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Shell leaves literal and symbolic void downtown


Next year will mark the end of an era as Royal Dutch Shell largely abandons its iconic tower and consolidates workers on the west side of town in its Woodcreek complex in the Energy Corridor and the Shell Technology Center a few miles south of Woodcreek. Only Shell’s energy trading team will remain downtown.

The move – largely to cut costs in the ongoing oil bust – continues the exodus of Big Oil from downtown Houston. Exxon Mobil moved out last year when it built its massive new campus by Spring. Of Houston’s 10 largest energy employers, just Chevron and CenterPoint Energy remain downtown.

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Is energy industry ready to join open source world?

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By David Hunn: August 26, 2016

Landmark, a technology unit of the energy services company Halliburton, is betting that it is, unveiling a cloud-computing platform last week that will allow companies to collaborate on developing software to process the massive volumes of data they collect on everything from geology to seismology to chemistry to drilling to flows of oil and gas. The idea is that easy and open access to the code on which the platform is based will lead to faster and better analysis of the data and ultimately to innovations that allow the industry to extract more oil and gas at lower costs.

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Shell exec says energy sector has itself to blame for current woes

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Posted by Jordan BlumDate: May 05, 2016

The oil and gas sector largely has itself to blame  for the financial hemorrhaging many energy companies now face, said Harry Brekelmans, Royal Dutch Shell’s projects and technology director.

Rather than just  low price of oil, redundancies, cost overruns and inefficiencies throughout the supply chain have made the industry far too inefficient during years of growth with $100 per barrel oil, Brekelmans said at at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.

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Worst oil bust in 45 years brings US crude below $31 a barrel

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HOUSTON — The oil bust that has cost the United States roughly 70,000 energy jobs has become more severe than any downturn in 45 years, Morgan Stanley said Monday, as crude prices fell a sixth day.

Crude prices tumbled below $32 a barrel on Monday, and over the past 19 months have plunged further and for a longer time than even the 1986 oil bust that deeply bruised the Texas economy. Morgan Stanley says the five major downturns since 1970 no longer can be a credible guide as the oil market enters “uncharted territory.”

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Shell producing Irish natural gas after decade of project delays

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December 30, 2015 | By Collin Eaton

HOUSTON — Royal Dutch Shell has started extracting natural gas off the coast of Ireland after more than a decade of project delays and an estimated $3.1 billion in unexpected cost overruns.

The Anglo-Dutch oil major on Wednesday said it aims to pump enough gas from the Corrib gas field to quench as much as 60 percent of Ireland’s demand for gas. It’s the latest move by Shell to cement its place among the world’s biggest gas suppliers, coming eight months after the company agreed to a $53 billion deal to buy British liquefied natural gas firm BG Group.

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Shell finds 100 million oil barrels in deep-water Gulf discovery

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Posted on November 18, 2015 | By Collin Eaton

HOUSTON — Probing one of its recent discoveries in deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Royal Dutch Shell found 100 million barrels of oil equivalent buried at its Kaikias field, nearby three of its massive production facilities and a network of subsea pipes, the company said Wednesday.

The one-year-old Kaikias discovery, about 60 miles south of the Louisiana coast in the Mars-Ursa basin, is nowhere near the size of the big-ticket deep-water oil fields that Shell uncovered in that region two decades ago.

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Shell affiliates are buyers, sellers in $390 million midstream transaction

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Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 09.52.10Posted on November 11, 2015 | By Joshua Cain

A pipeline subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell has sold a crude terminal in Illinois and a pipeline system in the Gulf of Mexico for $390 million to a master limited partnership affiliated with Shell.

Shell Midstream Partners, the Houston-based MLP that Shell formed in 2014, said on Wednesday that it will buy Pecten Midstream from another Shell subsidiary, Shell Pipeline Co.

Pecten Midstream operates the Lockport Crude Terminal about 50 miles from Chicago and the Auger Pipeline System, which transports crude oil from parts of the Garden Banks and Keathley Canyon offshore blocks in the Gulf.

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Shell Oil Co. president touts carbon tax over piecemeal regulations

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Marvin Odum Shell Oil

Marvin Odum President Shell Oil Co

Posted on November 10, 2015 | By Jordan Blum

A carbon tax or cap-and-trade system in the U.S. — and globally — would serve the energy industry better than the current slate of piecemeal state and federal regulations, Shell Oil Co. President Marvin Odum  said Tuesday.

He acknowledged that Congress won’t take action soon in gridlocked Washington, but said that people should move beyond sound bites. Odum spoke at University of Houston’s energy symposium focusing on whether now is the right time for a carbon tax.

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Shell carves more savings from BG Group deal, expects further job cuts

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Posted on November 3, 2015 | By Collin Eaton

HOUSTON — Shell has found another $1 billion in costs it could shake free after it buys BG Group, company officials said Tuesday, partly in response to critics of the huge acquisition Shell announced when crude was more expensive in the spring.

The cuts would mean more job losses on top of the 7,500 in layoffs Shell has announced this year, but officials declined to say how many jobs would be affected or lost.

The value of Shell’s original $70 billion offer for the British gas producer, which is known for its prized Brazilian deep-water fields and its big liquefied natural gas business, fell to $56 billion a month ago and edged back up to about $60 billion as Shell’s share price and crude prices have fallen. Shell had proposed to pay for the deal mostly with shares.

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Even as it walks away from Arctic drilling, Shell keeps door open for future work

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Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 14.03.31Posted on October 29, 2015 | By Jennifer A. Dlouhy

WASHINGTON — Shell is walking away from oil exploration in Arctic waters north of Alaska, but it isn’t ready to close the door completely.

Disappointing results from a critical test well at the company’s Burger prospect in the Chukchi Sea, combined with the high costs of developing the region and an “unpredictable regulatory environment” have prompted Royal Dutch Shell “to cease further exploration activity offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future,” CEO Ben van Beurden told reporters Thursday.

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Transocean, Shell delay delivery of two new drillships

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Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 07.55.40By Rhiannon MeyersOctober 26, 2015

Transocean and Royal Dutch Shell struck an agreement to delay the delivery of two new ultradeep-water drillships as the offshore drilling industry cools amid a global downturn in oil prices.

The Swiss-based offshore drilling contractor announced early Monday that it would push back the operating and delivery contracts of the Deepwater Pontus and Deepwater Poseidon by one year each.

Drillships are used to hunt for new oil and gas in waters deep offshore. With oil prices refusing to budge above $50 a barrel for months, oil companies have throttled expensive offshore exploration projects as they wait for crude to rebound.

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Aggressive bidding after reserves scandal put Shell on path to Arctic disappointment

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$7 billion bust in the Arctic Ocean

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 14.03.31By Jennifer A. Dlouhy: 5 Oct 2015

WASHINGTON — Shell’s dreams of an Arctic oil bonanza were dashed with disappointing results from a critical exploratory well this summer, but they were in full force seven years ago, when the company aggressively outbid competitors to nab drilling rights in the Chukchi Sea.

Reeling from a scandal involving overstated reserves and desperate to replenish its portfolio, Royal Dutch Shell spent $2.1 billion buying up those Chukchi Sea leases, vastly outspending the competitors who plunked down just $800 million combined in the same government auction.

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Shell to cut 1,300 jobs in Malaysia over two years

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By Collin Eaton: 29 Sept 2015

HOUSTON — Royal Dutch Shell’s oil unit in Malaysia said it will cut 1,300 jobs, or about 20 percent of its Malaysian workforce, over the next two years as it restructures itself.

Shell Malaysia said Tuesday it is trying to become a more efficient company but gave few details beyond disclosing the coming staff reductions. It said it has made “adjustments” to its upstream portfolio but didn’t elaborate.

“Shell Malaysia is preparing itself to be more competitive in a low oil price environment,” Shell Malaysia Chairman Iain Lo said in a written statement. “Continuing business as usual is not sustainable. We are taking difficult, but necessary action.”

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Shell’s Arctic oil well comes up dry

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Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 11.35.25September 28, 2015 | By Jennifer A. Dlouhy

WASHINGTON — After spending $7 billion and seven years searching for oil under Arctic waters, Royal Dutch Shell on Monday said its quest had come up dry.

Shell announced that its exploratory oil well in the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska encountered “indications of oil and gas” that are “not sufficient to warrant further exploration” — a significant blow for the Anglo-Dutch firm that had hoped to find a multibillion barrel crude reservoir in those remote waters.

“Shell continues to see important exploration potential in the basin, and the area is likely to ultimately be of strategic importance to Alaska and the U.S.,” said Marvin Odum, director of Shell Upstream Americas. “However, this is a clearly disappointing exploration outcome for this part of the basin.”

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Records detail equipment failure on Arctic drilling rig

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Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 11.35.25“The company’s repeated failures in basic readiness tests show that when things go wrong in the Arctic ocean, it will be a disaster…”

By Jennifer A. Dlouhy: August 30, 2015

WASHINGTON — Newly released documents reveal the extent of problems with anti-pollution equipment on a Shell-contracted Arctic drillship earlier this year.

The records, provided by the U.S. Coast Guard in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, also describe a botched fire drill by the crew of another Shell-contracted drilling rig months before it began boring an exploratory oil well in the Chukchi Sea.

That rig, the Transocean Polar Pioneer, was moored in Seattle and being prepared for its Arctic mission in May, when the Coast Guard conducted an initial inspection and two emergency drills onboard.

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Shell Oil accidentally spills hundreds of thousands of pounds of toxic gas in Deer Park

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Dylan Baddour, Houston Chronicle: Tuesday, August 11, 2015

On Sunday morning, hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic gas were accidentally released from the Shell Oil facility in Deer Park.

According to reports from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, 326,166 pounds of butadiene escaped through an open valve on a spherical tank between 10:40 am and 11:35 am.

Neil Carman, a chemist with the Sierra Club of Texas and a former power plant inspector for the TCEQ, said that butadiene is a known human carcinogen, but that its molecular structure allows it to dissipate quickly in the hot summer air. The chemical is commonly expelled in car exhaust, but Carman said the quantity in the Shell incident was concerning.

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Senate bill would give oil companies a decade more to drill in Arctic leases

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Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 21.06.27By Jennifer A. DlouhyJuly 27, 2015

WASHINGTON – Shell and other oil companies with leases in U.S. Arctic waters could get an extra 10 years to develop them under a proposal advancing in the Senate.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, embedded the Arctic lease provisions in a broader bill that also would lift the U.S. crude export ban, expand offshore drilling and give coastal states a greater share of revenue from the activity.

The measure is slated for action in Murkowski’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee this week and next. If the panel approves the offshore drilling legislation, that would prime it for floor consideration after the Senate’s August recess and position it as a possible addition to a comprehensive energy package also moving through the committee.

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Environmentalists insist feds must block Shell’s Arctic drilling while icebreaker is away

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Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 21.06.27By Jennifer A. Dlouhy: 15 July 2015

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration cannot allow Shell to launch exploratory oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean — even initial site preparation — without the company’s two contracted icebreakers on site, environmentalists argue.

One of those icebreakers, the MSV Fennica, is headed to Oregon for repairs after its hull was gouged July 3, and it could be weeks before it is able to patrol the waters around Shell’s drilling site in the Chukchi Sea.

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Shell’s vessel Fennica took short cut through shallow water?

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Damaged Arctic icebreaker’s route questioned

Posted on July 10, 2015 | By Jennifer A. Dlouhy

WASHINGTON — New marine tracking data shows a Shell-contracted icebreaker may have crossed through shallow waters that offered little clearance between the vessel’s bottom and the ocean floor before a 3-foot hole was discovered in its hull.

The Automatic Identification System data — location information captured every minute from the MSV Fennica — shows its July 3 route away from the Alaska Port of Dutch Harbor before a leak identified by a marine pilot and other crew onboard the icebreaker forced it to turn back.

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Approval requested for repairs to icebreaker in Shell’s Arctic quest

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Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 21.06.27By Jennifer A. Dlouhy: 9 July 2015

WASHINGTON – Shell is making plans to repair an icebreaker that plays a pivotal role in its Arctic drilling program, even as clues emerged Thursday about what might have torn a meter-long gash in the vessel.

Arctia Offshore, the owner of the Shell-contracted MSV Fennica, has asked the U.S. Coast Guard to approve plans for sealing the hole in the ship’s hull. As of late Thursday, a final ruling had not been made.

But there was new information on what might have gouged the vessel as it traveled away from the Alaska port of Dutch Harbor on July 3.

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Shell’s Arctic icebreaker damaged in Alaska

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Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 19.49.22By Jennifer A. Dlouhy: 7 July 2015

WASHINGTON — Shell’s drive to resume Arctic drilling this summer has hit another speed bump, with the discovery of a hole in the hull of an ice management vessel meant to safeguard the company’s operations in the Chukchi Sea.

The MSV Fennica was on its way from Dutch Harbor, Alaska to the Chukchi Sea on Friday when a ballast tank leak was discovered by crew members and a certified Alaska marine harbor pilot on board the vessel.

The 22-year-old icebreaker has since returned to the port in Dutch Harbor and is being examined by marine experts, but it is uncertain how quickly the breach in its hull can be repaired and whether this will delay Shell’s hopes to begin drilling an oil well in the Chukchi Sea later this month.

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Obama administration delivers big blow to Shell’s Arctic drilling plans

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Obama administration delivers big blow to Shell’s Arctic drilling plans

By Jennifer A. Dlouhy

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration delivered a major blow to Shell’s Arctic drilling plans on Tuesday, by ruling that wildlife protections bar the company from simultaneously boring two wells into the Chukchi Sea this summer.

The decision will force Shell to scale back its hopes of completing two exploratory oil wells in waters north of Alaska this summer and is another setback for the firm that has spent seven years and $7 billion trying to find crude in the Arctic Ocean.

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Sea ice could keep Shell away from the Arctic until mid July

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Sea ice could keep Shell away from the Arctic until mid July

Posted on June 29, 2015 | By Jennifer A. Dlouhy

WASHINGTON — Thick sea ice could clog the site of Shell’s planned oil wells in the Arctic Ocean until late July, potentially shaving a week off the company’s already narrow window for exploratory drilling in the region.

Shell Oil Co. is still waiting for four federal authorizations to launch any of the work, including drilling permits for two wells in its Burger prospect about 70 miles northwest of the Alaska coastline. With all approvals in hand, the company could begin moving drilling rigs and other vessels through the Bering Strait and toward the Chukchi Sea as early as July 1 and begin boring a well as soon as July 15.

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Shell’s Arctic drilling plans may hit permitting snag

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June 23, 2015 | By Jennifer A. Dlouhy

WASHINGTON — Shell’s plans to bore two wells in the Arctic Ocean this summer may be jeopardized by an obscure permitting requirement that effectively bars drilling operations close to each other in waters off Alaska.

The restriction highlighted by environmentalists opposed to Shell’s Arctic drilling campaign could be a major stumbling block for the company, which has spent $7 billion and seven years pursuing oil in the region.

The provision is embedded in the government’s rules for obtaining a “letter of authorization” allowing companies to disturb walruses, seals and other animals in the region — among the last permits Shell needs to launch activities in the Chukchi Sea next month. Under a 2013 Fish and Wildlife Service regulation, those authorizations are precluded for drilling activities happening within 15 miles of each other.

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Coast Guard clears Shell drillship bound for Arctic

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Coast Guard clears Shell drillship bound for Arctic

Posted on June 22, 2015 | By Jennifer A. Dlouhy

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The drillship Noble Discoverer undergoes sea trials off Singapore in November 2014.

WASHINGTON — As one of Shell’s Arctic drilling rigs makes its way to Alaska, a second is waiting in the wings.

The Noble Discoverer, now docked in Washington state waters, has received a critical “certificate of compliance” from the U.S. Coast Guard verifying it meets a host of safety and security requirements. Since a May 20 Coast Guard inspection, Shell and Noble cleared more than a dozen violations documented at the vessel.

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Feds say Shell completed test for blow-out well response ahead of Arctic drilling

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Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 19.31.15Feds say Shell completed test for blow-out well response ahead of Arctic drilling

Posted on June 18, 2015 | By Jennifer A. Dlouhy

WASHINGTON — Shell employees and contractors successfully deployed and tested emergency equipment meant to respond to a blown-out well in the Arctic Ocean, federal regulators said Thursday.

The exercises, conducted Tuesday and Wednesday in waters near Washington state, focused on Shell’s capping stack, designed to sit atop a damaged well and choke off flowing oil and gas.

Officials with the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement oversaw the deployment of the equipment Tuesday in waters slightly deeper than Shell’s proposed drilling sites in the Chukchi Sea northwest of Alaska. Specifically, they watched as workers maneuvered the capping stack up and off the rear deck of the MV Fennica and 150 feet below the surface of the water.

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As Shell moves toward Arctic, industry decries regulations

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 11.28.52Article by Jennifer A. Dlouhy published June 16, 2015 by The Houston Chronicle

As Shell moves toward Arctic, industry decries regulations

Industry leaders and allies in Congress say red tape will discourage Arctic exploration

WASHINGTON – Even as Shell Oil Co. gets closer to drilling new exploratory wells in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, industry leaders and their congressional allies are insisting that the Obama administration’s planned Arctic drilling standards are so onerous and costly they will discourage others from following suit.

“Is the proposed rule intended to make exploration so expensive that it is not financially feasible to explore in our Arctic?” asked former Alaska state Sen. Drue Pearce, who headed the state Senate’s oil and gas committee. “If we want to have development in the Arctic as the president has called for, then we need to have standards that are economically feasible to allow them to go forward.”

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Shell-BG deal gets U.S. antitrust OK

Article by Jordan Blum published June 16, 2015 by The Houston Chronicle

Shell-BG deal gets U.S. antitrust OK

Federal Trade Commission decides to waive antitrust waiting period; other nations plan to examine deal

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Photo: Christophe Morin /GT

Royal Dutch Shell said Tuesday that its planned $70 billion acquisition of British gas giant BG Group has cleared its only hurdle with U.S. regulators.

The deal awaits scrutiny by other nations, but the Federal Trade Commission’s decision to waive an initial antitrust period was the only U.S. action required and the deal is still on track to close in early 2016, Shell said.

Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said Tuesday in a prepared statement that the early termination of the waiting period is a “clear demonstration of the good progress” being made.

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LNG industry faces short-term glut but long-term opportunity

Article by Chris Tomlinson published May 28, 2015 by The Houston Chronicle under the headline:

LNG industry faces short-term glut but long-term opportunity

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The Methane Nile Eagle liquefied natural gas (LNG) ship, part of of BG Group Plc’s core fleet of LNG vessels. Royal Dutch Shell Plc agreed to buy BG Group Plc for about 47 billion pounds ($70 billion) in cash and shares, the oil and gas industry’s biggest deal in at least a decade. 

What do you do when the supply of your commodity outstrips demand and depresses prices? You find new customers.

That’s exactly what natural gas producers and entrepreneurs are doing today, developing new technologies that could revolutionize global energy use.

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Shell lays out its Arctic plans

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 21.47.32Article by Jennifer A. Dlouhy published May 21, 2015 by The Houston Chronicle

Shell lays out its Arctic plans

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Photo: Jennifer A. Dlouhy/Houston Chronicle

SEATTLE – The executive leading Shell’s Arctic drilling program on Thursday outlined ambitions to drill new wells in the Chukchi Sea this summer, instead of returning to the one the company started three years ago.

Ann Pickard, Shell’s executive vice president of the Arctic, talked in depth to the Chronicle about the planned wells on a visit to the Transocean Polar Pioneer drilling rig.

While cranes heaved pipes, drilling fluids and other supplies onto the rig in the Port of Seattle, more than 1,400 miles away in Anchorage, some 400 people – boat captains, federal regulators and Shell officials – conducted a simulation to test how they would respond to an oil spill in the frigid Chukchi Sea.

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Protesters meet Arctic drill rig in Washington harbor

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Associated Press article published by The Houston Chronicle 17 April 2015

Protesters meet Arctic drill rig in Washington harbor

PORT ANGELES, Wash. (AP) — Protesters in kayaks greeted a rig that could be used for oil drilling in the Arctic as it arrived Friday in Washington state following a journey across the Pacific that included being boarded by Greenpeace activists.

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The 400-foot Polar Pioneer was due to be offloaded in Port Angeles, on the Olympic Peninsula, to have equipment installed.

About three dozen protesters took to the water, many of them in kayaks, as the rig arrived in the harbor at 7 a.m., the Peninsula Daily News reported ( ).

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Taylor: Will SEC give oil companies the green light on secrecy?

In the event that Shell and Eni’s handling of the deal is found to be in breach of U.S. anti-bribery laws, investors, who were not given the opportunity to assess these payments, could also be on the hook for penalties that could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

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By Simon Taylor | December 7, 2013

Lack of new disclosure rules for foreign government access puts investors at risk

Conspicuously missing from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s annual update on regulatory activity released last week is a rule requiring companies to disclose what they pay foreign governments for access to natural resources. The agency needs to put an immediate end to these secret payments if it is to do its job of protecting investors.

When the SEC proposed disclosure rules in August 2012 as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law, the American Petroleum Institute (which represents companies such as Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron) sued the SEC to keep their deals – and the public – in the dark. In July, a federal court supported the institute’s case and ordered the SEC to revise its original payment disclosure rule. The SEC needs to make the rewrite a top priority so that a new version of the rules is released in early 2014.

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Shell awards contract for worlds deepest floating production facility

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A Dutch offshore services company will provide a floating production platform for Royal Dutch Shell’s Stones field project in the Gulf of Mexico, which the companies say will be the deepest-water field served by such a vessel.

Shell will lease the Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel from  SBM Offshore for development of its Stones field, which is in 9,500 of water and approximately 200 miles offshore.

The companies did not disclose the value of the contract in their announcement Tuesday.

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An ancient desert, a modern sea, and lots of oil

HOUSTON — A drilling hunch with its roots in the Jurassic period is paying off for Royal Dutch Shell, with a potential 100 million-barrel oil find adding to its bounty in the Gulf of Mexico.

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By Emily Pickrell, Houston Chronicle : July 3, 2013 : Updated: July 3, 2013 7:20pm

HOUSTON — A drilling hunch with its roots in the Jurassic period is paying off for Royal Dutch Shell, with a potential 100 million-barrel oil find adding to its bounty in the Gulf of Mexico.

Shell said Wednesday that its Vicksburg exploratory well encountered an estimated 500 feet of net oil pay. The well is 5 miles from the company’s Appomattox site, where Shell already has found 500 million barrels of potentially recoverable resources.

“This is a Jurassic-age reservoir that is more than 160 million years old that was deposited as desert dunes and now is sitting beneath the floor of the Gulf of Mexico,” said Mark Shuster, executive vice president of Shell Upstream Americas Exploration.

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Shell’s Olympus platform prepares for Gulf journey

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Posted on by Emily Pickrell

INGLESIDE — Royal Dutch Shell is about to move a mountain, towing its new state-of-the-art Olympus platform for duty in the Gulf of Mexico’s deep water.

The Olympus, designed to operate in water depths of 3,000 to 5,000 feet, will be Shell’s sixth tension leg platform in the Gulf. The company escorted a group of journalists on a tour of the platform Wednesday.

The platform — towering 406 feet from the base of the hull to the top of the derrick — is docked at the Ingleside, Texas shipyard near Corpus Christi and will leave in about a month to work at the Mars B project 130 miles south of New Orleans. Earlier this year, the hull made an 18,000-mile, two-month trek from South Korea to Ingleside.

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Shell will be under closer watch

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Government’s report on Arctic woes too mild, activists argue

By Jennifer A. Dlouhy | March 14, 2013

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Thursday vowed to keep a closer watch on all areas of Shell’s Arctic drilling operations – from deployment to demobilization – before allowing the company to hunt for oil in the region again.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar delivered the promise as administration officials wrapped up a probe of blunders surrounding Shell’s hunt for oil in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas last year, including the out-of-control drift of a drillship, violations of federal pollution permits and the grounding of Shell’s Kulluk rig on an Alaskan island.

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Shell opening new Arctic frontier

Posted on October 11, 2012 at 3:42 am by Jennifer A. Dlouhy

Donald LeCourt, Shell Alaska’s wells HSE team leader, and other workers take a helicopter ride to the Noble Discoverer during a crew change on Oct. 9, 2012. In preparation for the hour-long flights over frigid Arctic waters, crew members must complete helicopter underwater escape training and don one-piece Mustang Survival immersion suits filled with foam for insulation and buoyancy. (Photo: Jennifer A. Dlouhy / The Houston Chronicle) (Jennifer A. Dlouhy)

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Motiva may restart Port Arthur unit in December

Posted on October 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm by Bloomberg

Motiva Enterprises plans to restart a damaged 325,000-barrel-a-day crude unit at its Port Arthur refinery as early as the first week in December, according to people familiar with refinery operations.

Motiva expects to complete repairs on the unit this month and conduct test runs and pressure checks in November, said the people, who declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak for the refinery.

Motiva said on July 19 that it expected to restart the crude unit early in 2013. The restart has been accelerated because of steady progress in the repairs, the people said.

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Shell sues Greenpeace to stop Artic protests



Has anyone thought about the implications of a 500m exclusion zone around Shell property in Holland?
This would prevent Greenpeace members from entering a large proportion of the Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, from using motorways and most major roads, or from going near any of the thousands of Shell locations which cover the country, such as refineries,  filling stations, oil and gas wells and production facilities.
Is Shell planning to publish a map showing the thousands of no-go areas implied?  The widely used Shell road map of Holland might provide a good starting point of the area “off limits” to Greenpeace members!

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Shell gets OK from Feds to drill in Beaufort Sea

The Kulluk conical drilling rig is docked in the Vigor shipyard in Seattle, where it has undergone refurbishments meant to ready the 1980s-era conical drilling rig for Arctic drilling this summer. (Jennifer A. Dlouhy / The Houston Chronicle)

Posted on September 20, 2012 at 1:50 pm by Jennifer A. Dlouhy

Although federal regulators today gave Shell the green light to begin initial drilling operations in the Beaufort Sea, that work will wait until native Alaskans finish their fall hunt of the bowhead whale migrating through the area.

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Interior chief says Shell equipment behind Arctic drilling delays

By Jennifer A. Dlouhy: Updated 9:48 p.m., Monday, August 13, 2012

WASHINGTON – Neither thick Arctic ice nor government red tape is holding back Shell’s plans to search for oil in waters north of Alaska this summer, a top Obama administration official said Monday.

Instead, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters, the delays are Shell’s own making.

A key oil spill containment system and the barge carrying it have not cleared a required Coast Guard inspection or been tested in front of federal drilling safety regulators. Instead, the 36-year-old Arctic Challenger barge has been docked and undergoing renovations in Bellingham, Wash.

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Activists fire volley at Shell over coral in Arctic

By Jennifer A. Dlouhy: Published 09:56 p.m., Monday, July 30, 2012

WASHINGTON – Environmental activists are keeping the pressure on Shell Oil Co. as it inches closer to launching exploratory drilling in Arctic waters north of Alaska.

Greenpeace activists and marine biologists conducting research in the area documented thick accumulations of soft coral in the Chukchi Sea near an area where Shell plans exploratory oil drilling.

Greenpeace scientists documented the sea raspberry coral during a recent research submarine dive in the Arctic waters north of Alaska. They took samples and photos of the species, known as Gersemia rubiformis, during the research mission and published the images on their website.

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Shell to scale back Arctic drilling plans

By Jennifer A. Dlouhy: Updated 07:33 p.m., Thursday, July 26, 2012

Shell’s Chief Executive Officer Peter Voser addresses the audience during the opening ceremonies for Motiva’s Crude Expansion Project in Port Arthur on Thursday. Photo taken Thursday, May 31, 2012 Guiseppe Barranco/The Enterprise Photo: Guiseppe Barranco / The Beaumont Enterprise

Shell is scaling back plans to drill up to five wells in Arctic waters this summer amid a series of setbacks, including stubborn sea ice clinging to Alaska’s shores and delays in construction of an emergency oil spill containment barge.

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Motiva to restart damaged unit in early 2013

Motiva to restart damaged unit in early 2013

By Simone Sebastian: Published 07:31 p.m., Thursday, July 19, 2012

Motiva Enterprises plans to restart the new crude distillation unit at its Port Arthur refinery early next year, after damage from a chemical leak shut it down last month, the company said Thursday.

Weeks after the May 31 ceremonial opening of the $10 billion Motiva expansion, a chemical leaked through the unit, corroding pipes and causing small fires.

At the time, officials of Royal Dutch Shell, which jointly owns the facility with Saudi Aramco, said the unit would be sidelined for an unspecified time as the damage was inspected and repaired.

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Shell ordered to fix ship going to Arctic

By Jennifer A. Dlouhy: Published 10:53 p.m., Friday, July 6, 2012

WASHINGTON – Shell’s plans to search for oil under Arctic waters this summer – already delayed by thick ice clinging to Alaska’s shores – may face another setback as the company makes Coast Guard-ordered improvements to a barge designed to carry emergency response equipment.

During evaluations of the Arctic Challenger barge, still in its final stages of construction in a Bellingham, Wash., shipyard, the Coast Guard found problems with electrical and fire suppression systems that must be fixed before the agency will issue a required certificate of inspection.

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Protesters say Shell can’t freeze them out

By Jennifer A. Dlouhy: Published 11:02 p.m., Friday, June 29, 2012

WASHINGTON – An aggressive legal strategy by Shell Oil Co. that aims to keep environmentalists from interfering with its drilling rigs has only emboldened activists who plan to protest and closely scrutinize the company’s Arctic drilling operations this summer.

Greenpeace activists have set sail in an ice-class ship, the Esperanza, and will be following Shell’s work from a distance, checking on marine life and using acoustic equipment to monitor how much sound is coming from the company’s oil drilling.

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Shell moves to pre-empt Arctic drilling challenges

By Jennifer A. Dlouhy: Published 11:06 p.m., Friday, June 29, 2012

SEATTLE – During Shell’s seven-year, $4.5 billion quest to search for oil under Arctic waters, environmentalists have put the company on the defensive by challenging government-issued drilling approvals and permits in federal court.

The strategy has been so successful that in 2011, Shell was forced to abandon its plans to launch exploratory drilling in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas after air pollution permits essential for the work were tossed out in one of those legal challenges.

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Arctic approval ‘probable’ for Shell

By Jennifer A. Dlouhy Published 09:55 p.m., Tuesday, June 26, 2012

United States secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, speaks during a conference in Trondheim, Norway, Tuesday, June 26, 2012. The conference is centered on the management and use of natural resources in arctic areas. (AP Photo/Ned Alley / NTB scanpix) NORWAY OUT Photo: Alley, Ned / NTB scanpix

WASHINGTON – A top Obama administration official predicted Tuesday that Shell will win government permits to drill for oil in Arctic waters this summer, while the government readies a plan to allow further energy exploration in the region four years from now.

“Having seen the conditions that Shell has already met, it is probable that they are going to get these permits,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said.

Salazar stressed that federal regulators are still scrutinizing Shell Oil Co.‘s applications to drill up to five wells in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, after a test Monday of one of its emergency response systems and in advance of other drills.

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Outside auditors could go offshore for drilling safety

By Emily Pickerell Updated 10:33 p.m., Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An industry safety clearinghouse formed after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill is about to kick off a program for certifying outside auditors that the government soon may require to examine offshore operators’ safety plans.

Charlie Williams, executive director of the Houston-based Center for Offshore Safety, said at a meeting with the Houston Chronicle editorial board Tuesday that regulators now allow internal auditors to meet requirements for independent audits of company programs called Safety and Environmental Management Systems.

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Regulator vows close watch on Shell in Arctic

Regulator vows close watch on Shell in Arctic

By Jennifer A. Dlouhy: Updated 07:37 p.m., Thursday, June 14, 2012

WASHINGTON – Federal inspectors will be stationed around the clock on rigs that Shell plans to use in drilling up to five wells in Arctic waters near Alaska this summer, a top U.S. regulator promised Thursday.

Director James Watson of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said having the offshore drilling inspectors on the Kulluk and Discoverer rigs will ensure a close watch on Shell’s proposed oil exploration, should it win final government approval.

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