Fuel Fix

The Ensco 8501 semi-submersible rig in the Gulf of Mexico (Jennifer A. Dlouhy/Houston Chronicle)

Feds rap offshore contractors for safety violations

Federal regulators this month issued a batch of safety violation notices to offshore drilling contractors, exercising an aggressive new interpretation of the Interior Department’s powers for the first time since the 2010 Gulf oil spill.  More »
Food and Farm Sorghum Ethanol.JPEG-043fc

Ethanol credits are squeezing refiners

Refiners are paying more to meet a federal requirements to blend corn-based ethanol into gasoline, which could mean refiners’ margins will be squeezed and gasoline prices could rise, industry analysts say.  More »
Crewmen bend a piece of pipe on a site for TransCanada's Keystone XL project in Wood County, Texas. (Cody Duty / Houston Chronicle)

As odds grow long, critics move to stop Keystone XL

An unusual coalition of environmentalists, property rights advocates and ranchers is attempting to find new ways to derail the Keystone XL pipeline, which seems to be headed for approval in a nation eager for jobs and energy development.  More »
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A natural gas drilling site in the Barnett Shale. (AP file photo/Donna McWilliam)

Chesapeake sued for fixing prices, underpaying landowners

Chesapeake Energy Corp. allegedly manipulated prices and unlawfully passed on its drilling expenses to landowners, shortchanging them on royalty payments for drilling on their land, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court in Dallas.  More »
KiOR's facility in Columbus, Miss. (KiOR)

KiOR ships first production of wood chip-based diesel

The Pasadena, Texas company announced Monday that it’s production of diesel from pine wood chips at a plant in Columbus, Miss. has reached commercial scale.  More »
Carl Icahn (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Transocean board opposes Icahn proposals

Transocean Ltd. (RIG), the offshore rig contractor criticized by billionaire investor Carl Icahn, said the board wants investors to vote against his dividend proposal and three director nominees.  More »
ZaZa Energy is emphasizing its assets in the Eaglebine with a joint venture with EOG Resources; the company is selling some of its assets in the Eagle Ford. (ZaZa photo)

Oil-rich area may not get tax windfall

If South Texas’ oil-producing counties thought this was the year they finally would tap deep reserves of state funding for the crumbling roads, lack of housing and increased water demands brought on by their energy boom, they might want to think again.  More »
Tim Thornton, global technical assurance manager, global subsea engineering for FMC Technologies, next to a subsea Christmas tree built for Shell Oil, March 14, 2013 in Houston. (Photo: Houston Chronicle)

From orbit to drill bit, NASA exes bring deep understanding of risk

When the shuttle program ended with the last flight of Atlantis in 2011, thousands of workers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center hoped that their skills would transfer over to Houston’s booming energy business.  More »
Lightning storm over Albuquerque, N.M. (Roch Hart/Barcroft Media)

Some companies don’t wait for lightning to strike

Lightning strikes are the most common cause of accidents involving storage tanks at refineries and petrochemical plants, according to a study in the Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries.  More »
(Photo: Loozrboy/Flickr)

Keystone fears resonate along New England pipeline

The Canadian energy industry insists it has no plans to reverse the flow of a pipeline that carries crude oil from Maine to Montreal, but that has done little to reassure New England towns that oppose the idea and the 18 members of Congress asking for a full environmental review.  More »
Crewmen work a site for TransCanada's Keystone XL project in Wood County, Texas. (Cody Duty / Houston Chronicle)

Unions split on plans for Keystone XL pipeline

While the rest of the economy was in a free fall beginning in 2008, pipeline workers across the country have been busy, said Daniel Hendrix, business manager for Tulsa-based Pipefitters Union Local 798.  More »
A rig drills in the Marcellus shale, in joint venture project between Chesapeake and Statoil. (Helge Hansen / Statoil)

Statoil, Exxon make third ‘high-impact’ gas find off Tanzania

Statoil ASA (STL), Norway’s largest energy producer, reported a third “high-impact” natural-gas find off Tanzania and increased its resource estimate for the block to as much as 17 trillion cubic feet.  More »