January's top stories: Gas pipeline explodes, European Commission fracking rules

A natural gas pipeline owned by Canadian energy firm TransCanada exploded and caught fire in Manitoba, although there were no injuries reported. The European Commission came up with a recommendation for member states, aiming to ensure that proper environmental and climate safeguards are in place for fracking. Hydrocarbons Technology wraps up the key headlines from January.


Oil Rig

TransCanada gas pipeline explodes in Manitoba

TransCanada

A natural gas pipeline owned by Canadian energy firm TransCanada exploded and caught fire in Manitoba, although there were no injuries reported.

The explosion occurred in a rural area of the western Canadian province of Otterburne, around 25km south of Winnipeg. Massive 200m to 300m flames shot out of the ground, according to eyewitnesses.

The National Energy Board, which oversees parts of the energy industry in Canada, said that the area was evacuated and the line was shut down and depressurised.

European Commission proposes basic rules for shale gas operations

Shale Map

The European Commission came up with a recommendation for member states aiming to ensure that proper environmental and climate safeguards are in place for fracking.

The rules aim to help member states wishing to use the practice to address health and environmental risks, while improving transparency for citizens.

Accompanied by a communication that considers the opportunities and challenges of using fracking to extract hydrocarbons, the recommendation also lays the ground for a level playing field for industry and establishes a clearer framework for investors.

Netherlands to limit production at Groningen gas field after tremors

Natural Gas

The Dutch government announced the reduction of natural gas production at Groningen gas field located near Slochteren in Groningen province in the northeastern Netherlands.

The 80% reduction is planned over the next three years due to concerns from local residents about earth tremors. The government further plans to spend €850m on damage prevention and repairs to homes, other buildings and infrastructure.

Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp said that the government is cutting down production in areas most at risk and limiting total production levels in order to ensure the safety of those living above the gas field.

Repsol completes $4.1bn LNG assets sale to Shell

Repsol Office

Spanish oil firm Repsol completed the $4.1bn sale of its LNG assets in Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago to Shell after obtaining relevant authorisations.

In October 2013, the company had sold its stake in Bahia Bizkaia Electricidad to BP.

The combined transactions represent total proceeds for Repsol of $4.3bn, including $4.1bn from the sale of assets to Shell and $0.2bn from BBE sale to BP.


Total acquires stake in UK shale gas licences

Total

France-based oil and gas corporation Total acquired a 40% stake in two shale gas exploration licences in the UK.

The acquired interests, which are in petroleum exploration and development licences 139 and 140 in the Gainsborough Trough area of the East Midlands region, cover an area of about 240kmĀ².

Total's partners in the project will be GP Energy, a subsidiary of Dart Energy Europe with a 17.5% interest, Egdon Resources UK and Island Gas (IGas) with 14.5% each, and eCorp Oil & Gas UK with 13.5%.

Taqa to develop Atrush block in Kurdistan

Oil Drilling Rig

The Abu Dhabi national energy company Taqa is ready to invest approximately $1.2bn to develop the key Atrush oil and gas block in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

The company secured approval from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to carry out the development in late 2013.

The first phase of the project is expected to launch in early 2015 with an investment of more than $300m to develop the block.

Tullow discovers oil at exploration wells in Kenya

Tullow Oil announced two oil discoveries at the Amosing-1 and Ewoi-1 exploration wells in Block 10BB of onshore northern Kenya.

Updated estimates from the company's discovered resources in this basin are set to be around 600 million barrels of oil, as a result of the latest successes and recently reported discoveries at Ekales-1 and Agete-1.

The company said that the overall potential for the basin is expected to be fully assessed over the next two years, through a significant programme of exploration and appraisal wells in excess of one billion barrels of oil.

Vanguard to acquire oil and gas properties in Wyoming for $581m

Vanguard Natural Resources signed an agreement with an unnamed source to acquire natural gas and oil properties in the Pinedale and Jonah fields of south-western Wyoming, US, for $581m.

The Pinedale and Jonah field properties comprise about 87,000 gross acres that are producing around 113.4mmcfe per day at present with approximately 80% being natural gas, 4% oil and 16% natural gas liquids.

Vanguard Natural Resources president and CEO Scott Smith said the acquisition of an interest in such a prolific natural gas field is a milestone event for the company.