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Devon Energy sells Texas assets
An Oklahoma City-based energy company agreed to sell $340 million in oil and gas assets as the sector continues to grapple with stubborn oil prices.
Devon Energy said Monday that it had offloaded energy producing resources located in the Eagle Ford shale in Lavaca County, Texas.
Altogether, the company said it had was about a third of the way through a previously announced plan to shed $1 billion in assets.
So far, Devon Energy has dispensed with properties that produced the equivalent of about 4,000 barrels of oil per day, totaling about $30 million in annual cash flow.
The company is also seeking to sell assets in the Barnett Shale region in Johnson County Texas.
The moves come amid a prolonged period of low oil prices, which have traded in the $40 to $50 range this year as a global surplus of petroleum production lingers.
Still, many shale energy companies can turn a profit at that price range, experts say.
New Mexico State University innovation hub gets $1M gift
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State University's entrepreneurship and innovation hub is getting a major financial boost.
The school announced Wednesday during the opening ceremonies of the Domenici Public Policy Conference that the Arrowhead Center is the recipient of a $1 million gift from Paul and Alejandra de la Vega Foster.
The money will be used to drive collaboration between the center and partners throughout the region, which includes southern New Mexico, Texas and Mexico.
Center director Kathryn Hansen says the goal is to create an environment where those connections spark greater innovation.
Paul Foster is the president of Franklin Mountain Management, LLC, and the founder and former executive chairman of Western Refining, Inc. Alejandra de la Vega Foster is the secretary of innovation and economic development for the state of Chihuahua, Mexico.
Colorado outlines new pipeline rules after fatal explosion
DENVER (AP) — Colorado regulators made public a rough outline Wednesday for new rules for oil and gas pipelines after a fatal house explosion blamed on a natural gas leak.
The state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission's outline calls for new standards for designing, testing and permanently shutting down flow lines, which carry oil or gas from wells to tanks and other gathering equipment.
The outline was dated Sept. 8 and posted online Sept. 13.
The commission's staff plans to complete draft rules by Oct. 15 after meetings with interested groups on Sept. 21 and 22.
A formal public hearing is scheduled for Dec. 11 and 12, and the commission could vote on adopting the rules after that.
The rules are in response to an April explosion in the town of Firestone that killed two people and injured a third.
Investigators blamed the explosion on odorless, unrefined natural gas leaking from a flow line that was thought to be out of service but was still connected to a well with the valve turned to the open position.
The house that exploded was within 200 feet (60 meters) of the gas well, and the flow line was severed about 10 feet (3 meters) from the house, officials said. Investigators said gas seeped into the home's basement.
The well and pipeline were in place several years before the house was built.
Average US gas price jumps after Harvey shuts refineries
CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — The average price of gasoline jumped in the past two weeks after Hurricane Harvey prompted the closure of refineries.
Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg said Sunday that it was the biggest price hike recorded by the Lundberg Survey since 2011.
But she says whole gasoline prices have started to decline since refineries came back online and she expects prices at the pump will follow.
In the survey on Sept. 8, the average price of regular gasoline was up 30 cents at $2.69 per gallon. That's 48 cents higher than a year ago.
The average price of diesel jumped 16 cents to $2.73 per gallon.
In the contiguous United States, gas was most expensive in San Francisco at $3.21 a gallon and cheapest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at $2.31 a gallon.
Hilcorp subsidiary seeks Cook Inlet pipeline permission
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A subsidiary of Hilcorp Alaska is seeking state authority to move petroleum across Cook Inlet by undersea pipeline.
Hilcorp announced Monday that Harvest Alaska has requested permission from the Regulatory Commission of Alaska to expand and modify the Cook Inlet Pipe Line system.
Oil now crosses from the inlet's west side by tanker. The undersea oil pipeline will allow for the shutdown and decommissioning of the Drift River Terminal.
The estimated $75 million project will include new onshore and offshore pipelines and conversion of a cross-inlet pipeline from natural gas to oil.
Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council director Mike Munger says an undersea pipeline is safer. The council has advocated for the pipeline since the reopening of the Drift River Terminal after a 2009 Mount Redoubt eruption.
Wyoming court to utility: Pay tax on power plant chemicals
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming generally favors low taxes and coal-fired electricity but one of its largest utilities will need to pay sales tax on pollution-control chemicals at four power plants in the state, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The justices sided with the state Board of Equalization — the panel that oversees state tax disputes — and against Portland, Oregon-based PacifiCorp.
The case with ties to a previous high court ruling on chemicals used in newspaper printing will likely apply to other power plants in Wyoming but not boost electricity rates for PacifiCorp customers.
"There is no impact to generation costs. The company has been paying the sales tax on these items, so the ruling means simply no change," said PacifiCorp spokesman David Eskelsen.
Board of Equalization officials didn't return messages Thursday seeking comment.
PacifiCorp uses chemicals to remove sulfur dioxide from flue gas at four coal-fired power plants in Wyoming. Wyoming exempts sales tax on ingredients used in manufacturing products.
PacifiCorp claimed the utility shouldn't have to pay sales tax on the chemicals or others used to purify water in the plants' boiler system because it manufactures electricity.
Attorneys for PacifiCorp pointed to a 1980 Wyoming Supreme Court ruling that chemicals used in newspaper printing besides ink were tax-exempt.
The justices on Thursday agreed the utility manufactures electricity — and disagreed with the Board of Equalization on that point. But they pointed out that the Legislature has changed the sales-tax law since 1980.
Under current law, the chemicals used in power plants can't be construed as tax-exempt ingredients used to make electricity, the justices ruled.
EPA head: No renewable fuel promise made to ex-Trump adviser
DETROIT (AP) — Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt has told a group of senators he never made any promises to billionaire investor Carl Icahn about renewable fuel credits that were costing one of Icahn's companies millions of dollars.
Pruitt was responding to letters from five senators looking into potential conflicts of interest involving Icahn, who resigned in August as a special adviser to President Donald Trump on regulatory reform. The senators, all Democrats, had questions about Icahn's role in shaping policy about obscure rules that require oil refineries to blend ethanol into gasoline.
Icahn resigned shortly before The New Yorker published a story detailing potential conflicts and even possible criminal law violations involving refining rules.
In 2012, Icahn bought an 82 percent stake in CVR Energy, a refinery in Sugar Land, Texas. To comply with regulations designed to promote use of ethanol, refiners must blend the renewable fuel with their gasoline or buy credits from other refiners that are called "Renewable Identification Numbers."
When Icahn bought his stake, the credits were cheap, about 5 cents each. Rather than equip refineries to add ethanol, CVR just purchased credits. But by 2016 CVR was spending $200 million per year on them, and its stock value had dropped 70 percent from the prior year, the magazine wrote.
Icahn unsuccessfully tried to get the Obama administration's EPA to change the rules regarding the "point of obligation," trying to release CVR from the responsibility of blending the ethanol, according to the magazine.