A very large smokestack flare burns off flammable product after an explosion in a processing facility at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, Calif. on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015. A small ground fire was quickly extinguished and the facility's flare system was triggered for safety reasons. Two workers suffered minor injuries. (AP Photo/Daily Breeze, Chuck Bennett)

Exxon Mobil’s Torrance refinery may not ramp up until 2016

The extended delay could leave the refinery operating an no more than 20 percent capacity for a full 12 months after the facility was damaged in an explosion on Feb. 18. The primary piece taken out of commission was the electrostatic precipitator, or ESP, which is a large emission-controlling device.
A group of men have an early breakfast at Rosita's Restaurant in Carrizo Springs.  The small south Texas town bustles around 4 a.m. with area oil related workers. Dimmit County Regional Hospital has seen a dramatic increase in trauma cases directly associated from the oil and gas industry in the Eagle Ford Shale.  Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. (Bob Owen/San Antonio Express News)

Feds to launch sweeping oil patch safety study

The three-year study will “determine on-duty and off-duty factors that contribute to motor vehicle crashes, injuries and illness” among oil and gas extraction workers.
Commercial vessels spray water on the fire aboard the West Delta 32 production platform. (Coast Guard photo)

Houston’s Black Elk Energy facing criminal charges for fatal Gulf explosion

Houston-based Black Elk Energy faces six criminal counts for a blast at a Gulf of Mexico production platform that killed three workers and injured others.
Texas Flooding

Texas Flooding Reveals Deficient Infrastructure

Over 37.3 trillion gallons of water fell in Texas this past spring after heavy precipitation resulted in substantial flooding. While years of drought were literally washed away, the state experienced significant consequences of the flooding, including 21 deaths according to a report by NPR. The recent weather patterns exposed vital shortcomings in the state‚Äôs flood […]
Brian Salerno, director of the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement   at the Offshore Technology Conference at the NRG Center Thursday, May 7, 2015.  Gary Coronado / Houston Chronicle )

OTC: Offshore drilling regulators want industry input on ‘next steps’ for safety management programs

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement will hold a workshop on the issue on July 29 in Houston aimed at getting ideas for how to strengthen the safety and environmental management systems required of companies operating offshore.

OTC: Feds could soon take a closer look at who is, and who isn’t, fit to operate offshore

The nation’s offshore drilling overseers are considering adopting a page out of Norway and Brazil’s playbooks — with a potential analysis of oil and gas firms’ “fitness to operate” on coastal waters.
In June, GE tested this prototype 20,000 psi ram blowout preventer at its Houston Technology Center. The 20ksi program also includes new wellheads, connectors, control systems, and riser systems. (GE Oil & Gas)

Feds unveil plan for keeping offshore oil wells in check five years after Gulf spill

The measure codifies many of the steps that companies have already taken to better keep offshore wells in check, including more rigorous maintenance and testing of the blowout preventers that act as a last line of defense against uncontrolled surges of oil and gas.
A Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. natural gas drilling rig in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. (Cabot)

Study finds radon in Pennsylvania homes on the rise while Marcellus drilling surges

Buildings in counties where natural gas is most actively being extracted from the Marcellus shale have in the past decade had much higher measurements of radioactive radon than buildings in low-activity areas, according to the new research.
A heavy duty jack-up rig drills over the Forties Echo platform (Apache Corp.)

Supply vessel hits Apache platform; company says no injuries or spills

Apache said the platform has been shut down but there hasn’t been any leak of oil or gas. It’s unclear when production will resume.
(AP Photo via militant video)

U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia warns of kidnapping plot against Western oil workers

Affiliates of terrorist groups may be planning to kidnap Western oil workers in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. embassy in Saudi Arabia warned over the weekend.