Oil

Texas
9:52 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Voters In Texas City Approve Ban On Fracking

From left, Topher Jones, Edward Hartmann and Angie Holliday hold a campaign sign outside City Hall in Denton, Texas, on July 15, 2014. Voters in the college town approve a ban on fracking on Tuesday.
Tony Gutierrez AP

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 11:55 am

Residents of Denton, Texas, voted Tuesday to ban hydraulic fracturing in the city.

According to unofficial results posted on the city's website, 58.64 percent of voters supported banning the controversial drilling method that is also called fracking; 41.36 percent voted against the proposition. It's the first time a city in the energy-friendly state has voted to ban fracking.

The vote is expected to be challenged, but Mayor Chris Watts said he would defend the ban.

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Texas
8:05 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Amid Oil Boom, Texas Votes On Who Holds the Reins of Regulation

Steve Brown, left, and Ryan Sitton, right, are the two major party candidate for the Railroad Commission of Texas.
Credit GRAPHIC COURTESY OF THE TEXAS TRIBUNE

Update: Ryan Sitton defeated Steve Brown in the race for Railroad Commissioner 58.31 percent to 36.49 percent.

Original Story (Nov. 4, 4:14 p.m.): An empty seat on a strangely-named state regulatory agency usually flies under the radar of voters. But the race to serve on the Railroad Commission of Texas has gained additional attention and importance this election. That’s because whoever wins will not oversee railroads, as the name suggests, but will regulate the Texas oil and gas industry. It’s an industry in the midst of a boom that’s transforming global energy markets and pumping billions into the Texas economy.

The two major party candidates competing for the seat offer starkly different visions for what the job entails.

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Oil
12:50 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Will Low Oil Prices Rattle The Texas Economy?

The benchmark price of oil is lower than it has been in four years.
Photo by MIRA OBERMAN/AFP/Getty Images

From StateImpact Texas:

The benchmark price of U.S. crude hovers around $85 a barrel. That’s lower than it's been in four years and $15 below where it was a year ago. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Economic growth has stalled internationally – This has slowing the demand for oil, but oil supplies are increasing thanks to the shale boom in the U.S. and the fact that OPEC – the cartel that sets prices internationally – has not cut production.
  •  The dollar is strong – The higher valuation of U.S. currency means that oil prices are down but –because the dollar’s also at a four-year high – the oil is still pricey, driving down demand.
  • Speculators are betting on prices to drop – Weekly production of oil is expected to reach a 45-year high next year, the market’s going bearish, driving the prices down.

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oil boom
3:17 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

Will Mexican Drilling Bring Texas Profit?

The oil and gas rich Eagle Ford Shale formation straddles both sides of the Texas / Mexico border.
Credit Eddie Seal, Texas Tribune

  Today, members of the state House Energy Resources Committee met in the Rio Grande Valley town of Edinburg to discuss how a partial privatization of Mexico’s oil and gas sector could impact the Texas economy. 

Until this year, drilling in Mexico was run by Pemex, a state-owned company.  A change in Mexican law has now partially opened the county to foreign business. That could be a big opportunity for Texas companies familiar with the oil and gas rich Eagle Ford shale that straddles the border.

Some estimates have already said a shale boom in Mexico could grow the Texas economy by tens of billions of dollars. Others say it's too early to tell. 

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Energy & Environment
8:46 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Lawmakers Hear Proposals for Confronting Man-Made Quakes

After a surge in earthquakes across Texas over the last several years, state regulators are considering their options.
Credit Oliver Berg DPA/LANDOV

From StateImpact Texas: 

After a surge in earthquakes across Texas over the last several years, state regulators are considering their options. On Monday, the House Subcommittee on Seismic Activity heard some of those options.

Many of the quakes are likely caused by wastewater disposal wells, where the liquid waste from oil and gas drilling is pumped back into the ground. The Railroad Commission of Texas is the agency that regulates the state’s oil and gas industry, and it is proposing new rules for those wells.

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Energy & Environment
3:14 pm
Wed August 6, 2014

Up Close And Personal With A 40-Story Oil Rig In The Gulf

Shell's Olympus production platform and drilling rig is located about 130 miles south of New Orleans. It is 406 feet tall and weighs more than 120,000 tons.
Jeff Brady NPR

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 6:29 pm

The U.S. is in the middle of an oil drilling boom that few people saw coming. After decades of decline, crude oil production is rising again. Technologies such as hydraulic fracturing in places such as North Dakota are getting a lot of attention. But the Gulf of Mexico still accounts for more than one-fifth of domestic oil production.

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Energy & Environment
11:53 am
Mon July 7, 2014

Is the Oil Boom Helping Prices at the Pump?

Analyst Tom Kloza estimates the oil boom helped keep gas prices below $4 per gallon.
flickr.com/photos/87913776@N00/

From StateImpact Texas:

  Texas is getting more oil out of the ground than is has since the great boom of the 1970s. The oil fields of North Dakota are, for the first time ever, producing over one million barrels a day. Across the country, the boom has lead to predictions that the US will overtake even Saudi Arabia in oil production by the end of the year.  But is all that drilling helping US consumers at the pump?

A quick look at the numbers before the long weekend would indicate not. Prices were about 20 cents per gallon higher than this time last year, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

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StateImpact Texas
11:35 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Feds Target Oil and Gas Industry for Underpaying Workers

Exhibit from lawsuit: A worker's time sheet showing 90 hours in eight consecutive days.
Credit Dave Fehling/StateImpact Texas

From StateImpact Texas:

In states with the most oil and gas drilling, including Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota, the U.S. Department of Labor has won back pay for over 4,000 energy industry workers in just the past year.

It totaled $6.7 million dollars, accounting for a third of all such settlements by all types of industries nationwide.

“We were hearing that workers were being misclassified as independent contractors, that they were being paid straight-time for their hours over 40 in a workweek. And we were hearing this consistently throughout the Southwest Region,” said Cynthia Watson, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Regional Administrator in Dallas.

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Texas
4:54 pm
Fri June 20, 2014

Texas Oil Industry Keeps Wary Eye On ISIS

https://www.flickr.com/photos/chesil/

While the crisis in Iraq is half a world away, it’s impact can be felt here in the U.S.  The rapidly destabilizing region is a base for major Texas oil companies, some of whom have had to evacuate the increasingly hostile environment.  

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Iraq
6:32 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Militants Attack Iraq's Largest Oil Refinery As Sectarian Clashes Spread

An Iraqi boy and other civilians look at the aftermath of a car bomb in Baghdad's Sadr City on Wednesday. The violence in the Shiite district comes as Sunni militants advance in northern Iraq.
Karim Kadim AP

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 10:06 am

The Sunni militant group that has stormed across Iraq invaded the country's largest oil refinery today, hitting it with mortars. The government is using limited air attacks to strike back at ISIS, which now controls large areas of Iraq's north.

"The oil refinery in Beiji has been under siege since the militant fighters of ISIS seized the town of Beiji in their sweep through northern Iraq," NPR's Deborah Amos reports from Irbil, Iraq. "In an offensive at dawn, ISIS fighters attacked the refinery with machine-gun fire and mortars, according to Iraqi security forces."

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Texas
4:43 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

How Drug Smugglers Are Taking Advantage of the Texas Oil Boom

Border agents seized a total of 580 bundles of marijuana – totaling 11,973 pounds – from a truck in Del Rio, Texas.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection

While fracking for oil along the Texas border has become a big business for petrol companies, a new entity seeks to tap into the lucrative market – drug smugglers.  

As infrastructure and activity increases to meet the demand of the booming industry, drug smugglers are starting to take advantage of the new roads and increased traffic, much of which is located on private ranch lands.  

“Because there are so many different companies, and so many different trucks going through that area, it provides a sort of way to blend in if you will,” National Journal writer Ben Geman tells The Texas Standard's David Brown. “Essentially what’s happening is you’ve got smugglers who are stashing marijuana, or other drugs, in trucks that are either 'cloned' to look like one of the industry trucks, or some type of truck that seems to fit right in driving around on these ranch lands.”

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Business
7:43 pm
Tue May 6, 2014

Oil and Gas Companies Are Now Poaching Employees From Each Other

Oil rigs and tankers off the coast of Galveston
Credit https://flic.kr/p/xzPDU

The global boom in energy production driven by fracking and horizontal drilling is leading to a shortage of skilled workers. A new report by the human resources firm Mercer says two-thirds of oil and gas companies are now poaching employees from their competitors.

"The industry seems inclined when an individual is trained and developed by a competitor to, especially in the first five years of employment, go after that key talent, as opposed to training and developing their own,"  says Philip Tenenbaum, a senior partner at Mercer. 

He says in some cases, the practice has become quite overt.  

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Israel
7:08 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Israel Dreams Of A Future As An Oil Producer

Givot Olam CEO Tovia Luskin expects to drill 40 wells and build a pipeline to a refinery on the coast. The company already has "proven and probable" reserves of 12.5 million barrels of oil. Luskin chose where to drill based on a passage from the Bible.
Emily Harris/ NPR

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 7:51 am

There's an old joke that if Moses had turned right when he led Jewish tribes out of Egypt, Israel might be where Saudi Arabia is today — and be rich from oil. Consultant Amit Mor of Eco Energy says that joke is out of date.

"Israel has more oil than Saudi Arabia," he claims. "And it's not a joke."

But that oil will be difficult to reach, if it can be recovered at all. The oil he's talking about is not yet liquid but is trapped in rocks underground.

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Energy
2:45 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

How Zombie Movies Reflect Our Fears on Energy and the Environment

facebook.com/WorldWarZMovie

Let’s talk zombies. Can’t kill them. Can’t eat them. What are we to the living dead? 

No longer merely the province of Halloween season, nowadays zombies proliferate in American pop culture, from books to TV to film.

Dr. Michael Webber, deputy director of UT’s Energy Institute, says there’s good reason for the persistence of zombies – and it has a lot to do with how we think about power. 

Energy – or the lack thereof – is always a sign of post-apocalyptic and zombie culture. Loss of energy inevitably leads to resource wars among the apocalypse’s survivors. From “The Walking Dead” to “World War Z,” the main drive is often for fuel, water, or power.

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Education
3:39 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

New Targets of College Divestment Movements: Oil, Gas & Coal

The Santa Rita oil pump at the University of Texas. A new divestment movement targets university investments in fossil fuel companies.
flickr.com/mr-pi

College is a time for classes, house parties and questionable dorm food. But as some students at UT and across the country are demonstrating, it’s also a time for activism.

Journalist and activist Bill McKibben and his environmentally-minded group 350.org are promoting a “Fossil Free Divestment Movement” to encourage American universities to withdraw their stock holdings from the top 200 coal, oil and gas companies. The group first gained notoriety when it held an International Day of Climate Action in 2009.

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The Lead
8:46 am
Mon February 18, 2013

The Lead: CPRIT’s Trickle-Down Funding Troubles, Oil Field Thefts

A moratorium on CPRIT grants is affecting other cancer-fighting agencies.
Texas Tribune

Good morning, and happy Presidents Day. KUT News has a look at what’s open and closed today: all City of Austin’s administrative offices and other city are closed today, but trash, recycling and yard trimmings pick up will proceed as normal.  

The National Weather Service says Austin’s in for a warm, muggy day with a chance of thunderstorms this afternoon. High winds will make for elevated fire conditions, so be careful out there. 

Lead Story: The troubles roiling the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) are spreading to other research groups, The Texas Tribune reports.

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Environment
5:47 am
Mon February 18, 2013

Protesters Call On Obama To Reject Keystone XL Pipeline

Dr. J. William Hirzy, a chemistry professor at American Universiy, rests outside the rally route with a graph he uses to teach his students about the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature.
Daniel M.N. Turner NPR

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 3:33 pm

Tens of thousands of protesters turned out on the National Mall Sunday to encourage President Obama to make good on his commitment to act on climate change.

In his Inaugural address from outside the U.S. Capitol, the president said: "We will respond to the threat of climate change knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."

Just a few weeks later, next to the Washington Monument, Paul Birkeland was one of a couple dozen people holding a long white tube above their heads.

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Texas
5:42 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Gas Prices Rise 14 Cents From Last Week

Pump prices are higher than usual for this time of year.
Erik Reyna/KUT News

Gas prices are up. Across Texas, regular is up 14 cents this week, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge Price Report. In Austin, average prices were up by almost 15 cents to $3.36.

Oil analyst Tom Kloza says prices often rise and fall with the seasons, but these are the highest gas prices Americans have seen for this time of year.

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Environment
10:50 am
Fri November 16, 2012

Fire On Oil Rig In Gulf Of Mexico Leaves 11 Injured

Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 12:33 pm

Update at 1:26 p.m. ET. No Confirmed Deaths:

The U.S. Coast Guard tells WWLTV that 11 people have been sent to hospital but no deaths have been confirmed in a oil rig fire off the coast of Louisiana.

WWLTV, KHOU and Reuters were reporting two deaths earlier.

Our Original Post Continues:

A fire on an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana has killed two people, Louisiana's WWLTV is reporting.

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BP Oil Spill
10:48 am
Thu November 15, 2012

BP Pleads Guilty, Will Pay $4 Billion In Criminal Penalties For Gulf Oil Spill

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig burned on April 21, 2010.
U.S. Coast Guard Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 5:32 pm

Update at 11:30 a.m. ET: Oil giant BP has agreed to plead guilty to criminal misconduct related to the 2010 Gulf Oil spill and will pay a record $4 billion in criminal penalties, the company just confirmed. And it will pay $525 million in civil penalties in a resolution with the Securities and Exchanges Commission. BP will make the payments over six years.

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