Friday, February 22, 2019

Congress News

Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling Released

Jeffrey Skilling, the onetime chief of Enron Corp who was sentenced to 24 years in prison for his conviction on charges stemming from the company’s spectacular collapse, has been released from federal custody, the Houston Chronicle reported on Thursday.A spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons confirmed to Reuters that Thursday was the date scheduled for Skilling's release but declined to provide further details, citing privacy issues.Skilling, 65, was moved in August 2018 from an Alabama prison camp to a residential re-entry facility in Houston…

Citgo's New Board Arrives, to Hold First Meeting

A board of directors appointed this month by Venezuela's opposition-controlled congress to run state-owned oil firm PDVSA's U.S. unit Citgo Petroleum on Thursday was arranging its first meeting at the company's headquarters, according with two people familiar with the matter.Venezuela's National Assembly, led by opposition leader and self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido, last week appointed new boards for PDVSA and subsidiaries PDV Holding, Citgo Holding and Citgo Petroleum amid a political battle to control the country's foreign assets.Citgo…

Top Citgo Executives Removed as PDVSA Chaos Continues

File Image: the idled Aruba refinery (AdobeStock / © Hans

Citgo Petroleum Corp has removed at least three top executives close to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, people familiar with the matter said on Monday, in a move to cement management control under a new board of directors.The U.S. refining arm of Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA has been thrust in recent weeks into the center of a political battle between an opposition leader and self-declared president backed by many Western nations, including the United States, and Maduro, a socialist whose re-election last year they consider…

US Crude Inventory Remains High

© Jorg Hackemann / Adobe Stock

U.S. crude inventory has been hovering between 430 and 450 million barrels since early December — and remains around 6% above the five year average for this time of year.But there are indications that crude supply is beginning to decrease. U.S. shale producers have cut back on production, while crude imports in the U.S. over the past four weeks are down 7.5% from last year and tanker tracking data indicate a decline in Saudi crude shipments.Meanwhile, Brent crude has traded in the range of $53 to $62 since the beginning of the year. As of Monday, Brent is trading around $61.50.The fear of crude prices dropping into the $40s or lower has faded.

Seismic Surveys Delayed in US Arctic

© sumikos / Adobe Stock

There will be no seismic exploration this winter on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Interior Department said on Friday, after the company seeking permission to conduct the tests ran out of time to get the required permit."We can confirm that seismic surveys will not take place until December 2019," said Alex Hinson, U.S. Department of the Interior spokesman, in an email.The company applying for the permits, SAExploration, had applied for a start date as early as December 2018 for seismic testing as a precursor to drill in the ANWR, which has been off-limits to drillers for decades.The application remains active, but will be altered.

Tankers with Venezuelan Oil Collect off US

© Igor Groshev / Adobe Stock

A flotilla loaded with about 7 million barrels of Venezuelan oil has formed in the Gulf of Mexico, some holding cargoes bought ahead of the latest U.S. sanctions on Venezuela and others whose buyers are weighing who to pay, according to traders, shippers and Refinitiv Eikon data.The Trump administration's move to impose sanctions last week was meant to undercut support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro by targeting the Latin American nation's oil exports to the United States, the source of most of its foreign revenue.The sanctions aim to block U.S.

Offshore Terminal Plan Slowed by U.S. Shutdown

© freshidea/AdobeStock

The U.S. government shutdown has delayed Enterprise Products Partners LP's plan to build a major U.S. crude export terminal off Houston, blocking the pipeline operator from filing paperwork with U.S. regulators, an executive said on Wednesday.Enterprise plans to file a 10,000-page permit application with the U.S. Maritime Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard as soon as the U.S. government reopens. It takes about a year for regulators to process an application for a deep-water terminal."Tell me when the government opens and I'll tell you when it happens…

US Oil Export Boom Sparks Battle to Build Texas Ports

© Robert Coy / Adobe Stock

Booming U.S. oil exports have set off a scramble to build Gulf Coast ports to handle more than 3 million barrels per day in new supplies expected over the next five years.Of seven proposed oil-export projects, nowhere is the opportunity greater or the competition more fierce than in Corpus Christi, Texas, where three firms are vying to open the state's first deepwater port.Commodities trader Trafigura has taken an early lead with a planned offshore facility that has an easier path to regulatory approval and faces fewer objections from environmentalists.Its…

NOIA Calls for Offshore Wind Territories Act

Image: BOEM

National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) said that U.S. territories need the Offshore Wind for Territories Act.The U.S. has five permanently inhabited 'Territories' in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands which are directly overseen by the United States Federal Government.NOIA President Randall Luthi issued this statement: “The House passage of H.R. 6665 is welcome news for many Americans this holiday season. Too often, Americans in the U.S. territories are our forgotten citizens."The Offshore Wind for Territories Act empowers U.S.

Petrobras Nears Terms Over TAG Pipeline Sale

© Vladimir Gerasimov / Adobe Stock

Brazil’s state-controlled oil company Petróleo Brasileiro could present a new sale and purchase agreement (SPA) before the end of December for the sale of the Transportadora Associada de Gás (TAG) pipeline, after a Brazilian Supreme Court injunction in July stalled the sale.The sale of TAG, which operates natural gas pipelines in Brazil’s north and northeast, could fetch Petrobras as much as US$7bn, in one of the company’s largest-ever asset sales, three sources familiar with the process said. A new multibillion dollar syndicated loan is expected to finance the acquisition…

US Allows Williams More Time for NY-Penn. Natgas Pipeline

U.S. energy regulators gave Williams Cos Inc two more years until December 2020 to get the approvals needed to build its long-delayed Constitution natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to New York, according to a federal filing made available on Tuesday.Before it can start building the project, Williams still needs water quality certification. New York state denied the permit in 2016, saying the company failed to provide sufficient information to determine whether the project would comply with state water standards.Williams sued in federal court…

Petrobras Forms JV with Murphy in Gulf of Mexico

Brazil's state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA is forming a joint venture with Murphy Oil Company to explore oil and gas fields in the Gulf of Mexico, the Brazilian company said on Wednesday in a securities filing.According to the filing, Petrobras, as the Brazilian company is known, will have a 20 percent stake in the joint venture, and Murphy will have 80 percent. Petrobras will receive $1.1 billion in the transaction, the filing added.Both companies will contribute with all their producing assets in the Gulf of Mexico for the joint venture.

Bill Allowing US to Sue OPEC Drawing Renewed Interest

© doganmesut / Adobe Stock

With oil prices hitting fresh four-year highs, long-dormant proposals to allow the United States to sue OPEC nations are getting a fresh look in Congress, though they were once considered a longshot to becoming law.A U.S. Senate subcommittee on Wednesday will hear testimony on the so-called No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels Act, or NOPEC, which would revoke the sovereign immunity that has long shielded OPEC members from U.S. legal action.The bill would change U.S. antitrust law to allow OPEC producers to be sued for collusion; it would make it illegal to restrain oil or gas production or set those prices - removing sovereign immunity that U.S.

Trump Calls Saudi's King to Discuss Oil Supplies

© Eugene Sergeev / Adobe Stock

U.S. President Donald Trump called Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Saturday and they discussed efforts being made to maintain supplies to ensure oil market stability and global economic growth, Saudi state news agency SPA reported.The call comes days after the U.S. president criticized OPEC for high oil prices and called again on the exporting group to boost crude output to cool the market ahead of midterm elections in November for U.S. Congress members.Saudi Arabia is the world's top oil exporter and OPEC's de-facto leader.Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week…

US Energy Companies Fume over Rejected Steel Tariff Exemptions

© tomas / Adobe Stock

The U.S. Commerce Department recently granted a tariff exemption to oil major Chevron for its imports of 4.5-inch Japanese steel tubes for oil exploration.But the department rejected a similar request from Borusan Mannesmann Pipe to exclude 4.5-inch steel pipes imported from Turkey for casing used to line new oil wells.The reason: multiple U.S. steelmakers objected to Borusan's application, arguing they could supply the product, according to the department. Chevron drew no such objections.When U.S. President Donald Trump slapped a 25 percent tariff on imported steel this spring…

Oil Majors Win Dismissal of New York City Climate Lawsuit

© think4photop / Adobe Stock

A U.S. judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit by New York City seeking to hold major oil companies liable for climate change caused by carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels.In dismissing the city's claims against Chevron Corp , BP Plc, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, U.S. District Judge John Keenan in Manhattan said climate change must be addressed through federal regulation and foreign policy."Climate change is a fact of life, as is not contested by Defendants," he wrote. "But the serious problems caused thereby are not for the judiciary to ameliorate.

US Oil Pipeline Companies, Producers Seek Relief from Steel Tariffs

© Christopher Boswell / Adobe Stock

Major U.S. energy companies including Plains All American Pipeline, Hess Corp and Kinder Morgan Inc are among many seeking exemptions from steel-import tariffs as the United States ratchets up trade tensions with exporters including China, Canada and Mexico.There have been nearly 21,000 requests overall for exclusions submitted to the U.S. Commerce Department since the Trump administration imposed levies this year. Of those, more than 500 petitions involve pipes and related materials.Initial decisions are expected this month, offering the first clues as to how the administration will balance an agenda favoring oil and gas exports while also supporting the U.S.

Poland Needs Offshore Wind and Nuclear Power, Says Official

© vivoo / Adobe Stock

Poland needs to invest in wind farms in the Baltic Sea and in nuclear power, the government official responsible for power and gas infrastructure Piotr Naimski said on Tuesday.Poland produces most of its electricity from coal and has started to look at cleaner and cheaper technologies to comply with European Union emission reduction requirements.The Energy Ministry is considering building Poland's first nuclear power station but still needs government approval for the already delayed project. It has also proposed laws to enable investment in wind power, which it had previously blocked."We need both. Offshore wind-farms will be built in the mid 2020s ...

Global Oil Supply Robust Enough to Cut Iran's Exports -Trump Memo

© nd700 / Adobe Stock

Global oil supplies are plentiful enough to withstand a "significant reduction" in petroleum exports from Iran, according to a White House memo issued on Monday as the Trump administration prepares to reimpose sanctions on the OPEC member nation.The memo, sent by the White House to the U.S. State Department, paves the way for U.S. efforts to curb Iranian oil exports after Washington's decision to pull out of the 2015 deal between Iran and six world powers curbing Tehran's nuclear program.It said there is a "sufficient supply of petroleum and…

EPA Announces Funding to Reduce Diesel Emissions

File Image (CREDIT: AdobeStock / © dbvirago)

Preference given to fleets in areas facing air quality challenges. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of grant funding to modernize the nation’s diesel fleet by retrofitting or replacing vehicles with cleaner, more efficient diesel engines. EPA anticipates awarding approximately $40 million in Diesel Emission Reduction Program (DERA) grant funding to eligible applicants, subject to the availability of funds. “These grants will incentivize improvements to aging diesel fleets and improve air quality throughout the country,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.