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(Jim Wilson/The New York Times)

Oil groups take aim at feds’ fracking rule

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Oil industry groups want a federal judge to block new mandates on hydraulic fracturing before they take effect.
With the Olympic Mountains in the background, the Polar Pioneer drilling rig arrives in Port Angeles, Wash., aboard a heavy-lift transport ship in April. Shell Oil Co. hopes to use the rig for exploratory drilling during the summer open-water season in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast, if it can get the permits. (Daniella Beccaria/seattlepi.com via AP, File)

Obama administration gives thumbs up to Shell’s Arctic drilling plans

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Shell moved one step closer to resuming its $6 billion quest for crude in the Arctic on Monday, with the Obama administration’s approval of its broad plan for exploratory oil drilling in the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska.
From the left: Charlie Williams, executive director of the Center for Offshore Safety; Brian Salerno, director of the Bureau and Safety Environmental Enforcement; and Rear Admiral Joe Servidio of the U.S. Coast Guard sit on a panel about offshore safety during the 2014 Offshore Technology Conference at NRG Park on May 8. (Patric Schneider/Houston Chronicle)

OTC: Feds launch confidential tipline for offshore problems, aiming to find small problems before they get big

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When accidents are narrowly averted at offshore oil and gas facilities, Uncle Sam wants to know about it. And now, there’s a new avenue for the government to get those tips, via a confidential near-miss reporting system unveiled at the Offshore Technology Conference on Tuesday.
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Obama moves forward on new oil and gas rules for public lands

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The Bureau of Land Management’s announcement that it would be proposing changes — and inviting public comment on the scope of them — marks the first major effort in decades to update onshore royalty rates that are among the lowest in the world.
(Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg)

Shell exec: U.S. risks losing drilling dollars to Brazil, Canada and Mexico

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The Obama administration’s plan for selling offshore oil and gas leases from 2017 to 2022 could jeopardize the United States’ competitiveness as Brazil, Canada, Mexico and other countries aggressively compete for drilling dollars, a Shell executive told Congress.
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

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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.
The Polar Pioneer, a drilling rig contracted by Shell for Chukchi Sea exploration in 2015, is transported across the Pacific on the heavy-lift vessel Blue Marlin. (Photo: Vincenzo Floramo / Greenpeace)

Feds launch review of Shell’s Arctic drilling plan

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Federal regulators have begun a 30-day review of a broad plan that forms a framework for Shell to resume Arctic drilling this summer. The company also must obtain permits for each proposed well.
The Deepwater Horizon blowout preventer is lifted onto the deck of the Helix Q4000 in the Gulf of Mexico near the coast of Louisiana in September 2010. (AP file photo/Patrick Semansky)

Five years after Gulf disaster, feds ready new well control and blowout preventer mandates

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The Obama administration is poised to lay out new requirements for controlling offshore wells, nearly five years after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill vividly illustrated the damage that can be unleashed when they are not kept in check.
Kijjiketchme Southern-Fox, from Salisbury, Md., protests proposed offshore oil and gas development in Atlantic waters outside a March 9 public meeting in Annapolis, Md. Southern-Fox said he is concerned about the potential ecological damage of oil development -- "a spill is inevitable anywhere they drill; it's just a matter of time" -- but also wants to see the United States transition swiftly away from fossil fuels. "Even if they were to open up a drill in the ocean and even if it never spilled, we'd still be dealing with the carbon output," he said.

Tensions ignite on East Coast as White House weighs Atlantic drilling

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The prospect of a new generation of Atlantic drilling is stirring a heated debate up and down the East Coast.
The Polar Pioneer, a drilling rig contracted by Shell for Chukchi Sea exploration in 2015, is transported across the Pacific on the heavy-lift vessel Blue Marlin. (Photo: Vincenzo Floramo / Greenpeace)

Feds says Shell’s spill containment system works as company seeks Arctic drilling approval

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Exercises this week gave Shell a chance to demonstrate the equipment for Coast Guard officials and federal regulators at the Interior Department who will decide whether the company gets critical permits enabling a new round of Chukchi Sea oil exploration this summer.