News From The Oil Patch 4/19/2012

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A proposed new route through Nebraska for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline will require six to nine months of review under the normal process conducted by state and federal officials.  Mike Linder, director of the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, told CNN that the proposal from TransCanada will undergo a public comment period followed by final revisions by the company before his agency does its full assessment.

Kinder Morgan has new long term deals sufficient to move ahead with its planned $5 billion expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to the port at Vancouver.  The company expects to nearly triple the capacity of the 715 mile pipeline, from the current 300,000 barrels per day to 850,000 barrels per day.

One town smack in the middle of North Dakota's historic Bakken oil boom has a plan for getting rid of the "man camps" that have sprung up as laborers pour in: Ban their campers.  Williston, the state's ninth-largest city, is fed up with an estimated 400 RVs that are scattered throughout the city limits and house out-of-state workers. If passed, the law would make living in a home on wheels a misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine.

BP will gain access to U.S. government documents that may shed light on the size of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a crucial issue in determining the oil company’s liability.  In court documents, the government agrees to produce the documents after the oil company accused it of unfairly withholding them.  BP has said the documents may show that an August 2010 estimate is too high.  If true, that would reduce the maximum fine faces by BP under the Clean Water Act.

BP says it has now reached settlement agreements with well over 100,000 private plaintiffs to resolve claims for economic, property and medical damages resulting from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.  The London-based oil company said it still believes the cost of the settlement will be $7.8 billion, to be paid from a $20 billion trust it had previously set aside.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order creating an interagency group to oversee development of natural gas from shale deposits as companies push the administration to approve terminals to export the fuel.  The move comes as the Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to issue draft regulations on air pollution from hydraulic fracturing.

According to court papers filed in US Court,
12 US Oil and Gas companies are dealing under the table with Mexican drug cartels for stolen natural gas. The company accuses the cartels of stealing $300 million worth by hijacking tankers and stealing it from transfer and delivery systems. Pemex says ConocoPhillps, Shell Chemical and their alleged co-conspirators "knowingly or unwittingly" participated and profited in trafficking stolen Mexican condensate, and "thereby encouraged and facilitated the Mexican organized crime groups that stole the condensate."

Spanish oil giant Repsol vowed to fight for at least $10 billion in compensation for Argentina's decision to expropriate Repsol's Argentine subsidiary.  Spain's government pledged to take a range of measures against Argentina after its president announced she would nationalize the firm in defiance of Madrid's demands.

The state comptroller in Texas says a ruling classifying drilling for oil and gas as a manufacturing process would cost the state up to $4.4 billion in revenue.  A judge was expected to side with Southwest Royalties in its dispute with the state over whether metal pipes and other equipment used in creating oil and gas wells should be exempt from state sales tax.