began exploration without an environmental review. A horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) exploration near Tulita, Northwest Territories, was allowed by the National Energy Board and the Sahtu Land and Water Bard. The petition was created in an attempt to have the Legislative Assembly use its authority under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act to subject any fracking applications in the territory to an environmental assessment — which includes public hearings. Currently the petition is up on the assembly’s website, in a section called e-petitions, where people, community groups, and organizations can raise issues, bring them to the Assembly and allow it to consider the need for change within the territory. It has garnered 136 signatures since it launched on Friday. Other companies have applied for fracking exploration in the Sahtu region. Legislative Assembly Member Norman Yakeleya, a Sahtu Dene, said that there is still more to learn about the impacts of fracking, but insists the energy board did their due diligence, and that communities will reap the benefits of development. “We have oil and gas exploration, we have a number of companies that want to come into our communities and look for oil. They have committed dollars,” said Yakeleya. The social action groups are hoping the petition will gain traction and get the government to look deeper into the environment effects of fracking. The petition will remain open to signatures until March 7.
Nine people starting an independent review of hydraulic fracturing in Nova Scotia will keep busy until May looking at more than 500 pieces of evidence. The panelists laid out ground rules at their first meeting Wednesday at Dalhousie University in Halifax. The goal is to “make sure that we take every possible impact of hydraulic fracturing into account from all perspectives,” said Cape Breton University president David Wheeler, directing the review. That is a big task for an industry that operates all over the world and has been the subject of intense debate for years. The panel also wants to be transparent about its conclusions, but it will not make the meetings public. So it has chosen an approach of debating furiously in private and then releasing the results through a series of exhaustive papers. The panel members will write or commission papers on different aspects of fracking: waste water, for example, or health or economic effects. Each paper will draw on dozens of other documents and sources. The panel will read drafts, edit them at their remaining five meetings and then release them publicly as they go along. “That cycle should play out for probably seven or eight papers,” said Wheeler. “And then those papers will become the basis of much of the final report.” The estimated cost of the review is $100,000, with an added $35,000 for the aboriginal consultation. The panel members are paid a small honorarium of around $1,500 each. For more information, please contact us.
Enbridge Inc.’s plan to expand the capacity of its Canada-to-U.S. Alberta Clipper pipeline by 120,000 barrels per day has hit a snag, the company said, as getting a U.S. presidential permit for the project is taking longer than expected. Enbridge, Canada’s largest pipeline company, which also reported a lower-than-expected quarterly profit on Friday, said it no longer expects to get the permit amendment for the Alberta Clipper expansion in time to start pumping more oil at midyear, as it had planned. Enbridge is no longer saying when it expects to get the go-ahead for the project, which involves adding pumping capacity to the existing Alberta Clipper line, which now carries 450,000 barrels per day from Hardisty, Alberta, to Superior, Wisconsin. Once a routine administrative matter, getting presidential permits for pipelines that cross the U.S.-Canada border have become politicized as environmental groups battle TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline project and the expansion of production at Canada’s oil sands.
The International Institute of Concern for Public Health (IICPH) called for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. IICPH, “strongly believes that the Precautionary Principle should be invoked and applied to the practice of fracking for fossil fuel. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation. In the case of hydraulic fracturing, there is potential for serious or irreversible harm, from toxicity of fracking chemicals and waste effluent that contaminates food supply, air, soil, surface and ground water; from radioactive chemicals released by uranium-bearing rock; and from seismic events triggered by the explosive force used in the fracking process. Therefore, we strongly call on governments where this practice is occurring or contemplated, to pronounce a moratorium on both seismic testing and mining for gas/oil in shale beds, to protect public health and environment from further harm and to ensure that further study is undertaken.”
China has discovered a major shale gas block with a maximum daily output of 105,000 cubic meters in its southwest province of Guizhou, as the country looks to make use of modern technology to meet its rising energy needs. The official Xinhua news agency, citing the Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources, said refiner Sinopec discovered the shale gas well located at a depth of 4,417 meters, the deepest so far in the country. The ministry added that the discovery marks a major breakthrough in China’s deep shale gas drilling. The project is named Dingye-2HF and is situated in Xishui county of Guizhou province. It is expected to have an average daily output of 43,000 cubic meters, according to the ministry. Another shale gas block that was located in Fuling District of southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality, yielded an output of 150,000 cubic meters per day in 2010. In 2013, China produced more than 2 million cubic meters of shale gas per day. By 2030, unconventional oil and gas production is expected to account for one-third of the country’s total production. According to a shale gas plan for 2011-2015, China aims to produce 6.5 billion cubic meters of shale gas annually by 2015. For more information, please contact HBW Resources.
China is looking at playing a role in Cyprus’ multi-billion-dollar plans to develop the island’s natural gas reserves, including possible investment in a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal. Cyprus hopes to attract large investors to take a stake in its gas fields, an option which a Chinese delegation is in Cyprus to discuss. “There is very strong interest from China… in energy, in the whole value chain, upstream, downstream and midstream,” Cypriot Energy Minister George Lakkotrypis told Reuters. He said the Chinese delegation includes China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation. He said delegates were interested in the development of an LNG export terminal, including potentially a floating LNG facility (FLNG). “The Chinese delegation will also discuss taking a stake in Cypriot gas fields,” a source with the delegation told Reuters. China is seeking to access new gas sources around the world as its energy demand rises and the government encourages industry to move to cleaner gas from coal. Italian energy major ENI is also interested in Cyprus’ gas fields, and is set to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the government over the construction of an LNG export terminal. ENI has already signed an exploration and production-sharing contract with the government to search in three offshore areas, with exploration expected to begin in the second half of this year. In hopes gas can buoy the economy, which was rescued by an international bailout in March 2013, Cyprus has been planning the Vasilikos LNG export plant since U.S.-based Noble Energy discovered the Aphrodite field. The estimated $10 billion needed to build the LNG export terminal and infrastructure would be the largest investment in the island’s history. However, the project was thrown into doubt when drilling results revealed smaller reserves than initially hoped. Mean reserve estimates were reduced to 5 trillion cubic feet (140 billion cubic meters) from 7 tcf, which is not enough to justify building the LNG project unless more gas is found. The plans also face opposition from Turkey, which has said it would oppose any attempt to pre-sell Cypriot gas before a settlement over the divided island is found.
The founder of shale gas firm Cuadrilla is planning a venture to frack in the Irish Sea, the BBC has learned. Dr. Chris Cornelius believes there are large volumes of offshore shale gas that could be extracted. Dr. Cornelius’ new firm Nebula Resources was awarded three licenses in the Irish Sea last month by the Department for Energy and Climate Change and hopes to begin exploration soon. “Certainly offshore shale gas is a new concept, and there’s no reason with the UK’s history of offshore development that we can’t develop these resources offshore,” he told the BBC. No longer involved with Cuadrilla, he now hopes to drill the world’s first offshore shale gas wells. The area covered by the Nebula licenses stretches west from Blackpool into Morecambe Bay, and is not far from the site where Cuadrilla has announced plans to drill and fracture two new onshore gas wells. Based on existing geological data, Dr. Cornelius believes that a considerable quantity of gas is in place – up to 250 trillion cubic feet, which would be more than Cuadrilla’s estimates for its onshore resources. There is also the possibility of finding oil. The British Geological Survey has estimated that the UK’s total offshore shale gas resources could be between five and 10 times the size of the resources available onshore.
Jordan Energy and Mining Ltd /Karak International Oil have completed an interim fund raising through a rights issue underwritten by Sentient Group funds. This takes the Sentient interest in JEML to 58 percent. According to Chris Nurse, CEO, “We are very pleased that Sentient has demonstrated its continued confidence in Karak as a leading player in the oil shale sector in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The production of liquid hydrocarbons from indigenous resources will create employment and greatly benefit the balance of payments and economy of Jordan. Sentient is engaged with management and is a strategic partner for the development of the resource.” Karak International holds a concession over 35 km2 of the Lajjun deposit that contains approximately 300 million barrels of oil with a stripping ratio averaging 1:1; production is planned to increase progressively to 38,000 barrels per day. Karak also has a Memorandum of Understanding under which it is exploring a further 32 km2 area of oil shale at Al Nadiyya. For more information, please contact us.
President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite expects that shale gas of the United States will reach Europe in several years. Lithuania could acquire it through the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in Klaipeda, which is planned to be completed in 2014.“I really hope that, maybe not at once, but especially when after two or three year shale gas from the U.S. reaches Europe, we will be very happy that Lithuania was the first to build an LNG terminal in the Baltic countries and region. Since in two and three years, the revolution of cheaper gas from shale fields will reach Europe as well,” said Grybauskaite in an interview with radio LRT. The leader of the country regards the LNG terminal as being of the same importance as Butinge Oil Terminal and is convinced that this project will have much influence in negotiation with all potential gas suppliers to Lithuania. “The project itself helps reducing prices for heating; it makes impact on negotiations with Gazprom as well. There is no wonder that as the project is about to be completed, Gazprom began speaking to us in a different way,” said Grybauskaite.
San Leon Energy has signed a Letter of Intent with Baker Hughes Poland to jointly begin to develop the Siekierki Gas Field1, a shale gas field in Poland. The companies plan to start gas production from four existing wells. Under the proposed agreement, it is envisaged that Baker will provide all funding necessary to recomplete and bring the wells into production. The Companies have now entered an exclusivity period during which the final work scope and commercial terms will be negotiated and agreed.
In order to spur foreign investment in Polish shale gas reserves, Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced that thegovernment would scrap plans to create a government owned and operated fund that would hold stakes in all shale gas licenses. Several companies were concerned that the proposed fund would muddy the understanding of the government’s rights in exploration projects. Poland is currently Europe’s most active country in exploring its shale gas potential and its legislature is expected to consider a new law to promote development in the next few weeks. For more information, please contact HBW Resources.
Qatar’s liquefied natural gas industry crossed another key milestone recently when it replaced Yemen as Thailand’s biggest supplier of LNG in 2013 as the Southeast Asian country’s imports of the fuel rose 45%. Currently, Qatar is the largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the world with a capacity exceeding 77mn tonnes a year. It is also home to the world’s third biggest natural gas reserves. The importance of the LNG segment in particular and the energy industry in general to Qatar is quite evident from the hydrocarbon sector’s contribution to national economy. A recent report by QNB showed the hydrocarbon sector, which consists of crude oil and raw gas production, perked up and expanded to a better-than-expected 1.8% year-on-year in the third-quarter of  2013 owing to higher production of natural gas due to LNG facilities coming back to full operational capacity after some downtime for maintenance over the last year. But over the next few years, Qatar may see increasing competition in the global LNG market with new production facilities coming online in Australia and North America.
Lin Sheng-chung, president of Taiwan’s state-run oil and gas company CPC Petroleum, said that the country will import 800,000 tons of shale gas every year, starting in 2017. According to Lin, “Prices for natural gas go up and down every now and then. US gas is a lot cheaper than from the Middle East so this could be a good deal.” Initially shale gas will come from Louisiana and later from ports that are close to the Pacific coast as this could save transport time by around two weeks. CPC is also in talks with companies like Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron and Petronas regarding developing shale gas in the US. It is possible that $1 billion are invested in a project in which CPC will own about 5 percent stake.
United Kingdom
Plans to explore for shale gas on a site in a national park located southwest of London have been temporarily put on hold by the local authority after the application received an unprecedented number of responses. The British government is strongly supporting the development of shale gas by offering favorable tax terms as it seeks to reduce dependence on gas imports. Opposition to the unconventional drilling method has been growing in Britain, however, on grounds that it is harmful to the environment and that one project had triggered earth tremors. The South Downs National Park Authority has requested oil and gas explorer Celtique Energie Weald to submit more details on noise and geological aspects of its application to drill for oil and gas and, if found to be present, later extract shale gas on a site at Fernhurst. “National Park will be submitting a request for further information,” the authority’s chief executive, Trevor Beattie, said at a planning meeting, according to his speech sent to Reuters. “This will put the Fernhurst application on hold whilst the applicant provides the additional information we require.” A spokesman for Celtique Energie said the company was planning on submitting the additional information requested and that it was normal practice for an authority to seek further details. The application received an unprecedented number of comments, a spokeswoman for the national park authority said.
Britain must streamline shale gas planning rules to cut delays or it will fail to achieve significant output and will miss out on potential tax revenues, energy consultancy Poyry said. The country is in the early stages of exploring for unconventional gas to counter growing dependence on imports and a government-commissioned geological study has estimated it could have shale resources equivalent to several hundred years of demand. The government, eager for tax revenues and new jobs, is supporting shale gas by offering favorable tax rates and promising returns for communities that host exploration. But Poyry warned that red tape was unnecessarily delaying shale gas development. “If the regulatory and permitting process is not made more efficient, then it may not be possible to achieve shale gas production at any scale,” Poyry analysts said in the report, which was also given to members of the economics committee in the House of Lords, parliament’s second chamber, last week. Poyry estimated it takes around 6-8 years for a shale gas developer to start commercial production in Britain after receiving a license – if there are no legal challenges. The recommended time is around four years, Poyry said. The consultancy suggested creating a one-stop-shop for shale gas permitting to cut down on timing and allow for a potentially high demand in well applications over the coming years. Poyry analysts estimate that by 2024 around 100 new wells will need to be approved each year to pave the way for significant shale gas production. For more information, please contact us.
INEOS Europe AG has announced a new ethane purchase agreement with CONSOL Energy in the USA. Ethane will be transported through the Mariner East infrastructure and imported by sea for use in INEOS’ European cracker complexes. Supplies will start from 2015. “This contract adds to our supply portfolio providing for long-term sourcing of advantageously priced US ethane for our European crackers. It will allow us to continue to consolidate the competitiveness of INEOS’ ethylene production in Europe.  We are excited about our new business relationship with CONSOL Energy and look forward to future opportunities between our companies” commented David Thompson, INEOS Procurement & Supply Chain Director. INEOS is the first company to establish seaborne intercontinental ethane transportation, having earlier announced the completion of agreements with Sunoco Logistics for capacity in the Mariner East pipeline and terminal system, with Range Resources for the purchase of ethane, with Evergas for the construction of new customized vessels and with TGE Engineering for the construction of a new tank in its Rafnes cracker. INEOS is presently conducting engineering studies for the construction of an ethane terminal in Grangemouth.
Additional Information

For additional information, please contact Bo Ollison with HBW Resources.  His contact information is below.
Bo Ollison
HBW Resources
2211 Norfolk Street, #410
Houston, TX 77098
Tel: 713-337-8810
Twitter: @BoOllison

HBW Resources Contact Information
If you have any general questions, please contact us anytime. Previous versions of the HBW Ollison Hydraulic Fracturing Report and other reports can be viewed on the Intelligence Tab on the HBW Resources website at:  Hope you all have a great day.
Michael Zehr
HBW Resources
1666 K Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006
Direct: 202-429-6081
Cell: 202-277-3927


Senate Nuclear Option Exposes Lack of Experience While ENR Considers Increased US Oil Production

Tuesday in Washington:

Lack of Experience Starting to Show:

Following three hours of deliberation in the Old Senate Chamber last night, the Senate continues to struggle with an effort brought forward by Majority Leader Harry Reid to change the Senate rules with respect to filibusters of political nominees.  Proponents of the change say it is needed to help alleviate historic and unrelenting gridlock.  Opponents claim it will undermine minority rights in the Senate and fundamentally alter the tenor of the chamber by giving additional power to the party in the Majority.  The Senate last changed parties in 2006.  Of the Senate’s 100 members, 46 have been serving less than six years, including 32 of the 54 members Democratic Caucus. So, the majority of the Majority seeking to expand the power of the Majority have never been in the minority.  The Senate could attempt to execute this option as early as this morning.
In other Senate news, Rep. Ed Markey will be sworn in to the Senate this morning at the Chamber’s newest member.  Additionally, Senator Reid filed cloture on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to serve as the next administrator of the EPA, setting up a potential vote on Thursday.  The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the impact of expanded oil and gas production on fuel prices this morning. 
The House will be taking up three bills under suspension of the rules today.  The bills include:  H.R. 2576, to modify requirements relating to the availability of pipeline safety regulatory documents; H.R. 1848, the Small Airplane Revitalization Act of 2013; and H.R. 2611, to designate the headquarters building of the Coast Guard on the campus located at 2701 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue Southeast in the District of Columbia as the “Douglas A. Munro Coast Guard Headquarters Building.”  Also of note, the House Energy and Commerce will begin a two day mark up of legislation today including measures to restrain the EPA and expedite approval of new pipelines.
Other Items of Interest:
House to Hold Two Days of Hearings on RFS: The Energy and Commerce Committee Energy and Power Subcommittee announced it will hold two days of hearings to get stakeholder input on the Renewable Fuels standard on July 23rd and July 24th.
Important Events and Hearings:  
DOE Hosts Meeting of the National Petroleum Council:  Today at 9 AM at the St. Regis Hotel at 923 16th Street, the Energy Department (DOE); Office of Fossil Energy will hold a meeting of the National Petroleum Council. The event will be available via webcast at:
Senate Committee Reviews Impact of Expanded Oil and Gas Production on Fuel Prices:  Today at 10 AM in 366 Dirksen, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a full committee hearing on how United States gasoline and fuel prices are being affected by the current boom in domestic oil production and the restructuring of the United States refining industry and distribution system. Adam Sieminski, administrator of the Energy Information Administration; Jeff Hume, vice chairman for strategic growth initiatives at the Continental Resources, Inc., Oklahoma City, Okla.; Bill Klesse, chairman and CEO of the Valero Energy Corporation, San Antonio, Texas; Dan Gilligan, president of the The Petroleum Marketers Association of America, Arlington, Va.; Chris Plaushin, director of federal relations for the American Automobile Association, Healthrow, Fla.; and Faisel Khan, managing director for integrated oil and gas research at Citigroup Inc., New York, N.Y., will testify. Additional information can be found at:
Senate Appropriations Committee Marks Up CJS Bill: Today at 10 AM in 192 Dirksen, the Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up the FY2014 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill. 
DOE Methane Hydrate Advisory Committee Meeting:  Today at 12:45 PM at 1000 Independence Ave., the Energy Department (DOE); Office of Fossil Energy will hold a meeting of the Methane Hydrate Advisory Committee to discuss committee comments on draft methane hydrate roadmap, committee recommendations and receive public comments.
House Markup of Energy Bills:  Today and tomorrow in 2123 Rayburn, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a full committee markup of H.R.1582, the “Energy Consumers Relief Act of 2013”; H.R.1900, the “Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act”; H.R.83, to require the Secretary of the Interior to develop an action plan to address the energy needs of the insular areas of the United States and the Freely Associated States; H.R.2094, the “School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act”; H.R.698, the “HIV Organ Policy Equity Act”; and H.R.2052, the “Global Investment in American Jobs Act of 2013.” Additional information about the markup can be found here:
New Member of the Day: US Representative Susan Brooks (R-IN)

Committee Assignments:  Education and Workforce, Homeland Security, and Ethics
Chief of Staff: Mel Raines
Legislative Director: Megan Savage
Twitter: @SusanWBrooks
Experience: After receiving her undergraduate degree from Miami University of Ohio, Rep. Brooks pursued a Juris Doctor (J.D.) from the Indiana University Indianapolis School of Law. Before joining the House of Representatives, Susan served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Ivy Tech Community College.  While there, she implemented workforce development strategies aiming to enhance job training and placement for thousands of Indiana residents. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Susan as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.  She earned recognition as Deputy Mayor of Indianapolis during the Steve Goldsmith administration, where she provided oversight on public safety operations and drove community dialogue on vital civic issues. S he also practiced law at the Indianapolis firm of Ice Miller and also served as a criminal defense attorney for Indianapolis based McClure, McClure and Kammen.

Importance: Congresswoman Susan Brooks represents the 5th District of Indiana, which spans eight counties throughout the central part of Indiana. It was concern about the country’s debt and deficit and its effect on the labor market that prompted her to run for Congress in the first place. During her race, she made headlines by dismissing Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, saying she wouldn’t sign pledges of any kind.  Her background in education and her focus on jobs makes her a strong advocate for STEM education and preparing students for actual careers in an increasingly competitive job market.  She believes that there is a federal role in education to ensure our students are able to compete globally. 
If you have any questions, please contact me anytime. Previous updates and new Member profiles can be viewed at HBW Resource’s new Intelligence Tab at: Hope you all have a great day.
Michael Zehr
HBW Resources
1666 K Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006
Direct: 202-429-6081
Cell: 202-277-3927
Twitter: @mzehrhbw

HBW Resources: Ollison Hydraulic Fracturing Report

HBW Resources: Ollison Hydraulic Fracturing Report

Below is a summary of publicly available activities currently underway at the federal, state and international levels that could impact the use of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas extraction.  With numerous state legislatures now in session, HBW Resources is monitoring these activities to ensure that responsible and feasible policies based on sound science are advanced. If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact us.
State Legislative Update: Please see linked spreadsheet for an updated listing of state legislation dealing with hydraulic fracturing.
SB 4, introduced by Sen. Fran Pavley (D, District 27) would require disclosure on chemicals used, require notification of residents before drilling starts and create a system for testing groundwater. The bill would cover not just hydraulic fracturing but other types of well stimulation, including acidization. Additionally, it would require an independent scientific study. The measure passed the Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee with a 6-3 vote. It already has cleared the Senate. One more hearing is planned in the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee. If that panel approves it, the bill will go to an Assembly floor vote. For more information please contact HBW Resources.
The U.S. Forest Service announced in April that it is conducting an environmental impact study of oil and gas development in the Pawnee National Grasslands, an area between Fort Collins and Sterling. When the Forest Service last updated its management plan for the grasslands in 1997, it estimated that 25 oil and gas wells would be drilled through 2012, with only 10 of them actually producing oil and gas. Today, there are 1,884 state-approved oil and gas wells on public and private land existing within all of the township and range survey sections that include parcels of national grasslands, according to a Coloradoan analysis of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission data. Some of those wells are permitted but haven’t been drilled yet. Others were drilled, fracked and are producing oil and gas. Of the wells in the area, 214 are producing oil and gas and 71 are listed as being drilled, COGCC data show. About 63 of the wells within the national grasslands boundary are on public land, 18 of which have been drilled since the management plan was last updated in 1997, according to the Forest Service. The Forest Service’s environmental study, a draft of which is delayed and due to be published sometime this winter, will update the Pawnee’s 15-year-old grasslands management plan to account for all the new interest in drilling on the public grasslands. It will determine how much more oil and gas development will be allowed on the grasslands and add certain restrictions on drilling that will minimize its effect on the prairie. The original proposal, or “scoping,” for the environmental study generated between 2,300 and 2,800 public comments before the study even began.
Oil-related items are expected to come up during the Fort Collins City Council’s July 16 meeting. Discussions around them are likely to be replays of conversations about the safety of oil operations, such as hydraulic fracturing that have been going on for some time. One item is fairly straightforward: The council will give initial consideration to an ordinance calling for a special election Nov. 5. The move is in anticipation of a successful petition drive by Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins, which wants to place a measure on the ballot calling for a five-year moratorium on fracking within city limits so that studies may be conducted on impacts the practice has on health, safety and property values. The group’s fracking moratorium would extend to Prospect Energy, which is the only oil development company working within city limits. If approved, the ordinance would be the first step in saving a spot on the ballot for the proposal. Final consideration of the ordinance is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 20. The group faces an Aug. 5 deadline for submitting the petition signatures of 3,907 registered city voters to get the proposal on the ballot.The second oil item is actually two fold: The council will consider whether to extend its moratorium on accepting applications for oil and gas operations to Dec. 31 while the process of modifying the land use code to establish city regulations on those operations is completed. The moratorium is scheduled to end July 31. For more information please contact HBW Resources.
Colorado oil and gas industry regulators have given medical community leaders a written assurance that doctors can obtain and share trade-secret information about fracking chemicals for the purpose of treating patients and protecting public health. Colorado Medical Society president Dr. Jan Kief said the letter from Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission chairman Thomas Compton addresses concerns raised by doctors and the medical society who feared that signing a confidentiality pledge kept them from sharing information with other medical professionals. Doctors still are required to fill out a Form 35 confidentiality pledge before obtaining information on fracking chemicals. In return, they can share information with patients, other health care professionals and with public health agencies.
26 small brewers in Colorado are saying their industry could be affected by fracking, a drilling technique that pumps water, sand and chemicals down well bores to break apart rock and release trapped oil and gas. In a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper (D, CO), twenty six representatives of Colorado beer makers called for preserving clean water for their businesses and respecting the state’s natural allure. In May, German brewers worried about possible fracking-related water contamination raised similar concerns. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association, a trade group for the state’s petroleum industry, has requested to meet with the letter’s signatories to discuss their concerns. Hickenlooper, an avowed fan of both craft beer and oil and gas drilling, has not directly responded to the letter, but a spokesman for the governor said he would review the matter.
Protect Our Loveland Inc. organizers say they are a grassroots initiative of residents who have come together over concerns about new technology for hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in their community. A growing number of volunteers are circulating petitions and collecting signatures with the hope of getting the moratorium question on the Nov. 5 ballot. On the July 8 deadline, the group intends to submit the petitions to the City Clerk’s office. They need to have valid signatures from 5 percent of the city’s registered electors – at least 2,523 voters. Organizers won’t say how close they’ve come to that number since petitions started circulating early this month, but they’re confident going into the final week of signature-gathering. In May 2012, the Loveland City Council imposed a nine-month moratorium on oil and gas development in the city, during which time city staff members worked to research and craft rules for the industry that would not be superseded by state regulations. Those regulations, which city officials call some of the most strict in the state with their inclusion of incentives for oil companies to adhere to higher standards than state regulations require, were unveiled earlier this year. And after a series of contentious and often emotional public hearings, the regulations were approved by a split City Council and took effect in April. A letter of intent submitted last month and the subsequent petition language instead asks for an ordinance to impose a two-year moratorium. If approved by the voters, the moratorium period — which could also be lifted by a vote of the people — would block oil and gas drilling permits in the city. During that time, the initiative calls for full studies on the effects of the process on property values and human health.  For more information please contact HBW Resources.

Sefton Resources, Inc., the independent oil and gas exploitation and production company with interests in California and Kansas, released an update on oil & gas exploration and production (E&P) operations for June 2013 and the results of a Mississippian Limestone Study in North East Kansas. In June 2013, oil production increased to approximately 500 barrels a month from 11 wells, up from approximately 450 barrels a month reported in May, all from the Company’s wells in Leavenworth County, Kansas. Additional production is expected from a number of leases in the future as the ongoing program of workovers and recompletions continues on oil and gas wells (with the emphasis on oil wells) in proximity to the Company’s 100 percent-owned and operated pipeline systems. As part of the ongoing leasing program, the Company has now acquired leases with over 50 wells on them that will be reviewed as part of this initial development program. Alongside the pipeline system for gathering natural gas, TEG MidContinent also has water disposal facilities in place along with a water tanker truck to provide ample water disposal capabilities. With infrastructure for oil, water and gas production in place, economics improve as more wells are brought back into production.
The Lansing Board of Water & Light opened a natural gas-fired power plant, its first new plant in 40 years, saying the facility is environmentally friendly and will give the area an economic boost. The REO Town plant was fully operational Monday, the utility said. The plant is part of a $182 million project that includes a headquarters building and a restored Grand Trunk Western Railroad depot for the BWL Board of Commissioners meetings. The plant will generate up to 300,000 pounds of steam for 225 steam customers in downtown Lansing, replacing the Moores Park Steam Plant. It also will provide 100 megawatts of electricity, about 20 percent of the utility’s electric generation. The Board of Water & Light offers water, electric, steam and chilled water service to more than 100,000 residential and business customers. For more information please contact HBW Resources.
Experts on hydraulic fracturing will present both sides of the practice at a July 17 informational meeting hosted by the Ottawa County Planning Commission. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. pm in the Main Conference Room of the Ottawa County Fillmore Street Complex, 12220 Fillmore St., West Olive, MI. The meeting is expected to conclude at 9 p.m. The seminar will include presentations from a local environmental consultant, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Michigan Oil and Gas Association, the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, the law firm of ScholtenFant and the Michigan State University Extension. A question and answer session will follow the presentations. Individuals interested in attending are encouraged to RVSP by July 10 by contacting the Ottawa County Department of Planning and Performance Improvement by phone at 616-738-4852 or by email at
A frac sand hauler is suing the city of Wabasha, claiming he should not be subject to city zoning rules. In his federal lawsuit, Jim Roemer claims that because he has a contract to ship sand on railroad lines, his facility must follow only federal regulations, not local ones. Roemer wants to increase his daily truck trips from 40 to about 150. His attorney says Roemer isn’t seeking damages, but wants to do business without limits of city regulations. Roemer’s company, which hauls frac sand as well as other materials, is within the boundaries of the city’s wellhead protection zone — the area located above the city’s water supply. The city is required to closely monitor and regulate all development in the area, Wabasha’s City attorney said. Any expansion or modification of businesses in that area need special approval from the Wabasha City Council.
New Mexico
The prolonged drought gripping New Mexico has hurt crops in Eddy County, driving some farmers in the area to sell their water supplies to oil and gas drillers. The petroleum industry has an endless thirst for water for hydraulic fracturing. Drillers are willing to pay a premium for local water supplies in New Mexico, prompting many in the agricultural sector to apply for commercial rights to sell water from extra wells. For more information please contact HBW Resources.
New York
Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef signed into law legislation banning the use of fracking waste, its processing at all wastewater treatment plants and its application on all roads including for deicing and dust control in the county. Other area counties that have adopted similar local laws include Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester. The law has been sent to the State.
Natural gas can be “effective” as a fuel but questions remain about whether it can be developed safely with hydraulic fracturing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. The state’s decision-making process on hydrofracking stretches back to 2008, with Cuomo’s administration inheriting it when he took office in 2011. The Marcellus Shale, which covers the economically struggling Southern Tier, has been targeted by gas companies looking to extract its gas. Cuomo said the positives of natural gas as a fuel are separate from the questions surrounding fracking.  Environmental, health and anti-fracking groups have raised numerous concerns about the fracking process, particularly as it’s related to water quality and the public health. The natural-gas industry says the risks can be properly mitigated and that drilling can lead to an economic turnaround in struggling areas of the state. State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah was first tasked last year with reviewing the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s proposals for fracking to ensure they protect the public health. That review apparently continues, and a decision on fracking waits until it’s finalized. Cuomo said there’s no update on when that work may be completed. “There’s nothing new as far as I know,” he said.
North Carolina
North Carolina’s Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) want state legislators to back off oil and gas regulation. In a letter to House and Senate leaders over the weekend, MEC Chairman Jim Womack said a chemical disclosure bill under consideration in Raleigh would pre-empt and undermine a measure the commission has spent months crafting.A provision inserted last week into HB 94, a broad environmental bill now in the Senate, would change how trade secrets are handled. Oil and gas companies would be able to withhold the information completely from the state and public. The measure would allow members of the public to challenge trade secret status.Womack slammed the legislature for stirring up anti-drilling fervor in the state and for disregarding the “meticulously” crafted work of the commission. The legislation passed the Senate on July 2 by a 35-11 vote.
North Dakota
HB 1134, introduced by Rep. Todd Porter (R, District 34), offers North Dakota oil drillers tax breaks beginning July 1 if they stop burning and wasting natural gas. The bill offers oil companies tax incentives for capturing and using the byproduct of the state’s crude production.Records show 275 million cubic feet of natural gas goes up in smoke each day in North Dakota, or enough to heat more than 1 million homes daily. Flaring also accounted for about 5 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions in North Dakota last year. That’s about the same amount that 945,000 automobiles would emit. For more information please contact HBW Resources.
Republican Gov. John Kasich wants an increase in the severance tax. Democrats in both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly support it. Ohioans, including a plurality of registered Republican voters, think oil and gas companies should be subject to a new tax, according to a March poll by Quinnipiac University. Yet 16 months after it was first proposed, the Legislature will break for summer with no “frack tax” and no apparent momentum to push for one in the fall. Republicans have time and again dismissed the idea of raising taxes on an emerging sector, saying that too little was known about the reserves at this point to set a new tax policy and that any increase could stunt the growth of jobs and investment. The governor’s proposal would have applied only to owners of horizontal wells, which are multimillion dollar undertakings designed to harvest oil and gas in volumes that dwarf what traditional vertical wells can produce. The discovery of the Utica Shale has attracted some of the largest energy firms in the world, including Chesapeake Energy, Chevron and ExxonMobil, all looking to employ this relatively new technology.
Eclipse Resources has acquired the Oxford Oil Company with approximately 184,000 net acres in Ohio and 13.8 Bcfe of proved developed producing reserves. Prior to the acquisition, Eclipse Resources owned approximately 41,000 net acres in Belmont, Guernsey, Monroe and Noble Counties in Ohio where the largest wells in the Utica Shale play have been reported to date. With the acquisition of Oxford, Eclipse Resources now owns approximately 90,000 net acres in these core Utica Shale counties, as well as in Harrison County, Ohio. Eclipse Resources has recently completed drilling a Utica Shale well in Monroe County with encouraging results, and has participated in five wells in Noble County that have shown strong initial production rates and high liquids yields.  For more information please contact HBW Resources.
Storage and treatment of liquid drilling wastes, air emissions of methane, water withdrawals for drilling and site construction are among the biggest problems facing shale-gas drilling in Ohio and other states. Those four problems top a list put together by researchers Nathan Richardson and Hal Gordon of Resources for the Future, a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C. Their group surveyed 215 experts from government agencies, industry, academia or nongovernment organizations who were asked to rank 264 separate drilling threats from most serious to least serious.
The engineering firm S&ME Inc. is adding three employees at its Dublin office to help the company serve clients with projects in the Utica and Marcellus shale plays.  S&ME, based in Raleigh, N.C., is providing civil and environmental engineering services to the natural gas pipeline companies in the shale plays under development in eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The firm has 900 employees in 25 offices across eight states. The Dublin office has hired six people since the first of the year, now employing about 60.
Oil and gas royalty owners and an environmental group in Pennsylvania said that legislation awaiting Gov. Tom Corbett’s signature seriously weakens negotiating rights for some landowners. The National Association of Royalty Owners said last-minute changes made during the weekend to SB 259, introduced by Sen. Gene Yaw(R, District 23) regulating how oil and gas royalty information is to be provided to lessors. The bill could allow drilling companies to use decades-old mineral leases to force current landowners to accept Marcellus Shale drilling under their property. The new legislation would only apply to people with existing oil and gas leases. It would mean heirs to leases signed decades ago for traditional drilling could be forced to accept horizontal drilling, which can extend thousands of feet from a well, even under land owned by neighbors, who also would be forced to accept the drilling.
Gov. Tom Corbett urged the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to lift a three-year moratorium on gas drilling, saying it has depressed economic growth in northeastern Pennsylvania and deprived landowners of their property rights. Corbett said the DRBC has had more than enough time to develop and implement regulations that would allow natural gas to be siphoned from the Marcellus Shale rock formation while protecting water quality in the Delaware River and its tributaries. The DRBC, which has representatives from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and the federal government, published an initial set of draft drilling regulations in 2010, and made revisions after taking public comment. Commissioners were supposed to consider adoption of the rules in 2011 but abruptly canceled the vote. It has not been rescheduled. DRBC says it’s taking Gov. Tom Corbett’s complaint about a lack of natural gas development in northeastern Pennsylvania “very seriously,” but there’s still no timetable for lifting a 3-year moratorium on drilling. At the same time, a landowners’ group in northeastern Pennsylvania is threatening to sue the DRBC over its three-year moratorium on natural gas exploration and production, saying the ban has imposed a heavy financial toll on thousands of people who leased their land for drilling, only to see the energy boom pass them by. The Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance, one of the largest landowners’ groups in Pennsylvania with more than 1,300 families and businesses, said in a letter to the commission’s executive director that it will file a lawsuit unless the agency either schedules a vote on regulations that would allow drilling to begin, or steps aside and drops any plan to regulate the practice. The five-member basin commission is scheduled to meet Tuesday and Wednesday in Wilmington, Del. Gas drilling is not on the agenda.
Rural landowners who say they’re getting short-changed in royalty payments from gas companies in the Marcellus Shale region have gotten the attention of lawmakers in Harrisburg. The amounts involved may be surprising. The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy estimated that Pennsylvania landowners received $731 million in royalty payments last year. The company pays to drill the well and in exchange, the company and landowner split proceeds from gas produced by the well. Basically, the landowner is supposed to get the money from every eighth gallon of gas produced by the well. A 2010 court decision established that gas companies are allowed to deduct for post-production expenses, including the cost of processing the gas or transporting it to market. Gas companies have interpreted the rules regarding royalty deductions differently, though. Those who testified before the Senate committee identified Chesapeake Energy as being the most aggressive about subtracting from property owners’ checks, according to advocates for landowners. Sen. Elder Vogel (R, District 47), said the complaints he’s heard have suggested problems are limited to the one company and asked why there was no industry standard regarding how deductions would be made. The county commissioners in Bradford, Susquehanna and Sullivan counties have all passed resolutions asking the state to make it illegal for gas companies to take deductions that leave landowners with royalties less than the one-eighth share. Lawmakers in the House of Representatives are working on new legislation that would clarify state law regarding the minimum royalty payment for landowners. The legislation, which would apply to existing as well as new leases, would prevent deductions from post-production costs from reducing royalty payments below 12.5 percent, said state Rep. Matt Baker (R, District 68), one of four state representatives who are working on the draft of the legislation. Baker and the three other drafters of the bill, Tina Pickett (R, District 110), Sandra Major (R, District 11), and Garth Everett (R, District 84), say the proposed legislation is intended to directly respond to concerns by landowners who have drilling leases and whose royalty payments have decreased due to post-production cost. For more information please contact HBW Resources.
As mentioned last week, the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee voted 115-81 in favor of a moratorium on fracking which has drawn condemnation from its most famous progeny – former Gov. Ed Rendell as well as two current candidates for Governor, including John Hanger, though he supports a ban in state forests and strict regulation on private property and Kathleen McGinty.
Shell Oil Co. has postponed a decision about purchasing property in western Pennsylvania to build a giant petrochemical plant, extending the timeline for a project by six months that’s a political touchstone for the state’s Republican governor. Shell officials confirmed that a June 30 deadline tied to the land purchase would be extended through the end of the year. Shell is assessing the prospect of producing and acquiring enough ethane out of Pennsylvania and Ohio natural gas fields to feed a “cracker” plant it wants to build north of Pittsburgh. Shell is in talks with Horsehead Corp., a Pittsburgh-based producer of zinc oxide that is closing a plant along the Ohio River north of the city in Monaca, PA. Shell would spend some $2 billion to $3 billion to build an ethylene plant that would make use of gas liquids production in the region’s Marcellus and Utica shale formations. The energy-intensive cracker would turn ethane into ethylene, a main ingredient in plastics and chemicals.
Pittsburgh based, Shale Markets, LLC, will host, “Start Doing Business in the Natural Gas Industry in PA, WV & OH…” to help businesses get into the shale oil and natural gas industry. The event is taking place at the Sheraton Four Points Pittsburgh North in Cranberry Township, on Thursday, August 15th. The purpose of this seminar is to show businesses large and small across the U.S. how to break into the industry and to prosper once in. The seminar will cover: a brief history and terminology used in the industry; a review of the supply chain to examine where each company may fit; explanation of safety/ environmental certifications and audits; show how each company can start doing business right away; discuss how social media can improve a company’s web presence; network with professionals in the industry as well as other businesses, and more. For more information please contact HBW Resources.
Schneider National, Inc., a premier provider of truckload, logistics and intermodal services, announced it is adding 60 oilfield truck drivers to support its energy business on the Marcellus Shale Formation. The company is offering a $5,000 sign-on bonus to experienced drivers to join. No oilfield driving experience is required; Schneider will provide specific training. Positions are based within a 75-mile radius of Mansfield, PA, and Wilkes-Barre, PA. Relocation assistance will be provided to interested candidates living outside of the hiring areas. Schneider drivers working on the Marcellus Shale can expect to earn up to $60,000 per year with a paid orientation and comprehensive benefits package. Most drivers will also enjoy daily time at home while transporting materials into and out of the oilfields. The sign-on bonus and relocation assistance will be offered for a limited time only. Drivers interested in applying or learning more can visit or call 800-44-PRIDE (800-447-7433).
Production data for April show how fracking has shattered not only the shale rock in formations like Texas’ Eagle Ford and Permian Basin but also the myths of “peak oil” and petroleum as an energy source of the past. As Mark Perry notes on his Carpe Diem blog (see post on July 1, 2013 at 5:44pm), Texas produced an average of 2.45 million barrels a day (bpd) of crude oil in April, according to the Energy Information Administration. That’s the highest average daily output for Texas in any month since April 1985 — 28 years ago. In only 2-1/2 years, the Lone Star State has doubled its crude output, making it what Perry dubs Saudi Texas and reversing a 23-year decline that fueled speculation that the maximum rate of petroleum extraction has been, or will soon be, reached. At the current pace of output gains, Texas’ production will likely surpass 3 million bpd by year-end, pulling it ahead of Venezuela, Kuwait, Mexico and Iraq to become the equivalent of the ninth largest oil-production “nation” in the world.

The Senate Finance Committee took less than 10 minutes to approve a measure that, if the House and Texas voters agree, would direct about $900 million more a year to the state’s highways. SJR 1, a proposed constitutional amendment, was approved 12-0 and could come to the Senate floor for approval as soon as July 9, when the Senate returns from a weeklong recess of this second special session. Identical resolutions filed in the House have not yet been scheduled for committee hearings. SJR 1 would redirect oil and gas severance taxes from the state rainy day fund to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). In its current form, it specifies that the money could not be used to pay for toll roads, a stipulation added in the House during the first special session. The measure includes a requirement that the amount of money going to TxDOT would be reduced or eliminated if the rainy day fund balance were to fall below what would be a moving threshold. For the first payment to TxDOT, which wouldn’t occur until November 2014, that threshold would be about $4.8 billion
As Pioneer Natural Resources steps up its operations in the Spraberry/Wolfcamp Shale, it has partnered with another local company to help recycle frack water and produced water from its wells. Roanoke-based Fountain Quail Water Management announced the partnership Thursday with Irving-based Pioneer to set up recycling operations near Midkiff by the third quarter of 2013. Fountain Quail will set up two Nomad recycling machines right at the wastewater disposal well so they can capture much of the produced water and frack water that comes from Pioneer’s nearby frack jobs and producing wells. The water will be converted back into freshwater so Pioneer can use it in another fracture stimulation.
Statoil announced that as of July 1st, it has assumed operatorship for all activities in the eastern part of its Eagle Ford asset in Texas which fall mainly within Live Oak, Karnes, DeWitt and Bee counties. Statoil holds approximately 73,000 net acres in the Eagle Ford. Production stands at 20,200 barrels of oil equivalents per day (boe/d) (Statoil share) from around 300 producing wells.
Spectra Energy’s Texas Eastern Transmission LP is offering capacity on its Gulf Market Expansion Project, which would give Marcellus and Utica Shale gas access to growing Gulf Coast markets in Louisiana and Texas, including for future export of liquefied natural gas (LNG). For more information please contact HBW Resources.
Chesapeake Energy Corp. announced a deal to sell off assets for $1 billion in the Eagle Ford and the Haynesville shales to Dallas-based Exco Resources. In the northern Eagle Ford Shale, will acquire about 55,000 net acres in Zavala, Dimmit, La Salle and Frio counties, Texas. The properties contain 120 producing wells that had average net daily production of 6,100 barrels of oil equivalent during May. In the Haynesville Shale, Exco will get Chesapeake’s operated and non-operated interests in 9,600 net acres in Desoto and Caddo parishes, Louisiana. Included in deal: 11 units operated by Chesapeake and 42 units operated by Exco. The average net daily production from the Haynesville properties was about 114 million cubic feet of natural gas equivalent during May.
Houston-based ZaZa Energy Corp. said it will sell 10,300 acres in South Texas’s Eagle Ford Shale formation for $28.8 million. Sanchez Energy’s SN Marquis subsidiary, also based in Houston, is the purchaser, according securities documents. The acreage is located in Fayette, Gonzales and Lavaca counties, all east of San Antonio.
West Virginia
A study by West Virginia University Public School of Health chairman Michael McCawley found only one site where there was concern, the Maury pad in Wetzel County where high levels of benzene were found. Benzene levels at the Maury pad were 85 parts per billion, compared to a normal range between one and 30 parts per billion. There was more diesel truck activity at the Maury and the trucks could have produced most of the benzene detected, said McCawley.He said benzene levels at the other drilling sites in Wetzel, Marion and Brooke counties were more like the exposure one would experience living in a city. For more information please contact HBW Resources.
The first Pavillion working group meeting since the Environmental Protection Agency announced it is handing its investigation of contaminated water to the state is Aug. 2 in Riverton. The meeting is public. It begins at 1 p.m. at the Riverton Holiday Inn at 900 E. Sunset Dr. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will give updates and describe the future investigation of pits, well bore integrity and domestic water wells.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, in his first interview since taking office last month, expressed firm support for the domestic natural gas industry, both in stressing his desire to quickly approve liquefied natural gas exports and backing the role of states in regulating hydraulic fracturing. “I think in the end there has to be a very, very strong state role there” for states, Moniz said in an interview on “Platts Energy Week.” “The situations are different in different states, the geologies are different,” he said. Moniz also downplayed environmental concerns about fracking, contending that incidents such as methane leakages are “relatively small” when compared with the number of wells being drilled. “I think the issues in terms of the environmental footprint of hydraulic fracturing are manageable,” he said. “They’re challenging, but manageable.”
The House Subcommittee on Energy and Power has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday, July 9, 2013 to focus on H.R. 1900, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act. The Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act, sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R, KS 4) would modernize the federal review process for natural gas pipeline permit applications. The legislation seeks to facilitate the construction of new natural gas pipeline projects by modernizing the permitting process and expediting approvals. It would spur job growth and provide greater certainty for interstate natural gas pipeline projects while preserving the critical environmental review processes necessary for each natural gas pipeline project.
The EPA will host two public webinars providing on a summary of recent workshops within its Hydraulic Fracturing Study Group in Tuesday, July 16. “Water Acquisition Modeling: Assessing Impacts through Modeling and Other Means” will be held at 1:00pm EST while, “Well Construction/Operation and Subsurface Modeling” will be held at 3:00pm EST.
Western governors have unveiled a regional 10-year energy “vision” that stresses cooperation among states in interstate projects such as transmission lines, increased oil production and modernization of pipeline infrastructure.Among goals of the plan are to put the United States on a path to energy security by increasing North American oil production, ensuring energy is clean, affordable and reliable by providing a balanced portfolio that includes renewable, traditional and nontraditional resources and increase energy productivity associated with electricity and natural gas. For more information please contact HBW Resources.
State regulators continue to be the primary overseers of shale natural gas development, but because of the speed at which the boom shifted — and continues to shift — the energy marketplace, the dynamic environment has created challenges for the energy industry and all of the stakeholders involved, according to, “The State of State Shale Gas Regulation” a report by Resources for the Future (RFF).
Steptoe and Johnson has published a study, “Below the Surface -The Legal Challenges of Shale Gas Production” which “set out to map the legal issues, trends and expenses below the surface of shale production” and found that on average, shale developers spend $3.4 million annually for litigation in shale plays. It found that areas that decision-makers of shale activities find the most challenging include: “Title and real estate, transactions, litigation, regulatory and environmental–in that order. When asked which matters require the most help from outside counsel, litigation is first, followed by title and real estate, and then private financing and related securities.” The study also found that 67 percent of respondents use litigation or trial to defend against suits; 65 percent use pre-trial settlement; and 56 percent said environmental disputes are of the most concern.
United Parcel Service Inc. will purchase 285 more natural-gas powered trucks in 2014, covering every new heavy-duty vehicle purchased for its small-package delivery business, its chief operating officer said. The purchases will build on a previously announced buy of 700 natural-gas trucks, said David Abney, the Atlanta-based company’s chief operating officer. UPS sees liquefied and compressed natural gas as a “bridge fuel” over the next decade, he said. UPS is also building nine additional natural-gas filling stations, Abney said. Three will be in Tennessee, which has a favorable regulatory environment and a year-round supply of natural gas available for transportation, he said. The world’s largest package-delivery company is also vowing to reduce diesel soot emissions 75 percent by 2020 and smog-forming nitrogen oxides by 60 percent. The company’s alternative-fuel trucks have logged 300 million miles since 2001 with a goal of reaching 1 billion by 2017. Through better information, route planning and telematics, UPS trucks drove 364 million fewer miles between 2001 and 2012, Abney said. UPS fleets travel about 2.9 billion miles a year. UPS now operates 2,723 alternative-fuel and alternative-technology vehicles, he said. The 285 additional natural-gas powered tractors and nine fueling stations the company has planned represent an investment of $75 million.
Procter & Gamble Co. is converting as much as 20 percent of its for-hire truck shipping to natural gas vehicles. Starting next month, the Cincinnati-based consumer-goods company will work with eight transportation carriers to achieve the goal within two years. The effort, according to P&G, should reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 5,000 metric tons — equal to the amount produced by 1,000 passenger vehicles in a year. The project’s initial phase calls for converting 7 percent of P&G’s North America for-hire transportation network to natural gas powered trucks. The move involves 16 states with an average length of haul of more than 280 miles, including two 1,000-mile truck lanes.The for-hire arrangement is in addition to P&G’s 22 natural gas vehicles.
The success of the shale revolution will be slow to replicate outside the United States because of limited access to drilling equipment and skilled personnel, according to influential oil analyst Leonardo Maugeri. Maugeri has produced an assessment of the U.S. oil industry, “The Shale Oil Boom: A  U.S. Phenomenon.” But he is too pessimistic about the potential for shale production in the rest of the world and its role in restraining medium-term and long-term oil prices. Citing Baker Hughes, Maugeri notes that more than half of the world’s drilling rigs are employed in the United States. Ninety percent of them are equipped to drill horizontal wells, and almost all oil and gas wells in the United States are now fractured to stimulate production. In the rest of the world, by contrast, fracturing is used on fewer than one well in 10. This leads him to conclude that shale is likely to remain a uniquely U.S. phenomenon for a while. For more information please contact HBW Resources.
A report, “Partnering Natural Gas and Renewables in ERCOT” from The Brattle Group argues widespread suggestions that abundant supplies and low prices for natural gas are pushing out wind and solar, focuses too much on installation costs and ignores the advantages that keep renewable capacity competitive, as well as the significant synergies between gas and renewables. In the short term, despite low gas prices, renewables are called upon first, especially in competitive markets, because they have the lowest variable costs. In real-world day-to-day operation, gas and renewable capacity complement each other to a degree sufficient to push out other options. Texas’s large wind capacity has resulted in substantial ramping episodes that need to be backed up by gas-fired generation. In 2009, the report notes, ramping events averaged five hours, and ranged from 4,613 MW up to –4,788 MW down. Added renewable capacity offers an important hedge against fuel gas price increases. While up-front costs of gas-fired capacity are lower, future fuel prices are uncertain, and gas has historically been quite volatile. The variable costs of renewable capacity are known, because the costs are almost entirely up-front.
The former forecasting head of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) believes the shale gas revolution could spark a slide in oil prices over the next 10 years. In a report written with Puma Energy, Dr. John Llewellyn described the invention of ‘fracking’ to extract the gas as ‘game changing technology’. As a consequence Llewellyn would not be surprised to see the price of oil fall to around $50 a barrel between now and 2020.
A group of oil-pipe makers led by United States Steel Corp. filed a U.S. trade complaint against competitors in nine nations, alleging goods from those countries were sold in the U.S. market below cost and, in some cases, benefited from government subsidies. The U.S. coalition made the complaint with the International Trade Commission in Washington. Countries named in the complaint are India, Korea, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam. Producers including U.S. Steel won U.S. duties averaging 86 percent on Chinese pipes used in oil and gas wells, after complaining in a similar case brought in 2009 that they were being hurt by below-market prices for Chinese products. The latest case, if successful, would be a “landmark record win for the U.S. steel industry” because it would create a defense against imported oil-pipe products, said Michelle Applebaum, managing partner at consultant Steel Market Intelligence in Chicago. For more information please contact HBW Resources.
Capex SA, the Argentine natural gas and power producer, will drill its first shale well this month, Chief Financial Officer Claudia Biasotti said.  The well will be in the company’s Agua del Cajon gas field, part of the VacaMuerta shale formation in Neuquen province. Capex has an agreement with Houston-based Halliburton Co. (HAL), for the hydraulic fracturing of 11 wells. Capex is also seeking to boost the price at which it sells newly discovered gas to the government by potentially recreating a power-rate compromise it reached on May 31. Under that agreement, Capex said it wouldn’t sue the government for a decade of frozen rates in exchange for a higher electricity tariff. The company is holding talks with the Argentine government about a similar deal that may triple the price it gets for the new gas.
Ireland-based Falcon Oil & Gas Ltd. reported that Hess Australia (Beetaloo) Pty Ltd. (Hess) has forfeited its rights to earn 62.5 percent in three of the permits in northern Australia’s Beetaloo Basin as it did not commit to drilling the five wells by the agreed deadline of 10 p.m. on June 28. Hess was granted the rights to farm-in to the three permits in accordance with the Participation Agreement of April 28, 2011. This was amended Aug. 2, 2012 to give Hess more time to make a decision on its drilling commitment in the Beetaloo permits. Falcon’s Board rejected a late request by Hess to defer the election date again. Falcon owns the four exploration permits covering approximately 7 million acres (approximately 28,000 square kilometers) in the Beetaloo Basin. RPS Energy, in its independent Competent Person’s Report dated Jan. 1 estimates gross un-risked recoverable prospective resource (play level) potential of 162 trillion cubic feet of gas and 21,345 million barrels of oil (P50) for Falcon’s Beetaloo Exploration Permits.
China is reconsidering its most recent Five-Year Plan’s target for natural gas because of the challenges in developing shale gas resources, according to a China energy sector source. The 12th Five-Year Plan for the world’s second-biggest economy set ambitious targets for domestic natural gas, according to The 2013 China Greentech Report: China at a Crossroads. From a baseline of contributing 4 percent of China’s energy mix in 2010, the plan called for natural gas to provide 8 percent of the mix in 2015 and 10 percent in 2020.
Global oilfield services company Schlumberger has announced the official opening of the Schlumberger Reservoir Laboratory in Chengdu, China. The 32,000 sq. ft. facility will offer rock analysis services to support expanding exploration activity in unconventional shale plays and is the newest addition to the Schlumberger global network of reservoir laboratories. The laboratory offers an integrated suite of petrophysical and geomechanical services to help customers improve hydrocarbon recovery and maximize production throughout the life of their reservoirs. For more information please contact HBW Resources.
New Zealand Oil & Gas indicated that the rig used to drill the Parit Minyak-2 (PM-2) exploration well, located in the Kisaran PSC in onshore Sumatra, is being moved to the Parit Minyak-3 (PM-3) drill site. Drilling at PM-3 is expected to begin before the end of July. Meanwhile, fracture stimulation of the Pemantang 4 formation in the PM-2 well is scheduled for late August/September 2013.
Dalia Grybauskaitė, president of Lithuania, spoke during the EU summit last week, and when asked about shale gas, said she believes that the US will soon start exporting cheap shale gas which will mean that “the gas sector will look different and we, Europeans, need to be prepared for it because today energy prices in Europe are absolutely uncompetitive. We are paying a lot and this jeopardizes our recovery and development. We need to invest into interconnecting ourselves and into the security and diversification of supply. This means also to be able to accept liquid gas from anywhere, from Norway or the United States,” she said, adding that “we don’t want to be dependent on Russian supply, for example.” She also said that she realizes that there are concerns over the safety of fracking, but it is essential to do so in order to find out what the true potential of shale gas in the country is: “To not know what kinds of resources we have ourselves is a huge and a very costly mistake.”In May it was reported that the Lithuanian parliament had amended its shale exploration laws which now require an environmental impact study, limited use of radioactive and toxic materials and rules for waste storage.
The U.S. shale gas boom is shaping up to be an important competitive advantage for manufacturers – in Mexico. U.S. natural gas exports to Mexico hit a record last year, helping hold down the country’s energy costs as its industry grew rapidly. Planned new pipelines that will enable further rapid growth in imports from the U.S. will strengthen and lock in that advantage, and help to give Mexico a competitive edge over other emerging economies for as long as North American shale production remains strong. China’s manufacturing labor costs overtook Mexico’s last year because of its high rates of wage inflation, and its energy costs are also significantly higher. By 2015, China’s total manufacturing costs will be about 95 per cent of US levels, with gas contributing about 4 percentage points of that, while Mexico’s will be just 89 per cent, with gas at just 1 percentage point, according to new research from the Boston Consulting Group.
San Leon Energy has announced that it will start the process of fracking its first well in the Polish Baltic Basin for shale gas on 29th June and expects to share results with the market by the middle of August. According to chief executive Oisin Fanning, “I think this is a very key summer for Poland. I think by the time the summer’s finished I’d be surprised if you don’t see 10 to 15 fracks done at least.” He said that that a vertical frack has the added advantage of costing about a third of the price of a horizontal frack, and gives an idea of flow rates. For more information please contact HBW Resources.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called on gas exporting countries to come up with a single pricing mechanism and resist EU market rules. The Gas Exporting Countries Forum meetings are designed to group the natural gas producers into a tight-knit community of nations resembling the OPEC oil cartel. Putin said that it was imperative for the countries to defend the practice of tying gas prices to those of oil and fighting the more temperamental nature of the spot market. He also defended long-term contracts that bind clients to purchase gas within a specific price range for a number of decades and which Russia has recently been forced to abandon under pressure from some European states.EU nations in particular abhor the link between the price of oil and gas because of the expanding supplies of the latter that have come in recent years thanks to the booming liquified natural gas (LNG) market.
The only fracking licenses for gas extraction in Scotland are going to be dropped. Australian-owned Dart Energy is in discussions with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency over ending its permits for two sites near Canonbie in Dumfries and Galloway. That would mean that, in contrast to England, no hydraulic fracturing to extract underground shale gas would be allowed in Scotland. Huge shale reserves were identified across northern England last week by the British Geological Survey, with strong backing from the Westminster government. Abandoning fracking in Scotland could help pave the way politically for Dart’s plans to exploit coal-bed methane using other techniques at Airth, near Falkirk, and at Canonbie, where the company is working with the Duke of Buccleuch’s estate.
Turkey’s Energy Minister TanerYıldız, said it would be another 7 years before the country can exploit its shale gas reserves as it can take anywhere between 3-15 years to study the feasibility of a shale project as well as to garner enough international investments. He also said that the ministry is planning on sending a committee to North America to learn about the process of shale development while also preserving the environment.
JKX Oil & Gas reported Tuesday that it has started its multi-stage frac operation on well R-103 on its Rudenkovskoye license in Poltava, Ukraine. The well was drilled to a total depth of 15,225 feet into the Rudenkovskoye Devonian sandstone reservoir with a horizontal section of just over 3,280 feet at a true vertical depth of 11,975 feet, according to JKX. The operation, which consists of nine stages, is expected to take around 40 days to complete, with initial flow expected in mid-August. JKX said that Schlumberger, the frac contractor, plans to inject more than 1,200 tons of proppant, supported by up to 35,000 barrels of frac fluid.
United Kingdom
package of community incentives were unveiled by the government– designed to overcome sometimes strong local opposition to “fracking”, the technique that has unlocked vast reserves of shale gas in the US. Shale companies will pay communities £100,000 per well where fracking takes place and 1 per cent of revenues once production starts. Ministers said new guidelines would be issued on the planning and permitting regime to make the approval process for fracking clearer and more streamlined. It also launched a consultation on tax incentives to encourage shale exploration. For more information please contact HBW Resources.
London Mayor Boris Johnson said he’s open to fracking for gas under the U.K. capital to meet the city’s demand for energy.  The headroom between energy supply and demand will drop to just 2 percent in two years, which will force some industries not to operate at peak times, Johnson said. The U.K. government said June 27 that shale-gas fields in northern England are potentially big enough to meet demand for 47 years. The countryside south of Britain’s biggest city may hold 700 million barrels of recoverable shale oil, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Johnson said, “It is time for maximum boldness in energy supply.” He added, “If reserves of shale can be exploited in London we should leave no stone unturned, or unfracked, in the cause of keeping the lights on.”
The ‘Unconventional Gas Conference – Minimising Environmental Impact, Moving Development Forward’ is a one-day shale gas conference and networking event which will take place on September 26th, 2013, in London at an undisclosed hotel in Russell Square, central London. For more information on the event, please check out the events brochure.
Additional Information
For additional information, please contact Bo Ollison with HBW Resources.  His contact information is below.
Bo Ollison
HBW Resources
2211 Norfolk Street, #410
Houston, TX 77098
Tel: 713-337-8810
Twitter: @BoOllison
Contact Information
If you have any general questions, please contact us anytime. Previous versions of the HBW Ollison Hydraulic Fracturing Report, the HBW Greenfield Offshore Energy Report, the Forsgren Environmental Report, and daily updates and new Member profiles can be viewed at the new Intelligence Tab on the HBW Resources website at:  Hope you all have a great day!
Michael Zehr
HBW Resources
1666 K Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006
Direct: 202-429-6081
Cell: 202-277-3927
Twitter: @mzehrhbw

HBW Resources: Forsgren Environmental Report

Forsgren Environmental Report
Wednesday, May 29th, 2013 

***Introducing the Forsgren Environmental Report, another intelligence offering from HBW Resources. This new report, detailing all you need to know on federal environmental policy and regulation is compiled by D. Lee Forsgren. Forsgren is recognized as a leading expert in environmental policy with particular emphasis on the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, the Oil Pollution Act, and issues related to the Army Corps of Engineers.  He is currently “Of Counsel” for HBW Resources and provides legal and policy guidance to the firm’s clients.***

By Land or Water: How Will Regulation Come?
1.  Senate Passes Water Resource Development Act.
Legislation authorizing programs and streamlining the Army Corp of Engineers environmental review process passed the U.S. Senate this past Wednesday by a vote of 83 to 14 .   The “Water Resources Development Act,” S . 601 , will provide for the conservation and development of water and related resources, to authorize the Secretary of the Army to construct various projects for improvements to rivers and harbors of the United States.  Several important amendments were debated as part of the consideration by the full Senate that will be discussed separately.

Why does this matter? – 
The Water Resource Development Act authorizes the Army Corps of engineers to dredge the nation’s ports, build and operate the inland waterway system, and mitigate flooding risks.  The legislation includes provisions that will streamline environmental reviews, however legislation always carries the risk of being used to advance environmental agenda items such as comprehensive Everglades restoration or expansions to the definition of “waters of the United States”…We should keep an eye on this one.     

2. Wyoming Senator  Tom Barrasso  wants to keep the U.S. Government from falling into your ditch.  

The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are looking to expand the definition of “waters of the United States” to include ditches or dry areas where water flows even after a rainfall.  Federal regulations have never defined ditches and other upland drainage features as “waters of the United States.”  But draft guidance issued by the agencies does do that, and it will have a huge impact on farmers, ranchers, small businesses, and other industries that need to put a shovel in the ground to make a living.

“The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers’ guidance amounts to a Federal user fee for farmers and ranchers to farm the land they own.” Barrasso said. “Just as troubling as ignoring congressional intent, the guidance absolutely disregards the fundamental tenet embodied in two decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. One is the SWANCC decision and the other is the Rapanos decision. Those are decisions that say there are actual limits to Federal jurisdiction. It is particularly troubling to me and to others around the country–and certainly at home in Wyoming it is particularly troubling–that the guidance allows the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA to regulate waters now considered entirely under State jurisdiction. As somebody who has served in the State legislature, talking to the Presiding Officer as someone who has served as a Governor of his State, we know the key importance of State jurisdiction in making local decisions This guidance would grant the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Corps of Engineers virtually unlimited regulatory control over all wet areas within a State.” said Senator Barrasso in explaining his amendment.

The Barrasso amendment was not included in the passed version of the Senate Water Resources Development Act, even though it technically passed 52-44. Under a previous agreement all amendments were required to have at least 60 votes for inclusion in to the overall bill.  

Why does this matter? –  
A majority of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives likely oppose the EPA’s plans to significantly expand the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act definition of “waters of the United States”.   The agency has yet to determine whether it will go forward with finalizing the proposed guidance in addition to the rulemaking or choose to conduct only a rulemaking.  A strong showing by Congress could impact that decision.

The determination of what constitutes “Waters of the United States” is important because the final rule will indicate whether EPA intends to redefine when isolated wetlands, intermittent streams, and other non-navigable waters should be subject to regulation under the CWA.  This could have a major impact on the breadth of jurisdiction.  Small differences in scope could mean that millions of acres are/or are not, subject to CWA jurisdiction

3. Clean Water Act:  EPA Targets West Virginia’s Shale Gas Region 

The Clean Water Act requires that States periodically submit, and EPA approve or disapprove, lists of waters (called “Section 303(d) lists”) for which existing technology-based pollution controls are not stringent enough to attain or maintain State water quality standards and for which total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) must be prepared. Waters identified on Section 303(d) lists are called “water quality limited segments.” This notice announces EPA’s proposal to include in West Virginia’s Section 303(d) list certain water quality limited segments and requests public comment.

On March 25, 2012 EPA partially approved West Virginia’s 2012 Section 303(d) list of water quality limited segments and associated pollutants and partially disapproved West Virginia’s submission to the extent that West Virginia did not identify certain water quality limited segments. EPA proposes to identify these additional water quality limited segments for inclusion on the State’s 2012 section 303(d) list. The proposed water quality limited segments are identified in Enclosure 3 of the decision document are available here

EPA is providing the public the opportunity to review its decision to add these water quality limited segments to West Virginia’s 2012 Section 303(d) list. EPA will consider public comments before transmitting its final listing decision to the State.

Why does this matter?
While this may look like a ministerial move by the EPA, it is no accident that the rivers and segments the EPA is seeking standards on Total Maximum Daily Limits (TMDLs) are mostly located in the shale gas region of the state.  Through TMDLs, EPA can regulate activates under the Clean Water Act that cannot otherwise be federally regulated.  These activities could include runoff from construction and mining sites and other practices associated with shale gas development.

4. EPA is seeking nominations for “experts” to help them determine the scope of the Clean Water Act

The EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) Staff Office has requested public nominations of scientific experts to form an SAB panel to review the Agency’s draft science synthesis report on the connectivity of streams and wetlands to downstream waters.

Why does this matter?
While this would seem like another request for scientific input on some obscure governmental panel, this panel’s work will be very critical for any person, company, or organization who must obtain a Section 404 permit under the Clean Water Act.  This panel is likely to be the basis for EPA and the Corps of Engineers’ development of the scope of regulatory reach under the Clean Water Act.  The hydrological connection that ties lands that are not adjacent to the Navigable Waters to those waters is the basis for regulation. Without such a basis the Supreme Court has ruled the Clean Water Act doesn’t permit, and the Constitution’s “Commerce Clause” would not allow, Congress to require a federal permit on such lands.  Therefore having a sound scientific basis for the connections is critical.  It is likely that the Environmental Groups are likely to push for “scientists” who will seek the broadest imaginable interpretation of “connection” in order to bring as much land as possible under the scope of the regulation. Get your applications in NOW.

5. Thune cautions EPA on getting too cozy with Earth Justice

Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) expressed concern to Acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Bob Perciasepe, about the EPA release of personal information of approximately 80,000 agriculture producers released to environmental groups Earth Justice, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the environmental arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts.  The data dump included 500 farms and ranches in South Dakota. The personal information included the name of the operation, permit number, numbers and types of animals, and county of residence.

Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, along with committee members Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.) previously wrote to Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) questioning the agency’s decision to release personal and confidential business information related to recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from environmental groups.  A copy of the letter can be viewed here

Why does this Matter?
U.S. Senators from agricultural states do not want the release of sensitive business, or personal information by EPA under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to become routine process.  Environmental and animal rights groups have attempted to use FOIA as a means of obtaining sensitive business data and locations of regulated CAFO’s and other agricultural operations. The release of the data poses a significant security risk to the affected operations. EPA’s conscience release of such information may well have set a precedent if gone unchecked.  The strong challenge by a number of Senators makes the likelihood that future release of sensitive information will not become routine.

When asked about the collection of such data by EPA and its release under FOIA, EPA Administrator designate Gina McCarthy promised to work with Senators to “assure that this type of improper release of information doesn’t happen again.” 

6. The House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee hearing on the “Water Resource Development Act“.
Why does this matter? 
The House of Representatives is serious enough about moving legislation to have a policy only hearing significantly enhances the likelihood of Water Resource legislation being enacted this year.  Good sign.  

Today in DC: HBW Resources Daily Washington Update

Monday in DC:

Back to Work:
The House and the Senate will be back in session this week after a week of recess.  The Senate will be completing work on the Marketplace Fairness Act, providing a legal framework for collecting taxes on certain on-line purchases, and is expected to consider legislation reauthorizing the Water Resources Development Act.  The House will be considering legislation providing additional flexibility for employers dealing with overtime payments and another bill prioritizing federal payments should Congress fail to pass a debt ceiling increase.
The majority of the action will continue to occur in the committees where oversight of the FY2014 Budget request continues.  Work on immigration reform will begin in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, and Senator Reid has announced that he intends to use the entire month of June to consider the issue on the floor.  He expects to use July for some mixture of minimum wage increase and appropriations bills. 
The House will use the end of May and most of June to consider a series of energy bills, ranging from proposals to expedited consideration of the Keystone XL pipeline and expanding domestic production, to efforts to support energy exports and restrict the regulatory activities of the EPA.
Although the timing is uncertain, the Chambers will have to address the debt ceiling again at some point in the next few months.  With tax reform legislation still in the formative stages, the potential that such a proposal could be tied to the debt ceiling is unlikely, but not out of the realm of possibility.
Other Items of Interest:
Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Urges Action on Efficiency:  US Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee sent a letter to President Obama urging the Administration to encourage the use of Energy Performance Savings Contracts (EPSCs).  Energy Savings Performance Contracts allow government agencies to pay for energy efficiency upgrades through the savings in their energy bills, without any upfront cost to taxpayers. Energy-efficiency advocates have voiced concerns about the slow pace of approvals for some energy saving contracts in recent months. The administration has set a goal of signing $2 billion worth of ESPCs by 2014. To date, federal agencies have entered into $500 million of agreements toward that target.
Chairman Boxer Schedules Committee Vote on Nomination of Gina McCarthy: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the Chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee announced that the Committee would consider the nomination on May 9th. Senator Vitter (R-LA) and other Republicans on the EPW Committee had recently urgedthe Chairwoman to refrain from taking up the nomination until all the questions submitted had been addressed. In her announcement, Senator Boxer voiced support for the nominee and said that she had completed and answered over a thousand questions submitted to her by Members of the Committee.
New Report Released on Economic Benefits of LNG Exports:  The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) released a new report showing liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports will benefit the U.S. economy and spur job creation. The report highlights how the natural gas industry has helped stimulate employment and small business growth across the country in recent years, especially in those states with expanded production. Looking at the vast economic benefits natural gas production has brought to our economy, the report asserts that increasing LNG exports will expand opportunities for small businesses to grow and create jobs.
Senators Request GAO Study of Fusion Reactor:  A bipartisan group of energy policy leaders in the U.S. Senate sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office requesting an investigation of the cost and feasibility of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor and its effect on U.S. fusion programs. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is a fusion research demonstration reactor currently under construction in southern France, jointly financed and managed by the European Union, India, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and the United States. The United States has committed to fund 9.1 percent of the project’s cost, as well as contribute hardware and personnel. That cost has ballooned in recent years, and is a threat to other research efforts in a constrained budget environment. 
Sec. Jewell Tours Offshore Rig:  Last Friday, DOI Sec. Sally Jewell visited an offshore drilling rig and production platform in the Gulf of Mexico.  She was accompanied by Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director Jim Watson and a BSEE Gulf Region inspector on the visit, which included seeing first-hand LLOG’s drilling operations onboard the ENSCO 8502 rig, approximately 120 miles southeast of New Orleans, LA. There she observed a cementing operation for a production well and was briefed on LLOG’s development plan for the area. She also visited Chevron’s deepest producing facility in 6,500 feet water depth, a semi-a submersible platform approximately 125 miles southeast of New Orleans, LA. There she toured the production equipment and discussed Chevron’s deepwater strategy for exploration and development in the Gulf of Mexico.  Additional information on her trip can be viewed here.

HBW Ollison Fracking Report:  See the latest updates on news and policy at the state, national and international levels affecting the use of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas development.  A copy of the report can be viewed here.  
Notable Hearings and Events:
EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Research Meeting:  On May 7th and 8th, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a meeting of the Hydraulic Fracturing Research Advisory Panel to provide an opportunity for independent expert members of the ad hoc panel to provide comment on EPA’s study of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources, May 7-8. The event will be available via webcast at]
BLM Appropriations Budget Hearing:  On May 7th and 9:30 AM in B-308 Rayburn, the House Appropriations Committee Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the budget for the Bureau of Land Management. Neil Kornze, principal deputy director of the Bureau of Land Management will be testifying.  Additional information can be found on the Committee website:
Senate Hearing on Helium Legislation: On May 7th at 9:30AM in 366 Dirksen, the full Committee will hold a hearing on H.R.527, the “Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act,” to complete the privatization of the Federal helium reserve in a competitive market fashion that ensures stability in the helium markets while protecting the interests of American taxpayers. Tim Spisak, deputy assistant director for minerals and realty management in the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management; Walter Nelson, director of helium sourcing and supply chain for Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.; David Joyner, president of Air Liquide Helium America, Inc.; Carolyn Duran, senior materials manager for the Intel Corporation; and Moses Chan, professor of physics at Pennsylvania State University, will testify at the hearing. Additional information can be found here.
Hearing on Scientific and Environmental Issues Regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline:  ON May 7th at 10 AM in 2318 Rayburn, the House Science Committee Energy Subcommittee and Environment Subcommittee will hold a joint hearing on “Keystone XL Pipeline: Examination of Scientific and Environmental Issues.” Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Industrial Commission’s Department of Mineral Resources; Brigham McCown, principal and managing director of United Transportation Advisors LLC; Paul “Chip” Knappenberger, assistant director of the Cato Institute’s Center for the Study of Science; and Anthony Swift, attorney in the Natural Resources Defense Council’s International Program, will testify.  Additional information can be found here.
Discussion on Natural Gas Exports:  On May 7th at 10AM, the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) will hold a discussion on “America’s Natural Gas: Should Exports be Restricted?
Indian Ambassador to the United States Nirupama Rao; Claude Barfield, resident scholar at AEI; Ken Ditzel, principal at Charles River Associates; David Montgomery, senior vice president of NERA Economic Consulting; Wallace Tyner, professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University; Benjamin Zycher, visiting scholar at AEI; and Arthur Brooks, president of AEI, will participate in the discussion. The event will be streamed live on
Hearing on US Energy Exports: On May 7th at 10AM n 2123 Rayburn, the Energy and Commerce Committee Energy and Power Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “U.S. Energy Abundance: Exports and the Changing Global Energy Landscape.” The Honorable J. Bennett Johnston, Chairman Johnston & Associates; Honorable Byron Dorgan, Co-Chair Bipartisan Policy Center; Mr. James Bradbury, Senior Associate, Climate and Energy Program, World Resources Institute; Mr. Michael Breen, Executive Director Truman National Security Project; Mr. Mike Halleck, President Executive Columbiana County Board of Commissioners; and Ms. Amy Jaffe, Director, Energy & Sustainability, UC Davis Graduate School of Management; will testify.  Additional information about the hearing can be found here.
Sec. Jewell to Testify on FY2014 Budget Request:  On May 7th at 10:30 AM in 124 Dirksen, the Senate Appropriations Committee Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “FY2014 Budget Request for the Department of the Interior.” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell; Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes; Assistant Interior Secretary of Policy, Management and Budget Rhea Suh; Deputy Assistant Interior Secretary Pam Haze of the Office of Budget, Finance, Performance and Acquisition, will testify.  Additional information can be found on the Committee website:
Hearing on DOI Hydraulic Fracturing Rule: On May 8th at 10AM in 1324 Longworth, the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on “DOI Hydraulic Fracturing Rule: A Recipe for Government Waste, Duplication and Delay.”  Additional information about the hearing can be found here.
Senate Committee Considers Hydropower Legislation:  On May 8th at 11:30 in 366 Dirksen, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a full committee markup of S.306, the “Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act”; S.545, the “Hydropower Improvement Act of 2013”; S.761, the “Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013”; H.R.267, the “Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013”; and H.R.678, the “Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act.”  Additional information on the markup can be viewed here
House Committee Holds Hearing on EPA’s Budget Request:  On May 8th at 1PM in 2359 Rayburn, the House Appropriations Committee Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe will testify.  Additional information about the hearing can be found here.
Senate EPW Committee to Consider McCarthy Nomination:  On May 9th at 9:15 AM in 406 Dirksen, the Senate Environment and Public Works will hold a full committee hearing on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.  Additional information on the meeting can be found here.
Hearing on Grid Reliability: On May 9th at 9:30 AM n 2123 Rayburn, the House Energy and Commerce Committee Energy and Power Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “American Energy Security and Innovation: Grid Reliability Challenges in a Shifting Energy Resource Landscape.”  Additional information can be found here.
Member of the Day: US Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) 

Committee Assignments: Financial Services
Chief of Staff: Adam Khun
Legislative Director: Jesse Walls
Twitter: @repstevestivers
Experience:  Rep. Stivers attended college at Ohio State University; he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and an MBA.  Rep. Stivers worked for Bank One for seven years and the Ohio Company for three years before being elected to the Ohio State Senate. He held the state senate seat from 2003 through 2008.  Rep. Stivers joined the Ohio National guard in 1985 and currently holds the rank of colonel.  In 2004-2005, Rep. Stivers served as a Battalion Commander in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  After an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2008, Stivers beat the one term, democrat incumbent in 2010.  Currently, Rep. Stivers is serving his second term in Congress. 
Importance: Rep. Stivers is a member of the Financial Services Committee where he primarily works on banking, insurance, housing, and consumer protection legislation. However, Rep. Stivers has taken interest in veterans and military issues as well as energy policy.  Last Congress, Stivers authored legislation that would have opened untapped oil resources in the Outer Continental Shelf.  In turn, revenues from offshore drilling leases would have increased and the new funds could have been used to fund infrastructure projects.  The bill passed the House, but did not get signed into law. 
If you have any questions, please give me a call anytime. Previous updates and Member profiles can be reviewed at: Hope you have a great Monday!
Michael Zehr
HBW Resources
1666 K Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006
Direct: 202-429-6081
Cell: 202-277-3927
Twitter: @mzehrhbw

Monday in Washington

Monday in Washington:

Congress On Recess: 

With both the House and the Senate on recess this week, activity on Capitol Hill will be sluggish.  When they return, the Senate will finish up work on the Marketplace Fairness Act, hearings on the budget and annual appropriations bills will continue, and work on comprehensive immigration reform will kick off in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The Senate is also expected to begin consideration of the Water Resources and Development Act Reauthorization S. 601, when they return.  A copy of the legislative text being considered can be viewed here.  The bill has been criticized by some anti-development groups for its streamlining provisions.

Other Items of Interest: 

Annual White House Correspondents Dinner:  At the event, the President spares few, including himself, in annual roast.  A video of his speech can be viewed here.

HBW Resources Ollison Fracking Report:  Released last Friday, the report covers events at the state, federal and international levels potentially impacting the use of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas extraction.  A copy of the report can be viewed here.

Committee Leaders Seek GAO Analysis of DOE’s Nuclear Waste Storage Proposal:  House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Environment and the Economy Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) wrote to the GAO requesting an analysis of the costs and liabilities associated with the administration’s new nuclear waste proposal. The committee leaders are asking GAO how such a proposal would affect costs and liability for taxpayers and the timeline for a permanent nuclear waste solution.  A copy of the letter can be viewed here.

House Passes the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act:  The House passed legislation providing the BLM with the authority to manage and divest the remainder of the Federal Helium Reserve to maximize benefits to U.S. Taxpayers.  The reserve was created after WWI and helium continued to be stockpiled through the 1980’s.  In 1996, Congress passed legislation ordering the closure of the reserve once sales had paid off $1.3 billion in debt the reserve had built up.  Helium is now used for MRI machines, computer chips, fiber optic cables, and other defense related industries.  The reserve currently holds half of the U.S. helium supply and 30 percent of the world’s helium supply.  Additional information about the bill and the Federal Helium Reserve can be found here.

House Science Committee Review Federal Research on Hydraulic Fracturing:  Over the last two year, the Administration has requested $83 million to fund investigations into the use and safety of hydraulic fracturing, despite a track record of flawed studies.  The hearing examined research activities pursuant to an agreement signed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Interior (DOI) in April of 2012, which created an interagency effort to “address the highest priority challenges” related to the production of domestic unconventional oil and natural gas resources.  The testimony and a webcast of the hearing can be viewed here.

Senators Release Discussion Draft of Comprehensive Nuclear Waste Legislation: Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. – the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development – and Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, collaborated on the proposal, which builds on work by the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.
The members are seeking comment on the discussion draft and a number of policy and technical questions from experts and stakeholders, including utilities, conservation groups, Blue Ribbon Commission members and others, by May 24. Additional information about the legislation can be reviewed here.

Senate Finance Committee Releases White Paper on Infrastructure and Energy Tax Options:  As part of the Finance Committee’s ongoing efforts to pursue comprehensive tax reform, the Committee released a paper detailing many of the tax challenges and options for infrastructure and energy.  The paper notes the funding shortages under the current structures for the Highway Trust Fund and other funds needed for critical infrastructure.  The paper also notes the complexity and possible duplication of both tax and incentive programs for energy production.  A copy of the white paper can be reviewed here.

Events This Week:

Mergers and Acquisitions in the Energy Business: At 12:30 today, the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) will hold a discussion on “Mergers and Acquisitions in the Energy Business: Lessons Learned.” Lucio Noto, managing partner at Midstream Partners, LLC and former vice chairman of ExxonMobil will lead the discussion. A live stream will be available here.

Relationship Between Oil and Economic Growth:  On April 30th at 10 AM, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) holds a forum on “the relationship between oil and economic growth, the impact of recently developed unconventional resources in the United States, and the transformation underway in Saudi Arabia.” Saudi Arabian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Ibrahim al-Naimi; Frank Verrastro, senior vice president and chair for energy and geopolitics at CSIS; and John Hamre, president and CEO of CSIS will lead the forum.  Additional information can be found here.

US Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative:  On May 1st at 9:30 AM, the Interior Department (DOI); Office of Policy, Management and Budget will hold a meeting of the United States Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) Advisory Committee.  The meeting will be held in the Main Interior Building, 1849 C Street NW, Room 7000A-7000B, Washington, D.C. The event will be available via conference call at 866-707-0640; passcode, 1500538.

The Carbon Tax:  On May 3rd at 8:30 AM, the George C. Marshall Institute will hold a discussion on the report “Understanding the Political and Economic Realities of a Carbon Tax.” The report author James DeLong of the Convergence Law Institute; William O’Keefe, CEO of the Marshall Institute; David Kreutzer, research fellow in energy economics and climate change at the Heritage Foundation; and Scott Segal, founding partner for Bracewell and Giuliani’s Policy Resolution Group and director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council will participate in the discussion.  The event will be held at the Capitol Hill Club, 300 First Street SE, Washington, D.C. RSVP to to attend.

New Member of the Day: US Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)

Committee Assignments: Energy and Natural Resources, Commerce, and Indian Affairs

Chief of Staff: Andrew Winer
Deputy COS: Malia Paul
Senior Policy Advisor: Dale Hahn
Twitter: @SenBrianSchatz

Experience: Brian Schatz attended Punahou School in Honolulu, the same school as President Obama. He served in the Hawaii State House of Representatives from 1998 to 2006 and as head of the Democratic Party of Hawaii from 2008 through 2010. Most recently, he was the Lieutenant Governor of the state from 2010 to 2012, when he was appointed by Governor Abercrombie to fill the remainder of Sen. Daniel Inouye’s term following the Senator’s passing. The appointment came as a surprise to many who had expected Abercrombie to honor the late Senator’s deathbed request to appoint Rep. Colleen Hanabusa as his replacement. The Senator was an early supporter of President Obama and led an effort to draft him into the presidential election of 2008.

Importance: Senator Schatz has been a supporter of clean, sustainable energy and has stated that climate change is one of the most pressing challenges facing policy makers. He also comes from a state that imports 94 percent of it energy and has the highest energy prices in the United States. Hawaii is the most petroleum dependent state in the United States as well importing close to $4 billion in oil per year, much of which is used for electricity generation. To address this challenge the State’s energy plan aims for an agricultural biofuels industry that, by 2025, can provide 350 million gallons of biofuels. Hawaii is one of eight States with installed geothermal capacity; in 2011, 25 percent of its renewable net electricity generation came from geothermal energy. With positions on both the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Commerce Committee he is in a unique position to speak for constituents facing high energy costs and could be a very interesting member with regards to LNG and climate change.

If you have any questions, please give me a call anytime. Previous updates and Member profiles can be reviewed at: Hope you have a great Monday!


Michael Zehr
HBW Resources
1666 K Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006
Direct: 202-429-6081
Cell: 202-277-3927
Twitter: @mzehrhbw

HBW Resources: Greenfield Offshore Energy Report

HBW Resources: Greenfield Offshore Energy Report

Web Link

Below is a summary of publicly available activities currently underway at the federal, state and international levels that could impact the development of offshore oil and gas resources.  With numerous legislative bodies now in session, HBW Resources is monitoring these activities to ensure that responsible policies based on sound science are advanced.

Draft Revised Stock Assessment Reports Released For Comment

The U.S. Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) last Thursday announced the availability for public comment of draft revised stock assessment reports for the following 4 stocks of marine mammals: (1) Pacific walrus; (2) Southwest Alaska northern sea otter; (3) Southcentral Alaska northern sea otter; and (4) Southeast Alaska northern sea otter.  Upon review in 2011, USFWS determined that a revision of the stock assessment reports for these four marine mammals was warranted.

To help maintain marine mammal stocks at optimal sustainable population levels, the Marine Mammal Protection Act requires that USFWS and the National Marine Fisheries Service prepare stock assessment reports (SARs) for each stock of marine mammals occurring in waters under the jurisdiction of the United States, and requires that they be revised if the status of the stock changes or can be more accurately determined.

Information in the SARs is used to identify and evaluate the status of marine mammal populations and the effects of human activities on them, authorize the taking of marine mammals incidental to human activities, develop and implement conservation measures, and evaluate fishery progress in reducing incidental mortality and serious injury to insignificant levels.

Comments on the draft revised marine mammal stock assessment report are due by Wednesday, July 17, 2013.

Rigs To Reefs/Idle Iron Update On Agenda For Sport Fishing & Boating Partnership Council

The U.S. Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service announced last Friday that the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council will hold an open meeting in Washington, D.C. on May 20-21, 2013.

The Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council was created in part to “foster partnerships to enhance public awareness of the importance of aquatic resources and the social and economic benefits of recreational fishing and boating” in the U.S., and advises the Interior Secretary on nationally significant recreational fishing, boating, and aquatic resource conservation issues.

Agenda items for the Council meeting include an update on the Rigs to Reefs Program and DOI implementation of its “Idle Iron” policy for oil and gas production infrastructure decommissioning.

In addition, the Council will consider a draft vision for USFWS fish and aquatic resource conservation, receive updates on America’s Great Outdoors Initiative implementation, implementation of Council recommendations to improve Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation activities and operations, and USFWS implementation of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, and discuss issues related to the Boating Infrastructure Grant Program, Clean Vessel Act Grant Program, and the Sport Fish Restoration Boating Access Program.

To attend the meeting, submit written information or questions to the Council before the meeting, or give an oral presentation during the meeting, the following individual must be contacted no later than Monday, May 13, 2013: Douglas Hobbs, Council Coordinator, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Mailstop 3103–AEA, Arlington, VA 22203; telephone (703) 358–2336; fax (703) 358–2548; or

Additional instructions for registration, submitting written comments, and requesting time for a 2-minute oral presentation are available in the announcement.

Marine Technology and Standards Public Workshop To Be Held In May

The U.S. Coast Guard last Friday announced that the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, in coordination with the Coast Guard, will sponsor a 2-day public workshop on marine technology and standards in Arlington, VA on July 24-25, 2013.

Proposed topics for panel sessions include but are not limited to the following:

·                     Mooring system integrity
·                     Management perspective and safety of drilling and production
·                     ASME codes/standards applied to LNG tank pressure development
·                     Risk-based corrosion management for offshore structures
·                     Risk-based maintenance and inspection on vessel machinery and systems
·                     Development of autonomous underwater platforms for marine applications
·                     Ergonomic notations for ships and offshore structures

According to the announcement, the workshop “provides a unique opportunity for classification
societies, industry groups, standards development organizations, government agencies, and interested members of the public to come together for a professional exchange of information on topics ranging from technological impacts on the marine industry, corresponding coverage in related codes and standards, and government regulations.”

By taking part in the workshop, attendees will have an opportunity “to provide expertise on technical matters affecting the marine industry, to leverage new technologies, and to improve future policymaking, standards development, and rulemaking.”

Advance workshop registration closes on Monday, July 1, 2013.  Additional workshop information is available here and here.

NOAA’s Hydrographic Services Review Panel To Hold 2-Day Public Meeting

NOAA on Tuesday announced that the Hydrographic Services Review Panel (Panel) will hold a public meeting via webinar and teleconference on May 7-8, 2013 that will include two 15-minute public comment sessions.

According to the announcement and latest agenda, discussion items will include FY2013 appropriations, the FY 2014 budget, Sandy supplemental funding, legislative updates, the Committee on Marine Transportation System, integrated ocean and coastal mapping, the 3D Elevation Program, David Saghy, Atlantic Coast Port Access Route Studies and wind energy, the NOAA Fleet Recapitalization Plan, and activities related to hydrography, geodesy, coastal mapping, and tides, currents, and water levels.

This Panel is a Federal advisory committee that advises the NOAA Administrator on oceanographic and marine technologies relating to operations, research and development, and data dissemination pertaining to hydrographic surveying, shoreline surveying, nautical charting, water level, current, geodetic, geospatial, and geomagnetic measurements, and other oceanographic/marine-related sciences.

Individuals seeking to participate in the meeting must register by Friday, April 26 by contacting
Kathy Watson by email at or by phone at (301) 713–2770 ext. 158.

Comments Sought On New Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Economic Survey

The U.S. Department of Commerce last Friday sought comment on National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) plans to submit a request to the Office of Management and Budget to conduct a new Cook Inlet beluga whale economic survey.

The announcement notes that “[n]o empirical estimates of…[non-consumptive use] values for Cook Inlet beluga whales are currently available, but this information is needed for decision makers to more fully understand the trade-offs involved in evaluating population recovery planning alternatives and to complement other information available about the costs, benefits, and impacts of alternative plans.”

NMFS plans to conduct 4,200 voluntary, one-time Alaska household surveys each requiring an estimated 25 minutes to complete.  This information would be used to estimate non-consumptive economic benefits “associated with changes in extinction risk resulting from protection actions for the Cook Inlet beluga whale.”

The announcement further states that the addition of empirical data about non-consumptive
benefits “remains the most significant gap to enabling a complete and balanced economic analysis,” adding that t survey “ should be useful to NMFS and the public in the future as NMFS
considers various actions under the recovery planning process for Cook Inlet beluga whales.”

The Commerce Department goes on to note that “[a]ny future regulatory  actions would include analyses of costs and benefits of the proposed measures as well as opportunities for public input.”

Comments and recommendations on the proposed survey are due by May 19, 2013.

Draft National Shoreline Data Content Standard Released For Comment

The Interior Department’s U.S. Geological Survey last Thursday released notice of a public
review of the Federal Geographic Data Committee’s draft National Shoreline Data Content 
Standard, whose geographic scope would encompass all shorelines of navigable waters within
the United States and its territories.

According to the announcement, the draft standard defines attributes or elements that are
common for shoreline data development and provides suggested domains for the elements,
with its functional scope including definition of data models, schemas, entities, relationships,
definitions, and crosswalks to related standards.

The draft standard is intended to enhance the shoreline framework by providing technical
guidance on shoreline semantics, data structures and their relationships to builders and users of
shoreline data.

USGS says that the primary intended users of the standard are the mapping, shoreline
engineering, coastal zone management, flood insurance, and natural resource management
communities, adding that the standard is intended to support the shoreline community in
developing shoreline data to support data transformation, data fusion, and data sharing.

The announcement notes that the location of the national shoreline is fundamental for legal
boundaries, developing nautical charts, and engaging in marine planning and other academic
research and commercial activities.

Comments on the draft standard are due by Wednesday, July 31, 2013.

EPA Proposes National Contingency Plan Information Collection Renewal

EPA on Monday announced its plans to ask the Office of Management and Budget to review and approve a request to renew a National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan information collection pertaining to use of dispersants and other chemicals in response to oil spills in U.S. waters and adjoining shorelines.  Before submitting the extension request, EPA is seeking comment on specific aspects of the proposal.  The existing information collection is set to expire on October 31, 2013.

In for an oil spill mitigating agent to be applied as part of an emergency response to an oil spill, the product must be listed on the NCP Product Schedule.  The Product Schedule is available to federal On-scene Coordinators, Regional Response Teams, and Area Committees for  determining the most appropriate  products to use in various spill  scenarios.

To be listed on the schedule, certain mandatory product testing and information must be considered.  For example, the manufacturer must conduct  specific toxicity and effectiveness tests and submit the corresponding technical  product data along with other detailed information.  If all the required data are submitted and the  product satisfies all requirements and meets or exceeds testing thresholds, then the product is listed.

The Product Schedule currently includes 112 products, and EPA expects that it will annually receive 11 listing requests over the next 3 years for a total estimated annual burden of 315 hours and $72,450.

EPA seeks comments on whether the collection is necessary or useful, the accuracy of the burden of the proposed information collection, enhancing the quality, usefulness, and clarity of the information to be collected, and minimizing the burden on respondents.

Comments on the proposed information collection are due by Friday, June 14, 2013.

Permit Sought For Research On Sound/Oil Spill Impacts

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service last Friday sought comment on a permit request by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to conduct research over 5 years on 35 cetacean species/stocks.

The applicant would use vessel surveys to conduct studies off the U.S. west coast, in Alaska waters, in the Gulf of Mexico, and near Hawaii.  According to NMFS, study sites would be located where opportunistic anthropogenic acoustic sources and/or oil spill effects may be present to provide an opportunity to investigate possible impacts from sound and/or oil spill exposure.

Comments on the application are due by Monday, May 20, 2013.

Offshore Supply Vessel Information Collection Requirement Released For Comment

The Coast Guard on Monday announced that it is seeking comments on its request to renew an information collection regarding offshore supply vessel posting/marking requirements.  An extension of OMB Control Number 1625-0065, under which the estimated annual burden would remain 2,068 hours per year, would continue the requirement that owners and operators of offshore supply vessels provide instructions to those on board of actions to be taken in the event of an emergency.  The proposed extension of the reporting/recordkeeping requirements is intended to verify compliance with regulations without presence to witness routine matters, including offshore supply vessels based overseas.

Comments are sought on whether the collection is necessary or useful, the accuracy of the burden of the proposed information collection, enhancing the quality, usefulness, and clarity of the information to be collected, and minimizing the burden on respondents.

Comments on the proposed information collection are due by Wednesday, May 15, 2013.

Additional Information:

For additional information, contact Brent Greenfield with HBW Resources. His contact information is below.

Brent Greenfield
HBW Resources
2211 Norfolk Street, #410
Houston, TX 77098
Tel: 713-337-8810