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Houston’s Occidental Petroleum profits soar as U.S. production rises [Houston Chronicle]

Feb. 13Occidental Petroleum said Tuesday that its fourth quarter and full-year profits soared in 2018 as its U.S. production rose to its highest in five years and prices moved higher for most of the year.

Occidental said its fourth quarter profits jumped 42 percent to $706 million from $497 million in same quarter in 2017. It’s annual profit more than tripled to $4.1 billion from $1.3 billion in 2017.

Occidental, which has a stock market value of $49 billion, easily beat Wall Street expectations. The company said it earned $1.22 per diluted share earnings in the fourth quarter, 8 cents higher than analysts’ estimates.

The exploration and production company has a large presence in West Texas’ Permian Basin. A majority of its oil and gas production occurs there. Its total Permian oil production was up 25 percent over 2018 compared to 2017.

EARNINGS: Huntsman revenue up, profits down in 2018

U.S. oil production has been breaking records all year, and Occidental is no exception. This was their best quarter since 2013 for oil and gas production in the United States, pumping 410,000 barrels a day of oil equivalent in the fourth quarter, up 28 percent from the same quarter of 2017.

Total oil and gas production for the company was up nearly 13 percent, producing 700,000 barrels per day in the fourth quarter of 2018.

While prices fell in the fourth quarter, Occidental said it realized higher prices for its oil over the entire year. In the United States, Occidental said it realized $58.30 a barrel in 2018, up from $47.91 in 2017.

Occidental’s stock closed at $65.75 per share on Tuesday, before the company released its earnings.

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Rover spill lawsuit moves slowly through court [The Repository, Canton, Ohio]

Feb. 11CANTON More than a year after Ohio’s Attorney General sued Rover Pipeline for polluting a Stark County wetland and other alleged environmental violations, the parties continue to fight over whether a local court should hear the case.

The state has said Rover Pipeline and six subcontractors broke various regulations involving the release of stormwater, drilling fluid or water used in pressure-testing the 713-mile-long interstate natural gas pipeline.

Rover Pipeline and the subcontractors have argued that only the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, not the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, has the power to enforce environmental regulations on an interstate pipeline.

There is no timetable for when the judge will make her ruling.

Rover Pipeline, comprising two 42-inch-diameter mainlines, transports up to 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Utica and Marcellus shale regions to users in the United States and Canada. Texas-base Energy Transfer owns the pipeline.

Rover began partial operation in August 2017 and the last lateral pipelines that feed the system went on-line in November of last year. Locally, Rover’s mainlines cross Carroll, Tuscarawas, Stark and Wayne counties.

State complaint

The Attorney General first sued Rover in Stark County Common Pleas Court in November 2017, and has filed three amended complaints since then, the latest in July. The case is assigned to Judge Kristin G. Farmer.

Subcontractors named in the lawsuit are Pretec Directional Drilling, Laney Directional Drilling, Atlas Trenchless, Mears Group and B&T Directional Drilling.

The lawsuit alleged violations in more than a dozen counties across the state involving the discharge of sediment-laden stormwater, leaks and spills of clay-based drilling fluid or the release of water used to pressure-test the pipeline.

The biggest spill happened in April 2017 when millions of gallons of clay-based drilling fluid leaked into a Bethlehem Township wetland while workers bored a path for one of the mainlines beneath the Tuscarawas River.

Workers later dumped the drilling fluid — tainted with diesel fuel — in quarries near water wells used by private residences and by the Canton Water Department and Aqua Ohio. Rover removed the waste from the quarries and testing showed no contamination of water wells, according to Ohio EPA.

The state has asked the court to order Rover Pipeline to comply with Ohio EPA’s orders and pay a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per day for each violation, as well as reimburse the Ohio EPA and pay the cost of the court action.

Toss it out?

Rover and its co-defendants have said the state’s lawsuit should be thrown out. The companies contend they had permits for the various discharges and releases cited by the state. The final written arguments on the motions to dismiss were filed in November.

“Those discharges are inevitable and foreseeable, which is why the parties planned for them in this construction project, just as they do in similar projects,” Rover’s attorneys wrote in court filings late last year.

The companies also have argued that federal law gives FERC, not state agencies, the authority to enforce environmental laws in this situation.

“It is well-settled that, where Congress has vested a federal agency with exclusive jurisdiction, a state court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear claims that second-guess that agency’s decisions,” attorneys for Pretec wrote.

Reach Shane at 330-580-8338 or shane.hoover@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @shooverREP

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(c)2019 The Repository, Canton, Ohio

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1 injured in fire at Metro East refinery [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

Feb. 11–A worker was injured in a fire at a refinery in Roxana Sunday afternoon.

The injured worker was able to walk to an ambulance to be taken to a hospital, according Melissa Erker, a spokeswoman for the Wood River Refinery.

The worker was injured in the fire about 4:30 p.m. in the process operation unit at the refinery at 900 South Central Avenue in Roxana, about 15 miles north of downtown St. Louis. The refinery is jointly owned by Phillips 66 and Cenovus.

The cause and the extent of damage weren’t clear. The plant’s own firefighters put out the blaze Sunday afternoon, Erker said. Area fire departments were on standby but weren’t needed, she said.

Videos posted to social media show a towering fire billowing black smoke.

“Our community was never in any danger,” Erker said. “The air quality was monitored and showed no detection of air quality issues at no time.”

She said the plant processes 314,000 barrels of crude oil a day. She said the plant was operating normally.

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Regional SBA ‘exceeding’ goals in clearing loan backlog created by shutdown

By Dom DiFurio, The Dallas Morning News

Small Business Loan

Feb. 07–Quickly approving and processing loans has been the Small Business Administration’s mission since government workers returned to their jobs after a 34-day pause.

The Dallas-Fort Worth District Office says it’s “meeting and exceeding” those goals.

In Texas, the SBA processed 237 loans totaling $143 million as of Wednesday. In Dallas, agency workers approved 94 loans for about $59 million.

“Dallas is clearly moving money into the hands of small business entrepreneurs that are in need of it,” SBA Regional Administrator Justin Crossie said.

If Congress is unable to reach an agreement to fund the government beyond Feb. 15, the current backlog could begin to grow again. Crossie and other SBA administrators hope that doesn’t happen.

So do Craig and Veronica Bradley, whose SBA loan for a Dallas brewpub was put on hold by the shutdown. They say the SBA has been willing to streamline tasks for their loan, asking them to gather certain necessary documents as the processing occurs.

“Before the shutdown, we had heard it would be around six weeks,” Craig Bradley said. “I know that as soon as it reopened, from what I heard, everyone just scrambled at once to send in their loans because they were worried it was going to happen again.”

The regional SBA office estimates its backlog is around 200 loans totaling $125 million. The office typically approves around 160 loans a month.

While they wait, the Bradleys are keeping their contractors and architects apprised as the catchup process plays out.

“The SBA is moving and we’re going good, as long as things stay open,” Craig Bradley said. But he acknowledged concerns about whether his opening could pushed back by other federal approval processes impacted by the shutdown.

“Now I really need that loan because I can’t get my permit to brew until then,” Craig Bradley said. “What’s the point in having a brewpub that can’t brew?”

The Bradleys, along with their friends at Lakewood Brewing Co., held several fundraisers in January that allowed the public to make small donations and help them keep their dream moving along.

“All of these donations that have been coming in are a huge help because we are still able to be paying and making sure things are still moving,” Craig Bradley said.

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Panhandle Oil and Gas reports its first-quarter results for 2019 [The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City]

Feb. 08–Panhandle Oil and Gas earned a net income of $12.7 million during the first quarter of its fiscal year for 2019, the company announced Thursday.

While officials said the firm posted significant gains in pre-tax earnings for the period that ended Dec. 31, they also reported Panhandle’s net income of $12.7 million fell short of the $13.8 million in net income it earned during the same quarter a year ago.

Other operational highlights officials reported for the quarter included:

–Total production of 2.76 billion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent, compared to 3.42 billion equivalent cubic feet during the same period a year ago. Officials said the difference involves wells that just had been brought online a year ago that no longer are at peak production.

–An increase in the average sales price during the quarter to $4.42 per thousand cubic feet equivalent.

The company also reported that 20 rigs currently are drilling on Panhandle acreage.

Panhandle CEO Paul F. Blanchard Jr. said the company did a good job of executing strategies to optimize its minerals portfolio and generate significant returns to its investors during the period.

He said Panhandle used $9.5 million from $13.1 million it generated in cash during the first quarter to reduce its debt to $41.5 million.

The firm also returned $700,000 to shareholders through dividend payments and retired $1.1 million worth of shares.

“We are confident in our ability to generate significant cash flow moving forward,” Blanchard said.

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Houston’s EnCap sells shale assets to Kimbell for more than $150M [Houston Chronicle]

Feb. 08–Houston private equity firm EnCap Investments is unloading more than 12,000 acres of oil and gas royalties to Kimbell Royalty Partners in an all-stock deal worth more than $150 million.

EnCap is acquiring a stake in Fort Worth-based Kimbell, which went public two years ago, by boosting Kimbell’s total net royalty acreage position by almost 10 percent.

Kimbell said the oil and gas royalty acreage acquired in the deal is primarily in South Texas’Eagle Ford shale, West Texas’ booming Permian Basin, the Haynesville shale in Texas and Louisiana, and in the emerging Powder River Basin in Wyoming.

Rapidly-growing Kimbell said the deal includes about 1,600 barrels of oil equivalent of daily production that will keep rising because 17 rigs are actively drilling on the combined acreage.

“This acquisition kicks off what we believe will be another year of consolidation within the oil and gas mineral and royalty space in the U.S.,” said Kimbell Chief Executive Bob Ravnaas.

Kimball has nearly quadrupled its oil and gas production since going public, he said, with royalty interests in about 95,000 wells nationwide.

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(c)2019 the Houston Chronicle

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Baker Hughes lands equipment contract with Golden Pass LNG [Houston Chronicle]

Feb. 08Houston oil field service company Baker Hughes has landed an equipment deal for Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum’s $10 billion Golden Pass LNG export terminal.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but Baker Hughes confirmed on Thursday that the company will supply six heavy-duty gas turbines 12 centrifugal compressors to the liquefied natural gas export terminal.

With construction expected to start over the next few weeks, Baker Hughes reported that Golden Pass LNG will be using six of the company’s MS7001 EA turbines, which are already in use at 77 LNG production units in 13 nations.

“We are proud to be working with Golden Pass on this innovative LNG project,” Baker Hughes Turbomachinery & Process Solutions President & CEO Rod Christie said in a statement. “Today’s announcement builds on our 30-year-plus track record of delivering high-availability and reliable LNG technology, with low total cost of operations.”

Located near the mouth of the Sabine River about 10 miles south of Port Arthur, the Golden Pass LNG export terminal will include three production units, known as trains, that will produce a combined 16 million metric tons of LNG per year.

Golden Pass LNG is the latest liquefied natural gas export project to reach a final investment decision.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry hosted a Tuesday morning signing ceremony in Washington D.C. for executives with Exxon Mobil and Qatar Petroleum.

Originally developed as an LNG import terminal in October 2010, record natural gas production in U.S. shale plays prompted Exxon Mobil to move forward with plans to add an export terminal to the facility.

A joint venture between Houston’sMcDermott International, San Antonio’sZachry Group and Japan’sChiyoda International will serve as general contractors for the export terminal project.

Construction is expected to begin over the next few weeks and be completed in 2024. The project is expected to generate 9,000 construction jobs over five years. Once in operation, the facility is will employ 200 people full-time.

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(c)2019 the Houston Chronicle

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Enbridge gets green light to put Valley Crossing Pipeline into service [Houston Chronicle]

Feb. 08–Federal regulators have given Enbridge the green light to put the company’s Valley Crossing Pipeline into service.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a Thursday order giving the company permission to put the cross-border natural gas pipeline into service.

Designed to move 2.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, the 165-mile pipeline begins near the Agua Dulce hub near Corpus Christi and ends under the seafloor in the Gulf of Mexico just a few miles east of the mouth of the Rio Grande.

South of the Border: U.S. natural gas exports to Mexico hit new record

Infraestructura Marina del Golfo, a joint venture between TransCanada and Sempra Energy subsidiary IEnova is nearly completion on a companion project named the Sur de Texas-Tuxpan Pipeline, a project will move natural gas from the border to the Mexican state of Veracruz.

Once both pipelines are in operation, they will deliver natural gas from Texas to power plants in Mexico’s interior.

Enbridge spokesman Devin Hotzel said the Valley Crossing Pipeline has been mechanically complete since October and has been waiting for the Mexican pipeline to be completed.

Infraestructura Marina del Golfo recently informed Enbridge that crews on the Mexican side of the border are nearing project completion and expect to begin testing and other commissioning activities in mid-February.

“Valley Crossing Pipeline is ready to transport gas to the interconnect with Marina to aid in commissioning,” Hotzel said.

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Hegins Twp. approves new police officer [Republican & Herald, Pottsville, Pa.]

Feb. 08VALLEY VIEWHegins Township supervisors Wednesday hired a new part-time police officer, William Allar, under recommendation of Chief Beau Yarmush.

Allar, a retired state trooper, had also served in Butler Township and in the Schuylkill County Sheriff’s Office. Yarmush said the township position needed to be filled because one of the other part-time officers left for a full-time position elsewhere. Allar will be paid $17.50 per hour.

The supervisors are mulling purchase of a police vehicle, either a Dodge Durango or a Ford SUV. Yarmush had obtained quotes for the board to consider. They’ll also examine whether to use financing through a dealership, or get assistance from solicitor Donald G. Karpowich in preparing the paperwork for a low-interest bank loan.

Supervisors, by a unanimous 5-0 vote, approved purchasing a new truck for the road department, through a COSTARS state contract. The Freightliner truck will cost $141,180.34 total and will be financed over four years, with a $50,000 down payment. The custom built dump truck will be able to be used for snow plowing and should be completed and delivered to the township by the end of the year. Two other truck manufacturer quotes were received.

About a dozen citizens attended the meeting. One township resident asked how residents know when the township is under a snow emergency. The man had received two tickets for vehicles parked along a snow emergency route recently. He said he was unaware of the declaration on that day. Chairman Gary Harner said the township has a list of media outlets it contacts in the event of an emergency, among them WGAL, Channel 8. Some citizens, like Harner, do not get that particular TV channel, he said. Supervisors said the notification manner may need to be upgraded.

Road Foreman Craig Coleman said some school districts and other municipalities use the “One Call Now” system, and suggested the township may want to consider that service.

In other matters, Karpowich and Zoning Officer Al Swab reviewed the permit process for the township. A 90-day extension was granted by the applicant’s developer for the Witmer/Madenford lot annexation plan, which is in both Porter and Hegins townships. Hegins supervisors plan to place it on their agenda for consideration at next month’s meeting. Porter Township already gave approval.

Karpowich had received correspondence with Michael Baker International, representing the Rausch Creek Trailriders campground.

Karpowich said Rausch Creek had submitted its planning module, but according to the township’s sewage enforcement officer, Bill Brior, there were some items missing and incorrect with the module.

Supervisor Brad Carl urged the township to work on a five-year road plan. He said several roads are deteriorating. Harner agreed that supervisors should set down together and consider developing a plan for road improvement.

In another matter, Supervisor Mike Begis asked Secretary Gary Hornberger if he could have the monthly, itemized invoices from the engineer and solicitor sent to him. Begis said he had not been receiving them.

The board approved the following:

–Treasurer Hornberger’s report showing income of $23,814.98; expenses of $87,551.74; general fund balance, $177,344.99; PLGIT fund balance, $38,274.17; and pool fund balance, $23,026.93.

–Yarmush’s January report showing 143 calls to service, 13 offense/incidents, eight nontraffic citations, one misdemeanor arrest, one reportable accident, nine traffic citations and one traffic warning. Total patrol mileage for the month was 1,596 miles.

–Renewal of the COSTARS contract for road salt for 2019-20.

–Releasing part of the bond from the new Dollar General store, except for the storm water portion and a 10 percent contingency, under recommendation of Jeanette M. Miller, township engineer with Lehigh Engineering, Pottsville.

–Adoption of the standard Act 44 disclosure statement for the police pension.

–Adoption of the Pennsylvania Municipalities Pension Trust Act 44 disclosure statement for the non-uniformed workers.

Copycat Business Sytems Inc., annual service agreement.

–An agreement with the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors’ web hosting service to help the township update its website.

The board announced receipt of a thank you note from the family of the late Donald Buffington. The supervisors had approved renaming the Gap Street Bridge in Buffington’s honor.

In other correspondence, the board received a $500 donation from the Hegins Park Association’s Schuylkill County Wine Festival for use at the Tri-Valley Community Pool; and a letter from Williams about possibly erecting a compressor station in Hegins Township as part of the natural gas pipeline company’s Leidy South Expansion Project.

Williams will host an informational open house from 6 to 8 p.m.Feb. 19 at the Hegins Area Ambulance Association building, 352 Gap St., Valley View.

Contact the writer: ; 570-628-6007

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Coastal Georgia lawmakers lead charge against offshore drilling [Savannah Morning News, Ga.]

Feb. 07–Led by the coastal delegation and buoyed by Gov. Brian Kemp’s recent reiteration of his opposition to offshore drilling in Georgia, a dozen state lawmakers gathered at the Capitol Wednesday to urge passage of anti-drilling resolutions aimed at sending a message to Washington.

State Rep. Carl Gilliard (D-Garden City) has reintroduced a resolution, now H.R. 48, that failed to gain traction last year. The timing is better now, he said, ticking off the pocketbook benefits of spill-free water on the coast.

“In this defining moment we have about $1.1 billion in benefits to our waterways and to our fisheries and to our environment in the state of Georgia,” Gilliard said. “People ask why do we want to stand for Georgia against offshore drilling? Because we also have our military, our Navy, that does so many testings and benefits us to protect us. Why do we want to stand against offshore drilling? Because of the economic support that we have for the many jobs it creates, probably 21,000 jobs.

“We just got through doing something common. We had some delicious seafood from Savannah. If we had not had good waterways and clear waterways, we would not be able to benefit as consumers from that seafood.”

Gilliard was followed at the podium by State Rep. Don Hogan (R-St. Simons Island), State Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) and State Sen. Lester Jackson (D-Savannah), who pointed out that opposition to offshore drilling cut across party and geographical lines.

“This is not just a coastal issue; this is a Georgia issue,” said Jackson, who reintroduced legislation in the Senate, now S.R. 88. “So that’s why you see with me bipartisan support — Democrats and Republicans from all facets of Georgia.”

Atlanta-area State Sen. Nan Orrock, a Democrat, was among the inland lawmakers.

“We saw in Florida that the governor there connected with federal authorities and Florida now is off limits for offshore drilling,” she said, though it’s not yet clear that result is guaranteed. “We want the same for Georgia. All over the East Coast, the governors and attorneys general are weighing in, along with the environmental community and legislative chambers, to say we don’t want to go down that road.”

Florida did pass a ballot initiative in November that banned drilling in state waters, which extend out 3 miles from the coast. But the outcome of what once seemed like a handshake agreement to take Florida off the table for drilling is less certain. Federal plans for areas to be explored still include Florida’s east coast. That exploration with seismic airguns could begin as early as April.

But other states have been vocal, too. South Carolina’s attorney general earlier this month joined a lawsuit against the Trump Administration to block seismic testing off the state’s coast. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper testified before the House Committee on Natural Resources on Wednesday in D.C. during its hearing on climate change, repeating that the state’s stance on drilling is “not off our coast.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Wednesday that 2018 was the fourth-hottest year on record globally. It was the ninth hottest in Savannah, where records stretch back to 1875, said State Climatologist Bill Murphey. Every year since 2015 has landed in the top ten for average temperature in Savannah.

Despite the clear link between climate change and burning fossil fuels, the lawmakers didn’t broach that topic, instead sticking to the economic threats to the coast posed by oil spills and concern for marine species, especially north Atlantic right whales, the highly endangered state marine mammal that gives birth off the coast.

Gilliard urged constituents to call their legislators to say, “Stand with Georgia against offshore drilling.”

And he repeated praise for Kemp’s anti-drilling stance.

“It’s important that I say today I’m very proud of our governor, who has also taken a stance in these areas saying he’d be in support of standing against offshore drilling in Georgia,” Gilliard said. “H.R. 48 is that simple.”

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