On-Demand: Impacts of Tightening Natural Gas Market on Procurement Strategy

Ecova has posted an on-demand webinar reviewing the top takeaways from third quarter of 2017.

The webinar also covers potential short- and long-term impacts of a tighter natural gas supply and demand balance heading into this upcoming winter.

Other energy and natural gas market trends covered include:

  • Upcoming winter, gas and storage vs historical averages
  • Associated risks with less gas supply heading into winter
  • Working risk tolerance into procurement strategy

Watch the on-demand webinar.



Oil Majors Face Lawsuits on Climate Change Issues

Two major Californian cities — San Francisco and Oakland — have filed lawsuits against five oil and energy super majors September, according to Zacks Equity Research.

The cities have taken legal action against Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell plc, ExxonMobil Corp. and BP p.l.c.

“The companies have been accused of causing an adverse impact on the climate, resulting in global warming. The plaintiffs hold these fossil fuel companies accountable for rising sea levels, changing landscapes, higher global temperatures and increased risk of storms and droughts,” Zacks reports.

The plaintiffs allege that the defendants continue to produce and market products that contribute to climate change and rising sea levels.

Read the article.


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Litigating Climate Change: An Overview of Suits Against the Oil and Gas Industry

The Institute for Energy Law will present a webinar discussing the various climate change-based lawsuits and current trends in climate change litigation.

The event will be Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017, at 1 p.m. EDT / 10 a.m. PDT. Information about MCLE credit and fees can be found on the registration site.

The institute is a part of the Center for American and International Law.

“Over the past few years, government entities and non-governmental organizations have moved the debate over climate change from the court of public opinion and into the courtroom,” according to the institute. “Oil and gas companies have been one of the bigger targets for such suits, where plaintiffs have alleged that the companies are responsible for rising sea levels and that they have failed to warn about the potential impacts of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Register for the event.




Energy Contract Lawsuits Expected to Jump in Harvey’s Wake

Lawyers expect a spate of force majeure contract lawsuits after Hurricane Harvey tore through Southeast Texas and parts of Louisiana last month, paralyzing a fifth of U.S. fuel output and pushing some oil production offline, Reuters reports.

“Many chemical and refinery plants along the U.S. Gulf Coast have already restarted operations or are beginning to ramp up after damage by Harvey,” writes Bryan Sims. “Once they do, customers may insist on reviewing contractual terms with their energy industry suppliers for the product they did not receive while plants were shuttered.”

He quotes Jessica Crutcher, an attorney for Houston law firm Mayer Brown:

“Every force majeure clause is different, especially when you’re dealing with heavily negotiated contracts in the energy sector.”


Read the article.


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Trump Administration Working Toward Renewed Drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The Trump administration is quietly moving to allow energy exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for the first time in more than 30 years, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post, with a draft rule that would lay the groundwork for drilling.

“Congress has sole authority to determine whether oil and gas drilling can take place within the refuge’s 19.6 million acres,” reports Juliet Eilperin for The Post. “But seismic studies represent a necessary first step, and Interior Department officials are modifying a 1980s regulation to permit them.”

Environmentalists and some of Alaska’s native tribes have fought against exploration in the ANWR for years, but state politicians and many Republicans in Washington have pressed to extract the billions of barrels of oil lying beneath the refuge’s coastal plain, Eilperin writes.

Read the Post article.


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Despite EPA’s Insistence, Clean Power Plan Remains ‘The Law Of The Land,’ Democratic State Officials Insist

The battle over the Clean Power Plan has intensified as Democratic state officials are publicly locking horns with Scott Pruitt, the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, over the legal advice that he has given to states that oppose the Obama-era carbon-cutting plan, reports Forbes.

Ken Silverstein explains that in March Pruitt wrote a letter in which he advised the states that they do not have to meet the deadlines set by the Clean Power Plan that aims to cut CO2 emissions by 32% by 2030, from a 2005 baseline. But 14 state attorneys general disagree, saying the regulation remains in effect unless the courts would rule otherwise.

“The country is well on its to way to achieving the desired outcome of the regulation: carbon emissions in this country have dropped from 6.13 billion metric tons in 2007 to 5.35 billion metric tons last year because natural gas is replacing coal-fired generation,” writes Silverstein.

Read the article.



Liability in the Oil and Gas Fields: The Gap Between Your Company and Its Employees

Oil wellsTexas courts have continued to evaluate the nature and extent of liability that property owners have for the acts of independent petroleum contractors, points out Marcy Rothman in Kane Russell Coleman Logan’s Energy Law Today blog.

She explains that a new opinion from the Eastland Court of Appeals is highly relevant for owners, operators, and drillers.

The Texas Supreme Court specifically held that the plain language of the Liability for Acts of Independent Contractors statute in the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code protects only the property owner, not its employees.

Boiling the Eastland court’s decision to its most practical terms, when it comes to claims for negligent hiring, companies are subject to claims that they knew or should have known that the contractors were not competent, Rothman writes.

Read the article.


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How Oil & Gas Technology Investments Help Executives Secure Project Payback

The fall in oil prices has driven energy executives to focus on reducing production costs, according to Schneider Electric. However, are the benefits accrued from this price-influenced cost cutting only temporary or can they be made permanent and sustainable?

Eric Koenig of Schneider Electric will present will discuss that question during a webinar Oct. 3, 2017, at 9 a.m. CDT.

“Experience evidences the link between influence over costs and project stage. Each specific project lifecycle phase – from conception and front-end design to daily operations-incorporates specific solutions for maximizing profitability,” according to the invitation to the webcast. “Engineering and integration technologies designed to optimize existing architectures, increase production efficiency, and improve safety performance are currently available and are powerful tools for succeeding in today’s challenging marketplace. This webcast will explore how Oil & Gas companies can reinvent their control engineering processes, and leverage these tools to sustain and improve project delivery payback and operational efficiencies.”

During this session explore how to:

– Get up to 20% on CapEx and up to 25% on OpEx savings with a new power distribution approach
– Get up to 14% on CapEx and up to 9% on OpEx with an integrated process, power and safety management
– Implement virtual reality training simulators to secure higher uptime operations and to accelerate the training of Millennian new employees.
– Correct potential errors at earlier stages of the project with engineering simulation tools.

Register for the webinar.


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FERC is Back and Faces a Full Plate of Electricity Issues

FERCWith two new commissioners confirmed by the Senate and sworn in, FERC’s seven-month period without a quorum is over and it can get back to business, reports Covington & Burling on its Inside Energy & Environment blog.

He writes that two more nominations are now before the Senate with a hearing scheduled for Sept. 7. Them the agency should be at full strength within the next few months and ready to take on important policy issues.

“There are quite a few critical generic electricity policy initiatives already teed up and awaiting Commission action. Together, the initiatives address fundamental issues spanning a broad range of FERC’s electricity authorities,” according to Peterson.

Read the article.


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Could State Subsidies for Renewable Energy Face Legal Challenges?

Renewable energy - windmills - laptopIn a Maryland case, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the state’s effort to offer incentives for new gas fired power plants, ruling that the subsidies impermissibly encroached on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s authority under the Federal Power Act, writes Hugh E. Hilliard, a senior counsel with O’Melveny & Myers. But the Court left open the broader issue of whether states have the power to offer other forms of energy incentives.

“Now several cases before the courts are raising just that question, with potentially far-reaching implications for nuclear and renewable energy, although recent decisions in those cases have upheld state subsidies that are not directly tethered to sales of electric energy at wholesale, which are subject to FERC’s exclusive jurisdiction,” according to Hilliard.

He writes that the latest developments in federal courts indicate that state subsidies for renewable energy, including renewable-energy portfolio standards and mandated procurement programs, are safe from challenges, at least for now.

Read the article.



BLM Proposes Rescission of 2015 Hydraulic Fracturing Rule

The Bureau of Land Management has announced its recommendation that the hydraulic fracturing rule from 2015 entitled, “Oil and Gas; Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands,” be rescinded, reports Fox Rothschild in its Energy Law Today blog.

Melissa J. Lyon explains that in 2015 the BLM had issued regulations that attempted to regulate oil and gas development on federal and tribal lands by focusing on wellbore construction, chemical disclosures and water management.

But litigation kept the final rule from going into effect. Then U.S. District Court Judge Skavdahl ruled that the BLM does not have the authority to enforce the 2015 hydraulic fracturing rule.

Read the article.


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Quick Legal Appeal in the Works for Illinois Zero-Emissions Credit Ruling

An immediate legal appeal was in the works after a federal judge upheld Illinois’ controversial zero-emissions credit program aimed at providing millions of dollars of taxpayer-funded subsidies to keep two money-losing Exelon nuclear plants from closing, reports Platts.

Nuclear generators in other states also are seeking legislative and administrative support to help plants compete against cheaper gas and renewables in a low wholesale power price environment, explains Bob Matyi.

“Chicago-based Exelon, the nation’s largest nuclear generator, won the first round of the legal battle Friday when Judge Manish Shah of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago dismissed a lawsuit filed late last year by a competitive power group that includes Calpine, Dynegy, NRG Energy and the Electric Power Supply Association,” according to Matyi.

Read the article.


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Electrification of the Auto Industry Steps on the Gas

Electric car plugOn the heels of Volkswagen announcing moves toward electrifying its vehicle fleet, and Tesla beginning its production run of its highly anticipated Model 3, several other recent developments show momentum continuing to build toward the replacement of fossil fuels with electricity to power the cars of the future, reports Foley & Lardner.

The article by Jason P. Britt discusses France’s plan to ban the sale of gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles by 2040, and Volvo electrifying its fleet.

“Even as Brexit and the election of Donald Trump have shown a souring appetite for a global approach to the economy in some sectors, these developments reinforce just how international the auto industry is and will continue to be,” Britt writes.

Read the article.



Tillerson in Focus as Exxon Investigation Intensifies

Image by William Munoz

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to be deposed as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman expands his sweeping probe into whether Tillerson’s former employer, ExxonMobil, misled investors about the impact of climate change, reports JWN.

“Schneiderman’s office considers the nation’s chief diplomat a central figure in a case that pits the ambitious Democrat against a Texas energy giant and has divided attorneys general nationwide,” according to the report.

Some state prosecutors and Exxon’s legal team accuse the New York attorney general of abusing the power of his office to score political points. Schneiderman, however, says he he has the legal authority to depose the secretary of state, who served as Exxon’s CEO until joining the Trump administration.

Read the article.



What Does Your Reservation Clause Mean?

Locke Lord partner Martin Gibson (Austin) and associate Kerstie Moran (Houston) co-authored an article examining a decision by the San Antonio Fourth Court of Appeals in Webb et al. v. Martinez in a property dispute including reservations of a mineral estate.

The article was originally published by the National Association Of Division Order Analysts.

“This decision further emphasizes the importance of properly phrasing a reservation clause, as to avoid inadvertently granting an interest in a mineral estate. The Webb Court demonstrates the way in which courts consistently interpret grantor’s intent based on the plain language of the deed,” according to the authors.

The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s take-nothing summary judgment regarding a property dispute in favor of Martinez. Webb had owned the entire surface and 75% of the mineral estate. The remaining 25% of the mineral estate was owned by a third party. Webb agreed to sell the entire property to Martinez through a contract of sale. The 1998 deed included a reservation clause that was at the heart of the litigation.

Read the article.


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Energy Department Seeks Input on Regulatory Reform

The Department of Energy has published a request for information soliciting guidance on potential regulations that should be modified or repealed to reduce burdens and costs, reports K&L Gates.

“This is part of a government-wide initiative to overhaul the federal government’s regulatory regime, set in motion with an executive order signed by President Trump just after his inauguration. This RFI also comes after President Trump signed an executive order, ‘Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,’ which seeks to review all regulatory actions that hamper the domestic production of fossil fuels and nuclear energy,” according to the article.

Authors Tim L. Peckinpaugh, David L. Wochner, Kathleen L. Nicholas and David L. Benson write that the RFI sets a July 14, 2017, deadline for public comment.

Read the article.


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EIA: Global Oil Oversupply Could Return in 2018

Oil barrel spigotThe U.S. Energy Information Administration lowered its crude-oil price forecast and raised its production outlook for 2018 in its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook, reports Oil & Gas Journal.

“EIA expects that supply growth from the US, Brazil, and members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in 2018 will contribute to world oil inventories increasing by 100,000 b/d in 2018, with the largest builds expected in that year’s second quarter. EIA also forecasts that implied global petroleum and liquid fuels inventories will decline by 200,000 b/d in 2017 and then increase by an average of 100,000 b/d in 2018,” according to the journal.

The agency’s forecast assumes OPEC extends its cuts beyond March 2018, “but that noncompliance, which begins to grow in late-2017, increases somewhat in second-half 2018. Without a further extension of the OPEC agreement, EIA would expect larger inventory builds in 2018 than are included in this forecast.”

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8th Circuit Makes It Easier For Plaintiffs to Take Fracking Contamination Claims to Trial

A podcast on Kane Russell Coleman & Logan’s Energy Law Today discusses the Eighth Circuit’s recent ruling that makes it easier for plaintiffs to take fracking contamination claims to trial.

The podcast also covers the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling on the validity of county-wide mineral conveyances, and the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s consideration for clarification of the often vexing “marketable product” rule for post-production expense deductions.

Oil-and-gas trial lawyer Tom Ciarlone of Kane Russell presents the podcast.

Listen to the podcast.


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Suit for Bad Frac Job Requires a Certificate of Merit

Gray Reed & McGraw’s Energy & the Law Blog discusses Perdenal Energy LLC v. Bruington Engineering, Ltd., which asked whether a court must dismiss an engineering defect lawsuit filed without a certificate of merit with prejudice or may dismiss without prejudice.

“Texas law requires a plaintiff to file a ‘certificate of merit’ with its original petition for claims arising out of work by licensed or registered engineers,” explain authors Charles Sartain and Chance Decker. “The certificate must be from a qualified engineer and must detail the manner in which the professional services were faulty.”

They outline approaches for handling this situation, both from the standpoint of the defendant and the plaintiff.

Read the article.



Webcast: BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2017

Globe - InternationalBP Global will present a webcast discussing data generated by the BP Statistical Review of World Energy, on Tuesday, June 13, 9:30-11 a.m. Eastern time.

Using robust global data, the Statistical Review of World Energy provides an objective overview of what happened to energy markets in 2016, BP Global says on its website.

The 2017 launch webcast will be hosted by Bob Dudley, group chief executive, and Spencer Dale, group chief economist.

Register for the webcast.


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