Washington

Washington energy news with a Texas accent
A series of pipes direct natural gas in Bismarck, North Dakota. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

Energy Department takes steps to plug methane leaks

The Obama administration on Tuesday rolled out a series of initiatives meant to help pare the amount of methane escaping the nation’s natural gas pipelines, following a government report that faulted the Environmental Protection Agency for doing too little to plug the leaks.  More »
In this May 22, 2014 photo, a rainbow forms as sprinklers spray water to prevent coal dust from entering the air at Dominion Terminal Associates' coal terminal in Newport News, Va. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

US sending coal abroad

As the Obama administration weans the U.S. off dirty fuels blamed for global warming, energy companies have been sending more of America’s unwanted energy leftovers to other parts of the world where they could create even more pollution, according to an Associated Press report.  More »
The Energy Department still is reviewing an application by Exxon Mobil Corp. and partners  to build a natural gas export facility at the existing Golden Pass export terminal Port Arthur. (Marie D. De Jesus / Houston Chronicle )

Industry pans feds’ plan for gas exports

The Obama administration says its new plan for vetting proposals to sell liquefied natural gas overseas is aimed at streamlining the review process, but energy companies and aspiring exporters say the government’s approach could have the opposite effect.  More »
Tank cars carrying oil and other materials travel through the nation's capital. (Jennifer A. Dlouhy / Houston Chronicle)

Regulator: New oil train rules could have wide reach

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx suggested Monday that coming mandates to boost the safety of hauling oil by train will go beyond requiring changes to the tank cars.  More »
IsoMetrix marine seismic data being acquired in the Barents Sea.

Feds OK first-in-decades oil studies off East Coast

The Obama administration on Friday gave the oil industry the green light to use air guns and sonic sensors to search for possible oil and gas under Atlantic waters, overriding environmentalists concerned that the seismic research can harm whales and other marine life.  More »
Energy industry representatives examine Gulf maps before a lease sale in New Orleans. (Photo: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management)

Feds roll out details on Western Gulf lease sale

The Obama administration on Thursday released final details for its planned Aug. 20 sale of oil and gas drilling rights in the western Gulf of Mexico.  More »
Tanker cars full of U.S.-produced oil are helping supply East Coast refineries. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

Oil tanker phaseout could last years

Oil companies and railroads appear to be moving to phase out older, rupture-prone tank cars on a faster timeline than U.S. regulators are envisioning. Regulators are expected to propose a six-year timeline for scrapping those older, legacy tanker cars, which have been tied to recent, fiery explosions. That’s twice as long as one industry plan.  More »
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, speaks to reporters during President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech in 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Oil export advocate encouraged by discussions with administration

The leading Capitol Hill advocate for exporting U.S. crude said she is encouraged by the Obama administration’s focus on the issue, following a meeting with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she left the private session confident that “there are ongoing discussions within the (Commerce) department on this issue.”  More »
Some of the cars Google uses in its street view project now are equipped to sense natural gas leaks. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

Google-gas: mapping cars search for pipeline leaks

Environmentalists have teamed up with Google to shine a spotlight on natural gas leaking from pipes buried under city streets in Boston, Indianapolis and Staten Island.  More »
Rig hands thread together drilling pipe at a hydraulic fracturing site owned by EQT Corp. located atop the Marcellus shale rock formation in Washington Township, Pennsylvania. (Ty Wright/Bloomberg)

Enhanced oil recovery techniques limited in shale

Energy companies currently leave about 95 percent of the crude in the ground at today’s unconventional oil wells, but they face major technological challenges in boosting recovery rates, a Schlumberger scientist said Tuesday.  More »
Pictured is a hydraulic fracturing operation in the Permian Basin that took place on Oct. 1, 2012. Apache is an active driller in the Permian Basin and during the quarter averaged 35 rigs drilling 201 wells of which 26 were horizontal. (Apache)

Coming soon to a country near you: The US frac phenomenon

The United States’ monopoly on pulling oil and gas out of ultra-dense rock formations is ending, as companies aim to replicate the success in other countries, energy analysts said Tuesday.  More »
A BNSF Railway train hauls crude oil in Montana. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)

Logistics exec says rail trumps pipelines

Because trains offer flexibility that fixed pipelines can’t match, the trend of moving oil by rail is here to stay, an energy executive told industry leaders and analysts Monday.  More »
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