Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, via Wikimedia Commons

Venezuela’s Switch to the Yuan: Scary or Just Sad?

If the United States government believed that Venezuela would crumble in the wake of a fresh round of sanctions, it was sorely mistaken. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro responded to the sanctions by taking a drastic action on Friday, when the nation published its oil prices in the common currency of China, the yuan.

In case the decision wasn’t a direct enough stab at the US, Maduro doubled down on the decision by calling it an attempt to free Venezuela from the “tyranny of the US dollar.” It’s a bold move from a country that does a whole lot of oil and gas business with the United States. Maduro’s shift is enough to make some industry experts stop and take notice.

Continue reading

Jonah Energy’s NPL Natural Gas Development Project Inches Toward Completion

The Wyoming Bureau of Land Management is now allowing public comment on Jonah Energy’s next ambitious undertaking, the Normally Pressurized Lance natural gas project. The proposed development could help stimulate the state’s economy with a plethora of new jobs and an infusion of cash.

As every new oil and gas project must, however, Jonah Energy’s NPL project is drawing criticism from anti-fracking protestors.

Continue reading

A Pocket Guide to the Unrest in Venezuela and What It Means for US Oil and Gas

On July 31, the Trump administration responded to growing political turmoil in the South American country of Venezuela by initiating a series of sanctions against President Nicolás Maduro. Once a cherished trading partner for the United States, Venezuela is now looking at a period of political and economic strife for the foreseeable future.

But what exactly is going on in Venezuela? And what does the chaos mean for the United States oil and gas industry?

Continue reading

What Is the Climate Alliance and How Will it Impact Oil and Gas in Colorado?

In the wake of the United States’ decision to drop out of the Paris Climate Accord, several political leaders across the country have taken it upon themselves to form the US Climate Alliance. On Tuesday, July 11, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper became the latest state leader to join the crusade when he proclaimed that Colorado’s state agencies would reduce overall emissions throughout the state.

In Colorado, where the state’s oil and gas industry is a consistent economic boon, a pledge to reduce emissions sounds like the governor is putting the oil and gas industry in his sights. But how much real impact will this new Climate Alliance have on the state’s energy producers?

Continue reading

Anti-Fracking Protestors Refuse to Acknowledge Fracking’s Negligible Impact on Water

Among the myriad ongoing conflicts between anti-fracking protestors and the oil and gas industry, fracking’s supposedly harmful impact on nearby water sources is one of the most controversial. An integral part of the fracking process, water has been at the center of a debate that is still ongoing.

Frankly, the continued outrage over fracking and its relationship with water is getting increasingly shaky. New technology, industry pledges, and old-fashioned scientific evidence is proving that when done responsibly the extraction of shale through fracking isn’t a concern.

Continue reading

The Paris Agreement Isn’t About the United States, It’s About the Rest of the World

Since the Trump administration took office earlier this year, the President has been working to make good on his campaign promises. In a lot of cases, that has meant battling his way upstream against a steady flow of criticism. The President’s environmental goals have been no different. Whether its the repeated attacks on his decision to open up federal lands to more extraction opportunities or his attempts to de-regulate the oil and gas industry, it seems that environmentalists can’t stand anything Trump does.

In general, that kind of partisan in-fighting is to be expected. What’s more, those decisions on the part of the Trump administration are easily defensible thanks to the continuing innovation within the oil and gas industry and the obvious economic benefits that extraction brings.

When it comes to Trump’s stance on the 2015 Paris Agreement, however, things get more complicated. In that instance, prominent oil and gas company executives are urging the President to comply with the terms of the Agreement.

Continue reading

Nigerian Senate Passes Long-Awaited Petroleum Industry Governance Bill

After several years of waiting for the Nigerian government to agree on some form of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill, the country’s Senate has finally passed a version of the PIGB. Lawmakers from the oil rich African nation set about rallying the country’s House of Representatives to pass the bill, as well. If Nigeria is capable of coordinating its efforts and passing a finalized version of the PIGB, then its oil and gas reserves will finally become truly open to the outside world.

The decision would have a huge impact on the African nation, allowing it to lean heavily on the vast petroleum reserves in the Niger Delta.

Continue reading

Hey, Guess What? Fracking Doesn’t Contaminate Groundwater

As 2017 continues to move forward, the assault on fracking shows no signs of slowing down. Even as the United States moves toward an unprecedented state of energy independence, even as the oil and gas industry is helping to bridge the ideological gap between the United States and foreign allies, even as the industry works tirelessly to operate more efficiently and with more environmental responsibility, opponents of fracking continue to decry the act.

Continue reading

Overturn of ‘Gasland’ Verdict Highlights Fundamental Flaw in Anti-Fracking Agenda

Late last week, Judge Martin Carlson vacated a jury award of more than $4 million to two families in Dimock, Pennsylvania who claimed in 2010 that hydraulic fracturing contaminated the ground water in their small Pennsylvania town. The loss of the Dimock verdict, which was popularized in the Academy Award nominated documentary Gasland, is a huge setback for the anti-fracking movement.

Wait, So What Is ‘Gasland’?

Released in 2010, Gasland is a documentary that claims to provide a glimpse at the environmental hardships caused by fracking. The writer and director, Josh Fox, spent several months interviewing residents and speaking to scientists about the potential dangers of fracking in his quest to vilify the practice. In that goal, Fox was imminently successful.

On its release, Gasland earned rave reviews from all the places you’d expect — Variety, Huffington Post, Bloomberg, etc. It even helped influence and chronicle a court case in which two families in Dimock, Pennsylvania claimed to have suffered health issues as a result of contaminated ground water caused by hydraulic fracturing.

It’s stirring stuff, which is why environmentalists have been using Gasland to scare the ever-loving crap out of impressionable people for seven years.

So, Why Would a Judge Set Aside Such a Righteous Verdict?

In the grand tradition of documentaries that make their case too well, it turns out that Gasland was a total hit job that used sensationalized information to make its anecdotal and incorrect point. While professional movie reviewers praised Fox’s narrative structure, actual scientists were dismayed by Gasland’s melodramatic and scientifically baseless story.

Let’s take, for example, an editorial written for Forbes just after the film’s release. In it, engineering professor Dr. Michael Economides passionately attacks the film for its blatant fictions. In one of the film’s most famous scenes, for example, a Colorado local actually ignites his tap water because, ostensibly, the evil act of fracking has caused natural gas to leak into the man’s water supply. Economides easily refutes this point by highlighting a Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission statement released after that organization specifically investigated the faucet-lighting scene.

What’s happening here is staged. Plain and simple.

“There are no indications of any oil- and gas-related impacts to your water well,” the COGCC concluded, adding, “Methane gas is common in water wells in Colorado. It occurs naturally … as a byproduct of the decay of organic matter.”

That’s just one example of the hyperbolic and simply untrue “information” used in Gasland. In overturning the verdict, Judge Carlson pointed out several more inaccuracies and concluded:

“[T]he weaknesses in the plaintiffs’ case and proof, coupled with serious and troubling irregularities in the testimony and presentation of the plaintiffs’ case – including repeated and regrettable missteps by counsel in the jury’s presence – combined so thoroughly to undermine faith in the jury’s verdict that it must be vacated and a new trial ordered. Moreover, the jury’s award of more than $4 million in damages for private nuisance bore no discernible relationship to the evidence, which was at best limited …”

The Verdict on Drinking Water Contamination Is In, Folks

There’s a romanticized notion rumbling though the media and among anti-fracking activists that hydraulic fracturing is poison to ground water. For more than a decade, environmentalists have been struggling to make the case and, to date, they’ve failed to do so. What’s more, it seems as though anti-frackers are actively ignoring scientific proof to the contrary.

In 2015, the EPA completed a 5-year study that concluded that fracking wasn’t a threat to the groundwater. In the media, however, the bigger story was the “heroic team of scientists” who rushed in to dismiss the findings and return their own report. Then, for some reason, when that team of fracking haters also concluded that fracking didn’t harm ground water, there was little press representation to be found.

In fact, “fracking hurts water” is still a woefully common argument against the practice, in spite of the fact that there isn’t a single reputable study that supports that claim.

Science Isn’t as Compelling as Sad People

Honestly, Judge Carlson’s verdict is more likely to be viewed as a win for the “oppressive oil and gas industry” more than it will be seen as yet another illustration of the fragility of the anti-fracking movement.

Why? Because listening to some grizzled, old, sad person tell a scientifically baseless, but emotionally compelling story is way more fun than trying to incorporate dry facts into your worldview, regardless of which is more reliable.