Another pipeline ensnared

What’s the biggest news in US energy infrastructure these days? Ask a 2nd grader.

As I sat with my 7-year-old in the elementary school cafeteria one morning this week, one of her friends ran up with some shocking news: ‘bad guys’ are trying to build a pipeline that will leak chemicals into a river that Native Americans own! And with that, the Dakota Access pipeline construction project joins a growing list of mainstream energy boogeymen.

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ExxonMobil’s TMI issue

With $12bn raised in a recent debt offering and more than $300bn of its own shares held in treasury, ExxonMobil has the dry powder to purchase just about any oil and gas company in the world.  From Anadarko to Devon to even BP, the regular rumblings of an acquisition bid are rarely dismissed completely for one reason – ExxonMobil has the resources to do it.

But chief executive Rex Tillerson told analysts in New York City last week the company is in no hurry when it comes to M&As, and that most potential takeover targets are either overburdened with debt or their stock price diluted by repeated equity sales to raise funds.  Continue reading

Avalanche or roadblock? Lifting the US crude ban

There’s a narrative of inevitability that supporters of ending US restrictions on crude exports are touting these days. It goes like this:

A string of events is steadily building momentum for the end of the ban. Last year, the US Department of Commerce began allowing the export of lightly processed condensate, providing an outlet for millions of barrels of Eagle Ford crude since. Next, the Obama administration allowed for crude swaps between the US and Mexico, another step toward opening the taps. And now, this week, a Department of Energy study says exports would boost US production and possibly lower gasoline prices.

But expectations that the tide is turning and an end to export restrictions is near may not be such a sure thing.  Continue reading

When disaster becomes mundane

Stop me if you heard this one: A train carrying a load of crude derails and bursts into flames.

It’s a story line that’s sadly become routine of late, although images of smoke and flames leaping skyward are enticing fodder for network television news. The BNSF derailment near Heimdal, North Dakota last week was the 5th so far this year and the 12th since the deadly Lac Megantic accident in July 2013 killed 47 in Quebec.  Continue reading

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