• Report: Grouse needs 3-mile buffer from drilling

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A government report with significant implications for the U.S. energy industry says a struggling bird species needs a 3-mile buffer between its breeding grounds and oil and gas drilling, wind farms and solar projects. The study comes as the Obama administration weighs new protections for the greater sage grouse. The ground-dwelling, chicken-sized birds range across 11 western states and two Canadian provinces. A 3-mile buffer for the birds represents a much larger area than the no-occupancy zones where drilling and other activity is prohibited under some state and federal land management plans.

  • Worker in deadly Gulf blast was cleaning equipment

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A worker killed in an offshore explosion was cleaning a piece of equipment during routine maintenance at its oil-and-gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico, the company that runs the platform said Friday. Houston-based Fieldwood Energy LLC said another worker suffered "visible injury" and two others reported ringing in their ears after the explosion, which was reported just before 3 p.m. Thursday. The company said the three injured workers have been released from the hospital. Fieldwood said the worker who was killed Thursday was cleaning a piece of equipment that separates oil from water liquids when an "isolated pressure event" occurred.

  • Deal protects most of wild plateau from drilling

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    DENVER (AP) — Most of the wild and gas-rich Roan Plateau in western Colorado will be off-limits to drilling under a compromise announced Friday by conservation groups and an energy company. Bill Barrett Corp. will give up its right to drill for natural gas on about 56 square miles in 17 parcels it had leased from the federal government atop the plateau. That will protect abundant wildlife, forests and sagebrush country from development. Two other parcels that Barrett leased, covering seven square miles on the plateau's top, will be freed up from a 6-year-old lawsuit. Drilling could begin in two to four years, after environmental studies and permits are complete, officials said. Barrett will also be refunded $47.6 mill

  • Wildlife land fracking could yield $6M, royalties

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A company has bid $6.2 million plus royalties to drill for natural gas and oil under state wildlife conservation land in Tyler County. Denver-based Antero Resources is offering to pay more than $12,000 an acre for fracking rights under Conaway Run Wildlife Management Area, state Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette said. The bid includes a 20-percent royalty on what's extracted, and the lease would likely last three years. The bid on the 518-acre wildlife area's oil and natural gas rights was unveiled Friday in Charleston. The land is used for hunting, fishing and camping, and includes a 100-yard rifle range. Houston-based Noble Energy submitted a bid for about half the upfront money with the sam

  • Jury orders Irish man to pay $2M over ethanol deal

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A wealthy Irish investor must pay $2 million in damages to an Iowa doctor who was cut out of a major ethanol development in eastern Europe, a jury ruled Friday. Branimir Catipovic, a doctor at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Des Moines, proved his civil claim of unjust enrichment against Dublin entrepreneur Mark Turley, the federal jury in Sioux City ruled. The verdict, which rejected a breach of contract claim, capped a lengthy civil trial. Catipovic is a Croatia native who moved to the United States.

  • Correction: Emissions Reductions-Minnesota story

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — In a story Nov. 20 about greenhouse gas emissions, The Associated Press reported erroneously that state officials said Minnesota is not on track to meet emissions standards set by the federal government. State officials said Minnesota is not on track to meet emissions standards set by the state. A corrected version of the story is below: Minnesota not on track to meet emission reductions Minnesota not on track to meet state-set greenhouse gas reduction goals ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) —Minnesota isn't on track to meet state-set targets for decreasing greenhouse gas emissions that are aimed at addressing climate change, state officials said Thursday.

  • Alpha, Patriot Coal lay off 190 in Ky., W.Va.

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Two coal companies have announced the layoffs of 190 workers in West Virginia and Kentucky. A statement from St. Louis-based Patriot Coal says 130 workers have been idled immediately at its Corridor G Mining Complex near Madison. Patriot cites the struggling coal market and a difficult regulatory environment for the layoffs. Alpha Natural Resources says in West Virginia, layoffs involve 25 workers at a Wayne County mine, 22 at the Ruby Energy mine in Mingo County, and one worker at a Delbarton Prep Plant. In Kentucky, 12 workers will be idled from Alpha's Taylor Fork mine in Pike County, while 26 others will work for an undetermined amount of time to remove equipment and close the mine.

  • Puerto Rico legislators to debate oil tax increase

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico's governor on Friday called a special legislative session for next week to debate a measure that seeks to boost an oil tax by 68 percent. Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said legislators will meet starting Monday as part of a session that can legally be extended for up to 20 days. The measure aims to help sell up to $2.9 billion in bonds and strengthen the debt-ridden Highway and Transportation Authority. If approved, the U.S. territory's excise tax on a barrel of crude oil would increase from $9.25 to $15.50 and generate $178 million a year. Supporters have said the increase would not affect the price of electricity on an island where power bills on average are more than twice t

  • Dow, S&P 500 push further into record territory

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    U.S. stocks capped a week that already had several record highs by delivering a couple more. The Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index carved out all-time highs on Friday, extending the market's gains for the week. It was the third record close for the Dow in the week and the fourth for the S&P 500. The latest records extended a comeback in the S&P 500, which has increased 11 percent since plunging in mid-October. Investors on Friday cheered news of an interest rate cut in China and the possibility that Europe's central bank will step up stimulus efforts in the region.

  • Agency rejects solar project in Silurian Valley

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The federal Bureau of Land Management has rejected an application for construction of a solar energy plant in California's Silurian Valley, a little-touched area of the Mojave Desert southeast of Death Valley National Park. A subsidiary of Iberdrola Renewables LLC proposed a 200-megawatt solar power facility on 1,616 acres. The bureau announced Thursday that a review found that the project would not be in the public interest. "The initial review and analysis indicated that the impacts to the Silurian Valley, a largely undisturbed valley that supports wildlife, an important piece of the Old Spanish National Historic Trail, and recreational and scenic values, had too great of an impact on the resource

  • New Jersey again rejects offshore windmill plan

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey has rejected a proposed windmill power project off the coast of Atlantic City for the third time. The state Board of Public Utilities ruled Friday there is no guarantee Fishermen's Energy will receive all the subsidies it needs to generate electricity at an affordable rate. The board had twice before rejected the proposal to put five windmills about three miles off the coast of Atlantic City. The U.S. Department of Energy promised up to $47 million in May to the Chinese-backed project. But the board ruled Friday that the project can't advance without guarantees of at least $100 million in federal subsidies. Environmentalists decried the vote, saying the country needs n

  • 2015 stock outlook: Good but not great, and bumpy

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks can keep climbing next year, tacking even more gains onto their phenomenal run of the last five-plus years. Just don't expect them to be as big -- or to come with as little heartburn -- as before. That's what mutual fund managers of all types are forecasting, as they peer ahead to 2015 and coming years. For a hint of what it may be like, just look back a few weeks when the Standard & Poor's 500 index declined more than 7 percent from mid-September through mid-October. The tumble raised investor anxiety, but a stream of strong earnings reports helped it dissipate. The S&P 500 has since climbed to another record high.

  • US rig count up 1 to 1,929

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    HOUSTON (AP) — Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. rose by one this week to 1,929. The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report that 1,574 rigs were exploring for oil and 355 for gas. A year ago there were 1,761 active rigs. Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Oklahoma gained seven rigs, Texas increased by four, Pennsylvania was up three and Alaska and Louisiana increased one each. Colorado declined by five, North Dakota was down four, Kansas and Wyoming dropped two apiece while New Mexico and Ohio each lost one. Arkansas, California, Utah and West Virginia were unchanged. The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 a

  • EPA delays decision on ethanol in gas

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration said Friday it is delaying a decision on whether to reduce the amount of ethanol in the nation's fuel supply. Last year the Environmental Protection Agency proposed to reduce the amount of ethanol in fuel for the first time, acknowledging that a biofuel law that both Republicans and Democrats had championed nearly a decade ago was not working as well as expected. A final decision was due before the end of the year on the already-delayed standards, but the EPA said Friday the final rule will now come in 2015.

  • Tiller fined for frack sand air, noise violations

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    NORTH BRANCH, Minn. (AP) — A silica sand processing plant in eastern Minnesota has agreed to pay a fine for air quality and noise violations. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency levied a fine of $85,000 for Tiller Corp. which has been operating a processing and shipment center in Chisago County for nearly two years. Tiller mines silica sand in western Wisconsin and transports it to North Branch for processing and shipping by rail. The agency says Tiller exceeded limits for particulate matter, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and sulfur dioxide. It had 25 emissions violations as well as four noise violations. Tiller spokesman Mike Caron says the company made changes nearly a year ago to address the state'

  • Russian FM: politics must not affect oil decisions

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's foreign minister said Friday that political issues should not influence decisions on global oil production, even as the country's economy takes a hit from falling oil prices. Russia is weighing how to respond to this year's 30 percent drop in the price of crude, to below $80 per barrel. A government official said Monday a decision on production targets had not yet been made. When asked whether Russia was willing to cut oil production after a meeting with his Saudi counterpart in Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said only that Russia and Saudi Arabia did not want oil production targets to be affected by "political or geopolitical designs.

  • Pipeline Easement Information Center launches

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Petroleum Council has launched an effort to help smooth relations between energy pipeline companies and property owners. The online Easement Information Center includes resources for landowners and land agents involved in securing pipeline easements, which give energy companies access to private land in exchange for compensating the landowner. It's the product of a task force formed earlier this year that included industry representatives, regulators and landowners. More pipelines could help cut down on road traffic and the wasteful burning off or "flaring" of natural gas as the energy industry booms in western North Dakota.

  • Tribal head to speed North Dakota pipeline talks

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The new leader of North Dakota's oil-rich Three Affiliated Tribes is pledging to speed negotiations on a proposed pipeline through tribal land that would curb the wasteful burning of natural gas in the state by more than 10 percent. North Dakota's booming oil production has led to an unmanageable increase in the state's output of natural gas, which is a byproduct of oil production. Oneok Inc., the biggest operator of natural gas pipelines and processing plants in North Dakota, wants to build a 20-mile-long pipeline to capture natural gas from oil wells in Dunn County and move it to an existing pipeline network nearby.

  • Malaysia axes fuel subsidies as oil prices drop

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia's government said Friday it will completely withdraw fuel subsidies from next month following the plunge in global oil prices. Domestic Trade Minister Hasan Malek said fuel prices will now be set at the end of every month based on a monthly average price under a "managed float" system from Dec. 1. He said the move will allow Malaysians to enjoy the full benefits of the fall in global crude prices. Last year, the government spent 23 billion ringgit ($6.7 billion) on fuel subsidies. The world oil price has plummeted 31 percent in just five months, a sharp drop after a four-year period of prices near or above $100 a barrel. On Thursday, benchmark U.S. crude was about $76 a barrel.

  • XPLOR Energy pleads to Clean Water Act violation

    Updated: Fri, Nov 21, 2014

    NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An Oklahoma energy corporation has pleaded guilty to knowingly violating the federal Clean Water Act by discharging pollutants into Breton Sound and the Gulf of Mexico. U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite said XPLOR Energy SPV-1, Inc., based in Southlake, Texas, entered the plea Thursday inside of a one-count bill of information. Polite, in a news release, said the charges stem from the company's oil and gas production activities in the Breton Sound area of the Gulf. As part of the plea, XPLOR has agreed to pay a $3.1 million penalty and serve a three-year term of probation. If the court accepts the plea, Polite said $2.5 million of the penalty would go to the U.S.