Category Archives: Fracking

The Bakken Boom Goes Bust With No Money to Clean up the Mess

Desmog, by Justin Mikulka, August 8, 2020
Northwestern ND Aerial Photos  Credit: NDDOT Photos, CC PDM 1.0

More than a decade ago, fracking took off in the Bakken shale of North Dakota and Montana, but the oil rush that followed has resulted in major environmental damage, risky oil transportation without regulation, pipeline permitting issues, and failure to produce profits.

Now, after all of that, the Bakken oil field appears moving toward terminal decline, with the public poised to cover the bill to clean up the mess caused by its ill-fated boom.
Historical Bakken oil production. Energy Information Administration

In 2008, the U.S. Geological Service (USGS) estimated that the Bakken region held between 3 and 4.3 billion barrels of “undiscovered, technically recoverable oil,” starting a modern-day oil rush.

This oil was technically recoverable due to the recent success with horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of oil and gas-rich shale, which allowed hydrocarbons trapped in the rock to be pumped out of reservoirs previously unreachable by conventional oil drilling technology.

The industry celebrated the discovery of oil in the middle of North America but realized it also posed a problem. A major oil boom requires infrastructure — such as housing for workers, facilities to process the oil and natural gas, and pipelines to carry the products to market — and the Bakken simply didn’t have such infrastructure. North Dakota is a long way from most U.S. refineries and deepwater ports. Its shale definitely held oil and gas, but the area was not prepared to deal with these hydrocarbons once they came out of the ground.

Most of the supporting infrastructure was never built — or was built haphazardly — resulting in risks to the public that include industry spills, air and water pollution, and dangerous trains carrying volatile oil out of the Bakken and through their communities. With industry insiders recently commenting that the Bakken region is likely past peak oil production, that infrastructure probably never will be built.

Embed from Getty Images

Meanwhile, the petro-friendly government of North Dakota has failed to regulate the industry when money was plentiful during the boom, leaving the state with a financial and environmental mess and no way to fund its cleanup during the bust.

Haste Makes Waste: Booms Move Faster Than Regulations

After the USGS announced the discovery of oil in the Bakken, the oil and gas industry moved fast, with both the industry and state and federal regulators ignoring whether what amounted to essentially new methods of extracting and transporting large amounts of oil called for new rules and protections.

The Bakken’s big increase in oil production quickly exceeded its existing pipeline capacity, leading producers to turn to trucks to move their oil out of the fields. But as the Globe and Mail reported in 2013, this stop-gap solution wasn’t working well: “The trucking frenzy was chewing up roads, driving accident rates to record highs and infuriating local residents.”

The industry could have restricted production until new pipelines and processing equipment were built but instead moved to rail as the next transportation option. High oil prices motivated drillers to get the oil out of the ground and to customers as fast as possible. Moving oil by rail was essentially unregulated and would not require the permits, large investment, or lead times required for pipelines, leading to the Bakken oil-by-rail boom.

Moving large amounts of this light volatile oil on trains had never been done before — but there was no new regulatory oversight of the process. Without proper oversight, the industry loaded the Bakken’s volatile oil into rail tank cars originally designed to carry products like corn oil. That’s despite the National Transportation Safety Board warning that these tank cars were not safe to move flammable liquids like Bakken crude oil.

The industry waved away these warnings. July 6, 2013 marked the first major derailment of a Bakken oil train, resulting in a massive explosion, 47 deaths, and the destruction of much of downtown Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Bakken “bomb trains” (as train operators called them) continued to derail, creating large oil spills and often catching fire and burning for days. Regulators have still failed to address the known risks for oil trains in the U.S. and Canada. 

Fracking for oil also resulted in large volumes of natural gas coming out of the same wells as the oil, further contributing to the financial troubles of shale producers. However, with no infrastructure in place to process or carry away that gas, the industry chose to either leave it mixed in with the oil loaded onto trains (making it more volatile and dangerous) or simply burn (flare) or release (vent) the potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

More than a decade after the Bakken boom started, North Dakota was flaring 23 percent of the gas produced via fracking — making a mockery of the state’s flaring regulations. In July, The New York Times detailed the environmental devastation caused by flaring in the oil fields of Iraq, where they flare about half of the gas as opposed to the quarter of the gas that North Dakota has flared.

Also in July, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles and University of Southern California published research that found pregnant women exposed to high levels of flaring at oil and gas production sites in Texas have 50 percent higher odds of premature birth when compared to mothers with no exposure to flaring.

Flare from an oil well in the Permian region of Texas. Credit: © 2020 Justin Hamel

Another major blindspot for the industry and regulators has been the radioactive waste produced during fracking. When the industry did finally acknowledge this issue in North Dakota, its first move was to try to relax regulations to make it easier to dump radioactive waste in landfills — a practice that is contaminating communities across the country.

In 2016, a study from Duke University found “thousands of oil and gas industry wastewater spills in North Dakota have caused ‘widespread’ contamination from radioactive materials…”

The fracking boom in North Dakota has resulted in widespread environmental damage and is worsening the climate crisis, given its high flaring levels, methane emissions, and, of course, production of oil and gas. As major Bakken producers go bankrupt and continue to lose money while the oil field goes bust, who will pay to clean up the mess?

Like most oil-producing states, North Dakota had the opportunity to require oil and gas producers to put up money in the form of bonding which would be designated to properly clean up and cap oil and gas wells once they were finished producing. Unfortunately, the state didn’t put that precaution in place, and now bankrupt companies are starting to walk away from their wells.

It’s starting to become out of control, and we want to rein this in,” Bruce Hicks, Assistant Director of the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division, said last year about companies abandoning oil and gas wells.

The state recently decided to use $66 million in federal funds designated for coronavirus relief to begin cleaning up wells the oil industry has abandoned — costs that the industry should be covering, according to the law, but that are now shifted to the public.

The Bakken boom made a lot of money for a select few oil and gas executives and Wall Street financiers. But as the boom fades, taxpayers and nearby residents have to deal with the financial and environmental damage the industry will leave behind.

Bakken’s Best Days Are a Thing of the Past

As DeSmog reporting has revealed, shale producers have not been profitable for the past decade, even though they have drilled and fracked most of the best available shale oil deposits. While the prolific Permian region in Texas and New Mexico still has some of the best “tier one” core acreage for oil production left, that isn’t the case in the Bakken.

In June, oil and gas industry analysts at Wood MacKenzie highlighted this discrepancy in remaining core acreage between the Permian and the Bakken. According to Wood MacKenzie, the top quarter of remaining oil well inventory in the Permian would result in over 8,000 new wells. For the Bakken, however, the analysts put that number at 333 wells.

This difference is why John Hess, CEO of major Bakken producer Hess Corporation, predicted in January that Bakken production would soon peak.

The drop in oil demand due to the pandemic has hit the industry as a whole, but the Bakken was already in decline, with the best producing wells a thing of the past well before the novel coronavirus reached U.S. shores.

In September 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported on the dismal outlook for Hess Corporation’s oil wells, noting last year: “This year’s wells generated an average of about 82,000 barrels of oil in their first five months, 12 percent below wells that began producing in 2018 and 16 percent below 2017 wells.”

Legal Reviews of Pipelines Potentially Causing Shutdowns

Even when the industry did try to construct oilfield infrastructure in the Bakken, its rush to build and manage pipelines hasn’t always worked out well. Legal challenges to two major Bakken pipelines, one old, one new, may shut down both of them soon.

The controversial Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) is facing a potential shutdown after a judge ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers did not properly address oil spill risks and now must complete a full environmental review, which could result in a long-term shutdown of the pipeline while the Corps completes the study. Energy Transfer, DAPL‘s owner, appealed that ruling, and a subsequent court decision has allowed the pipeline to remain in operation while the legal battle over the environmental impact study continues.

At the same time, the Tesoro High Plains pipeline — in operation since 1953 — is facing a shutdown because it failed to renew an agreement with Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation landowners on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, meaning the pipeline’s owner, Marathon, now is trespassing on that land.

These pipelines together ship more than one-third of the oil out of the Bakken, and if they are shut down, Bakken oil producers likely would turn to rail again to move their oil. However, rail is significantly more expensive than pipelines and not economically viable at current low oil prices.

However, at current production levels, existing pipelines (other than the two in question) and current long-term rail contracts can likely handle most of the Bakken’s oil production, especially as the region becomes less attractive to investors.

Energy consulting group ESAI Energy recently released a new report on U.S. pipelines, with analyst Elisabeth Murphy concluding, “An uncertain outcome for Dakota Access will have knock-on effects for the Bakken, such as capital being diverted to other basins that have better access to markets.”

The ESAI analysis also concludes that the Bakken will decline by approximately 270,000 barrels per day on an annual basis in 2020 and by a further 65,000 barrels per day in 2021.

With declining total production and new wells producing less than the past, Bakken producers are facing rising debts without the means to pay them back.

End of the Unconventional Bakken Boom

Oil produced by fracking is called “unconventional oil” due to the new technologies used to extract it from shale. However, it is unconventional in other ways as well. One, it has never been profitable. Another is a change in the boom-and-bust cycle, which has been a part of the oil industry since its inception in the U.S. in the 1850s.

Traditionally the boom-and-bust cycle for conventional oil production was tied to the price of oil. Low prices caused busts. This was true of the shale oil industry in 2014 when oil prices crashed. However, the industry returned to record production after that.

Williston "Rockin' the Bakken" marketing slogan
Screen shot of a marketing slogan for Bakken oil and gas development. Source: https://willistondevelopment.com

But it’s different this time. Unlike conventional oil fields, shale field production declines much more quickly. While shale producers could retreat to the top-producing acreage during the 2014 bust, most of that acreage is now gone.

The shale industry is faced with trying to come back from a historic downturn in which even the companies that don’t go bankrupt are saddled with crippling debts. That’s because for most of the past decade, shale companies borrowed more money than they made producing fracked oil and gas, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.

All of the evidence strongly suggest that the Bakken is an oil field on the decline. Its best acreage has been depleted and the economics of the remaining acreage don’t pan out these days.

Reviewing the economics of the Bakken, investment site Seeking Alpha recently concluded that the “Bakken Will Never Be The Same Again.”

Seeking Alpha was purely commenting on the economics of oil production in the Bakken. However, the same could be said about the water, air, and land in the Bakken. Shale companies polluted the environment and are now walking away from the damage — leaving the cleanup bill to the public. It is a tried-and-true approach for industries in resource extraction. Privatize the profits and socialize the losses.

Hess Corporation CEO John Hess knows more about the economics of the Bakken than most people. In February Reuters reported, “Hess plans to use cash flow from the Bakken to invest in longer-term offshore investments.” A major Bakken producer is apparently no longer viewing the region as a good long-term investment.

From here, the outlook only gets worse for the Bakken.

Main Image: Northwestern ND Aerial Photos  Credit: NDDOT PhotosCC PDM 1.0 

Gavin Newsom Hands Out Fracking Permits to Connected Driller

While California was convulsed by COVID-19 and George Floyd’s death, the governor gave Big Oil a big gift.

Capital and Main, by Steve Horn,  June 19, 2020

On June 1, in the midst of the turmoil created by the coronavirus pandemic and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration quietly issued 12 fracking permits to Aera Energy, a joint venture owned by ExxonMobil and Shell.

Oil drilling in California has faced criticism for its disproportionately negative health impacts on Latino communities and other people of color. The 12 new permits will be for fracking in the Lost Hills Oil Field. The Kern County town of Lost Hills is more than 97 percent Latino, according to 2010 U.S. Census data.

The fracking permits are the latest example of California’s oil industry benefiting from regulatory or deregulatory action during the COVID-19 pandemic and came just months after the Newsom administration said it supported taking actions to “manage the decline of oil production and consumption in the state.” Aera, which also received 24 permits from the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) on April 3 during the early days of COVID-19, has well-connected lobbyists in its corner who work for the firm Axiom Advisors.

One of them, Jason Kinney, headed up Newsom’s 2018 transition team and formerly served as a senior advisor to Newsom while he was lieutenant governor. He is also a senior advisor to California’s Senate Democrats. The other, Kevin Schmidt, previously served as policy director for Newsom when the latter was lieutenant governor. Aera paid Axiom $110,000 for its lobbying work in 2019 and, so far in 2020, has paid $30,000, lobbying reports reveal.

Axiom’s lobbying disclosure records show both Kinney and Schmidt listed as lobbyists and Aera as one of the firm’s clients. Kinney’s wife, Mary Gonsalvez Kinney, was also the stylist for Newsom’s wife–Jennifer Siebel Newsom–dating back to their time spent living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Kinney and Schmidt did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this article.

Calling the situation “unseemly,” Jamie Court, president for the Los Angeles-based group Consumer Watchdog, wrote via email that “Aera should not be able to buy the influence it apparently has over state oil and gas policy.” Last November, prior to the 24 permits issued in April, Newsom had declared a statewide fracking permit moratorium in response to a scandal involving a regulator for the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR). The regulator, who had been tasked with heading oversight issues on issuing permits, was revealed to have stock investments valued up to $100,000 in Aera Energy’s parent company, ExxonMobil. Newsom fired the head of DOGGR at the time, Ken Harris, and eventually renamed the agency CalGEM.

Kinney and Schmidt are not the only two with Newsom ties. Aera CEO Christina Sistrunk sits on the governor’s Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery, created to craft an economic recovery plan in response to the ongoing COVID-19 economic fallout.

Aera is one of the state’s top drillers and accounts for nearly 25 percent of California’s production, its website claims. Aera landed 490 drilling permits from CalGEM in the first quarter of 2020, according to data collected by FracTracker, and 651 permits in 2019.

Lost Hills

The town of Lost Hills has a population of about 2,500 people and its field ranks sixth in oil produced in the state. The field sits in close proximity to a residential neighborhood just west of Interstate Highway 5, close to both a middle school and public park.

Infrared camera footage from 2014, taken by the advocacy group Earthworks and the Clear Water Fund for a 2015 report they published, showed that the Lost Hills field emits prolific amounts of toxic chemicals into the air, including methane, acetone, dichlorodifluoromethane and acetaldehydes. High levels of isoprene and acetaldehydes can cause cancer, while the other substances can result in serious health damage, including heartbeat irregularities, headaches, nausea, vomiting, throat irritation, coughing and wheezing.

In a survey done for that same report of Lost Hills residents, respondents reported having “thyroid problems (7 percent), diabetes (7 percent), asthma (11 percent) and sinus infections (19 percent).”

“Of all respondents, 92.3 percent reported identifying odors in their homes and community,” it further detailed. “Odors were described as petroleum, burning oil, rotten eggs, chemicals, chlorine or bleach, a sweet smell, sewage, and ammonia. Participants reported that when odors were detected in the air, symptoms included headache (63 percent), nausea/dizziness (37 percent), burning or watery eyes (37 percent), and throat and nose irritation (18.5 percent).”

Methane is a climate change-causing greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide during its first 20 years in the atmosphere, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A 20-year window falls within the 2030 deadline established by IPCC climate scientists in a 2018 report that concluded that, if bold action is not taken steadily until then, the world could face some of the most severe and irreversible impacts of climate change.

Setbacks

The new Lost Hills permits came as CalGEM completed its pre-rulemaking public hearings, on June 2, for regulations pertaining to distancing setbacks of oil wells from homes, schools, health clinics and public parks.

The rulemaking process also came as a direct result of the Newsom administration’s November fracking moratorium announcement, found within that same directive.

Last January, two months after the directive, new CalGEM head Uduak-Joe Ntuk, Newsom’s legislative affairs secretary Anthony Williams and Department of Conservation director David Shabazian all attended and spoke at a pro-industry hearing convened by the Kern County Board of Supervisors. They held the hearing in direct response to Newsom’s November announcement. Aera CEO Sistrunk spoke at that hearing and the company promoted it on its website.

The lobbying disclosure records also show Kinney and Schmidt’s firm represents Marathon Petroleum, which advocated against legislation that would mandate CalGEM to implement a setbacks rule by July 1, 2022. That bill, AB 345, had previously mandated that a setback rule be put into place by 2020.

But after receiving lobbying pressure from the Common Ground Alliance— which has united major labor groups with the oil industry, and which was incorporated by an attorney whose clients include Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP America and Western States Petroleum Association—Assembly Appropriations Chairwoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) made it a two-year bill during the 2019 legislative session. The “two-year” option for state legislators extends the lifeline of a bill for potential amendments and passage into the second year of every two-year legislative session. Gonzalez told Capital & Main the bill received two-year status due to its high implementation cost.

Aera’s parent company, ExxonMobil, has given Gonzalez $5,500 in campaign contributions since her first run for the Assembly in 2013. Aera also gave a $35,000 contribution to the California Latino Legislative Caucus Foundation during the first quarter of 2020, its lobbying disclosure form shows. Gonzalez is the chairwoman of the California Legislative Latino Caucus and the foundation is its nonprofit wing. And both Aera and the Common Ground Alliance share the same attorney, Steven Lucas, incorporation documents and disclosure forms show.

“The Governor has been clear about the need to strengthen oversight of oil and gas extraction in California and to update regulations to protect public health and safety for communities near oil and gas operations,” Vicky Waters, Newsom’s press secretary, told Capital & Main in an emailed statement. “CalGEM has launched a rulemaking process to develop stronger regulations and will consider the best available science and data to inform new protective requirements.”

Waters did not respond to questions about Axiom Advisors and its personnel ties to Gov. Newsom.

“An Afterthought”

The permits handed to Aera coincide with the Newsom administration granting the industry a suite of regulatory relaxation measures during the COVID-19 era. These include a delay in implementing management plans for idle oil wells and cutting the hiring of 128 analysts, engineers and geologists to bolster the state’s regulatory efforts on oil wells—even though the industry was legally obligated to pay for it.

These measures came after San Francisco public radio station KQED reported that the oil industry’s top trade associations, the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and California Independent Petroleum Association (CIPA), requested that CalGEM take such actions.

Aera’s general counsel, Lynne Carrithers, sits on the board for CIPA, while the company is also a WSPA dues-paying member.

In response to a question about the cancellation of hiring of 128 regulators, Teresa Schilling, a spokeswoman for the Department of Conservation—which oversees CalGEM—said by email that the “Administration had to revisit many proposals in the January budget as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fiscal challenges it created.”

“Significantly expanding a fee-based program in this time of belt-tightening would not be appropriate,” Schilling continued, speaking to the oil industry’s current financial travails. “However, CalGEM is committed to continuing its critical core enforcement and regulatory work with its current resources. Furthermore, all regulations remain in effect and operators are still accountable for meeting them.”

Schilling added that, with regards to the connections with Axiom Advisors, the administration works with “a variety of stakeholders on policy issues and budget decisions,” calling the latest budget proposal “consistent with Administration priorities.”

But Cesar Aguirre, a community organizer with the Central California Environmental Justice Network who lives near Lost Hills in Bakersfield, sees the situation differently.

“The Lost Hills community is already surrounded by extraction and the Newsom administration and CalGEM continue to show that they intend to put the environment and frontline communities as an afterthought,” he said, advocating for the passage of AB 345. “These actions show us that Californians can’t depend on empty political promises to protect public health.”

Under Cover of Pandemic, Fossil Fuel Interests Unleash Lobbying Frenzy

DeSmogBlog, by Dana Drugmand, April 2, 2020
Worker power washing drill pipe
A worker power washes drill pipe at Citadel Rig 6 in the Alpine High region of the Permian Basin, Reeves County, Texas. Credit: Justin Hamel © 2020

Thousands of Americans are dying, millions have filed for unemployment, and frontline health care workers are risking their lives as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps across the U.S. In the midst of this crisis, the fossil fuel industry, particularly the oil and gas sector, has been actively seeking both financial relief and deregulation or dismantling of environmental protection measures.

A new briefing by UK-based think tank InfluenceMap summarizes this fossil fuel lobbying during the time of the pandemic, pointing to specific examples of how fossil fuel interests around the world are using the cover of the coronavirus crisis to advance their agenda.

InfluenceMap, which tracks and measures corporate influence over climate policy, focused on recent corporate lobbying for both financial interventions and relating to climate or energy regulations. “The oil and gas sector appears to be the most active globally in the above two lobbying areas, demanding both financial support and deregulation in response to the COVID-19 crisis,” the report states.

In the U.S., the top oil and gas producer in the world, this activity has been particularly pronounced. While the oil and gas sector is struggling amid plummeting prices and demand, the struggle is due to factors far beyond the pandemic, and mostly of the industry’s own making.

Many shale companies had amassed large debts that allowed them to rapidly spend and expand production, for example. And the oil and gas giant ExxonMobil’s stock hit a 10-year low in late January, and a 15-year low by March 5, before the pandemic reached a crisis point in the U.S.

Nevertheless, the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers have looked to use the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to shore up the petroleum producers. In mid-March, the President announced his intention to buy up crude oil to fill the government’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which Democrats and climate advocates slammed as a reckless bailout of Big Oil.

Republicans in Congress tried unsuccessfully to give away $3 billion in the recent economic stimulus package to fund that emergency oil stock-up, but the package still contains nearly $500 billion for broad corporate interests with little oversight that oil companies will likely look to access. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, sent a letter on April 1 to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin urging him to use the CARES Act stimulus funds to support oil and gas companies.

The rapidly declining coal industry, with many companies already bankrupt, has likewise turned to the government for financial assistance. The National Mining Association wrote to President Trump and Congress asking to suspend royalties and fees, including payments that support victims of black lung disease. Congress did not include the trade group’s requests in the stimulus package, but the group has said it will continue to make its demands.

Beyond seeking their own financial relief through the government’s coronavirus response, fossil fuel interests are using front groups to push back against attempts to include clean energy or climate-related measures in the economic relief bills.

U.S.-based think tanks linked to fossil fuel-based interests such as [the] Koch brothers have been active in opposing support for green energy programs in the U.S. federal government’s response to the crisis,” InfluenceMap said in a emailed statement. The InfluenceMap briefing cites a new project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) called Life:Powered, which promotes fossil fuels and was originally launched under the name “Fueling Freedom” in 2015 “to combat the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.”

A coalition of over two dozen right-wing, free market think tanks, led by TPPF and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, sent a letter to Congress on March 23 under the umbrella of the Life:Powered project urging lawmakers to reject any incentives or support for “unreliable ‘green’ energy” in the latest stimulus package. The letter includes several false claims about renewable energy and argues, “climate change is not an immediate threat to humanity.”

Some of these same conservative free market groups, members of the State Policy Network, have been buying ads on social media attacking efforts to use the COVID-19 economic relief efforts to also address climate change, which medical experts have said poses “unprecedented threats to public health and safety.”

Life:Powered Facebook ad about oil price war
A Facebook ad from Life:Powered and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, promoting a petition in favor of the U.S. oil industry.

Deregulation is another form of assistance the oil and gas industry has pursued. And whether by weakening existing climate policies like Obama-era clean car standards or waiving environmental compliance requirements, the Trump administration has granted much on the industry’s wish list.

One example cited in the InfluenceMap briefing is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent policy suspending civil enforcement of environmental rules and relaxing compliance requirements. The American Petroleum Institute sent a letter to President Trump and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler specifically asking for relief from environmental compliance.

Outside the U.S., corporate interests including oil and gas have also used the pandemic to lobby for their agendas, which run counter to the Paris climate agreement and actions necessary to address climate change. Examples cited in the InfluenceMap briefing include:

  • The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) recently sent a letter to the president of the EU Commission asking for laxer timelines for complying with the EU vehicle climate regulations.
  • Oil and Gas UK produced a business outlook report that referenced the COVID-19 crisis, while arguing that protecting the UK oil and gas industry is essential in ensuring the sector can contribute to providing the UK with net-zero emissions solutions.”
  • The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association Chief Executive Andrew McConville referenced the need for measures to ensure economic recovery from COVID-19 pandemic while commenting in favor of a draft government commission report published on Australian resource sector regulation. APPEA stated support for a number of findings, including advice against bans on natural gas exploration. McConville argued the report constituted an ‘an important contribution as we consider vital recovery measures.’”
  • Several Canadian oil and gas companies and the Business Council of Alberta are calling on the Canadian federal government to postpone any regulatory changes or tax increases including a planned increase to the carbon tax. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has also been gunning for a $15 billion bailout package from the federal government.

Trump Meets With Oil CEOs

President Trump is scheduled to hold an in-person meeting Friday, April 3 with the heads of leading oil and gas companies to discuss their concerns, such as the Russia-Saudi Arabia oil price war and depressed demand as a result of the pandemic response.

According to Greenpeace USA, the executives expected to meet with Trump personally earned at least a combined $100 million in 2018 alone between salaries, bonuses, stock options, and other compensation.

Where the rest of the world sees a global health and economic crisis, fossil fuel CEOs see an opportunity to line their pockets,” Greenpeace USA Climate Campaign Director Janet Redman said in a statement. “We cannot let our government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic be driven by corporate executives looking to exploit a crisis for their own gain instead of supporting health care providers and working families. Nurses need masks. Hospitals need ventilators. Workers need paychecks. People need help all over this country. And what is Trump doing? He’s making sure oil executives have golden pandemic parachutes. It’s disgraceful.”

Main image: A worker power washes drill pipe at Citadel Rig 6 in the Alpine High region of the Permian Basin, Reeves County, Texas. Credit: Justin Hamel © 2020

This Fracked Gas Well Has Been Burning 2 Weeks

Three important reports in an email from DeSmog, by Brendan DeMelle, Sept 14, 2019

Stopping the export of North American fossil fuels
As the Democratic presidential candidates were gathering for a debate in Houston on Thursday, Greenpeace activists were rappelling off a bridge over the city’s ship channel, blocking vessel traffic all the way to Galveston. Their aim? Shutting down this essential U.S. artery that exports fossil fuels to the world.

Fracked gas well burning
In neighboring Louisiana, Julie Dermansky has stunning drone footage of a fracked gas well that suffered a blowout and has been burning for more than two weeks. State officials, which have minimized concerns about air pollution, predict the well will continue burning for the next month

Unfair fees on electric vehicles
Meanwhile, Consumer Reports says the annual fees many states have slapped on electric car owners are unfair compared to the gas taxes paid by gas-guzzlers. Ben Jervey has the story of the corporate influence behind these punishing fees.

Have a story tip or feedback? Get in touch: editor@desmogblog.com.

Thanks,
Brendan DeMelle
Executive Director

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