Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nord Stream gas pipeline through Baltic Sea gets German approval

BERLIN - German authorities granted formal approval on Dec. 28 for construction of a pipeline to transport natural gas under the Baltic Sea from Russia.
Only one permit from Finland is still required, the company running the project said.
Nord Stream AG said Germany's Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency granted a permit to build a 19-mile stretch of the pipeline in Germany's exclusive economic zone.
Nord Stream already has a second German permit covering the 31-mile section in German territorial waters, and has permits from Denmark, Sweden and Russia, through whose waters the pipeline will pass.
"We are firmly on schedule to start construction of the pipeline in spring 2010 and to start transporting gas in 2011," Nord Stream managing director Matthias Warnig said in a statement.
The only permit still outstanding for the $10.6 billion project is one of two required from Finland, the consortium said.
Once completed, the 750-mile pipeline is expected to carry 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year from the Russian port of Vyborg to the German port of Greifswald.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Caspian Pipeline Consortium approves oil pipeline and terminal expansion

ALMATY, Kazakhstan - The Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) plans to expand the capacity of the 1,580-km. CPC Pipeline, which runs from western Kazakhstan to the Black Sea coast in Russia, to 67 MMt/a of oil.
The expansion project was approved at a recent meeting of the CPC board of directors. The meeting also covered matters regarding the project management, purchase of long-lead equipment and financing approaches for the project.
The expansion will involve construction of 10 additional pump stations - two to be located in Kazakhstan and eight to be located in Russia - six crude oil storage tanks near Novorossiysk, and a third single point mooring at the CPC Marine Terminal.
Construction is expected to begin as early as next year with completion in 2014.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Bad luck BP involved in yet another pipeline spill at Prudhoe Bay

ANCHORAGE - A new spill has occurred in the Prudhoe Bay oil field, the Department of Environmental Conservation said on Dec. 22.
The spill was discovered on Dec. 21 by a BP oil field operator doing a routine inspection at a drill site. It was coming from a six-inch pipeline carrying a mixture of oil, water and natural gas, officials said.
BP spokesman Steve Rinehart said the break occurred where the production line left the well house.
"That break triggered the automatic shut-off valve of the well," he said.
The force of the release destroyed the back of the well house and blew open its front doors. When the pipe separated, it misted the surrounding area.
DEC said about 12,000 square feet of the well's gravel pad was sprayed with oil, as well as an undetermined area of tundra.
The cause and amount of the spill were not immediately known.
Rinehart said it appears to be a small spill "because it happened and ended quickly."
A BP spill response team was sent on Dec. 21 to delineate the contaminated area, state officials said. Two DEC staff who were in Prudhoe Bay also have been sent to the well pad at Drill Site 6 to evaluate the spill.
BP operates the Prudhoe Bay oil field.
In November, one of the North Slope's biggest spills - 46,000 gallons of oil, water and natural gas - was reported at the Lisburne oil field, another BP-operated site. That spill occurred when an 18-inch pipeline split on Nov. 29.
Officials believe ice plugged up the Lisburne pipe and likely caused a two-foot-long rupture at the bottom of the pipe, allowing oil and water to spray out across a three-quarter acre of tundra. Most of the oil and water congealed in a large pile under the pipe

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Russian oil exec beats wife who refused to watch movie with him

LONDON - Ratis Gailis, a Russian pipeline magnate, beat up his former wife after she refused to watch a war film with him, a British court heard on Dec. 11.
Gailis, a former Soviet army colonel, flew into a rage after a day of drinking when Vita Kokoreviga failed to accede to his demands.
He smashed property on the Loudwater estate - one of Britain’s most exclusive estates where one in four residents is a millionaire - before headbutting and strangling Miss Kokoreviga.
Gailis, a director of a company which sets up oil pipelines between Russia and Scandinavia, was in the UK on a 180-day business visa.
On July 2, he was at his mother’s home when his former wife turned up.
Gailis, who had mixed prescription drugs with alcohol, grabbed her hand and made her follow him around the house, she told police.
In a statement, she said she realized he was very drunk and there was an argument about loud music, with Gailis being abusive to their daughter.
She said: “He tried to hold my hand and force me to watch a war film I didn’t want to watch.
“He tried to cuddle me and I told him I did not want to watch the film.
“He tried to head butt me. He head butted me again and got my right eye.
“I told the two children to pack and called a taxi.
“I was packing in the bedroom and he said ‘You cannot charge me, no one saw’.”
Hemel Hempstead magistrates heard that as the situation escalated, Gailis picked up a large candle and smashed a glass picture frame.
Miss Kokoreviga then hit Gailis with a wooden sculpture on his back before falling on a sofa.
She said: “He started to strangle me around my neck. I bit his finger and he let me go and I waited in my room until the police arrived.”
Gailis was given a three-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and made the subject of a restraining order prohibiting contact with his ex-wife for three years.
He was also given an exclusion order, banning him from the borough of Watford, where his wife lives.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Koch expanding South Texas crude oil pipeline capabilities

WICHITA, Kan. - Koch Pipeline Co., L.P., will increase its crude oil pipeline transportation capacity by about 25 percent in January 2010.
Flint Hills Resources will process the additional supplies from the Eagle Ford production at its Corpus Christi, Texas, refinery.
Koch Pipeline has about 540 miles of active crude oil transportation lines in 16 Texas counties. In addition, the company has ongoing relations with other crude distribution systems that further its ability to provide services in this growing production area.
“We have plans to further grow our system’s capacity as needed to meet new production increases,” said Kim Penner, president of Koch Pipeline.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Study says Canadian oilsands pollution exceeds official estimates

EDMONTON, Alta. - An independent study suggests pollution from Alberta's oilsands is nearly five times greater and twice as widespread as industry figures say.
The study says toxic emissions from the controversial industry are equal to
a major oil spill occurring every year. Government and industry officials
say contamination in area soils and rivers is natural, but the report links
it firmly to oilsands mining.
"We found rather massive inputs of toxic organic compounds by the oilsands industry to the Athabasca River and its tributaries," said David Schindler, a co-author of the study. "The major contribution to the river was from industry."
The study, published Dec. 14 in the U.S.-based Proceedings of National
Academy of Science, also takes direct aim at Alberta's monitoring program.
"Our study confirms the serious defects of the (regional aquatic monitoring
program)," it says. "More than 10 years of inconsistent sampling design, inadequate statistical power and monitoring-insensitive responses have
missed major sources of (contamination) to the Athabasca watershed."
The report is the latest to question official figures and point out the industry's environmental costs - from acid rain to reduced songbird populations.
In the summer of 2008, Schindler's team set up monitoring stations on the
Athabasca and several of its tributaries. Some stations were upstream of both the oilsands and facilities, others were in the middle of the deposits
but upstream of industry and still others were downstream of both.
It found petrochemical concentrations did not increase until the streams flowed past oilsands facilities, especially when they flowed past new construction.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Louisiana Oil Port looks to expand storage capacity

NEW YORK - The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port is soliciting offers to build additional oil storage, Dale Rollins, vice president of business development for LOOP, said on Dec. 8.
"LOOP in the future will start another project to expand its tank farm," Rollins said in an online seminar introducing the New York Mercantile Exchange's new sour crude futures contract, which uses LOOP as its delivery point.
LOOP is the largest private storage facility in the U.S. with 53 million barrels of underground storage through eight caverns. It also has an above-ground tank farm that can hold 7.2 million barrels. Rollins said LOOP is considering the construction of further tanks.
"We have been talking to people over the past couple of months to see if there is additional interest for people needing their own tankage," Barb Hestermann, business development representative for LOOP, told Dow Jones Newswires.
CME Group Inc. (CME), which owns Nymex, launched a sour crude futures contract on Dec. 7, initially aimed at capturing the needs of Saudi Arabia's customers. The kingdom in October decided to switch to pricing oil sold in the U.S. off of a sour crude benchmark, rather than an assessment of the Nymex's light, sweet futures contract. Sour is an oil industry term used to denote lower-quality crude.
Hestermann said LOOP had been contemplating new storage prior to the introduction of the new sour futures contract, with fresh interest generated by the launch.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

China's winter weather triggers natural gas shortages

BEIJING - The municipal government of Hangzhou, in East China's Zhejiang province, stopped all natural gas supplies to entertainment businesses one recent weekend to guarantee supplies to the city's 410,000 households.
The city government also reduced gas supplies to hotels, office buildings and shopping malls by 20 percent.
Chinese cities have been grappling for several weeks with shortages of natural gas triggered by the unusually early winter weather.
Transportation authorities in the southwestern China city of Chongqing said that 6,200 of the city's 7,000 buses are powered by natural gas, and that services were pared back as supplies slowed. The municipal government on Nov. 23 also allowed natural gas-fueled taxis to levy a two-yuan surcharge per trip to offset their losses.
In Wuhan, the capital of central China's Hubei province, the city's biggest natural gas consumer - Intex Glass (Wuhan) Co. Ltd. - is on the verge of bankruptcy because of the gas shortage. The company has more than 100 employees on its payroll.
"Our factory stopped production for more than a week. The company has ordered diesel as a substitute for natural gas to fuel the smelter to prevent our materials from degenerating," said Ao Wanzhi, manager of the company.
The company's daily gas consumption was about 145,000 cubic meters, which accounted for one-tenth of the city's total. The company's monthly production value was estimated at 50 million yuan.
The city government started to cut natural gas supplies to industrial users on Nov. 17 in an effort to ensure residential supplies.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Canadian Joint Review Panel Agreement issued for Northern Gateway Pipeline

OTTAWA - The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the National Energy Board on Dec. 4 issued the Joint Review Panel Agreement, including the Terms of Reference, for the environmental and regulatory review of the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project proposed by Enbridge.
The joint review panel process will provide an opportunity for all hearing participants to make their views known on the project in an open forum. Public and Aboriginal groups are encouraged to bring their views on the Northern Gateway Pipeline Project forward to the Joint Review Panel once the Panel is established.
The Agreement was issued for public comment before being finalized. The Agreement describes the Panel's terms of reference as well as the process to be followed for conducting the joint panel review.
The Panel has a broad mandate under both the National Energy Board Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to consider whether the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects and if it is in the public interest.
After conclusion of the review process, the Panel will prepare a Panel Report setting out its conclusions and recommendations relating to the environmental assessment of the project.
Following the government response on the Panel Report, the Panel will then issue its reasons for decision under the National Energy Board Act.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Koch’s MPC line spills 210,000 gallons of crude oil in central Minnesota

STAPLES, Minn. - Crews in central Minnesota are cleaning up 210,000 gallons of crude oil after a pipeline leak during the night of Dec. 3-4.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) estimates 210,000 gallons (5,000 bbls.) of crude oil leaked out near Philbrook.
Minnesota Pipeline Co. (MPC) owns the pipeline and Koch Pipeline Co. operates the line. Koch Pipeline is a division of Flint Hills, which in turn is owned by privately held Koch Industries.
Representatives from the Koch Oil Co., Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety (MOPS) were on-site to oversee cleanup of the spill.
According to MOPS, pipeline workers on Dec. 3 had been repairing sections of the 16-inch pipe in a rural area of Todd County two miles south of Staples, near Philbrook, Minn. They left on the afternoon of Dec. 3, and the spill occurred during the evening hours of Dec. 3-4.
MPCA Information Officer Steve Mikkelson noted that equipment installed to stop the flow of oil and allow work on the pipeline actually caused the leak, and that the trench dug to repair the pipeline also helped contain the spill.
"The size of the oil spill is quite significant," Mikkelson said. "But in this particular case it was a real fortunate situation because due to the maintenance work they had excavated a large trench and the oil basically filled it up."
According to Mikkelson, the oil-filled trench measures 20 feet wide by 150 feet long and 12 feet deep, and was overflowing into a wooded area when the pipeline's maintenance crew reached the site at 6 a.m. on Dec. 4
Mikkelson also said no area surface area waters had been contaminated and only one home had to be evacuated due to the spill.
The pipeline in question runs from the Clearbrook Pumping Station to the
Flint Hills Refinery near Inver Grove Heights.
Representatives of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety were on the scene to investigate the
cause of the leak.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holly Partners announces acquisition of Roadrunner & Beeson Pipelines

DALLAS, Texas - Holly Energy Partners, L.P. and Holly Corp. on Dec. 1 announced the acquisition by Holly Partners from Holly Corp. of the Roadrunner Pipeline, a newly constructed 65-mile, 16-inch pipeline connecting Holly's refining facilities in Lovington, N.M., to the terminus of a Centurion pipeline extending between West Texas and Cushing, Okla. This connection provides Holly's refining facilities in New Mexico with direct access to a wide variety of crude oils available at Cushing.
Also included in the acquisition is a newly constructed 35-mile, eight-inch pipeline that connects Holly Energy's New Mexico crude oil gathering system to Holly's Lovington, N.M. refining facility. This pipeline provides added flexibility for Holly Corp. to move crude oil from Holly Partners' gathering system to its Lovington, N.M., facilities as well as its Artesia, N.M., facility for processing.
The purchase price for these newly constructed pipelines was $46.5 million, which was paid in cash.
Holly Partners expects the pipeline acquisitions to result in approximately $9.2 million of incremental annual revenue.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Georgia speaker resigns amid allegations of affair with pipeline lobbyist

ATLANTA - Glenn Richardson, Georgia’s first GOP speaker of the House since Reconstruction, resigned on Dec. 3 after a suicide attempt and amid allegations by his ex-wife that he had an affair with an Atlanta Gas Light lobbyist. The affair occurred while the Georgia House was considering legislation that allowed AGL to build a $300 million pipeline. Richardson co-sponsored the legislation, which ultimately died without being passed.
Richardson revealed in November that he had attempted suicide by swallowing sleeping pills while depressed following the divorce. But his ex-wife in November went on local TV and accused him of having "a full-out affair" with the lobbyist while they were still married, and claimed that the suicide attempt was nothing more than an attempt to gain attention and engender sympathy.
Richardson did not address those allegations in a brief statement issued through the House communications office in which he said he will leave both his position as speaker and his House seat on Jan. 1. He did mention in the statement that he had grappled with depression resulting in his suicide attempt.
"I fear that the media attention of this week has deflected this message and done harm to many people who suffer from this condition," he said of his depression in the statement.
The 49-year-old Richardson, from Hiram, Ga., once thought to be a serious contender for governor, had gone back to shaking hands at chicken-and-grits fundraisers after trying to kill himself. But he had been silent since his ex-wife claimed on local television that he slept with the 34-year-old AGL lobbyist.
Sheriff's deputies found him on Nov. 8, slumped semiconscious on the edge of the bathtub at his west Georgia home after he called his mother to say he had swallowed pills. A suicide note and a silver .357 Magnum were on the counter next to him. The contents of the note have not been released. Richardson also called his ex-wife, who he now accuses of failing to report to 911 his phone call to her during the attempted suicide.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Report says pipelines in Canada’s permafrost at risk from global warming

OTTAWA - Roads, pipelines, buildings and other infrastructure in the Canadian North are not prepared for the stresses of climate change, a report released on Nov. 26 says.
The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy study of how the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut would fare in a rapidly warming world, paints a stark picture of the challenges facing the Arctic.
"Energy pipelines built over permafrost terrain could be at risk of rupture and leakage if design and maintenance protocols do not account for the potential for permafrost thawing," the report said.
The changes in permafrost, which include sudden shifts in the ground, will make pipeline construction more complicated.
This could have implications for the planned C$16.2 billion, 760 mile Mackenzie Valley pipeline to ship gas from the Arctic to the western province of Alberta.
The main partners in the project include Imperial Oil Ltd, Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp.
The report goes on to say northern communities, which are often connected to the rest of Canada by a single road or airport, face skyrocketing costs, because as the ground thaws, there will be a "gradual loss of structural integrity" to infrastructure.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

U.S. court allows global warming suit against energy companies to proceed

Residents and owners of land along the Mississippi Gulf Coast were allowed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to bring a class action suit against energy, fossil fuels, and chemical companies for their alleged contributions to global warming, reversing a decision by a lower court.
The suit alleged that the companies created a public nuisance by emitting greenhouse gases, which contributed to global warming and allegedly made Hurricane Katrina more damaging than it would have been otherwise, destroying their private property in addition to causing damage to public property.
The landowners also filed trespass claims asserting that the companies’ greenhouse gas emissions caused saltwater, debris, and various hazardous substances to enter and damage their property.
Finally, negligence claims asserted that the defendants had a duty to conduct their businesses in a way to avoid unreasonably damaging the environment, public health, public and private property, and that the defendants breached this duty.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

MichCon Pipeline Co. sells natural gas gathering and treating assets

DETROIT - MichCon Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of DTE Energy, on Nov. 24 announced it has completed its sale of natural gas gathering and treating assets to DCP Midstream Partners LP.
The assets are in northern Michigan and provide gas gathering and treating services for gas produced in the Antrim shale formation. The sale price was $45.1 million cash.
"Given the sale of DTE Energy's exploration and production assets in the Antrim in 2007 and that we purchase very little Antrim production, these assets were deemed non-strategic," said Mark Stiers, MichCon vice president, Gas Sales & Supply. "However we will retain and continue to operate larger gathering pipelines in the Antrim that are strategic when examining future storage development in Northern Michigan."
MichCon Pipeline Co. is a subsidiary of DTE Energy.