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TransCanada gets final OK for last leg of Keystone pipeline down middle of U.S.

Hey, guess what? TransCanada just got final approval to build its pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta all the way to the Gulf Coast of Texas. Done and done.

I know, I know: The Keystone XL pipeline has been held up. You protested at the White House to stop it. That's cool. But what you may not know is that Keystone XL would augment a section of pipeline that already brings tar-sands oil from Canada to Nebraska. On Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers signed off on the last permits TransCanada needed for a still-empty stretch from there to the Gulf Coast. Which means that the company will soon have a complete shunt traversing the entire height of the United States.

President Barack Obama encouraged TransCanada to move ahead with the segment that will run from a refinery in Cushing, Okla. to Texas after he rejected the broader [Keystone XL] plan, saying the pipeline needed to be rerouted around Nebraska's sensitive Sand Hills region. For that project, TransCanada needs presidential approval because it crosses an international border. The shorter portion only requires permits from state and federal agencies. TransCanada said the final of three permits it needed from the Army Corps of Engineers had been approved. …

The line from Cushing will help relieve a bottleneck at the Oklahoma refinery, but doesn't fulfill TransCanada's broader goal of transporting more Canadian crude to U.S. refineries.

The key word there is "more." Transporting more Canadian crude.

Here's what TransCanada's grand, oily vision for North America looks like, via Inside Climate News.

Click to embiggen. (Image courtesy of Inside Climate News.)
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Here’s another episode of ‘Shell Tries Drilling in the Arctic’

Previously on this little soap opera: Shell arrives in the Arctic, almost losing a boat. The company's friends back in Washington worry whether Shell will have enough time to drill before the ice closes in later this year. And now, back to our story.

I have to say, it's kind of amazing that Shell is profitable. Beyond, you know, the fact that it sells ridiculous amounts of an artificially cheap product that is deliberately integrated tightly into the fabric of nearly every global society. You'd think that a company that made about $2 million an hour last quarter would have this drilling thing on lock.

But, no. Shell is having to scale back its drilling plans in Alaska, even as one of the state's senators scrambles to buy it more time.

Shell had originally hoped to drill five exploratory wells this season. But what with chasing loose boats and sea ice, it'll probably have to settle for two.

Unusually thick shorefast ice is keeping Shell from sending drillships into the Arctic waters and shortening an already brief window. Under federal regulations, Shell has to stop drilling in hydrocarbon zones by Oct. 31 in the Beaufort Sea; regulators are requiring that work to end 38 days earlier in the Chukchi Sea.

In the past five years, ice has encroached over the planned drill sites as early as Nov. 1, but this summer, the slow melt of multi-year ice at the season’s start means the water is colder and is a signal it could return even earlier.

Shell had planned to launch its Arctic drilling program in July; now, it is anticipating an early August start date, said spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh.

(There's still ice in the Arctic? I thought Shell et al. had already taken care of that.)

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Mr. Romney thinks we should give big oil companies another $3.8 billion a year in tax breaks

"Laughing out loud!"

Mitt Romney is giving oil executives a good reason to vote for him. (Making, by our count, 465,361 such reasons.) From the Center for American Progress:

The world’s five biggest public oil companies—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell—would keep special tax breaks worth $2.4 billion each year. And by cutting corporate tax rates, the Romney plan could lower the companies’ annual tax bill by another $2.3 billion, based on an analysis of the companies’ tax expense for 2011. The special tax breaks, supplemented by Gov. Romney’s lower corporate rates, could benefit the oil companies by more than $4 billion annually.

Ha ha. Perfect! Finally -- finally! -- oil companies will be able to make a buck or two!

Here's CAP's breakdown of what the five largest oil companies in the world -- half of the 10 largest corporations in America -- stand to get from Romney's tax proposals.

Click to embiggen.
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Good news for ExxonMobil investors!

ExxonMobil earned almost $16 billion last quarter [PDF], up nearly 50 percent from the second quarter of 2011.

That's $5.3 billion a month. About $176 million a day. $7 million an hour -- almost three times as much as the average college grad earns in a lifetime. The company also very likely pays less in taxes than you do.

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Keystone XL is basically your douchey ex-boyfriend

What would Keystone XL look like as a human being? Probably pretty much how he's portrayed in this video from the Post-Carbon Institute: a spectacularly douchey dudebro who can't take no for an answer.

Read more: Fossil Fuels, Oil

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Chevron announces plans to begin drilling in a free Iraq

A Humvee in Iraq.

Chevron made a big announcement this morning. From FuelFix:

Chevron said today it will enter Iraq and begin drilling for oil there next year after purchasing major interests in two areas of its Kurdistan region.

The company has no interests in Iraq and had previously not disclosed its pursuit of land in Kurdistan, Chevron spokesman Kurt Glaubitz said.

The Iraqi government has expressed frustration with the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government for approving oil exploration and production contracts without approval from the national government

So, congratulations are in order to Chevron. It's no doubt pleased to have figured out a way to get around the objections of that nation's sovereign leadership.

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Nefarious forces hampering Shell’s Arctic drilling include air, water, ice

Yet another fake ad from the ArcticReady spoof site.

Guys, I have some bad news. Shell's attempts to drill exploratory wells in Alaska aren't going that great. Cue the Shell-denfreude.

First, there was that ship that tried to escape, only to be dragged back into servitude. Then the company had to go hat-in-hand to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asking if maybe, just this once, the agency would be cool with a little more air pollution coming from their drilling rig.

“Shell was then and remains now committed to making every effort to meet the emission limits imposed by EPA,” the company said in its application, adding that its testing has “demonstrated compliance with a vast majority of limits.”

Yeah, EPA. Be cool! Shell has complied with the vast majority of rules about not polluting the air, and the all of the air pollution that results from the burning of their oil is the consumers' fault. Oil doesn't pollute the air, people that burn the oil pollute the air.

And now this: Shell might not get the permits it needs in time to drill all the wells it wanted.

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Like a bad gambler, TransCanada promises it will have Nebraska’s money next time

Keystone Light! Get it? Also, we'd rather drink the oil. (Photo by Quinn.Anya.)

When TransCanada was pitching Nebraska on the stretch of the Keystone pipeline that was completed in 2010, it estimated that the state would rake in $5.5 million in taxes in the first year. (This is the already-operational Keystone 1 pipeline, not to be confused with the controversial proposed Keystone XL pipeline.)

On that estimate: not quite!

State and county records indicate that TransCanada this year will pay $2.2 million in personal property and real estate taxes to eight rural counties in eastern Nebraska crossed by the 30-inch, crude-oil pipeline.

To be fair, TransCanada says the tax bill will go up for 2013 -- perhaps four times as much, according to Shawn Howard, a TransCanada spokesman who had just rolled a die that came up "four."

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Oil industry dumping crap in North Dakota. Um, literally.

These are bricks of a dried compost product called "Black Gold." (Photo by Arnold Inuyaki.)

The fossil fuels boom in North Dakota has meant jobs and one of the country's better economies. It's also meant a strain on the state's resources and infrastructure, as we noted last month. One we left off our list: sewage.

Two firms were cited on Friday for dumping more than 100 loads of raw sewage in "fields and ditches" between late 2011 and early this year. The waste originated at drilling locations and worker camps in the Bakken oil patch.

In all, the loads added up to more than 500,000 gallons -- enough to fill three-quarters of an Olympic-sized pool. (London 2012!)

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Drug traffickers take advantage of energy-company roads in Texas

New roads built to facilitate drilling in southern Texas are also facilitating the movement of something else.

Energy companies boring into the depths of South Texas in the multibillion-dollar hunt for natural gas and oil are opening a growing fissure in U.S.-Mexico border security as they build hundreds of miles of private back roads and an uncharted pipeline to America for drug traffickers.

Hefty roads running through once-remote ranchlands now enable loaded-down tractor-trailers and pickups to avoid Border Patrol highway checkpoints that have long been the last line of defense for stopping all traffic headed farther into the United States.

This is not oil. (Photo by West Midlands Police.)
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