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HPIn Brief

12.01.2011  |  Thinnes, Billy,  Hydrocarbon Processing Staff, Houston, TX


BP fined $50 million

BP has agreed to pay $50 million to the state of Texas to resolve air pollution allegations related to the March 2005 explosion at its Texas City refinery, according to a statement from Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

“The proposed agreement resolves the state’s enforcement actions against BP for unlawful pollutant emissions at its Texas City refinery,” Mr. Abbott said. “The proposed agreement reflects the state’s commitment to protecting air quality and holding polluters accountable for illegal emissions.”

According to the office’s 2009 enforcement action, BP was responsible for 72 separate pollutant emissions that have been occurring every few months since March 2005. An explosion and related fires erupted at BP’s Texas City refinery in March 2005, claiming 15 lives and injuring more than 170 workers.

The state’s 2009 legal action against BP stemmed from a referral from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which regulates and permits emissions at Texas refineries. After the Attorney General’s office filed its original legal action against BP, the TCEQ submitted a second, related referral against BP. According to TCEQ investigators, multiple Texas Clean Air Act violations occurred at the Texas City refinery between April 6 and May 16 of 2010. As a result, the Attorney General’s office filed a second enforcement action and charged BP with illegally emitting approximately 500,000 pounds of harmful air pollutants in Texas City.

Under the proposed agreement, BP is required to pay $50 million to the state of Texas. That amount includes $500,000 in costs that the Attorney General’s office incurred while pursuing the state’s enforcement actions. The remainder of the $50 million reflects civil penalties that will be deposited in the state treasury.

Aside from this settlement, BP has already paid more than $100 million in fines to US safety and environmental regulators, and up to $2.1 billion to settle civil accident claims related to the explosion.

Technip has signed a strategic partnership agreement for
innovation and technology development with the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). Located in Paris and Grenoble, France, the technological research division at CEA gives Technip access to over 4,500 researchers focused on the development of new technologies in the fields of energy, transport, health, information and communication. Technip aims to harness and develop this knowledge to increase the competitiveness of its core businesses and to expand and differentiate its business footprint through new technologies. The agreement is valid for an initial period of three years.

Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power in light of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has underlined the European country’s need for more gas supplies. It has also boosted interest in the planned Nabucco gas pipeline, which would transport gas 4,000 km between Turkey and Austria. However, a final decision on the Nabucco project will not be made until the end of next year, meaning that construction would not start before 2013 and the project would not be completed until late 2017. Nabucco Gas Pipeline International GmbH will hold an open season in the first half of 2012 to determine the requirements of European gas importers. Over the long term, Nabucco expects up to 20 billion cubic meters of gas from Azerbaijan to feed the pipeline.

Risk-management services firm DNV recently issued the world’s first certificate of fitness for a carbon-dioxide (CO2) storage development plan to Shell’s Quest carbon capture and storage (CCS) project in Canada. The proposed Quest project will capture and permanently store underground more than one million tpy of CO2 from its Scotford upgrader near Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. Based on the conclusions of an expert panel, DNV certified that Shell’s storage development plan is worthy of certification based upon a number of different metrics, such as sufficient storage capacity; long-term containment; proper risk-management plans; and a measurement, monitoring and verification program capable of continuously demonstrating containment.

Foster Wheeler’s Global Power Group subsidiary has entered into a 20-year agreement with Essar Projects India Ltd. (EPIL) to provide a technology license for utility-sized circulating fluidized-bed (CFB) steam generators to be sold in India.

“EPIL believes that CFB technology is the future for the Indian market given the constrained fuel supply situation and the ever-increasing environmental concerns,” said Alwyn Bowden, CEO of Essar Projects.

Enterprise Products’ $1.5 billion, 270-mile Acadian Haynesville Extension pipeline officially began commercial service in early November. With the completion of the project, producers in Louisiana’s prolific Haynesville/Bossier Shale play will have access to 1.8 billion bcf/d of incremental takeaway capacity. By increasing the system’s currently installed 74,000 horsepower of compression, capacity could be increased to 2.1 bcf/d, the company said. The project is supported by long-term, firm contracts with shippers totaling 1.6 bcf/d.

In side-by-side performance, durability and emissions testing of small engines, gasoline blended with isobutanol performed better than blends using ethanol, according to new research from renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels firm Gevo. Gevo said it provided the isobutanol to the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) and Briggs & Stratton (B&S), which tested both fuel blends in B&S small engines. The results demonstrated that, unlike ethanol, blends incorporating isobutanol do not cause any irregular or unstable engine or performance issues. The outcome suggests that isobutanol blends at 12.5% could ease the pressure on moving to higher ethanol blends to meet biofuel mandates with no impact on small engines. Isobutanol is a drop-in fuel that requires no flex-fuel engines, special blender pumps or pipelines. HP

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