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A pump jack in a Permian Basin oil field in West Texas. The area has been a focus of the shale drilling boom. Credit Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America

HOUSTON — A substantial rise in oil prices in recent months has led to a resurgence in American oil production, enabling the country to challenge the dominance of Saudi Arabia and dampen price pressures at the pump. The success has come in the face of efforts by Saudi Arabia and its oil allies to undercut the shale drilling spree in the United States. Those strategies backfired and ultimately ended up benefiting the oil industry. Overcoming three years of slumping prices proved the resiliency of the shale boom. Energy companies and their financial backers were able to weather market turmoil — and the maneuvers of the global oil cartel — by adjusting exploration and extraction techniques. FULL ARTICLE

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Oil Boom Gives the U.S. a New Edge in Energy and Diplomacy was first posted on January 29, 2018 at 5:16 pm.
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140 Churches oppose Shell Beaver County cracker plant http://royaldutchshellplc.com/2018/01/11/140-churches-oppose-shell-beaver-county-cracker-plant/ Thu, 11 Jan 2018 18:27:58 +0000 http://royaldutchshellplc.com/?p=95146 140 Churches oppose Shell Beaver County cracker plant was first posted on January 11, 2018 at 7:27 pm.
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An umbrella group for 140 Presbyterian churches in Allegheny County is calling for a halt to the construction of a sprawling petrochemical plant in neighboring Beaver County, saying it would worsen already high levels of pollution and cancer risk in Southwestern Pennsylvania. 

“We are part of a faith tradition that has affirmed our responsibility to care for the earth as our home and care for all people, especially our most vulnerable populations,” says a letter signed by officials of the Pittsburgh Presbytery, representing more than 28,000 members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in Allegheny County.

“This plant, and subsequent plants that are planned for the Ohio Valley, will be mass producing plastic products that have been linked to the death of animals and the diminishment of fragile natural habitats,” said the letter, approved by presbytery representatives at their December meeting.

At the same meeting, the presbytery also endorsed a proposal that its national denomination pull all of its investments from fossil fuels in response to the “devastating and urgent reality of climate change.” And it’s urging churches to explore using solar or other renewables to power their churches.

The actions come from a presbytery in the hub of one of the nation’s richest sources of natural gas, and in a region where many Presbyterian churches were historically built on the money that donors and members earned through coal, oil or gas.

Shell Chemical Appalachia has already begun constructing a multi-billion dollar cracker plant in Potter Township, just northwest of Allegheny County. The plant will take ethane, a natural gas liquid plentiful in the Appalachian region, and transform it into pellets for plastic manufacturing.

The plant is expected to create up to 6,000 construction jobs and 600 permanent jobs.

But the presbytery says the plant will massively increase the emissions of carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds while also expanding the demand for a regional infrastructure of fracking wells and pipelines.

“We can’t ignore environmental issues any longer, especially in our region, where air quality is one of the worst in the nation and we have a fossil-fuel industry looking to take advantage of the poverty of our area and the need for jobs,” said the Rev. John Creasy, associate pastor of the Open Door Church in Highland Park and a member of the presbytery’s peacemaking committee, which proposed the measure.

“We’re trying to do this sensitively and help our region develop a vision for clean-energy jobs, and jobs that will last into the future,” he said.

Shell spokesman Michael Marr said: “We are disappointed this group of church representatives registered opposition without first meeting with Shell to understand the environmental controls we have put in place during design, construction and operations.”

He noted that the plant has received approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection, and will have “the best available environmental controls.”

He added that “we have been heartened by the tremendous support our site has received from community members, business leaders and federal, state and local elected officials of both political parties.”

The Rev. Sheldon Sorge, general minister for the presbytery, said presbytery representatives approved the measure decisively in a standing vote at their meeting. Presbytery representatives include ordained ministers and elders from the congregations.

Opponents of the measure included the Rev. Ted Martin, senior pastor of Hampton Presbyterian Church.

“We use plastic in our lives every day,” he said. “Whether it’s made here or made in China, it’s going to be made.”

He said individuals should try to reduce their use of plastics and pressure companies to produce more environmentally sustainable products and energy sources.

But “the fracking is happening” throughout the region, he said. The natural-gas byproducts will either be shipped elsewhere for processing or could remain here and provide “jobs that could have a ripple effect on the economy.”

He said he’s confident in the strength of environmental regulations governing the plant.

The topic of the cracker plant has not arisen in deliberations of the Beaver-Butler Presbytery, where it will be located, according to the Rev. Alan Adams, its executive presbyter.

When a related issue arose several years ago — whether churches should sign leases for natural-gas extraction from under their property — the presbytery created a manual and required congregational leaders to study it before signing anything, he said.

“In our presbytery there’s a lot of diversity of opinion in regard to that,” he said.

Fossil fuel investments

Separately in December, the Pittsburgh Presbytery joined a dozen other presbyteries in endorsing a proposal from the Hudson River Presbytery in New York. It would require the national denomination’s foundation and pension fund to pull investments from the fossil fuel industry and to invest instead in renewable energy.

The measure will go before the Presbyterians’ national General Assembly in June. Proponents compare it to the denomination’s past divestment from companies involved in tobacco, alcohol, gambling and military contracting.

The measure is not a call to “quit using fossil-fuel products,” Rev. Sorge said. “We couldn’t well do that and live in this world.”

Also, he said, “We don’t mean to impugn the companies that are involved in fossil-fuel production.” But “it’s an instrument for getting us to take seriously the need to look for alternative, renewable energy resources.”

Reached for comment on the proposal, Erica Clayton Wright of the Marcellus Shale Coalition said in a statement: “Natural gas is improving our environment, providing economic and public health benefits as well as jobs across our region and keeping families safe and warm during these dangerously cold periods. We’re proud of the hard work that our local workforce does each day to safely provide the affordable energy that’s improving and lifting up countless lives.”

According to the environmental group 350.org, more than 800 educational, philanthropic and other institutions worldwide have divested from fossil fuels, including liberal religious denominations such as the Episcopal Church and United Church of Christ.

The Presbyterians’ General Assembly in 2016 directed its office for faith-based investing and corporate engagement to raise issues of climate change with companies in which it holds stock, according to office director Rob Fohr.

Since then, the denomination has joined in shareholder resolutions that, for example, contributed to ExxonMobil urging (unsuccessfully) that President Trump keep the United States in the Paris climate accord; Phillips 66 issuing a human-rights report; and Marathon and Valero agreeing to issue sustainability reports.

The Presbyterians’ Board of Pensions hold $145 million in stock in companies listed on an index of top carbon producers, less than 2 percent of the board’s portfolio, while the Presbyterian Foundation holds $21 million, or about 3 percent of portfolio, Mr. Fohr said.

These amount to a fraction of the market capitalization of energy corporations, many in the tens or hundreds of billions of dollars, so divestment would have more of a symbolic than a financial impact.

Peter Smith: petersmith@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1416; Twitter @PG_PeterSmith.

SOURCE

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140 Churches oppose Shell Beaver County cracker plant was first posted on January 11, 2018 at 7:27 pm.
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Financieele Dagblad: Shell is fully committed to oil and gas from shale http://royaldutchshellplc.com/2018/01/09/financieele-dagblad-shell-is-fully-committed-to-oil-and-gas-from-shale/ Tue, 09 Jan 2018 10:39:54 +0000 http://royaldutchshellplc.com/?p=95082 Financieele Dagblad: Shell is fully committed to oil and gas from shale was first posted on January 9, 2018 at 11:39 am.
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Printed below is an English translation of an article published by the Dutch equivalent of the Financial Times, Financieele Dagblad under the headline “Shell is fully committed to oil and gas from shale“.

By Bert van Dijk  Energy Editor

Shale gas and shale oil may then have a negative sound in Europe and hardly play a role, governments in the US, Canada, China and Argentina do see a lot of it. Shell hopes to benefit from this favorable investment climate in the coming years, especially now that the company has drastically reduced the costs of extracting shale gas and oil in recent years.

‘A hidden gem in the portfolio’. For example, an UBS investment bank analyst described Shell shale activities at the beginning of last year in the so-called Permian basin in the United States. Shell CEO Ben van Beurden could agree: ‘I think your observation is correct.’

Not always a success

On Monday, Van Beurden repeated once again emphatically in the British business newspaper Financial Times that he expects a lot from Shell shale concessions in the US, Canada and Argentina. Depending on the development of oil prices over a number of years, Shell will continue to invest in shale ‘because we really want to grow this activity quickly’.

In the past, Shell has not always had great success with its shale activities. For example, in 2013 the oil and gas multinational wrote off $ 2.1 billion on the value of a number of shale gas fields in the US and Canada. But according to Van Beurden, Shell has already reduced the costs to such an extent that the extraction of shale gas and oil, even at oil prices far below the current level, is profitable.

Drilling from Canada in Argentina

Shell therefore thinks that it can now compete very well with the specialized American shale farmers. ‘We have learned to be just as flexible as the smaller companies. Moreover, we can apply the knowledge we have gained here all over the world, for example in the extraction of shale gas in Argentina. That advantage of scale does not have a smaller oil company, “said Greg Guidry, the Shell director who is responsible for the shale activities of the multinational from the office in Houston, at the end of last year against the FD.

For example, in Argentina, Shell controls remote drilling from a control center in Calgary, Canada. “After drilling eleven wells in Argentina, we were already at the same cost per well as after drilling forty wells in the Duvernay field in Canada,” said Andrew Brown, head of Shells oil and gas production operations last year in a conference call with analysts. ‘We have the expertise to do things that are difficult to copy.’

Shell expects to be able to realize a free cash flow for its shale activities of $ 1 billion to $ 2 billion per year in 2020 through such cost savings.

Shorter production cycle

The fact that Shell wants to work even more emphatically on the highly competitive market for shale also has to do with a lack of alternatives. ‘Where else should new oil come from for them at the beginning of the next decade?’, Jilles van den Beukel, geophysicist and independent oil and gas expert, wondered. ‘If you compare the options for new oil worldwide that are accessible to Western companies at attractive conditions, shale oil in the US will have relatively low costs, comparable with, for example, the deep sea in Brazil.’

The extraction of shale gas and oil also has a much shorter production cycle than, for example, deep-sea oil. That reduces the risks of major setbacks. The exploration for and production of oil in the deep sea, such as off the coast of Brazil or in the Gulf of Mexico, takes years of exploration and construction of production platforms, but once the oil is pumped up, it provides a high and predictable cash flow for many years.

Ask for oil in the longer term

‘With relatively large uncertainty about the long-term demand for oil, companies become more cautious with projects with a very long duration. There is also a trend within the industry for shorter-term projects, ‘says Van den Beukel.

‘We would like to have both activities (deep sea and shale, red.) In our portfolio,’ said Van Beurden early last year. ‘Actually, we both need them. They are complementary. ”

Argentina

Apart from the economic rationale, climate also plays a role. ‘If you are very worried about climate and achieving a peak demand for oil, you may prefer to invest in something with a payback period of two years instead of twenty years, according to Van den Beukel.

The shale activities of Shell are mainly concentrated in the US, Canada and Argentina. The latter country is hoping to develop into a region just as important for shale as the Permian basin in Texas and New Mexico, the largest shale area in the US. It is mainly Vaca Muerta, a region in Patagonia where large quantities of oil and gas in rocks are trapped deep underground.

BP indicated earlier in an interview with Bloomberg that he would rather invest in Vaca Muerta than in the Permian, because the price-quality ratio is better. For ExxonMobil, the area is one of the nine key areas for the business in the Western Hemisphere. And so also for Shell, which announced last year that it invested $ 300 million in a project in the Argentine region.

What is shale?

Shale gas and oil is also called unconventional, because it can not be retrieved relatively easily in the traditional way by drilling a well, as is done in the Groningen field. Because the gas is trapped in porous layers, it is easier to retrieve.

Shale gas is gas that, unlike conventional gas, has formed into hard rock (shale) and is released by breaking up the rocks – often horizontally – through bores. This process is called ‘fracking’. A mixture of liquids (water and chemicals) and sand is brought into the well under high pressure to break up the rock, after which the released gas can be brought up.

Fracking often happens a few kilometers underground, under drinking water reservoirs. Steel casings of pipes should prevent drinking water from being contaminated. From one drilling location up to fifty or more shale wells can be beaten.

DUTCH SOURCE

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Financieele Dagblad: Shell is fully committed to oil and gas from shale was first posted on January 9, 2018 at 11:39 am.
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United States Awash in Oil http://royaldutchshellplc.com/2018/01/01/united-states-awash-in-oil/ Mon, 01 Jan 2018 14:05:50 +0000 http://royaldutchshellplc.com/?p=94943 United States Awash in Oil was first posted on January 1, 2018 at 3:05 pm.
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December 31 at 5:09 PM
U.S. crude oil production is flirting with record highs heading into the new year, thanks to the technological nimbleness of shale oil drillers. The current abundance has erased memories of 1973 gas lines, which raised pump prices dramatically, traumatizing the United States and reordering its economy. In the decades since, presidents and politicians have made pronouncements calling for U.S. energy independence. FULL ARTICLE
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United States Awash in Oil was first posted on January 1, 2018 at 3:05 pm.
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South Africa Karoo shale gas deposits seen less than earlier estimates http://royaldutchshellplc.com/2017/09/28/south-africa-karoo-shale-gas-deposits-seen-less-than-earlier-estimates/ Thu, 28 Sep 2017 14:58:00 +0000 http://royaldutchshellplc.com/?p=93614 South Africa Karoo shale gas deposits seen less than earlier estimates was first posted on September 28, 2017 at 3:58 pm.
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South Africa’s government said in May it might award its first shale gas exploration licences by the end of September, after environmental objections delayed the process. Royal Dutch Shell, Falcon Oil and Gas and Bundu Gas & Oil are among five firms whose applications were being reviewed by the regulator. FULL ARTICLE

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South Africa Karoo shale gas deposits seen less than earlier estimates was first posted on September 28, 2017 at 3:58 pm.
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