In the history of oil, this fall is a tipping point, the moment America gurgles past Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s petroleum king, NBC reports. The man most responsible is Harold Hamm, 67, a drawling, blue-eyed billionaire, a sharecropper’s son who grew to be the richest energy mogul in America. He was the first to profitably “frack” North Dakota oil wells, leading a revolution in the way the nation coaxes energy from the earth and draining momentum from the search for cleaner fuel sources.
At a dusty Texas oilfield, Apache Corp. has eliminated its reliance on what arguably could be the biggest long-term constraint for fracking wells in the arid western United States: scarce fresh water, Reuters reports. For only one well, millions of gallons of water are used for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the process that has helped reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil over the past five years by cracking rock deep underground to release oil and gas. In Irion County, where Apache is drilling dozens of Wolfcamp shale wells in the Permian Basin, the company is meeting its water needs for hydraulic fracturing by using brackish water from the Santa Rosa aquifer and recycling water from wells and fracking using chemicals.
TransCanada Corp. raised its preliminary cost estimate for the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline on Tuesday, saying it now expects the project to cost at least $5.4 billion, $100 million more than its prior forecast, Reuters reported. The company said it still expects the 830,000 barrel per day line to be in service within two years of receiving final U.S. approvals for the project.
Even as the Environmental Protection Agency considers requiring existing coal-fired power plants to cut their carbon dioxide output, some utilities have started to use a decidedly low-tech additive that accomplishes that goal: wood. Ranging in size from sawdust to chunks as big as soup cans, waste wood from paper mills, furniture factories and logging operations has been used with varying levels of success. Minnesota Power, which once generated almost all of its power from coal and is now trying to convert to one-third renewables and one-third natural gas, found that co-firing with wood was a quick way to move an old plant partly to the renewable category.