Biodegradable polymers are a tiny slice of the broader bioplastics market, but they could offer a means for oil and gas drillers to go greener in hydraulic fracturing operations.

It is almost common knowledge these days that advancements in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, both decades-old techniques, have been the keys to unlocking vast gas and oil deposits in recent years that were previously considered too costly to develop. As hydraulic fracturing has become commonplace across large swaths of the United States – sometimes in areas in which oil and gas drilling is a relatively new phenomenon – it has sparked a range of environmental concerns. These include fears that the materials injected into the ground in the process, which include chemicals and proppants, may contaminate water supplies. Keep reading →

Oilfield services firm Halliburton anticipates that US natural gas prices, which have strengthened substantially from year-ago levels, could rise to levels that reinvigorate natural gas drilling in 2014.

“We are becoming increasingly optimistic about gas activity in 2014,” said Halliburton chief executive Dave Lesar during the company’s first-quarter 2013 earnings call on 22 April. Keep reading →

Think of Texas and the mental movie is obvious: old fashioned oil rigs, big hats, big hair, big boots and conservative politics. Not much room for innovation, information technology, renewable energy or energy efficiency efforts in that narrative, but Texas confounds expectations. Keep reading →

Devon Energy chief executive John Richels is confident that US President Barack Obama’s administration will approve the the Keystone XL pipeline, but he expects the gap between prices for Canadian heavy oil and US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) to narrow even if the pipeline never gets built.

“Keystone XL is going to be approved,” Richels told attendees of the Independent Petroleum Association of America’s Oil and Gas Investment Symposium in New York on Tuesday. “From a national point of view it makes no sense for the President not to approve that, and buy more oil from Venezuela and the Middle East.” The Keystone XL pipeline, as envisaged, would transport up to 830,000 barrels per day of Canadian oil from Alberta to US refineries. Keep reading →

Upstream master limited partnership (MLP) Linn Energy’s strategy to attract a broader array of investors is likely to inspire other companies in the space to follow suit, but competitors will take at least a few years to emerge, according to chief financial officer Kolja Rockov.

Linn established LinnCo, a vehicle that exists solely to hold units of the Linn MLP, as a means of raising additional equity capital. Linn then launched an initial public offering of LinnCo shares – in part to be used to raise funds for acquisitions – in October 2012. Keep reading →

A concentration of energy-intensive base metals stocks in a handful of warehouses threatens to impede buyer access to needed supply, warned VTB Capital’s global head of commodities research Wiktor Bielski at the firm’s New York Investment Forum on Wednesday.

Prior to 2008, most production of six base metals – aluminum, copper, nickel, zinc, lead and tin – was traded under long-term contract, at prices heavily influenced by a 10% “float component”, which allows both buyer and seller to take up to 10% more or less of the contracted volume. This marginal supply component was broadly distributed among producers, consumers, traders, merchants, and exchange warehouses, and readily accessible in the event of an uptick in demand. Keep reading →

Energy law was a star performer for the sector in the first quarter of 2013.

Only a spate of mega-deals in the technology, media and telecoms space kept energy sector legal work from once again taking the top spot in law firm activity in the first quarter of 2013 according to the latest rankings and data from Mergermarket. Keep reading →

One of the biggest ignored threats to the power sector – and to electricity delivery to homes and businesses across much of the country’s most populated regions – is from a lack of natural gas pipeline capacity. A former federal regulator is warning that this issue, arcane at first glance, could prompt market failure and a crisis of reliability for some generators.

The free market is a funny thing; it works only over time and often in socially unpopular ways. The energy market in the US has been regulated, de-regulated and re-regulated over its history, but all market participants are operating in the context of rules set up to balance policy priorities and operating realities. Keep reading →

Oil products are needed to fuel the development of, well more oil. Booming oil production in the Bakken formation primarily located in North Dakota and Montana has driven up local demand for diesel fuel used to run the hundreds of rigs and thousands of trucks and locomotives that undergird the industrial supply chain.

“Much of the increase in demand has been fueled by the boom in crude oil production from the new wells in the Bakken Formation in North Dakota’s northwest corner. The demand for these middle distillates rose 80% in North Dakota from 2009 to 2012, providing the incentive to invest in local refineries,” said the EIA in its “Today in Energy” update. Keep reading →

An industry source told Breaking Energy last November the two greatest challenges companies operating in Alberta’s oil sands region face are access to markets and skilled labor. Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes elaborated on these and other issues during a recent phone call.

In a scenario where the Keystone XL Pipeline is not approved by the Obama Administration, Minister Hughes said companies have lots of different options and that rail has become “compelling.” Although generally less efficient than transporting oil via pipeline, rail could be used to bring Canadian oil as far as the Gulf Coast and maybe the West Coast and Mid-continent as well, he said. Keep reading →

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