The Tar Sands Blockade has made its way back to Oklahoma.
The group intent on blocking construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline launched its civil disobedience campaign in August, but its efforts largely have been focused in Texas.
Protesters chained themselves to equipment, took refuge in the trees and even tried taking over developer TransCanada’s offices in Houston and other cities, but the company says they have not done anything to disrupt the project.
“Once again, those who protest against the project fail to understand they are attempting to stand in the way of thousands of jobs for the best pipeline workers in the world, their actions are an unsuccessful publicity stunt designed to weaken America’s relationship with its strongest energy partner, and they seek to deny American energy producers a way to meet U.S. demand for more domestic energy,” spokesman James Prescott told The Oklahoman.
“Fortunately, their efforts have not delayed construction of Keystone Pipeline Gulf Coast Project. Everyday, 4,000 pipeliners are making progress to meet the goal of completion in mid-2013 and the start of operations by the end of the year.”
Construction of the so-called Gulf Coast project began in Oklahoma in November after TransCanada secured the necessary permits for the 485-mile pipeline, which will transport up to 700,000 barrels of crude oil a day from the storage hub at Cushing to refineries in the Houston area.
Opponents of the project insist it is an environmental disaster waiting to happen because of the toxic Canadian oil it will carry. Recently some have argued that the diluted bitumen from Canada does not fit the legal definition of crude oil.
“They lied to us about what’s going to be pumped through this pipe. They have strong-armed Oklahomans and Texans into signing contracts. Our rivers, especially the North and South Canadian that feed into Lake Eufaula, our drinking water aquifers, and our native lands are at risk, and they simply do not care,” said Earl Hatley, riverkeeper of the Grand River watershed.
On Thursday, protesters walked onto an easement in Stroud where pipe was being laid on Sac and Fox Nation land.
Chesapeake Energy Corp. has two more listings with broker Meagher Energy Advisors as it continues to sell assets to offset a looming budget gap.
The Oklahoma City-based oil and natural gas company has raised $11.1 billion from asset sales this year.
Chesapeake is trying to bring in $14 billion, plus another $19 billion next year, to fund its ongoing operations and reduce debt.
Some of Chesapeake’s smaller offerings have been handled by Meagher, including two recently posted listings.
The Oklahoma acreage — in Love, Carter, Bryan and Marshall counties — includes 42 wells, with net sales of 1.443 million cubic feet of natural gas and 6 barrels of oil a day over the past year. Chesapeake holds a net royalty interest of 21.39 percent in those wells.
The Texas wells are spread over more than 3,200 acres. Chesapeake’s gross production from those wells last year averaged 1.064 million cubic feet of gas and 52 barrels of oil a day.
Chesapeake also is selling about 28,000 acres in three western Oklahoma counties. That listing has been active since October.
NASA last week released new satellite images of the earth at night.
The updated, high-resolution pictures show far more detail of what NASA calls the black marble, or the earth at night. The images are a compilation of satellite photos taken in April and October.
I get geeked out about looking at cities and patterns, including stark contrasts east and west of I-35 on the U.S. map and of how dark places like Africa, Australia and North Korea are on the global map.
I am especially struck by how visible the oil and gas drilling activity is throughout the United States. Offshore production platforms dot the Gulf of Mexico, especially near New Orleans.
The brightest oil patch on the map is the Bakken in North Dakota and Montana. The huge field stands out bright against the relatively dark northern plains.
Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources Inc. is the largest player in the field, which is one of the fastest-growing in the world.
A Texas judge has temporarily halted construction on a portion of TransCanada’s Gulf Coast project while he considers whether bitumen from Canada’s oil sands meets the legal definition of crude oil, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.
Opponents of the Keystone XL project, which would move more than 500,000 barrels of oil a day, have long criticized the proposed pipeline because it would carry the “world’s dirtiest oil” through the heart of the United States.
Now Texas landowner Michael Bishop claims the bitumen that would be transported from Canada is a hazardous material, not crude oil.
A judge in Nacogdoches County has blocked TransCanada from working on Bishop’s property until he considers the issues raised by the retired Marine in a Dec. 13 hearing. (The hearing was originally set for Dec. 19, but the judge agreed to move it up at TransCanada’s request.)
Bishop also contends the Canadian company does not have the right to use eminent domain to secure access to land along the route of the pipeline.
“I will continue to stand up and fight for those that cannot fight for themselves against this gross travesty of justice,” Bishop said in a news release issued by Public Citizen Texas.
The United States produced almost 6.5 million barrels of crude oil a day in September, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That is the country’s highest volume in nearly 15 years.
The last time the U.S. produced that much oil was in January 1998.
U.S. production has risen by more than 900,000 barrels a day since September 2011 due to the combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
Texas and North Dakota have posted the largest increases, but EIA says production in Oklahoma has grown by more than 56 percent since January 2010. The state produced 250,000 barrels of oil a day in September.
Oklahoma was one of five states spotlighted by EIA as smaller-volume producers whose output has risen over the past few years.
Activist investor Carl Icahn has increased his stake in Chesapeake Energy Corp.
Icahn purchased almost 10 million shares of company stock since last week, according to a regulatory filing. That increases his holdings to nearly 60 million shares.
Icahn, who was part of an investor uprising at Chesapeake this year, now controls almost 9 percent of Chespeake’s 665 million shares of outstanding stock, making him the company’s second largest shareholder behind Memphis-based Southeastern Asset Management.
Icahn and his companies have spent about $951 million, including commissions, to amass its stake in Chesapeake, the filing states. He spent nearly $166 million in the past week to add 9.6 million shares at an average price of $17.42 each.
Chesapeake shares rose in early trading Tuesday after the U.S. Securities and Exchange filing on Icahn’s added stake. It was trading at $17.56 a share, up 9 cents, about noon Tuesday.
Chesapeake Energy Corp. is selling more of its acreage in Oklahoma because the cash-strapped company cannot afford to develop it.
A listing for about 28,000 net acres held by Chesapeake in three western Oklahoma counties was listed Thursday on the website of broker Meagher Energy Advisors. The acreage is part of the Granite Wash and Hogshooter horizontal plays.
“Chesapeake is offering this unique exploration and development opportunity because its current drilling budget is not sufficient to fully develop its leasehold in this area,” according to the listing.
The acreage includes 113 producing wells, with net sales of 765 barrels of oil, 684 barrels of natural gas liquids and 9,935 thousand cubic feet of natural gas a day over the past year.
Chesapeake trumpeted its holdings in the Hogshooter play in June as a new discovery expected to provide a significant boost to the company, which is shifting its focus from land acquisition to asset harvest. Officials said that acreage is not the same as the holdings now listed for sale.
“The West Turkey Creek Granite Wash and Hogshooter Wash acreage that is for sale is a small non-core package of acreage and not connected to our significant Hogshooter discovery in Texas that was announced earlier this year,” spokesman Michael Kehs said.
The company has spent much of the year looking to sell assets to overcome a looming cash shortage.
Chesapeake has raised about $11.6 billion this year, but the company is looking to raise as much as $14 billion this year to offset an anticipated budget shortfall.
Chesapeake also is selling acreage in southern Oklahoma, Michigan, Ohio, Colorado and Wyoming through Meagher. Officials have said the company also is looking to find a joint venture partner for its acreage in the Mississippi Lime in northern Oklahoma and southern Kansas.
Devon Energy Corp. is consolidating its operations in Oklahoma City and shutting down its offices in Houston.
“Consolidating our U.S. operations will improve our ability to quickly shift the focus of our workforce between project areas as economic conditions dictate,” said Dave Hager, Devon’s executive vice president of exploration and production. “In addition, this move will improve the sharing of best practices and enhance overall operational efficiency.”
Devon intends to relocate employees who oversee operations in south Texas, east Texas and Louisiana from Houston to Oklahoma City by early next year.
The move is expected to save the company about $80 million a year in lower administrative expenses and personnel costs.
Devon estimates the reorganization will cost about $125 million, with most of those costs being incurred this year.
The Oklahoma City-based oil and natural gas company recently completed a new 50-story headquarters building downtown. It has room for the employees who had been in Houston, but company officials declined to say how many of Devon’s 500 Houston employees would move to Oklahoma City.
A new documentary on energy, “Switch,” is getting good reviews from both environmentalists and those in the energy industry.
I had the chance to see it last night at a screening in Oklahoma City. (It continues tonight and Thursday.)
I’ve seen the controversial fracking film “Gasland” and the energy industry’s response, “Truthland,” so my tolerance for talking points on both sides of the debate was fairly low. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and measured tone of “Switch.”
The movie, which was made with the help of the American Geosciences Institute foundation, follows geologist and University of Texas professor Scott Tinker around the world as he explores where and how our energy is harvested. It includes some spectacular shots of massive coal mines in Wyoming, hydro projects in the fjords of Norway and wind farms in Texas.
“Switch” also features a short interview with Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon and follows a Chesapeake “fracking” crew out in the field. The documentary doesn’t shy away from discussing the public concerns about hydraulic fracturing and has interviews with environmentalists, policy makers and industry officials.
But “Switch” is more than just fracking. It takes a comprehensive look at the world’s energy needs, with a particular emphasis on the rapidly growing demand for energy in China, India and other developing countries. The takeaway? Those countries will be using coal and oil to meet their future energy needs, and there’s little the developing world can do about it.
It doesn’t take long for serious discussions about energy to get complicated, but “Switch” boils down all the talk of megawatts and BTUs to a simple unit: the amount of energy an average person uses in a year. (If you’re curious, Tinker defines it as about 20 million watt-hours of energy.) From an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico to a concentrated solar plant in Spain, the movie defines the energy produced in terms of how many people it would power.
For all the technology improvements in energy, “Switch” makes it clear that it comes down to scale. A technology advancement or discovery might be great, but if you can’t scale it up to serve large numbers of people, then it will remain a niche solution. Through a combination of renewables and nuclear power, the film estimates the world will reach a “switch” point in 2064. That’s when the use of renewables and nuclear will match the use of “foundational” fuels coal and oil.
The last part of “Switch” focuses on energy efficiency and what individuals can do at home to save money–and energy. The efficiency side of the equation is often forgotten about in the political fights over energy policy, but the film makes it clear that the energy we waste is just as important as the energy we
If you can’t make it to the remaining screenings in Oklahoma City, check out the “Switch” website, which has short videos and some highlights from the documentary.
Eight activists trying to block construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline have moved into a tree fort in North Texas until developer TransCanada abandons the project. They took up their positions 80 feet above the ground on Monday.
Two other Tar Sands Blockade activists Tuesday afternoon were arrested after chaining themselves to a backhoe at a construction site near Winnsboro, Texas.
The group is a coalition of Oklahoma and Texas landowners dedicated to using nonviolent direct action to stop the pipeline because of the risks it poses to the environment.
“The risk of inaction is far greater than the risk of taking action – even risky action like this,” Tar Sands Blockade spokesman Ron Seifert said. “We are committed to undertaking a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience to stop construction of Keystone XL, and Tar Sands Blockade will continue to protect the Winnsboro tree village. It is a symbol of all the homes and families crudely threatened by this tar sands pipeline. Sometimes, one must simply stand one’s ground in the face of eminent threats like those posed by this dangerous pipeline in order protect the health and safety of their families, loved ones, and that of their neighbors.”
TransCanada has secured the necessary permits for the 485-mile pipeline between Cushing’s oil storage hub and refineries along the Gulf Coast.
“TransCanada’s immediate concern is for the safety of the individuals who have placed themselves in harm’s way, as well as ensuring the safety of our staff and contractors,” a spokesman said Monday. “We are also concerned about the safety and economic welfare of thousands of Americans working on this $2.3 billion project. If the protestors had their way, thousands of people trying to provide for their families would be thrown out of work.”
Construction of the pipeline continues at several other locations along its route.