In the Pipeline: 3/23/12

The gas plan is easy — lease more land, issue more permits, reduce regulations CNN Money (3/22/12) reports: The oil industry recently laid out a set of proposals it believes will instantly lower gasoline prices…The proposals call for more domestic oil production, fewer environmental regulations, and for not raising taxes on the industry. They’re basically what the Republican presidential candidates are calling for.

Amen Chicago Tribune (3/22/12) reports: When the summer driving season starts soon, and tension heats up over Iran, gas may reach $5 a gallon. Nothing bothers voters more than paying an extra $20 or $30 every time they fill up. In times like these, they soon might prefer even an oilman in the White House to an ideologue whose opposition to new oil development seems more religious than empirically based…All presidents, of course, usually get the blame or praise when the price of gas skyrockets or plummets, just like they own a bad or good economy, or a successful or failed war.

If we lose Alaska, it’s gone forever. Let me explain, TAPS can operate so long as it’s economically viable, but its capacity is way down. That means if we don’t allow American companies to drill in Alaska, there’s no oil flowing and that means Congress has the authority to tear down the pipe. We all saw what happened with Keystone XL Businessweek (3/22/12) reports: It could take billions of dollars in additional annual investment from oil companies just to stem the decline of oil production in Alaska. Oil company executives on Wednesday said this kind of investment will never happen without changes to its tax structure…Officials from the North Slope’s three main players — BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp. — testified before the Senate Finance Committee, which is working on an oil tax plan. They said the current version of the plan, SB192, doesn’t go far enough to change the investment climate and said changes of the magnitude that Gov. Sean Parnell has proposed would create the potential for billions of dollars in new investments…BP and ConocoPhillips have talked about $5 billion in new investments if a bill on the order of Parnell’s is implemented. For projects at Prudhoe Bay, Exxon also would need to buy in. Dale Pittman, Alaska production manager for Exxon Mobil Production Co, told the committee Wednesday that the company “fully supports” BP and ConocoPhillips’ plans.

The NYT trifecta begins with an article about the technological advances and blessings of hydraulic fracturing New York Times (3/22/12) reports: As Eric Lipton and I write in The Times, oil production is increasing rapidly in the United States even as gasoline consumption is falling…The revolution in production in Texas and across the country is due in part to the rising price of oil over much of the last decade, which propelled aggressive technological experimentation and development. (Government encouragement over the last several administrations helped as well.)Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have been around for years, but over the last five years, engineers have fine-tuned these and other techniques, even as many environmentalists worry about their impact on water and air.

The second article talks of energy independence through drilling New York Times (3/22/12) reports: The desolate stretch of West Texas desert known as the Permian Basin is still the lonely domain of scurrying roadrunners by day and howling coyotes by night. But the roar of scores of new oil rigs and the distinctive acrid fumes of drilling equipment are unmistakable signs that crude is gushing again.

The trifecta is complete with a heart wrenching story about three men finding a new start in North Dakota oilfields New York Times (3/22/12) reports: Last spring, Bob Ripka decided the time had come for drastic change. His once-robust income from his job at a printing company was dwindling. His family lost its house in the real estate crash. And employment prospects around his home in Pine City, Minn., more than an hour north of Minneapolis, appeared scant…He heard talk around town about plentiful work in North Dakota, where new drilling technologies are driving an oil boom. “And I decided, ‘Well, I’m going to go make some money,’ ” he recalled in an interview. So on Memorial Day weekend, Mr. Ripka, 48, removed the rear seats from his 2003 Dodge minivan and replaced them with a mattress. He threw some clothes in a bag, said goodbye to his family and drove 10 hours west to Williston — ground zero in the North Dakota petroleum explosion.

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