Energy Today - March 16, 2011
Posted March 16, 2011
The Hill: State Department: Keystone Pipeline Needs Further Review: State Department to Decide on Keystone Oil Pipeline This Year: The State Department said Tuesday it will subject to further environmental review a massive proposed oil pipeline that has come under fire from environmentalists. The State Department said it will issue a supplemental draft environmental impact statement for Transcanada's Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil sands from Alberta, Canada, to Texas. The department will begin taking comment on the impact statement in April. "In order to provide interested parties and the public the maximum opportunity to comment on this important project, the Department will continue to solicit public comment," the State Department said, noting the comment period will last 45 day. The announcement came as welcome news for environmentalists, who have mounted a campaign against the project, noting that oil sands production emits high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and raising the specter of future oil spills. "This is a victory for the public given the many concerns that have been voiced regarding the environmental, health and safety impacts of the pipeline," said Liz Barratt-Brown, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement. "The State Department should be using this opportunity to address additional issues identified by EPA, members of Congress and the public." The oil industry, on the other hand, said it's time for the administration to approve the project. The Wall Street Journal: Interior Department to Rule on Drilling Applications: A U.S. official said Wednesday that the Interior Department will meet a court-imposed deadline to act before the end of this month on five applications for deep-water drilling permits. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar also said more permit approvals are coming. "There are other [permits] that will be issued in the days ahead that will become a template for other deep-water permits to be issued," Mr. Salazar said before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. A federal judge on Feb. 17 ordered the department to act on five pending applications for offshore-drilling permits within 30 days, ruling in favor of London-based Ensco PLC, which had sued the Interior Department. The judge's ruling addressed the length of time the Interior Department had taken to review the permits. The ruling extended the order to two other applications Tuesday. "We will comply with the court order and make the decision up or down within the time frame required," David Hayes, deputy secretary of the Interior Department, said at the hearing.
The Houston Chronicle: Oil group points to its safety tradition: The oil industry's top lobbying group touted its history of developing safety standards as it prepared to unveil its response to calls for an independent offshore drilling safety panel. David Miller, director of the American Petroleum Institute's Standards Program, said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday that the institute started in 1919 as a technical organization to ensure that oil field equipment met consistent standards. Since then, API has formed nearly 400 committees to develop and update standards and guidelines on a wide range of issues, from drilling procedures to pipeline safety. Some are rolled into federal government standards, and others are used worldwide as best practices. "There is now an entire network of experts, engineers, committees and subgroups that support this almost 100-year history of standard setting around best practices and safety," Miller said.
Fox Business: Shell Offers Japan Fuel Help, Sees Higher LNG Prices: Anglo-Dutch oil major Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) stands ready to help Japan with its fuel needs in the wake of the devastation wreaked on its energy infrastructure by last week's earthquake and tsunami, the firm's chief executive Peter Voser said Tuesday. "We will make provision to help Japan with its fuel needs," said Voser. The company is in talks with the country's government and plans to send as many available LNG cargoes as is possible, Voser said. The CEO said Shell's refining facilities in the country weren't affected by the disaster and remain fully operational, although he said it was too soon to assess the potential damage to its distribution and retail assets.
AP: Appeals Court Issues a Stay on Drilling Ruling: NEW ORLEANS--A federal appeals court has blocked a judge's order requiring regulators to act on several drilling permit applications. The federal government filed court documents earlier this month saying it may have to deny the applications if regulators must make a decision within 30 days as ordered. The order was issued by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, who overturned the Obama administration's moratorium on deepwater drilling. That moratorium followed energy company BP PLC's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last year. Feldman ruled last month that the government must act on five applications within 30 days. He later said his ruling also applies to two other permits. But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay Tuesday, blocking Feldman's ruling pending the outcome of the government's appeal. The moratorium that was imposed after the April 20, 2010, rig explosion and resulting oil spill off Louisiana was painful for drilling operators and oil services firms that rely on the industry for business. The ban cost jobs and revenue. The ban was lifted Oct. 12, but deepwater activities were still stalled for months after that, as regulators required strict new rules to be complied with before they would start issuing permits again for previously suspended activities. The first deepwater permit since the oil spill for activity that was previously suspended was issued Feb. 28. A second one was issued just recently.