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Oil and Gas Roundup — May 20

May 20, 2013
TOPICS: In the news
A roundup of oil and natural gas news from around the state, nation and world:

Chesapeake taps Anadarko executive Lawler as CEO

Chesapeake Energy Corp. has plucked a 46-year-old executive from a rival oil and gas company to succeed its co-founder, Aubrey McClendon, as chief executive of the nation's second-largest natural gas producer.

People familiar with the matter said Chesapeake's directors on Sunday tapped Robert Douglas Lawler, senior vice president of international and deep-water operations at Anadarko Petroleum Corp., to fill the post vacated by McClendon, who left the company April 1.

McClendon's departure came under pressure from board members recently installed by its largest shareholders, according to people acquainted with the circumstances.

In Lawler, a petroleum engineer, Chesapeake is getting a relatively youthful but seasoned industry hand as it seeks to coax greater profits from its extensive oil and gas holdings.

Lawler, who has spent 25 years at Anadarko and a predecessor company, also has experience directing operations in some of Chesapeake's core areas, including shale-rock formations in Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Texas.

"I look forward to accelerating the momentum that the Chesapeake team has built to generate value for our shareholders in the years ahead," Lawler said in a statement Sunday.

Lawler will join Chesapeake and its board of directors on June 17.

Read the Wall Street Journal article:


Department of Energy backs Texas natural gas export plan

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Energy Department on Friday conditionally approved a Texas company’s proposal to export liquefied natural gas, only the second such project allowed to move forward amid a production boom that has led to glut of domestic natural gas.

The action would allow Freeport LNG Expansion L.P. to export up to 1.4 billion cubic feet of liquefied natural gas per day from its terminal near Freeport, Texas, south of Houston. The DOE said granting such a permit for shipments to countries that do not have free trade agreements with the U.S. was in the public interest.

Freeport is the second export project to win Energy Department authorization, following the Sabine Pass LNG Terminal in Cameron Parish, La.

Energy companies are seeking federal permits for more than 20 export projects that could handle as much as 29 billion cubic feet of LNG a day.

A drilling boom has lowered natural gas prices while boosting production by one-third since 2005. Natural gas production reached an all-time high of 25.3 trillion cubic feet last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In recent months, however, production has begun to level off as the glut of natural gas keeps U.S. prices down. In response, producers have begun pushing to export the fuel to Europe and Asia, where prices are far higher. Approval of all the projects currently under review by the Energy Department could result in the export of more than 40 percent of current U.S. natural gas production.

Read more:


Fracking study in Arkansas finds no pollution

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Hydraulic fracturing for natural gas hasn't contaminated drinking water wells in Arkansas, according to a new study, but researchers said the geology there may be more of a natural barrier to pollution than in other areas where shale gas drilling takes place.

The most passionate critics and supporters of "fracking" often describe the process in extremes, suggesting it is either inherently dangerous for the environment or that it poses virtually no risk at all. But Avner Vengosh, a Duke University professor of geochemistry and water quality, said making generalizations about fracking in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Colorado doesn't make scientific sense.

"Each basin will have its own dynamics and its own rules," he said of the possibility of contamination, adding that differences in well construction and regulations play a role, too.

Members of the U.S. Geological Survey were also part of the study, which examined 127 drinking water wells for evidence of pollution from methane gas or chemicals.

The study published this week looked at an area of heavy drilling in north-central Arkansas known as the Fayetteville Shale. More than 4,000 new wells have been drilled there since 2004. The researchers performed multiple tests to looks for the presence of contamination from drilling, or from naturally occurring gas or ultra-salty liquids that seep up through pre-existing faults.

Read more:


Could fracking in China be a climate game changer?

We have been thinking about an idea in the opinion pages of the New York Times to tackle one of the great challenges of our times: cutting carbon emissions to slow down climate change. It would result in the single largest reduction of CO2 emissions globally of any feasible idea out there. But there are a couple of hitches. Let's explain.

Here's the idea: it's time to help China master fracking safely.

By now it's clear that fracking (the process of extracting shale gas) has dramatically lowered America's CO2 emissions. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2006, a fifth of our electricity came from natural gas, while almost 50 percent came from coal. By 2012, natural gas had increased its share to 30 percent of our electricity. Coal's share dropped to 37 percent. The change was because of fracking: over that same period, shale gas production grew 800 percent.

The reason this shift is important is that coal is the world's dirtiest source of energy – both in its emissions of CO2 and particle pollutants. Thanks in large part to our reduced dependency on coal, U.S. CO2 emissions hit an 18-year low in 2012. U.S. emissions fell over the last five years by more than all of Europe's did. So – and this is the first hitch – environmentalists have to understand that, whatever the fantasies, natural gas is in reality producing a dramatic reduction in carbon emissions.

But now the second hitch. Why is it a good idea to help what some consider our greatest rival catch up with us? Why should we help China copy our winning formula?

The answer is simple: it's a win-win scenario.

Read more:

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