Archive for the ‘Washington watch’ Category

New Frontiers: Cutting back natural gas flaring in North Dakota hits a bump

North Dakota has aggressively sought to cut the amount of natural gas flaring going on in the state. It’s made strides, but it has a new hurdle, as Brian Scheid discusses in this week’s Oilgram News column, New Frontiers.

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The 10% ethanol blendwall is once again looming

Don’t look now, but the ethanol blend wall is back.

That 10% cap of how much ethanol can be blended into the US gasoline pool was a fiery issue in the Big Oil vs. Big Farm battle in 2013.

And believe it or not, the number has quietly but quickly crept back up into dangerous territory.

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Could a Jones Act waiver move US crude export policy?

US crude oil exports appear to be the next big energy policy battle, but could a rift between East Coast refiners and US producers, as well as a historic shift in US export rules, be avoided with a limited, temporary waiver to a century-old shipping law?

Perhaps because they want to avoid a prolonged dispute within their own industry, some US refining interests have floated the idea. Some within the industry see a temporary waiver to the Jones Act as a feasible compromise on weakening the current export regime.

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Kurdish attempts to sell oil are not going to get support from the Obama administration

For two months now, the United Kalavrvta tanker holding 1 million barrels of Kurdish crude has idled in international waters off the coast of Galveston, Texas, awaiting a District Court ruling on whether the oil will be allowed to be sold in the US.

But if the Kurdistan Regional Government is hoping that the Obama administration will soften its stance in opposition to Kurdish oil exports, that doesn’t appear likely, even as the US seeks to aid the Kurdish peshmerga in their fight against the Islamic jihadist group IS.

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Regulation & Environment: Reading into the big BP Macondo decision

Gary Gentile, in this week’s Oilgram News Column Regulation & Environment, looked at the lengthy decision by a federal judge in the big civil action surrounding the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

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Guest post: Why the US should start selling oil out of the SPR

Economist Philip Verleger looks at the size of the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and then looks at the world’s hot spots, and sees a way to solve some of the problems of the latter with the former. He has contributed this guest post to The Barrel blog.

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US oil refiners and marketers want Jones Act changes…but Capitol Hill doesn’t

Shortly after she was named chairman of the powerful Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee earlier this year, Senator Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat, held a press conference to stress her strong support for the Jones Act.

“The Jones Act is a jobs act, pure and simple,” Landrieu said of the nearly 100-year-old law which requires all vessels shipping cargo between two US locations to be US built, majority US-owned and at least 75% of the crew to be US citizens.

Surrounded by shipping industry representatives, Landrieu criticized the Obama administration for attempts to weaken the act’s purpose. “Waiving the Jones Act literally hands over work to foreign shippers,” she said.

Perhaps most surprising about the press conference, one of the few Capitol Hill press events Landrieu has hosted since taking helm of the energy committee, is that it was not in response to new legislation aimed at weakening the Jones Act, nor was it in response to another potential waiver to the act.

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US net oil import dependence tested new lows in June

We hadn’t written about the monthly EIA statistics on US oil supply and demand for a while because they’d gotten kind of dull. The big movements recorded month after month, particularly in product export growth and net import dependence, had fallen into a bit of a predictable range.

That changed in June. The EIA released numbers from that month today.

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The steel sheet market undercuts suggestions of overall weakness

There were two interesting news items in the American steel world this week: year-to-date US imports are up 37% from last year while domestic mill capability utilization recently topped 80%, after being in the 70-79% range most of the last few years, climbing from sub-50% levels seen in 2009.

Neither of these items is particularly surprising, as they are the culminations of year-long trends, but they fly in the face of suggestions that American steel consumption has been lackluster this year.

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Regulation & Environment: Debating the success of US federal land policy

Is the federal government in Washington boosting or hindering exploration hydrocarbon exploration on federal lands? Brian Scheid looks at that issue in this week’s Oilgram News column, Regulation & Environment.

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