Shell Abandons Oil-Shale Project In Colorado After Pumping Millions Into Exploration
09/25/13 02:36 PM ET EDT
DENVER — DENVER (AP) — Royal Dutch Shell PLC has become the latest company to abandon efforts to turn Western Slope oil-shale into oil, joining a long line of companies in a boom and bust cycle in the region.
The company said energy markets have changed since the project started in 1982, and the company no longer wants to continue efforts to turn oily shale rock into liquid by heating the rock and pumping out the oil.
Chevron stopped its oil-shale research in Rio Blanco County in February 2012.
“We are exiting our Colorado project to focus on other opportunities,” Shell spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh said. “Our focus is to work with our staff and contractors to safely stop research activities and close the site.”
Efforts to squeeze the oil from the shale in the Rockies stretch back decades. An oil shale boom in Colorado in the early 1980s went bust when oil prices dropped and government subsidies dried up. People still refer to “Black Sunday,” May 2, 1982, when Exxon Mobil Corp. shut down a $5 billion project near the West Slope town of Parachute, throwing 2,200 people out of work.
“The economics of oil shale have always been the issue,” said David Abelson, an analyst with Western Resource Advocates, an environmental group opposing shale development.
EPA fines Shell $1.1M for Arctic air violations
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Affiliates of Royal Dutch Shell PLC have agreed to pay $1.1 million for violations of air permits by two drill ships operating last year in Arctic waters, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday.
The settlement calls for Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc. and Shell Offshore, Inc. to pay a $710,000 penalty for violations of the Noble Discoverer in the Chukchi Sea and a $390,000 penalty for violations by the Kulluk in the Beaufort Sea.
Inspections and Shell’s own excess emission reports documented numerous air permit violations, the agency said.
The vessels operated for nearly two months in the Arctic Ocean’s short open water season, drilling top holes and performing other preliminary work for exploratory drilling. The vessels were not allowed to drill into petroleum-bearing zones because a key piece of oil spill response equipment was not on hand.
The fines are the latest in a series of setbacks for Shell, which included the grounding of the Kulluk in December near Kodiak Island as it was being towed across the Gulf of Alaska for repairs. The vessel was refloated but significantly damaged and was transported to Singapore for repairs. The Noble Discoverer after the drilling season was investigated for 16 safety violations.
Shell chose not to drill in Arctic offshore waters in 2013.
Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said by email that the company accepted stringent emission limits in 2012 that were based on assumptions and modeling.
“Following a season of operations, we now better understand how emissions control equipment actually functions in Arctic conditions,” he said.
Alaska villages in the same region as drilling operations were not affected by the violations, he said.
“Despite reported overages in 2012, the EPA did not allege any negative impact from Shell’s emissions to local populations, nor did Shell exceed its overall allowable annual emissions for the operating season,” he said.
Colin O’Brien, an Earthjustice attorney in Anchorage who unsuccessfully tried to keep Shell from obtaining Clear Air Act permits, said the fines are emblematic of the fiasco that was Shell’s 2012 operating season.
“Shell’s numerous violations came even after EPA issued special waivers allowing Shell to operate under more lenient requirements than its initial permits,” he said by email. “The fines for these violations are a reminder that Shell was unprepared to drill in the Arctic last summer and underscore that the Administration must take a new, hard look at whether Shell is prepared to drill in the Arctic safely and in compliance with environmental safeguards.”
Environmental groups bitterly oppose Arctic drilling in a region that supports endangered whales, polar bears, ice seals and walrus. They contend not enough is known about drilling’s effects on an ecosystem affected by climate change, with summer sea ice continuing to be lost at a record pace. The groups also say oil companies have not demonstrated the ability to clean up a petroleum spill in ice-choked waters.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates 26.6 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 130 trillion cubic feet of natural gas exist below Arctic waters. The reservoirs could be linked to shore by underwater pipelines and then overland to the trans-Alaska pipeline.
Shell spent $2.1 billion on petroleum leases in the Chukchi Sea in 2008 and estimates that it has spent $5 billion on Arctic drilling. The company contends that it can drill safely.
And still the South African government has no comment on more than 180 bans, restrictions and moratoria on fracking …
Time: 8:00 am – 3:00 pm
Place: David L. Lawrence Convention Center
- Malia Spencer
- Reporter- Pittsburgh Business Times
State Sen. Jim Ferlo, whose 38th district includes Pittsburgh, is signaling he intends to formally introduce legislation for a moratorium on new hydraulic fracturing.
In an email sent this week to constituents, Ferlo said “in a matter of days, I plan to introduce legislation which would impose a temporary moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (fracking).” Ferlo is planning a statewide conference call next week regarding the proposal and expects to introduce formal legislation the following week, he said.
Ferlo noted his proposal would call for a moratorium on fracking new wells and would not affect the thousands of already permitted wells, or the 7,000 drilled and operating wells.
“This year there were 366 violations by a weak-kneed (Department of Environmental Protection) in the state and 6,000 violations since 2000,” Ferlo said. “I would not stop those permits already out there pumping. It would not affect the activity already in place. But it’s important to take a step back and look at the infractions and get an independent commission to create and take at least two to three years to look closely at how we can best provide appropriate protection.”
Ferlo said his proposal will include creating a commission appointed by the governor with Senate approval to hold hearings and submit a report no later than January 2018. He added this commission must be made up of industry, environmental and consumer groups.
So far there are eight co-sponsors on the proposal but Ferlo acknowledged this will be “an uphill battle.” However, he said it’s an issue that should be debated particularly by the candidates running for governor.
- The more you learn about fracking, the more you’ll oppose it: Commentary (syracuse.com)
- Ministers Push for Fracking in the Karoo (jonathandealblog.com)
- Santa Cruz County Adopts Temporary Moratorium on Fracking (indybay.org)
- City Council To Vote On Fracking Moratorium (losangeles.cbslocal.com)
- US scientists rubbish SA claim of ‘safe fracking’ (jonathandealblog.com)
- Eastern Province Herald on Fracking (jonathandealblog.com)
LA City Council Members Call for Fracking Moratorium
Gas is burned off in a flare at a Vintage Production facility in Shafter, California.
Photo Credit: (Tara Lohan)
“Oil companies have already begun fracking in the Los Angeles region, and residents near confirmed activity have experienced severe property damage and a spike in serious health concerns,” according to a statement from the Councilmembers and environmental and consumer groups. “Oil companies have targeted the LA region for expanded fracking – a major threat to L.A.’s water supply, air quality, and private property.”
Councilmembers Koretz and Bonin discussed a proposed moratorium on fracking within the City of Los Angeles and along the City’s water supply route.
The Councilmembers also called on Governor Jerry Brown to listen to the majority of Californians who oppose the inherently dangerous process of fracking and impose an immediate statewide moratorium on fracking.
“If a group of people poisoned millions of gallons of California’s water while no one was looking we would label it terrorism and call out the troops,’’ Koretz said. “Yet that what’s happening with fracking right now in California.”
Koretz noted that “fracking is happening all over the state, and the United States Geological Survey says fracking-related activity has definitively caused earthquakes in Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. As a state, we have to decide which it is, are we protecting our water supply, or not?”
“The quality of our water and the safety of our neighborhoods comes first,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin. “The threat fracking poses to families in L.A. is serious and I am proud to join Councilmember Koretz in proposing a moratorium on fracking in the City of Los Angeles and along our water supply route.”
Koretz and Bonin’s measure would outlaw fracking by changing the city’s zoning laws. The measure went to the Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee for review and public hearings.
Representatives of consumer and environmental groups, including Food and Water Watch, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community and the Sierra Club spoke in support of the ban at the event.
“As Governor Brown has failed to act, cities like Los Angeles are stepping up to protect residents,” said Brenna Norton, Southern California Organizer for Food & Water Watch. “Nationwide the evidence is clear: No amount of regulation can make this fundamentally destructive and toxic drilling safe.”
“The health impacts of the chemicals used in fracking, acidization and gravel packing are clear,” said Angela Johnson Meszaros, general counsel for Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles. “Introducing these chemicals into a densely populated city like Los Angeles exposes people to unnecessary threats in both the short term and over the long term.”
Actor and environmental champion Ed Begley, who narrated Restore the Delta’s documentary film “Over Troubled Waters,” and actor Esai Morales also spoke out against the environmentally destructive practice of fracking.
“It is very important that we realize the potential risks that others around the country have already been dealing with and make sure that we do not expose Californians to those risks,” said Begley. “There are just too many unknowns and our citizens cannot afford foolish experimentation with our water, air, health, earthquakes and climate.”
To view a video of the press conference, go to: http://www.facebook.com/…
The press conference took place at a critical time for California’s fish, water and environment. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by truthout.org and the Associated Press recently revealed that oil companies conducted fracking operations at least 12 times in Southern California coastal waters without any public notice or environmental impact reports.