April's top stories: EPA criticises Keystone review, Nigeria losing oil revenue

The US EPA brands state environmental review for Keytone XL Pipeline as 'inadequate', Shell says Nigeria is losing out on billions from oil theft and ExxonMobil continues the Arkansas oil spill clean up. Hydrocarbons-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from April 2013.


Pipeline

EPA criticises State Department's review of Keystone Pipeline

Environmental Protection Agency

On Monday the 22nd of April, US environment regulator, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), criticised the State Department's environmental impact review of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which will carry Canadian tar sands oil from Alberta to Nebraska.

The EPA asked the State Department to re-evaluate whether rail shipments will be the best alternative to the pipeline, as diluted bitumen or dilbit can be more dangerous to transport through pipelines and could be more harmful than conventional crude if it spills.

Pointing out similar concerns, leading environmental groups have also announced that the Obama administration's most recent environmental review on the Keystone XL Pipeline has violated the nation's core environmental law.

Shell to sell its Geelong refinery in Australia

Geelong

Shell last month announced it will sell its Geelong refinery in Australia, as part of its global strategy to focus investment on large-scale sites.

The hydrocarbon refinery in Geelong supplies about 50% of Victoria's fuel and 30% of South Australia's fuel.

The sale of the 120,000 per day refinery is in line with the company's strategy to concentrate on the Pulau Bukom refinery in Singapore.

ExxonMobil begins replacement of oiled lawns at Arkansas; pipeline still shut

ExxonMobil

In April ExxonMobil commenced digging the oiled lawns at the Arkansas neighbourhood, where a crude oil pipeline was ruptured on 29 March 2013, in order to replace them with fresh sod. The Pegasus pipeline is shut for an indefinite period.

The company's response crews have started removing oiled dirt and grass near the houses in the area, while a plan to excavate the area near the pipeline breach is still under progress for US regulators to review.

Exxon has deployed 13 vacuum trucks and 46 storage tanks to clean up and temporarily store oil, while most of the freestanding oil has been recovered.

UK launches consultation to review oil stocking system

Consultation

The UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) launched a new consultation to review the oil stocking system in the country.

The government has invited industry professionals to voice opinions on whether the present obligation of oil stocking by suppliers is the most effective model or whether it needs an alternative system, such as the centralised stocking agency, which currently exists in other European Union (EU) member states.

Responses will be taken up until 7 June 2013.

Iraq, Jordan sign agreement to build new oil, natural gas pipeline

Jordan and Iraq

The governments of Jordan and Iraq signed an agreement to construct a new double pipeline to supply crude oil and natural gas to Jordan with an investment of $18bn.

The 1,680km double pipeline will supply about one million barrels of oil and 258 million cubic feet of gas a day, from Basra on the Arabian Gulf to Jordan's Aqaba Port.

Iraq oil ministry's State Company for Oil Projects director general, Nihad Mossa, was quoted by the The Jordan Times as saying that the Iraqi oil minister has signed the agreement in Baghdad and the deal was sent to and signed by the Jordanian energy minister.

New research identifies fracking as 'not significant' cause for earthquakes

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing

Fracking is not an important cause of earthquakes that can be felt on the surface, according to new research published in the Journal of Marine and Petroleum Geology last month.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is carried out to recover oil and gas which is tightly bound to rock formations and cannot be retrieved through normal drilling.

Researchers from Durham University's Energy Institute said that the pumping of fracking liquid can reactivate dormant fault lines and that it is not a significant source of tremors, compared to many other human activities, such as mining or filling reservoirs with water, reported the BBC.

Greek Parliament approves intergovernmental agreement on TAP

Greek Parliament

The Greek Parliament approved the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between Albania, Italy and Greece, related to the construction and operation of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project.

The IGA between the three countries was signed on 13 February 2013, to provide support and cooperation for TAP and to implement the project on time.

The ratification of the deal will help the TAP to complete the Host Government Agreement (HGA) with Greece.

Nigeria loses billions in revenue due to oil theft in the Niger Delta

Niger Delta, Nigeria

Royal Dutch Shell said oil theft in the Niger Delta, Nigeria, is costing the country billions of dollars a year in lost revenue, as well as putting tremendous pressure on Shell's Nigerian staff.

The company also said an increasing number of thefts are significantly impacting the environment.

Thieves have stolen about 150,000 barrels of crude oil a day from pipelines in the Niger Delta in 2009, according to an estimate provided by the United Nations.

Norway petroleum body orders BP safety review after North Sea leak

Petroleum Safety Authority Norway

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) revealed that during an investigation into the hydrocarbon leak on BP's Ula oil field in the North Sea, it identified serious breaches of the regulations and had ordered the company to conduct a safety review.

According to the safety authority, a hydrocarbon leak on the 12th September 2012 at the platform resulted in around 125 barrels (20 cubic metres) of oil and 1,600kg of gas being leaked.

The PSA investigation found that the leak was caused by the fracturing of bolts that were holding together a valve in a separator outlet.

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