Content tagged “Energy”

Executive editor: La.'s billion dollar wager

In his latest column, Business Report Executive Editor David Dodson wonders if there a sustainable, long-term supply of natural gas at steady, affordable prices, or if the shale gas boom is just a flash in the pan. Or, as energy skeptic and Peak Gas exponent Art Berman put it in a recent interview with Oilprice.com, is the current surge in domestic energy production a revolution or a retirement party? "The answer is of more than passing interest," Dodson writes. "If your answer is, 'Yes, we have 100 years of recoverable natural gas at prices the economy can sustain,' then you end up with the industrial construction boom everybody wants and expects in Louisiana, and that boom doesn't have a bust attached to its rear end. Louisiana rides the rails of prosperity for generations, all thanks to abundant and affordable natural gas (and of course, to our industrial and transportation infrastructure, our workforce, and our enviable geographic location)." But, says Dodson, "if your...

Making a billion-dollar wager

There is an argument in philosophy known as Pascal's Wager. In essence, the argument is that if you find yourself forced to make a choice between two opposite and unknowable propositions, choose the one with the most upside potential.

Public Service Commission to question Cleco CEO about possible sale

Cleco Corp.'s top executive and several board members are expected to appear at Wednesday's meeting of the Louisiana Public Service Commission to answer questions related to a possible sale of the Pineville-based utility, The Town Talk reports. Bruce Williamson, Cleco's president, CEO and chairman, has voluntarily agreed to appear, along with at least four board members. In June, Cleco officials confirmed media reports that several parties had expressed interest in acquiring the company. Canadian group Borealis Infrastructure, Houston-based power company CenterPoint Energy Inc. and Spain-based utility company Iberdrola have all reportedly explored making bids. Cleco has had no comment on the sale process since confirming buyer interest in June. At that time, company officials said there was no definite timetable for the process and no decision on a potential sale had been...

'Business Report': How will La. meet the new EPA rules on carbon emissions?

Baton Rouge entrepreneur Scott Van Kerkhove is a political anomaly: a Republican who takes the dangers of man-made climate change seriously. As Business Report's David Jacobs writes in a feature from the current issue, it's not because he thinks there's definitive proof on either side of the issue, but because he thinks the possibility of making the planet uninhabitable for future generations isn't worth the risk. Van Kerkhove is CEO of EnergyWise, an energy-efficiency and energy management company. He says his business is all about saving its clients money, not saving the world. EnergyWise does more than 90% of its business out of state. That's partly because Louisiana doesn't yet offer energy-efficiency incentives, but not entirely, Van Kerkhove says. "Some of it has to do with the attitudes and beliefs of business owners and homeowners in Louisiana," he says. "People in Louisiana have been less receptive." Louisiana officials have been less than receptive—putting it...

Getting to 40%

Baton Rouge entrepreneur Scott Van Kerkhove is a political anomaly: a Republican who takes the dangers of man-made climate change seriously. Not because he thinks there's definitive proof on either side of the issue, but because he thinks the possibility of making the planet uninhabitable for future generations isn't worth the risk.

Amid energy boom, Shell to sell shares of US pipeline business

Royal Dutch Shell will sell shares in a U.S. pipeline business in the second half of this year as Europe's largest oil company takes advantage of investor appetite for North America's energy infrastructure. Bloomberg reports Shell Midstream Partners LP's assets are expected to consist of ownership interests in four onshore and offshore pipelines located primarily in Texas and Louisiana, according to a filing. The Houston-based partnership will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker SHLX. Pipeline companies structured as tax-exempt master-limited partnerships, or MLPs, have attracted investors by returning almost all their income to shareholders. Share prices have soared amid a boom in oil and gas production from U.S. shale fields. Shell Midstream forecasts $96.5 million of cash available for distribution to investors over the next 12 months. "Everybody and their dog has got an MLP now in the U.S.," says Iain Reid, a London-based analyst for BMO Capital Markets, who...

US oil exports soar to new milestone in April

U.S. oil exports hit a 15-year high in April, despite broad limitations on foreign sales, according to a report released today by the federal Energy Information Administration. As FuelFix.com reports, the nation sent an average of 268,000 barrels of oil overseas every day in April, an 8.9% jump from March. Most of the exported crude came from the Gulf Coast, and much of it landed in Canada. Although a 39-year-old law largely forbids crude exports, there are exceptions for some California crude, Alaska oil and shipments to Canada. Gasoline and other refined products also can be freely sold overseas. According to the EIA, Gulf Coast crude exports averaged 134,000 barrels per day during the first quarter of 2014, nearly four times higher than the region shipped out last year. Overall, U.S. exports have been rising steadily since late last year, and setting records all along the way. With domestic crude production climbing—reaching 8.2 million barrels per day in March, a 57% leap...

Time for oil and gas industry to come to the table on coastal restoration, author says

For Jason Theriot—LSU grad, historian and former energy policy fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School—coming home to his childhood stomping grounds near Cocodrie in Terrebonne Parish in 2008 was an epiphany. "It was shocking to see how much had changed since I was a kid. The enormity of the erosion is breathtaking," he told listeners at LSU's Hill Memorial Library who came to hear him talk about his book, American Energy: Imperiled Coast, on Monday evening. The spider-web network of pipelines and canals that covers much of Louisiana's coastal wetlands south and west of New Orleans is part of Louisiana's economic and cultural history, Theriot said. It is also his family's history. Canals were dug in the coastal wetlands beginning more than 100 years ago, Theriot acknowledged, but they were maybe the width of two pirogues or just enough to pull a felled tree out of the swamp. "It was the engineering mentality of the '50s and '60s when we really screwed things up," he...

EPA and the cost of carbon

if you read the reports on how the Environmental Protection Agency's new rule limiting carbon emissions by electric utilities will affect the national economy, you may have gotten the impression that it won't amount to much and could even have health benefits. Either that or the rule will usher in the end of life as we know it.

La. utilities scramble to figure out impact of EPA carbon reduction plan

Louisiana utilities are scrambling to figure out the potential impact of an Environmental Protection Agency proposal announced Monday that, for the first time, requires a reduction in carbon pollution by existing power plants, The Shreveport Times reports. The EPA wants carbon emissions in Louisiana reduced by nearly 40% by 2030. But comments on the 645-page document must be submitted within 120 days. The Clean Power Plan gives each state flexibility in determining how it will reduce carbon emissions, using any mix of alternatives, including tighter controls on existing power plants, construction of new power plants, energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. State plans are due by June 2016. If a state doesn't submit a plan, the EPA will set standards for them, a senior EPA official says. One way for states to reach their federally set goals could be by limiting emissions from coal-fired electrical plants, which generate about one-third of the nation's greenhouse gas...

Fracking, lower energy costs giving America leg up on German industry

In a special report exploring how fracking and the lower energy costs it's producing are helping those in the American industrial sector outperform their German counterparts—who were heralded as a model of manufacturing prowess just a few years ago—Reuters points to Huntsman Corp.'s methylene diphenyl diisocyanate plant in Geismar as a prime example. Reuters reports that the chemicals maker is paying 22% less for its power in Geismar than it did just seven years ago. Reuters compares that to German chemical firm Wacker Chemie, which has seen energy costs at its Burghausen plant rise 70% over the last five years, to nearly half a billion euros. "The tale of those numbers underlines a profound shift underway in two of the world's biggest industrial powers. Thanks in large part to Germany's decision to phase out nuclear power and push into green energy, companies there now pay some of the highest prices in the world for power," Reuters reports. "In the United States,...

Feds: No significant environmental damage will be caused by Cameron Parish LNG plant

A proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal in Cameron Parish would not significantly damage the environment, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission staff says. The conclusion also applies to 21 miles of pipeline and associated facilities proposed for Cameron, Calcasieu and Beauregard parishes. The project has adequate plans to compensate for filling in 213 acres of wetlands, according to an environmental impact study released Wednesday. It says those include using dredged material to turn an area of open water into brackish marsh and buying credits from approved mitigation banks. The report by FERC environmental staffers concluded that construction and operation won't affect any of the eight threatened or endangered species in the area, though it says surveys for the red-cockaded woodpecker should be updated within a year before construction. Cameron LNG LLC and Cameron Interstate Pipeline LLC have included adequate safety features in their plans, it says. And it says the...

I am a carbon criminal

i am not a global warming denier. Rather, I am a global warming contributor—if, that is, you accept that carbon emissions associated with the presence of me and my fellow earthlings are the principal driver in climate change.

Getting water from the moon

When actress Linda Hunt accepted the Academy Award for her role in The Year of Living Dangerously in 1983, she said she was reminded of an Indonesian saying she learned while working on the film.

Oil export ban can be lifted piecemeal, analysis says

President Barack Obama should follow the lead of previous commanders-in-chief by creating exceptions to the United States' 39-year-old ban on exporting American crude, says Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. As FuelFix.com reports, the once-absolute trade restrictions—first imposed in the wake of the 1973 oil embargo—have been softened over time, as presidents created exceptions for exports to Canada, oil flowing from Alaska and California crude, according to a 51-page white paper Murkowski released today. The document, which traces the history of six separate presidential carve-outs to the oil export ban, revives the debate over the issue ahead of Murkowski's planned speech this afternoon to the IHS CERAweek energy summit in Houston. And it helps make the case that the Obama administration can lift the crude export ban in a piecemeal fashion, perhaps beginning with small exceptions for the estimated 1 million barrels per day of lease condensates that flow along with crude...

'Business Report': Big industry battles over whether LNG exports might hamper domestic economic growth

Chris John says when he was in Congress from 1997 to 2005, America's energy picture was very different. "We were building natural gas import facilities because we didn't have enough natural gas," the head of the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association tells Business Report for a new feature in the current issue by staff writer David Jacobs. "The dynamics of the natural gas market has really taken a 180 [degree turn] over a short period of time." Today, thanks to the shale gas revolution, we have more natural gas than we know what to do with, which has deflated the price and fueled a resurgence for the Capital Region's gas-dependent chemical sector. But while cheap natural gas is great for the plants and for anyone who pays an electric bill, it's not so good for the oil and gas companies that try to sell the stuff. So the energy industry is keen to liquefy natural gas and export it to nations where it might fetch more than three times the domestic price, and the U.S.

Asian tigers stalk U.S. gas as La. shale profits taper

DeSoto Parish has a problem. And as Bloomberg reports, the solution may lie 10,000 miles away in Jakarta, Indonesia. DeSoto and other communities in the Haynesville shale formation have become victims of the energy industry's success in extracting natural gas from deeply buried rock, Bloomberg reports. Even as U.S. gas production surges to a record, outpacing domestic demand, Haynesville output has slumped 40% since 2011 amid falling prices, as companies shift rigs to reservoirs richer in lucrative oil and gas liquids. Tax revenue has tumbled by the same percentage over the past two years from a record $50 million in the parish. Meanwhile, Indonesia's energy use may more than double from 2010 through 2035, according to the Asian Development Bank. As early as next year, cargoes of liquefied natural gas shipped from Gulf Coast terminals to fast-growing Asian countries will propel the region into the ranks of global gas exporters such as Qatar and Australia for the first time. "LNG...

Feds approve second La. LNG export terminal, sixth overall

Sempra Energy subsidiary Cameron LNG announced today that its plans to build a liquefied natural gas export terminal near Hackberry in Cameron Parish have been approved by the U.S. Department of Energy. The approval marks the sixth LNG export facility in the U.S.—and the second in La.—authorized to ship domestic natural gas to non-free-trade-agreement countries such as India, China and Japan—all huge markets for LNG. "Exporting natural gas will lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs and economic growth here in the U.S. and enable our partners to deliver domestically produced natural gas to our allies abroad and to the world marketplace," says Debra L. Reed, chairman and CEO of Sempra Energy, in a press release. It is a sentiment echoed by Sen. Mary Landrieu—the likely successor to Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden as chair of the powerful Senate Energy and...

CB&I lands contract to provide Dow with pipes for new plants in La., Texas

CB&I, which last year acquired Baton Rouge-based The Shaw Group in a deal worth roughly $3 billion, this morning announced it has been awarded a contract to make pipes for Dow Chemical Co. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Specifically, CB&I will be fabricating pipes for Dow's U.S. Gulf Coast Investment Program, which includes at least five new plants in Louisiana and Texas. "CB&I's strategically-located fabrication facilities, production management systems and manufacturing technology give us the unique capability to provide complete piping solutions for major energy infrastructure projects," says Luke Scorsone, president of CB&I's fabrication services operating group, in a prepared statement. "This distinct expertise offers our customers greater quality, efficiency and schedule reliability, and in turn, we help our customers get their products to market faster." Dow's Gulf Coast...

Words aren't facts

President Barack Obama gave a pip of a speech to the nation Jan. 28. If rhetoric and high oratory were the measure of such things, then the state of the Union would indeed be strong.

Lake Charles export facility to be most efficient in world, official says

The president of Magnolia LNG—whose parent company is Australian-based Liquefied Natural Gas Limited—updated Lake Charles Port Board members on the company's estimated $3.5 billion liquefied natural gas project on Wednesday. He also presented a check to extend the company's lease with the port for a year. As KPLC-TV reports, Magnolia President Maurice Brand told the board the export facility will be the most efficient in the world. "Most energy plants will use 9% to 10% of the gas that's utilized actually in the plant itself. We're typically going to be somewhere in the 6% to 8% range. So that has a big impact; it's about a 30% improvement in efficiency, therefore there's 30% less greenhouse gas emission," Brand told the board. Meanwhile, Magnolia—which announced the project last year and expects to break ground on it next year—also says it has reached an agreement with Kinder Morgan...

Sumitomo completes acquisition of B.R.-based Edgen Group

The acquisition of Baton Rouge specialty pipemaker Edgen Group Inc. by Sumitomo—a combination of Japanese firm Sumitomo Corp. and Sumitomo Corp. of America, headquartered in New York City—has been completed, Sumitomo announced today. The acquisition, which saw Sumitomo buy all Edgen Group stock at $12 per share, was first announced last month. Dan O'Leary, president and CEO of Edgen Group, will continue to lead the company's strategic growth initiatives. In a news release issued today, Sumitomo President and CEO Kazuhiro Takeuchi says, "As a leader in the supply of steel products across the upstream, midstream and downstream oil and gas market in the United States, the acquisition of Edgen Group gives us a broader global distribution platform, including experienced staff, facilities, and an expanded specialized steel product offering that will allow us to continue our growth and to support the development of our global energy infrastructure." —Staff...

Oil industry may invoke trade law to challenge export restrictions

The U.S. oil industry, riding a domestic energy boom, is preparing to challenge restrictions on crude exports, possibly by arguing that limits designed to keep petroleum in America may violate international trade rules. "Export issues are something we're going to have to address," John Felmy, the chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute trade group, tells Bloomberg. "It's a debate we have to have." Felmy declined to discuss lobbying strategy or trade rules, though a June planning document on API letterhead obtained by Bloomberg says the group has begun to develop "the necessary legal analysis" to support export approvals. API is planning to "highlight potential violations of the World Trade Organization rules against export restrictions," according to the draft document, prepared for the group's executive committee meeting. Industry officials say the push is just starting to lift the 1970s-era restrictions, and they acknowledge it will be an uphill fight that raises...

Majority of voters see link between energy and economy

Nine out of 10 voters believe increased domestic oil and gas production can help the economy, but not all of them want to see it happen offshore, a new survey shows. The poll, conducted by Harris Interactive for the American Petroleum Institute, finds that 67% of voters endorse offshore drilling for domestic oil and natural gas resources—in line with the level of support documented by other surveys in 2012 and before the Deepwater Horizon disaster soured some on the idea. In general, the API-commissioned poll found that voters appreciate the role that domestic oil and gas development plays in the economy and in funding the government. For instance, 84% of respondents said they agreed that producing more domestic oil and gas can benefit federal and state budgets, and 89% said it would generally help the economy. At the same time, 87% agreed that producing more domestic oil and gas could help lower consumers' energy costs. Erik Milito, API's upstream director, says the survey...