Tribpedia: Energy

Bickering Erupts Among Texas Oil Regulators

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The Texas Railroad Commission, comprised of Chairman Barry T. Smitherman (center), and commissioners David Porter (left) and Christi Craddick (right) hold an open meeting in Austin, Texas on Jan. 15, 2013.
The Texas Railroad Commission, comprised of Chairman Barry T. Smitherman (center), and commissioners David Porter (left) and Christi Craddick (right) hold an open meeting in Austin, Texas on Jan. 15, 2013.

A day before an important legislative hearing about the future of the Texas Railroad Commission, inter-personal tensions boiled over at an open meeting of the three commissioners who head the agency. In a less contentious moment, the commissioners also voted to approve new rules to make it easier to recycle oilfield wastewater.

Employees at Omni Water Solutions working on the "HIPPO," a mobile frackwater recycling unit.
Employees at Omni Water Solutions working on the "HIPPO," a mobile frackwater recycling unit.

In Texas, Recycling Oilfield Water Has Far to Go

In Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale, natural gas companies recycle water as a matter of course. But recycling is only getting started in the Texas oilfields because using freshwater for hydraulic fracturing is cheap. Policy changes are poised to come from the Railroad Commission and the Legislature to encourage recycling.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 3/4/13

The results of the new University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll on everything from the top race of 2014 to the gun debate, Aaronson on Medicaid expansion, Aguilar on a financial thaw in the Mexican oil patch, Batheja on cents and sensibility, M. Smith on school choice, Rocha and Dehn on TWIA reform, Galbraith on water and fracking, Murphy’s interactive map of poverty in the state, E. Smith's TribLive interview with House Public Education Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock and Root on a lobby couple living large and reporting small: The best of our best content from March 4-8, 2013.

A water truck parked near a West Texas drilling rig. Oil and gas companies' use of water for hydraulic fracturing has sparked growing concerns.
A water truck parked near a West Texas drilling rig. Oil and gas companies' use of water for hydraulic fracturing has sparked growing concerns.

In Texas, Water Use for Fracking Stirs Concerns

The amount of water used in hydraulic fracturing has stirred concerns around Texas, especially as the drought wears on. Think of it this way: Texas uses more water for fracking than it produces barrels of oil. Aware of the spotlight, drillers are testing out recycling and other water-saving techniques.

Pipe sections in Illinois await crews to weld and bury them during construction in 2009. This segment of the $12 billion Keystone pipeline project has already been built; a proposed pipeline through Texas still awaits government permits.
Pipe sections in Illinois await crews to weld and bury them during construction in 2009. This segment of the $12 billion Keystone pipeline project has already been built; a proposed pipeline through Texas still awaits government permits.

Texas Stretch of Keystone XL Pipeline Progressing

The 485-mile Oklahoma-to-Texas leg of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is about half done and should be operational by late this year or early 2014, according to officials from TransCanada, the company building it. The pipeline will bring crude oil from a major storage depot in Cushing, Okla., to refineries in southeast Texas.

The Big Brown power plant in Fairfield, Texas
The Big Brown power plant in Fairfield, Texas

Sierra Club Takes Aim at Coal Plants in East Texas

A battle over Texas coal is heating up, as the Sierra Club is launching a campaign to close down 1970s-era coal plants owned by power-generation giant Luminant. It will be one of the biggest anti-coal campaigns in the nation by the club, which says the plants are especially harmful to the climate and Texans’ health. The company says its plants are compliant with environmental regulations and will keep running.

Local pumper Bobby Thomason works on cleaning up an old well that was recently worked over to start producing again on a lease in Caldwell County near Luling, January 22, 2012.
Local pumper Bobby Thomason works on cleaning up an old well that was recently worked over to start producing again on a lease in Caldwell County near Luling, January 22, 2012.

Texas Railroad Commission Takes Steps to Modernize

The Texas Railroad Commission regulates one of the most advanced industries in the world — oil and gas drilling. Yet its software systems, many of its rules and even its name are from another era. Faced with the hydraulic fracturing revolution and pressure from the Legislature, the commission is at last taking steps to modernize.

Chairman of the Railroad Commission, Barry Smitherman, talks with Evan Smith at TribLive on December 13, 2012.
Chairman of the Railroad Commission, Barry Smitherman, talks with Evan Smith at TribLive on December 13, 2012.

At Texas Railroad Commission, a Flurry of Rulemaking

Texas Weekly

A veritable flurry of rule-making is under way at the Texas Railroad Commission, involving everything from how oil and gas wells are drilled to the recycling of fracking water.

For Texas Power Grid, a Mixed Report

report published Monday forecasts that the Texas power grid will be a little shakier next summer than previously projected. Thanks to the anticipation of slower power demand, the grid will be a little less shaky in 2014 and beyond.

A worker waits to load a piece of pipe, or casing, that will be lowered into the well at a Chesapeake Energy drill site in Dimmit County, Texas in the Eagle Ford Shale.
A worker waits to load a piece of pipe, or casing, that will be lowered into the well at a Chesapeake Energy drill site in Dimmit County, Texas in the Eagle Ford Shale.

Texas Regulators Prepare Major Drilling Rule Changes

A major overhaul to oil and gas drilling rules is under way at the Texas Railroad Commission. The rules, which have received a cautious welcome from a key industry group and environmentalists, will tighten requirements for the process of drilling, cementing and completing oil and gas wells.

Oncor Approves $17 Million Payment to Chief Executive

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The board of the Dallas-based utility company Oncor recently authorized a $17 million payment to its chairman and chief executive, Robert Shapard, according to an SEC filing made on Nov. 21, the day before Thanksgiving. Consumer advocates are predictably incredulous, especially given the financial woes of Oncor's majority owner, Energy Future Holdings.

Texas Still Waiting for BP Spill Restoration Funds

Texas was promised at least $100 million for coastal restoration from the BP oil spill. But the process of disbursing funds for projects like improving marshland or protecting turtles has brought complication and delays. Meanwhile, other pots of restoration money that Texas could share are becoming available.

Texans' Enthusiasm About Smart Meters Wanes

Seven years after legislators passed a law encouraging the use of “smart” electricity meters across Texas, the initiative has drawn complaints about the meters being installed against the wishes of some homeowners. And lawmakers are listening as some Texans push to create an opt-out option regarding the program.

About 175 people attended a happy hour held by the Austin Petroleum Exploration Society on Nov. 1. Austin is increasingly becoming an oil and gas hub.
About 175 people attended a happy hour held by the Austin Petroleum Exploration Society on Nov. 1. Austin is increasingly becoming an oil and gas hub.

Despite "Green" Label, Austin a Growing Oil and Gas Hub

Despite its “Keep Austin Weird” slogan and passion for clean energy, Austin is increasingly attracting oil and gas companies. Although Houston doesn't have to fret about its status as the oil capital just yet, oil technology start-ups have noticed Austin's entrepreneurial bent, strong academics and reputation as a fun place to live.

Texas Power Market Changes Include Little Talk of Rates

Ongoing efforts to fix the strained Texas power market will almost certainly affect Texans' power bills. But amid all the technical talk of how to ensure reliable electricity in the fast-growing state, there has been little discussion, or study, of the impact of proposed changes on ratepayers.

Texas Regulators Double Cap for Electricity Prices

Wholesale electricity prices on the Texas power grid will be allowed to go twice as high as is currently possible, following a vote Thursday by the Texas Public Utility Commission. What this move means for Texans' electric bills is unclear, and further changes to the Texas power markets are probably in the works.

Houston Ship Channel - March 16, 2012,  Baytown, TX
Houston Ship Channel - March 16, 2012, Baytown, TX

Along Gulf Coast, a Downside to Surging Oil Production

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Oil production along the Gulf Coast has helped cut U.S. crude imports by 20 percent since 2005. But environmentalists say the increased production isn't without drawbacks, including strain on the state's rail, pipeline and highway systems.

New Mexico Regulator To Be Regional EPA Chief

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Ron Curry, a former New Mexico environmental regulator, will become the new Dallas-based regional head of the Environmental Protection Agency. He replaces Al Armendariz, who resigned after a firestorm this spring. Environmentalists welcomed the appointment.