Shell Abandons Arctic Exploration

The oil industry has taken a number of huge hits this year with the collapse of oil prices. The latest is the announcement from Royal Dutch Shell that they are abandoning their Arctic drilling program in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of northwest Alaska after years of effort, over $7 billion spent, numerous regulatory battles, and unrelenting challenges from environmental groups. Shell announced that they found indications of oil and gas, but that they weren’t sufficient to warrant further exploration in the so-called  Burger prospect. The well will be plugged  and abandoned in accordance with U.S. regulations. The problem is that geologists believe the Arctic holds a quarter of the world’s undiscovered conventional oil and gas reserves. Shell’s high profile failure likely means that other companies won’t make similar attempts, and this resource will be unavailable to meet both US and world demand for oil  that is expected to grow by another 10% over the next several decades. Continue reading Shell Abandons Arctic Exploration

California Valley Fire Damages Geysers Geothermal Plant

One more casualty of the severe drought that has triggered devastating wildfires in California is the Geysers geothermal power generation facility, which is located on the Sonoma County and Lake County border. The Geysers is the world’s largest geothermal power production operation with a fleet of 14 power plants owned and operated by Calpine Corporation and a net operating capacity of approximately 725 megawatts. Continue reading California Valley Fire Damages Geysers Geothermal Plant

Eni Discovers Massive Gas Field in the Mediterranean

On August 30th, Eni SpA, the Italian oil company, reported discovery of a “super giant” natural gas field offshore Egypt that may be the largest find in the Mediterranean Sea and may hold hold 30 trillion cubic feet of gas. The field will go a long way toward addressing Egyptian domestic demand, which has swelled over the past years. The country is consuming most of its production and has cut gas sales abroad. Excess gas could be shipped to Italy or other destinations as liquefied natural gas (LNG) through a plant at Damietta on the Mediterranean coast that is currently not operating for lack of gas. Continue reading Eni Discovers Massive Gas Field in the Mediterranean

One Month into the Clean Power Plan

Approximately one month ago President Obama and the EPA announced the Clean Power Plan as the United State’s regulatory tool to address climate change. The plan’s primary focus is on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants with key goal to cut carbon dioxide emissions from the power industry to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. In OWOE’s August 10th blog, we identified the 4 critical issues toward achievement of the Plan’s goals that will be battled in the coming months/years. While  legal, political, and economic issues are interesting and will provide most of the drama surrounding the Plan, the technical issues are the ones that OWOE feels are most challenging. Two studies issued subsequent to the Plan present some key issues: Continue reading One Month into the Clean Power Plan

Drilling for wind in Lake Erie

In another small but important step forward for offshore wind development in the United States, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., or LEEDCo, began testing the soils at the bottom of Lake Erie. The tests and drilling for soil samples are being done at the six sites where LEEDCo has proposed locating turbines for an offshore wind pilot project. The sites are eight to 10 miles offshore, northwest of downtown Cleveland. Results will help answer the question of what kind of soil lies below the sandy lake bottom and will enable engineers to design the foundations for the turbines. Continue reading Drilling for wind in Lake Erie