Natural Gas


Oil falls even with supply drop

The price of oil fell slightly Wednesday, despite a report of an unexpected decline in the nation's supplies.

Benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery slipped 12 cents to close at $99.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of oil, dropped 83 cents to $104.79 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London as traders considered the possible reopening of export terminals in Libya.

Washington gas blast threw metal pieces 300 yards

Authorities say the explosion that hit a liquefied natural gas storage facility in Eastern Washington earlier this week threw 250-pound pieces of steel up to 300 yards through the air.

Benton County sheriff's Deputy Joe Lusignan said Tuesday that it was "a little bit of a miracle" that no one was killed.

The Monday blast inside a processing plant at the Williams Northwest Pipeline LNG storage facility outside Plymouth, Wash., injured five people, and left a big gash in the side of an LNG storage tank.

US calls on Europe to wean itself from Russian gas

BRUSSELS (AP) — The United States called on Europe to wean itself from a dangerous dependency on Russian gas, saying it was time to stand together and bring an end to the Kremlin's use of energy supplies as political leverage.

Left unsaid was the European Union's reluctance to follow the United States headlong into shale gas extraction, which has transformed the global energy scene and turned the U.S. from importer into a nascent exporter. Or its refusal to fully re-embrace nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

And even if it tried to become independent, it would take Europe years to develop promising sources, such as shale deposits in Ukraine and Poland — and with no guarantees of success.

Moody's report finds Marcellus strategy benefitting early comers


Moody's said in a new report that natural gas companies that made early investment in the Marcellus Shale are seeing profits due to the region's proximity to high-demand areas in the Midwest and Northeast, FuelFix reports.

Kerry denounces use of energy as weapon

BRUSSELS (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday denounced the use of energy as a weapon, a day after Russia sharply hiked the price for natural gas to Ukraine.

Kerry told a meeting of the US-EU Energy Council at European Union headquarters in Brussels that supplies of oil and gas have to be secured throughout the world to prevent their being used as political leverage or tools of aggression. He also urged the council to move forward with efforts to promote the diversification of energy supplies so that no country is overly dependent on one particular supplier.

"It really boils down to this: No nation should use energy to stymie a people's aspirations," Kerry said. "It should not be used as a weapon. It's in the interest of all of us to be able to have adequate energy supplies critical to our economies, critical to our security, critical to the prosperity of our people. And we can't allow it to be used as a political weapon or as an instrument for aggression."

Gazprom hiked gas prices amid Ukraine negotiations

The New York Times

As U.S. and Russian officials looked to forge a settlement to limit future Russian encroachment into Ukraine, Russian gas exporter Gazprom hiked the price of 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas to $385, a 44-percent increase, The New York Times reports.

Company head says UK could produce shale gas in four years


Cuadrilla Resources Chief Executive Franics Egan suggested the United Kingdom could produce shale gas within four years if the crisis in Ukraine prompts a national state of emergency and constraints on drilling were lifted, Reuters reports.

EU, US vow to help Ukraine on energy independence

BRUSSELS (AP) — The United States and the European Union have vowed to help Ukraine reduce its dependence on Russia for energy supplies.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that they will seek to provide Ukraine gas through Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. At the same time, both sides are working to get more gas from Asia to Europe through Azerbeijan and Turkey instead of over Russian soil.

In the wake of Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula, Europe's energy dependency has come to be a political liability which could undermine a strong joint response to Moscow.


Oil down slightly ahead of US inventories report

The price of oil was steady Wednesday after a big fall the day before as traders waited for a report on U.S. crude stockpiles.

Benchmark U.S. crude for May delivery was down 2 cents to $99.71 a barrel at 0720 GMT in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract slid $1.84 to $99.74 on Tuesday, dented by soft Chinese manufacturing figures and expectations of another increase in U.S. crude stockpiles.

Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of oil, was up 6 cents to $105.68 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London.

PG&E criminally charged in fatal pipeline blast

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. was charged on Tuesday with federal felony counts involving safety violations linked to a deadly 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The indictment charges the utility with 12 felony violations of federal pipeline safety laws, which could carry a total possible fine of $6 million, or more if the court decides it somehow benefited financially from the disaster.

Federal prosecutors allege that PG&E knowingly relied on erroneous and incomplete information when assessing the safety of the pipeline that eventually ruptured, sparked a fireball and leveled 38 homes in San Bruno.


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