natural gas

Well with holes rusted through on John Fenton's property
John Fenton

Pavillion homeowner John Fenton is questioning whether abandoned wells near his home were properly addressed to eliminate contamination. The Fremont County town has been plagued since 2008 with contaminated water from underground natural gas with citizens complaining of discolored and foul smelling water. Since then, gas-producer EnCana has worked to plug abandoned wells and pressure test them to ensure there’s no interaction between gas and water.  

Logo for the Environmental Protection Agency
Public Domain

The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday signed a proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan — President Obama’s signature climate change legislation. The 2015 rule aims to was meant to move the country’s electric grid away from coal and towards other sources with less greenhouse gas emissions.

Wyoming provides about 40 percent of the country’s coal, and most of that goes towards electricity generation. It’s no surprise the state has opposed the Clean Power Plan — or CPP — from the start.  

Cooper McKim

At the center of the dusty Pinedale-Anticline field looking over the Wind River Range, Erika Tokarz stands on Ultra Petroleum’s  Riverside 9-2 pad which is home to several wellheads. Across the road, workers in hard-hats and sunglasses crisscross the plot of land with a massive tower at its center, working to drill a hole for natural gas. 

 

Cooper Mckim

It’s a sunny day outside Midwest School in northeast Natrona County as mud-swept trucks pull into a gas station across the street. Sue Green serves food inside the Big D convenience store. She’s the mother of three students from the school.

She said, “The one just turned about 15, the other one about ready to turn 12 and the other’s one 5 and a half.”

Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

A Natrona County school that closed last year due to a gas leak is nearly ready to re-open. A new ventilation system has been installed and one round of air sampling tests shows encouraging results.

Staff and students at the Midwest School noticed a gas-like odor at the end of the school year in 2016. It turned out an inactive natural gas well was releasing dangerous contaminants inside the building. 

Earthworks

The U.S. Senate decided not to overturn the Obama era methane rule, which seeks to limit the venting and flaring of methane by oil and gas drillers on federal land. 

In a tight vote, three Republicans sided with Democrats in rejecting the rollback of the methane regulation.

Supporters of the rule said it keeps the air clean in states like Wyoming with widespread gas development on public lands. Opponents said the rule is redundant with state and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations already in place.

ecoflight.org

Jonah Energy, a Colorado-based oil and gas company, will soon own nearly 100 percent of natural gas reserves in western Wyoming — the eighth largest natural gas field in the country. The investment is a vote of confidence in an industry that’s seen declining prices in recent years.

Filling In The Natural Gas Gaps

Apr 7, 2017
Amy Sisk/Inside Energy

  

With the fracking boom ushering in cheap natural gas prices nationwide, nearly 40 states have adopted or are considering new legislation to expand gas service.

Big gaps exist in rural America where natural gas does not reach. These areas rely heavily on propane, with 12 million homes that use it for heating.

One North Dakota town is looking to make the switch, pushing the Legislature for flexibility to craft its own plan to bring in natural gas service.

The Lincoln County coroner has determined that head trauma caused a worker's death at a natural gas processing plant in southwestern Wyoming last week. 

County Corner Michael Richins says 36-year-old Michael Smuin was thrown into a cement structure at the Williams plant in Opal and died instantly from a cranial fracture. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the incident, including what caused Smuin to be lifted off his feet. Richins found burns on the body, that he said were likely caused by a ruptured pipe.  

Carbon emissions from burning natural gas are projected to surpass emissions from coal by around 10 percent this year. 

  

With hotter summer temperatures in the forecast, natural gas consumption is expected to increase in coming months, and prices along with it. 

Electricity demand is at its highest across much of the U.S. in the summertime because of air conditioning. The Energy Information Administration predicts this year, natural gas will provide a majority of that power, overtaking coal as the largest source of electricity for the first time.

Coal production during in the first quarter of 2016 was the lowest its been since 1981. According to the US Energy Information Administration, coal production in the Power River Basin dropped nearly 30% from the fourth quarter of 2015. That is a bigger drop than in any other region.

Demand for coal is down because of low natural gas prices, competition from renewables, and environmental regulations. An unusually warm winter also reduced demand, so companies cut production.

Stephanie Joyce

Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. fell by 12% in 2015, compared to 2005 levels, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 

The EIA explains that this drop is largely the result of changes in our electricity mix. Over the past decade, shifts in sources of electricity, from coal to natural gas for example, have accounted for 68% of the total decrease in energy-related CO2 emissions. 

Ultra Petroleum filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday evening, after warning it was likely headed toward bankruptcy in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company is Wyoming's largest gas producer, by volume, but has struggled with high debt loads and low natural gas prices in recent months. In April, Wyoming's benchmark natural gas price was just $1.71 per thousand cubic feet, compared to $2.32 at the same time last year. 

Wyoming’s largest gas producer said Friday it may file for bankruptcy.

Ultra Petroleum disclosed the possibility of bankruptcy in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ultra has substantial debts from large purchases of oil and gas reserves in recent years and is struggling to pay back those debts with current low natural gas and crude oil prices.

The State of Wyoming is asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reconsider its rejection of an Oregon project that would export liquefied natural gas.

FERC rejected the Jordan Cove permit application in March because the project’s backers didn’t have any confirmed buyers for the LNG. The project would require running a new, 230-mile pipeline across Oregon and the Commission said without buyers, the harm to landowners couldn’t be justified.

In 2016, for the first time ever, natural gas could overtake coal as the main source of electricity in the U.S.

A decade ago, coal accounted for almost 50 percent of electricity generated in the U.S. but in 2015, it was down to 33 percent. The dramatic decline has been fueled largely by utilities switching from coal to natural gas, as gas prices have fallen in recent years because of the fracking boom.

Now, the Energy Information Administration is predicting that in 2016, natural gas will surpass coal as the country’s leading power source, although only by a narrow margin.

Federal regulators have rejected a proposed pipeline that would have carried Wyoming and Colorado gas to an export terminal in Oregon. The 230-mile Pacific Connector pipeline would have linked an existing pipeline to the proposed Jordan Cove terminal, where the gas would have been liquefied and loaded onto ships bound for Asia.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission found the public benefits of the project did not justify the potential negative impacts on landowners whose properties the pipeline would cross.

Alpha Natural Resources filed a plan today outlining how it hopes to emerge from bankruptcy. At the heart of the plan is a proposal to sell the company's core assets, including its Wyoming mines.

For the first time in at least three decades, the number of rigs drilling for gas in the U.S. has dropped below 100.

As of Friday, there were just 97 natural gas rigs operating in the U.S., including nine in Wyoming. The number of rigs has been falling since 2008, when it reached a high of more than 1600.

But despite the falling rig count, production has continued to climb. The U.S. produced more natural gas in 2015 than ever before.

Earthworks

The oil and gas industry may be emitting more methane, a potent greenhouse gas, than previously thought, according to new estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Methane can leak from wells, pipelines and compressor stations, among other things.

At an energy conference in Houston, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said the administration is not planning to turn a blind eye to the oil and gas industry's increased contributions.

"The data confirm that we can and must do more on methane reductions in the oil and gas sector," she said. 

Melodie Edwards

U.S. natural gas prices in 2015 were at their lowest since 1999, despite a dramatic increase in use of the fuel in the power sector.

The U.S. benchmark natural gas price averaged just $2.61 per MMBtu, although it dropped considerably lower than that at points during the year. 

Making Energy From Waste: The Other Natural Gas

Dec 14, 2015
Rebecca Jacobson / Inside Energy

Every day, a facility on the outskirts of Grand Junction, Colorado takes in 8 million gallons of what people have flushed down their toilets and washed down their sinks. The water coming out the other end of the Persigo Wastewater Treatment Plant is cleaner than the Colorado River it flows into. The organic solids strained from that water are now serving a new purpose -- producing fuel for city vehicles.  

Black Hills Corporation

Black Hills Corporation is expanding its footprint in Wyoming. The South Dakota-based company announced Sunday it is purchasing Source Gas, which supplies natural gas to roughly half a million customers in Wyoming, Colorado, Arkansas and Nebraska.

Black Hills already owns several utility companies in Wyoming, including Cheyenne Light Fuel and Power.

“By moving to 1.2 million customers through our service territory, we will do a good job of holding costs down with respect to customers rates and providing great service,” said Black Hills Chief Operating Officer Linn Evans.

In April, for the first time ever, the US got more of its electricity from natural gas than coal, according to new data from the Energy Information Administration. The numbers show 32 percent of electricity generated that month came from natural gas, while just 30 percent came from coal.

John Barrasso Official Portrait 112th Congress

Wyoming Senator John Barrasso has been a leading voice calling on Congress to lift a decades-old ban on exporting U.S. natural gas overseas. It really heated up last year when Russia invaded the Ukrainian peninsula Crimea. Senator Barrasso remembers it well.

“There were a bi-partisan group of us actually in Ukraine the day that the Russian helicopters landed at the gas plant just North of the Crimea, which tells you what it was all about. It was about the gas. And Putin uses energy to hold European countries and Ukraine hostage.”

Willow Belden

According to a new study from the Environmental Defense Fund, in 2013, Wyoming burned, vented and leaked $76 million worth of natural gas from federal and tribal lands.

“That’s a big waste of what could be going into federal and tribal royalty coffers,” said EDF spokesman Jon Goldstein, pointing out that the money also ends up with states and local communities through royalty sharing.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

Part 4 of an Inside Energy series Blackout: Reinventing The Grid

The Environmental Protection Agency is putting the finishing touches on its Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon emissions, but warnings against it are getting louder.

Many who deal in the energy sector- grid operators, lawmakers, and especially the coal industry- are piling on to the idea that transitioning away from coal to renewables and natural gas will destabilize our power grid.

Senate Energy GOP

A bill sponsored by Wyoming Senator John Barrasso that would speed up processing of applications to export natural gas internationally/to international markets is making its way through Congress.

State support is critical to getting value-added mineral processing facilities to set up shop in Wyoming, backers told a legislative committee Monday. A bill currently under consideration by the Legislature would set up a mechanism for the state to invest in value-added projects. The governor’s office, which sponsored the bill, says it’s particularly targeted towards projects that would convert natural gas to liquids, like diesel, although it could apply to any of the state’s minerals.

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