Conway Irwin

Posts by Conway Irwin

Moody’s analysts are have weighed in on prospects for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the US, forecasting that chemical companies and utilities could see some negative impact from higher domestic natural gas prices, but not enough to bring down their credit ratings.

Moody’s expects US LNG export capacity to rise to 6.3 billion cubic feet per day by 2020 – equivalent to 178.4 million cubic meters per day, compared with global exports totaling 330.8 billion cubic meters per day in 2011, according to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy. “We do not expect the volume of exports from North America will have a significant impact on the global LNG trade during this decade,” the rating agency said in a report, The Prospect of US LNG Exports Influences Pricing and Gas Markets Worldwide. Keep reading →

The need to secure the electric grid against cyberattacks has attracted attention at both the corporate and policy level. But no one actually knows what “secure” really means, and making that determination may prove challenging.

Decision-makers at energy companies and on Capitol Hill have been alerted to the danger of a cyber attack on the electric grid. While those concerns may be valid, calls to “secure the grid” assume a level of knowledge of the state of grid security that even experts in the field may not possess, said IBM Energy Security Lead Andy Bochman at the Advanced Energy Conference in New York this week. Keep reading →

Sophisticated worms – automated software that spreads between computer devices – can infect an entire electric grid in a matter of seconds, but there may be effective defenses against them, according to Rob Johnson, assistant professor of computer science at Stony Brook University.

The critical role various computing devices have assumed in the daily functioning of the power grid has dramatically altered the security needs of utilities. While safeguards are already in place to protect against physical threats, like natural disasters, utilities may lack the tools to protect their networks from cyber attacks, such as worms. Keep reading →

The Three Forks formation in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana could hold more undiscovered, technically recoverable oil than the Bakken Shale that lies above it, according to the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) latest assessment.

The mean of the estimate for the two formations’ combined undiscovered, technically recoverable oil is 7.38 billion barrels, effectively doubling the 2008 estimate for the Bakken shale alone. The mean estimate for Bakken oil, at 3.65 bn bbls – the same as in 2008 – is just shy of the Three Forks’ 3.73 bn bbl estimate. Keep reading →

A focus on the atmospheric impact of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 100 years from now distracts from immediate steps, such as reducing natural gas leakage from the production process, that could offer substantial medium-term climate benefits, according to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

Natural gas in power generation offers an obvious advantage over coal in cutting CO2 emissions. “If we think simply of the CO2 emitted per unit of electricity generated, you would say gas is a hands-down winner,” said EDF Chief Scientist Steven Hamburg at the Advanced Energy Conference in New York on Tuesday. Keep reading →

Electricity and gas provider National Grid is mulling construction of liquefaction facilities in New England to help meet supply requirements on peak demand days.

National Grid sources the bulk of its natural gas supplies for its New England-based customers from the two major pipelines serving the area – Tennessee and Algonquin. “Both of those pipelines are at or near capacity,” said Director of Gas Contracting and Compliance John Allocca at the Advanced Energy Conference in New York on Tuesday. Keep reading →

Some companies see gas-to-liquids (GTL) as a promising means of converting the US’ massive gas resources into vehicle fuel, but Chevron has little interest in GTL projects in the US.

Chevron is a large player in GTL. The company is a partner in the Escravos GTL plant in Nigeria, which will convert 325 million cubic feet of natural gas per day into 33,000 barrels of liquids, mostly synthetic diesel, and is scheduled to come onstream later this year. Commissioning is underway, but “it’s a complex plant and the commissioning activity will really go on for the bulk of this year,” said Chief Financial Office Pat Yarrington during the company’s first-quarter 2013 earnings call on Friday. Keep reading →

Range Resources’ position in the Marcellus, and the market access it offers, gives the a leg up over condensate producers in other parts of the country, according to the company’s Senior Vice-President Rodney Waller.

Range holds a million acres in the Pennsylvania portion of the Marcellus shale some in dry gas areas, and some in wet gas or “super rich,” where the production stream yields liquids, such as condensate and NGLs. Range Chief Executive Jeff Ventura noted earlier this year that in 2012, the company’s Marcellus wet gas acreage was producing 49% liquids, compared to 57% in the super rich area. Keep reading →

Tax reform in Alaska promises to attract more oil and gas investment, but even for an established player in the state such as ConocoPhillips, getting substantial new production onstream.

Alaska’s state legislature approved oil tax legislation reform earlier this month designed to establish a more attractive investment climate for oil and gas producers. Companies such as ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and BP have been calling for changes to Alaska’s fiscal system for years, arguing that it deters investment in the state’s substantial resources. Keep reading →

Appraisal drilling at the massive Leviathan gas field offshore Israel has led to an increase in its estimated resources, but development remains on hold until the country’s government grants approval for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports.

The Noble Energy-led consortium developing Leviathan has boosted estimated gross mean resource by a trillion cubic feet (tcf). “We finished an appraisal well in the first quarter at Leviathan, which increased our gross mean resource estimate at the field to 18 tcf,” said Noble Energy Chief Executive Chuck Davidson during the company’s first-quarter earnings call on Thursday. Keep reading →

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