Jason Barton

Professional Information and Energy News

Archive for the ‘WSJ’ tag

Obama Outlines Energy-Efficiency Program

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MARCH 2, 2010, 3:15 P.M. ET


SAVANNAH, Ga.—President Barack Obama promoted his “green jobs” agenda Tuesday in a speech designed to show he’s committed to work on the economy, despite roadblocks in Congress.

The president made only a single glancing reference to health care in his 16-minute speech at the Savannah Technical College. Instead, he talked up the administration’s energy-related jobs proposals, particularly its “Homestar” plan to provide rebates to homeowners who invest in energy-saving home upgrades.

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Oil Prices Reach Five-Week High

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FEBRUARY 19, 2010


Crude-oil futures ended at a five-week high as U.S. diesel and heating-oil stocks fell, concerns about gasoline supplies emerged and a technical glitch cut output from a North Sea field.

But oil prices gave up some of those gains in late trading after the U.S. Federal Reserve raised its discount rate, the rate it charges banks for emergency loans. In electronic trading, light, sweet crude for March delivery was trading at $78.38 a barrel, after settling up $1.73, or 2.2%, higher at $79.06 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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Written by Jason

February 20th, 2010 at 7:59 am

Drilling Tactic Unleashes a Trove of Natural Gas—And a Backlash

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If there demand is  for natural gas and the technology is feasible, we’ll extract the gas even if the technology for a given location cannot be guaranteed to be safe. If demand is diminished, there is greater opportunity to develop the technology to be safer and more cost effective.We should take advantage of the vast natural gas resources available domestically, and we should do so responsibly and in ways that ensure sufficient energy resources for generations to come.

JANUARY 21, 2010


SHREVEPORT, La.—A mounting backlash against a technique used in natural-gas drilling is threatening to slow development of the huge gas fields that some hope will reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and polluting coal.

The U.S. energy industry says there is enough untapped domestic natural gas to last a century—but getting to that gas requires injecting millions of gallons of water into the ground to crack open the dense rocks holding the deposits. The process, known as hydraulic fracturing, has turned gas deposits in shale formations into an energy bonanza.


Matt NagerTrinidad Drilling driller Adam Rios works at the Reveille 1H Chesapeake Energy natural gas site in Fort Worth, Texas, on Nov. 23, 2009.


The industry’s success has triggered increasing debate over whether the drilling process could pollute freshwater supplies. Federal and state authorities are considering action that could regulate hydraulic fracturing, potentially making drilling less profitable and giving companies less reason to tap into this ample supply of natural gas.


“We can now find and produce unconventional natural-gas supplies miles below the surface in a safe, efficient and environmentally responsible manner,” Mr. Tillerson told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.


Natural gas heats more than half of U.S. homes and generates a fifth of America’s electricity, far less than coal, which provides the U.S. with nearly half its power. The industry and its allies are promoting natural gas a bridge fuel to help wean the U.S. off coal, which emits more global-warming gases, and imported oil until renewable fuels are able to meet the demand.

What most worries environmentalists isn’t the water in the fracturing process—it’s the chemicals mixed in the water to reduce friction, kill bacteria and prevent mineral buildup. The chemicals make up less than 1% of the overall solution, but some are hazardous in low concentrations.

Today, the industry estimates that 90% of all new gas wells are fractured. Shale—a dense, nonporous gas-bearing rock—won’t release its gas unless it is cracked open, and other types of formations also produce more gas when fractured. Easier, more porous formations, which don’t require fracturing, were tapped in earlier decades and have largely dried up.

On a recent Friday morning, a crew from Cudd Energy Services worked to fracture a Chesapeake Energy Corp. well in Caddo Parish, La., the heart of the Haynesville Shale gas field. While cattle chewed grass in a field across the street, a team of Chesapeake and Cudd employees monitored computer readouts as 21 diesel-powered pumps forced nearly 3,800 gallons of water a minute down a well that reached two miles into the earth.


It is a process Chesapeake says it has learned how to do both efficiently and safely. “We’ve done it 10,000 times in the company’s history without incident,” said Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake’s chairman and chief executive officer, in a separate interview.

But in a coffee shop in nearby Shreveport, Caddo Parish Commissioner Matthew Linn said he had concerns after more than a dozen cows died during a Chesapeake Energy fracturing operation last year. A preliminary investigation linked the deaths to chemicals that spilled off the well site into a nearby pasture. A Chesapeake spokesman says the company compensated the cattle’s owner and has taken steps to prevent a similar incident in the future.

“I’m all for drilling, and I want to get the gas out from underneath us,” Mr. Linn said. “But at the same time, how do you balance human life and quality of life and clean water against that?”

Natural-gas companies say what’s at work is fear of the new. “When you introduce something like hydraulic fracturing in a part of the country that hasn’t had any experience with it, I think it’s natural for there to be questions about the procedure,” says Mr. McClendon.

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Small Energy-Saving Steps Can Make Big Strides

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High-Tech Solutions Can Help Lower Consumption, but Researchers See Faster Progress in Low-Tech Measures; Think Cook Stoves



Some of the highest hopes to curb oil use rest on solutions like the “plug-in hybrid” car, which is supposed to stretch a single gallon of gasoline for more than 200 miles. But that supercar won’t be on the road in large numbers for years. In the meantime, there is always the old option of improving the mileage of the regular car’s internal-combustion engine.

Which approach is likely to make the biggest difference to the environment?

Tweaking the regular car.

Raising the average fuel economy of gasoline cars around the world to 36 mpg from 26 mpg will likely save more than six times as much oil in 2030 as rolling out enough plug-in hybrids to constitute 7% of the global auto fleet. That data come from BP PLC, an oil company with a stake in the success of gasoline powered cars, but the findings agree with other studies.

For years, the fight to curb fossil-fuel consumption has often involved moon shots. But many of those efforts — such as cars powered by methanol, natural gas or hydrogen — haven’t exactly taken off. The smarter strategy for reducing energy consumption and pollution more broadly would be decidedly low-tech solutions, a growing number of experts say.

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Written by Jason

November 27th, 2009 at 11:06 am