Media highlights, Jan 2016

How low oil prices can fuel an unexpected revolution of renewables (SCMP, 21 Jan) – “with oil at below US$30 a barrel, we have the opportunity of a lifetime to shift investment to the clean energy that is needed. “Big oil” companies are haemorrhaging at the wells, laying off large numbers of staff, and countries are now less inclined to keep those unnatural levels of subsidies intact… This creates the opening for a big shift to renewables. … ”  Locally, Mighty River beefs up its business lines with solar could be the beginning! (NBR, 19 Jan)

January 2016 – New Zealand O&G Wrap (Energy Stream, Jan) – overview of oil and gas related activities planned in NZ this year, notably maintenance and upgrade of the Shell-Todd Pohukura platform, the OMV Maari floating-production vessel Raroa and the Ballance Agri-Nutrients ammonia-urea plant in Kaponga; and start of offshore seismic surveys in the New Caledonia Basin permit (147,150 sq km) in northwest NZ by a Chinese owned vessel contracted by Shell, Shell and Mosman’s review of their NZ assets…

Fracking shakes the American west: ‘a millennium’s worth of earthquakes’ (Guardian, 10 Jan) – ‘According to the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC)… based in Colorado, in 2014 Oklahoma experienced 585 such quakes. In 2015 there were 842. “That’s almost a millennium’s worth of earthquakes in two years,” George Choy, a seismologist at the center, told the Guardian … Even a magnitude four in the right place could cause great damage. The industry in Oklahoma is producing a tremendous amount of wastewater, more than 200 million barrels a month, which is on the way to a trillion a year. Water is finding its way to underground faults and there is always the possibility of a big earthquake…”’

State of emergency declared over California’s ongoing methane leak (Extreme Tech, 8 Jan) – ‘Originally, the well had a sub-surface safety valve that could’ve been used to end the problem, but the company had removed it in 1979. There was no legal obligation to keep a safety valve installed, since the well wasn’t within 100 feet of a road or 300 feet of a home or park, and it had become difficult to acquire parts for the original valve. Having a reputation for doing things by the book doesn’t count for much, it turns out, when the book is written by the industry and the regulations are mostly toothless.the problems at Aliso Canyon are scarcely unique. There are many other wells scattered across the area that also lack subsurface safety valves and are just as old, or older, than the leaking installation.’  And in Science Daily, 11 Jan: ‘To date, Conley estimates that the leak has emitted nearly 80,000 tons of methane, or about 1,000 tons per day. … “… the leak effectively doubles the emission rate for the entire Los Angeles Basin…”‘

Whistleblower alleges cover-up of gas leak (stuff, 3 Jan) – ‘McDow, a lawyer, joined Origin from the banking industry in 2011. She was then promoted to “upstream compliance manager”, monitoring compliance in New Zealand, Australia and Vietnam. She claims her bosses attempted to cover issues up as a further audit loomed. She also alleges she was pressured to accept changes to a spreadsheet she had prepared for management outlining the risks identified. … In October, after nearly five years with the company, McDow was made redundant when she lodged proceedings against Origin. The same month, the New Zealand RKM [Rimu-Kauri-Manutahi] oil and gas fields were sold to UK-listed Mosman Oil and Gas for A$10 million.’ In Energy Stream, Sept 2015:
Mosman says it has already identified 12 low-cost projects that are expected to initially significantly increase production for an estimated cost of NZ$2.6 million. … including a well workover programme and increasing on-site storage… It will also look at horizontal drilling in the Manutahi field,targeting a possible additional four million barrels of oil, and conducting a water flood project to increase production rates.’



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