Wednesday, February 23, 2011

EU advocates stronger carbon-market security

The European Commission is advocating that European governments strengthen security measures for the European carbon market. On Jan. 19, the commission suspended transactions because of repeated thefts that were reportedly worth millions of euros.

The commission on Feb. 23 outlined a list of security recommendations that it has submitted to the EU Climate Change Committee. Allowances to emit carbon dioxide are traded on the carbon market.

Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, said possible short-term actions include regularly reviewing security plans, reinforcing registry account policies and identity checks, and training registry users.

“For the medium- and long-term, we reinforce efforts to identify solutions in cooperation both with member states and through a regular dialogue with stakeholders,” Hedegaard said. A March meeting is planned for stakeholders to discuss addressing stolen allowances.

The commission soon plans to propose modifying the EU Registry regulation to provide a stronger legal protection to safeguard the integrity of the carbon market and to uphold the reputation of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Industry keeping tabs on funding request for US BOEMRE

President Barack Obama requested $358.4 million to fund the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE) in fiscal 2012. Oil companies operating in deepwater and offshore drilling contractors will be watching closely to see how Congress responds.

Following the April 2010 blowout of the Macondo well and the resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, government officials have acknowledged BOEMRE, formerly the Minerals Management Service, historically was underfunded. Lack of funding reportedly has hindered the agency's regulatory oversight of oil and gas activities.

Industry spokesmen have told OGJ that BOEMRE needs technically savvy inspectors and engineers who can keep up with deepwater drilling advances. BOEMRE also needs enough people to help streamline the approval process for deepwater drilling permits.

The requested BOEMRE budget marks a 50% increase above the 2010 funding level after adjusting for the reorganization of the MMS. Additional funding would be used to hire more inspectors, engineers, scientists, and others to oversee industry operations and to review offshore safety systems.

Industry agrees that BOEMRE needs more people. One issue that cannot be resolved by any budget request is the question of how to recruit and train additional BOEMRE inspectors so that they can be brought up to speed on the complex drilling equipment that they will be inspecting.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Real-time IT becoming more important to drilling contractors

Real-time drilling information is become more important to contractors and operators following the April 2010 deepwater Macondo well blowout and resulting explosion and fire on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible, speakers acknowledged at a recent energy forum in Houston.

Investigators looking into the cause of the accident have questioned who had access to what drilling information about the Macondo well and the timing of that information. The blast killed 11 crew members, and the semi later sank. Industry and government jointly responded to a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

During a Feb. 2 panel discussion on consolidation within service companies, Amy Meyers Jaffe of Rice University’s Baker Institute suggested “the better players” among drilling contractors are going to offer top-notch information services.

“I see a real push post-Macondo for real-time information,” said Jaffe. She moderated the panel discussion during an Energy Mergers and Acquisitions Forum sponsored by Mergermarket.

William D. Marsh, Baker Hughes Inc. vice-president legal-Western Hemisphere, agreed that software and IT is becoming much more important to Baker Hughes and its competitors.

Lackland H. Bloom, a managing director with J.P. Morgan, said that IT remains the domain of major service companies. He described “isolated circumstances” for information-services companies outside the oil and gas industry to gain exposure within the energy industry.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Survey shows 58% of polled companies have no emissions-measuring plan

A recent survey of 143 energy and utility professionals indicates 58% have no system to record carbon emissions. That's a slight improvement from 61% who responded the same way during 2010, reports Enviance Inc., a software provider for management of environmental, health, and safety compliance activities.

Lawrence Goldenhersh, Enviance president and chief executive officer, said his company commissioned the survey for two consecutive years as a way to track changes about how companies handle their environmental and regulatory concerns.

When asked about monitoring the US Environmental Protection Agency, 84% of those polled said they monitor changing EPA rules “as they happen.” Goldenhersh said this demonstrates a clear corporate commitment to stay ahead of EPA changing regulations.

“It will be interesting to see whether the advent of cap and trade in California in 2012...will alter what companies consider necessary to meet the analysis and reporting requirements imposed by the SEC,” Goldenhersh said of the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

California’s AB32 legislation will implement a price on carbon starting in 2012 (OGJ Online, Nov. 3, 2010).

Enviance, a privately owned company n Carlsbad, Calif., reported its survey results during the EUEC conference in Phoenix. EUEC is an annual energy, utility, and environment conference involving environmental business leaders, energy executives, and government policymakers.

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