In the Pipeline: 4/11/11

The common sense defense: producers would rather sell than spill oil Wall Street Journal (4/11/11) reports: The Deepwater Horizon disaster in April 2010 was the largest offshore spill ever in the U.S. It humbled one of the oldest, biggest and most distinguished oil firms, BP, forcing it to set aside $20 billion in compensation and sacrifice its chief executive. No wonder the oil industry is doing some soul searching. In response to the catastrophe, oil companies have taken measures ranging from delaying drilling to devising new technologies to contain giant spills. Big oil has also drastically improved the oversight of contractors and training…Soon after the disaster, BP postponed its offshore drilling projects in Libya. This was before the current unrest forced it to mothball its Libya strategy for the longer term. Moreover, Total of France said it would take a closer look at its deep water CLOV project in Angola—before launching it August 2011…Searching for oil deep under the sea tends to yield the reward of huge gushers. But the blow-out preventer—the device used on a rig to stop the release of natural gas – also has to deal with unusual levels of pressure. This is critical to the safety of the entire operation. In the case of Deepwater Horizon, the device couldn’t resist the flow, which led directly to the catastrophe. The sheer scale of the disaster also meant it took months to plug the well.

Like green energy, green jobs are carbon neutral…and don’t exist Western Energy Alliance (4/7/11) reports: As the managing director for a professional recruiting and consulting firm in the energy industry, I split my time between seeking job opportunities in the renewable energy and oil and natural-gas sectors…While I have no allegiance to one over the other, reports of green jobs inspired me to target much of last year’s efforts in the renewable sector…“Green jobs” is a big buzz term, thanks in part to the president’s campaign promise to recover our stalled economy. However, the only green jobs I’ve seen with any consistency in the last couple years are low-paying, temporary positions that are mostly in manufacturing…As Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, and Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Washington, reported two years ago, the dirty secret behind many of these green jobs is that they fall short of union leaders’ expected standards for pay and working conditions…I understand that natural gas doesn’t carry the same cachet as renewable energy, but I was struck by the under-reporting of this sector’s relative job boom. Many times, recruiting conversations with hiring managers, which I expected to be about green jobs, instead centered on the many job opportunities in the natural-gas industry.

If you can’t beat ‘em, tax ‘em Wall Street Journal (4/11/11) reports: The European Union next week will propose taxing transport and heating fuels according to their greenhouse-gas emissions as well as their energy content, introducing a climate-change component in EU tax rules for the first time, after years of negotiations…The European Commission, which has executive powers in the European Union, will propose a minimum rate of €20 ($29) a metric ton of CO2 emitted by products like gasoline, diesel, natural gas and coal starting in 2013, a draft document obtained by Dow Jones Newswires shows…According to the document—which is the draft revision of an existing law on taxation of energy products, and might still change before being made public Wednesday—the commission will also propose a gradual increase of a minimum levy on diesel to bring it to the same as that on gasoline by 2018.

The government is bidding away top talent from the private sector; instead of working on the next invention these poor souls will be making sure the forms are in order Fuel Fix (4/11/11) reports: The federal government has collected more than 300 applications from aspiring environmental scientists who are eager to get a job working for the U.S. agency that polices offshore drilling…The resumes poured in during a four-day swing this week through universities in California, Oregon and Washington, said Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement…“This dramatically exceeds my wildest applications on planning this trip,” Bromwich told reporters during a conference call from southern California, where he met with students at two universities. “I think it shows the level of interest in our agency and in the expansion of our environmental science capabilities and in playing a role in the new era that we’ll be seeing in BOEMRE.”

For all you Dragnet fans, here are ‘just the facts’ for gas prices Yahoo (4/11/11) reports: The average price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States has moved closer to $4, jumping more than 19 cents since mid-March to a level less than 10 percent below its all-time high, a widely followed survey said on Sunday…The Lundberg Survey said the national average price of self-serve, regular unleaded gas was $3.765 on Friday, up from $3.573 on March 18, and up 91.3 cents from $2.852 a year ago…Prices in several western U.S. cities are already above $4 per gallon, led by San Francisco at $4.13. Chicago was close behind at $4.11 a gallon, the survey said.
The national average would have been higher had refiners and retailers not resisted passing on rising crude oil prices as customers grow less willing to pay what it takes to fill their gas tanks, analyst Trilby Lundberg said in an interview…”Demand has been falling at these prices,” she said.
The record high average pump price is $4.112 set on July 11, 2008. Lundberg tracks roughly 2,500 gas stations.

The Employment Prevention Agency survives the budget battle The Hill (4/10/11) reports: A last-minute spending deal to avoid a government shutdown reached late Friday night does not include a requirement to study the effects of Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said…Key Senate Democrats said Friday afternoon that they were considering accepting such a study in exchange for Republicans dropping policy riders restricting various EPA rules…Neither the study nor the EPA riders are included in the final agreement, Reid spokesman Jon Summers told The Hill Saturday…Republicans had been pushing for the inclusion of a series of policy riders that would prohibit EPA from implementing climate and other regulations in the legislation to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend…new study tries to turn coal and natural gas against each other The Hill (4/11/11) reports: Cornell University professors will soon publish research that concludes natural gas produced with a drilling method called “hydraulic fracturing” contributes to global warming as much as coal, or even more…The conclusion is explosive because natural gas enjoys broad political support – including White House backing – due to its domestic abundance and lower carbon dioxide emissions when burned than other fossil fuels….Cornell Prof. Robert Howarth, however, argues that development of gas from shale rock formations produced through hydraulic fracturing – dubbed “fracking” – brings far more methane emissions than conventional gas production…nough, he argues, to negate the carbon advantage that gas has over coal and oil when they’re burned for energy, because methane is such a potent greenhouse gas

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