Oil Industry

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

T. Boone Pickens, a brash and quotable oil tycoon who grew even wealthier through corporate takeover attempts, died Wednesday. He was 91.

Half a dozen men in hard hats watch as their construction rig rises more than 100 feet. On top, an American flag flutters in the sun. At the work site in Adams County, Colo., northeast of Denver, the crew is preparing to close off an abandoned well.

Instead of drilling a mile beneath the surface to extract oil, they're about to rip pipe out of the ground. In its place, they'll leave concrete plugs strong enough to seal the hole permanently.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

In Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans for a major rollback of rules aimed at reducing methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure. In Texas, environmentalists and even some in the industry are arguing in favor of keeping the rules.

Salvador Castro for KUT

Protesters could face up to 20 years in prison for interfering with oil and gas pipelines under a new proposal from the Trump administration.

Caroline Covington/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Energy is the invisible driver of nearly everything we do. It gets us to work, lights our homes – it even powers the equipment we use to broadcast Texas Standard. Energy – and access to it – determines the wealth, health and growth of societies. Michael Webber explores how energy has shaped civilization in his new book “Power Trip: The Story Of Energy.

Webber says he became interested in the topic during an undergraduate history class at the University of Texas at Austin.

Rows of chairs in the House chamber of the Texas Capitol.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

On its face, you might think a bill to treat wastewater from oil and gas operations would get the support of environmental groups. But you'd be wrong.

Pierce Place/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Most of the liquefied natural gas, or LNG, the U.S. exports leaves on big tanker ships. But with so much natural gas being produced right now, companies are seeking out other ways to move LNG internationally. In fact, at least one company has carved out a niche by shipping natural gas overland, tapping into a growing market south of the border.

Sergio Chapa reports on the oil and gas industry for the Houston Chronicle. He says the tankers transporting LNG are similar to the 18-wheelers that deliver gasoline or diesel, but much bigger.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Natural gas is a valuable commodity in most of the world – but not in parts of Texas. Now, in West Texas, oil well operators will pay you to take their natural gas. The practice is called “negative pricing,” and it could change everything from the price of electricity to the use of renewable energy.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

In a tweet Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the situation in Venezuela is "deteriorating," and announced plans to remove all diplomatic staff from the country, amid a six-day nationwide power outage, ongoing violence and food shortages. The U.S. also recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's president, though Nicolás Maduro still occupies the presidential palace. But it's unclear what the consequences will be with U.S. diplomats out of Caracas.

Secretary Pompeo, who's in Houston Tuesday for the CERAWeek energy conference, told Texas Standard he's ordering diplomats to leave for their safety. As a diplomat himself, he also says much of his focus is on finding ways to enhance America's security at home, including promoting U.S. oil and gas production. He says so-called energy independence gives the U.S. greater security and more leverage to negotiate with other countries.

Despite growing energy independence, the U.S. has relied for years on Venezuelan oil exports. But Pompeo says right now, the U.S. mainly wants to ensure the well-being of the Venezeulan people.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A couple years ago, Texas had a problem with abandoned oil and gas wells.

It still does.

That was the takeaway Wednesday from a hearing at the state Senate, where lawmakers learned the agency responsible for plugging wells can't seal them as quickly as they're being abandoned.  

A man carries a sign in protest of the planned pipeline at the Wimberley Community Center Tuesday night. His sign says, sign says, "Our Founding Fathers saw England's rule as unjust. I see Kinder Morgan's rule over my community as unjust."
Salvador Castro for KUT

A public meeting Tuesday on a planned natural gas pipeline in Central Texas often felt more like a protest, as Hays County residents shared concerns about the project and speakers vowed to fight it.

Julia Reihs / KUT

A fight over a pipeline is never only about the pipeline. It’s about the environment, property rights, public safety and a community’s sense of itself. Just such a fight is now brewing in the Texas Hill Country, where company Kinder Morgan plans to lay a part of its 430-mile natural gas Permian Highway Pipeline.

Pexels

From Texas Standard:

If you're the investing type, it's likely the stock market has given you a little bit of whiplash in recent weeks. If you're not the investing type, you've probably seen the major ups and downs as a reason to avoid stocks. Ups and downs are par for the stock market course, but has the recent volatility been an outlier? And what explains it? President Donald Trump said this week there was a "glitch" in the market December, so what are we to make of that?

Ray Perryman is an economist with the Perryman Group in Waco. He says the stock market's current fluctuations are unusual.

KUT

From Texas Standard:

Taxes. They tend be something many of us avoid thinking about until a certain time of the year. But they are, of course, an everyday reality when you buy something at the store or when you fill up your gas tank.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

Texas-based oil giant Exxon Mobil got some good press this week when it announced it was donating $1 million to a campaign to enact a carbon tax in the U.S. But many worry the tax proposal would not slow emissions quickly enough and could harm the environment through its legislative giveaways to the oil and gas industry. 

rhaaga/Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

From Texas Standard

Oil companies have long been blamed for playing a role in climate change. But now, those companies are asking the government to protect their interests from the harsher storms and higher tides connected with global warming.

Companies on the Texas Gulf Coast, which is still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, are pushing for a 60-mile stretch of sea walls and levees that would help protect homes, beaches and, yes, oil infrastructure, from the next big storm.

Mike Mozart/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard.

Ford announced recently that it will stop making most of its sedans, because the money is in trucks and SUVs. But now, gas prices are climbing, after four or five years without a significant increase. Like everyone who drives, and even those who travel by other means, Texans feel the impact of higher gas prices right in the wallet. But here, there’s a bit of a silver lining, because so much of the economy, and even the government’s coffers, rely on oil revenue. But with the Texas economy more diverse than ever, what does $3-a-gallon gas mean, on balance?

The U.S. is on track to become the world's biggest oil producer, pumping out more crude than at its peak nearly a half century ago. For decades, few expected such a comeback, and it's all the more remarkable because the price of a barrel of oil is nowhere near what it was during the last, recent boom.

"This is an incredible statement, but we're probably making more money at fifty dollars a barrel than a hundred," says Kirk Edwards, president of Latigo Petroleum in Midland, the de facto oil capitol of West Texas.

Courtesy of Lorne Matalon

From Texas Standard:

The Permian Basin in West Texas — already the nation's highest-producing oilfield — is seeing a surge in production, and drillers are extracting more crude oil than refiners here can handle. But now, oil companies in the basin have new outlets for that oil, and it's having an economic impact hundreds of miles away.

"This is not a bubble; this is real growth,” Port of Corpus Christi vessel traffic controller Mike Stineman says as he scans real-time navigation charts. Radio chatter between vessels, the Coast Guard and the Vessel Control Center provide a nonstop audio backdrop for Stineman's day-to-day work.

An appeals court in Washington, D.C., has blocked an attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency to delay Obama-era methane regulations, rejecting claims by the EPA that the oil and gas industry wasn't allowed to comment on the rules.

The agency could choose to rewrite the rules, but it overstepped in trying to delay them for years, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decided.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez

Ask Texas State Demographer Lloyd Potter what caught his attention in a recent release of census data for Texas cities, and he’ll tell you: Houston, in Harris County.

“In the past three or four years, prior to the [2015-16] set of estimates, Harris County was the most significant growing county in the country numerically,” he says.

Eddie Seal / Texas Tribune

The risk of damaging manmade earthquakes striking the Dallas-Fort Worth area is substantially lower than it was last year, according to a new earthquake hazard map released this week by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Courtesy of Subhi Khudairi

When Donald Trump was running for president he vowed to boost the U.S. oil and gas industry, much of it found right here in Texas. Now that he’s in office, some of his policies seem aimed at doing just that. But others are having the opposite effect.