Loren Steffy


Loren Steffy: Can BP Move Beyond Macondo’s Legacy?


The record $18.7billion Deepwater Horizon settlement is, first and foremost, a victory for BP. The company’s shareholders clearly recognize this. After the settlement was announced Thursday, giddy investors sent the company’s shares up more than 5%, adding more than $5billion to its market value.


Loren Steffy: Liquidating the SPR -The right idea for the wrong reasons


A committee of the U.S. House of Representatives last month approved selling some oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to pay for speeding government approvals for new medicine. It’s like raiding your kids’ college fund to buy groceries. Selling an asset, in this case oil, to fund a stop-gap budgetary measure that ought to be paid for through traditional funding avenues is not just short-sighted, it’s foolhardy. Short-sighted spending initiatives aren’t a congressional novelty, of course, but there’s a bigger issue behind the House’s interest in raiding the SPR, one that lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee seem unwilling to address fully. The 21 Century Cures Act that the committee approved would overhaul the process for approving new drugs and medical devices by pumping an additional $13billion over 10 years into the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration.


Opinion: With Shell out of the picture, who will dance with BP?


I was off by one letter. If you had told me a year ago that Shell was going to make one of the biggest acquisitions in energy industry history, I would have guessed the target was BP. Instead, Shell plunked down $70 billion for BG after a month of whirlwind talks that reportedly began with a Sunday afternoon phone call between the two top executives.


Opinion: Is Pemex ready to play on the world stage?


Flames once again ripped through the darkened skies over the Gulf of Mexico. Workers, fearing for their lives, jumped into the black waters. Four died in the blast. Forty-five others were injured, including 16 who were hospitalized. The chilling video of fire engulfing an oil processing platform early Wednesday off the Mexican coast summons the ghosts of another disaster that happened in the same body of water five years ago. The Deepwater Horizon disaster was more deadly, killing 11 workers and seriously injuring 17 more.


Opinion: Why Americans hate fracking but love cheap gasoline


During the holidays, a friend was driving home and said she spotted a fracking well soon after she crossed into Texas. She wasn’t happy about it. Another friend posted on Facebook a picture of gas prices below $2 a gallon — something that hasn’t happened in more than five years — and commented that the low price made him feel as if “he was stealing something.” In America, the world’s largest energy-consuming nation, the biggest fractures occur not in deep underground shale formations but in the way we separate our perceptions of energy from reality.


Opinion: What the great oil bust of 2014 means for 2015


The precipitous decline in oil prices during the past six months creates the sort of economic upheaval that’s likely to alter the course of companies and countries. Brent crude has been steadily falling since mid-June, and now sells for almost half the $115 a barrel it did then. Even if oil prices rebound in a few months – which isn’t likely – the Bust of 2014, as it will become known, is going to leave a lasting mark. We’re already beginning to see reactions in the energy industry. Earlier this month, ConocoPhillips, the biggest U.S. independent producer, said it would slash its 2015 capital budget by 20 percent. A few weeks earlier, Halliburton announced plans to buy oilfield service rival Baker Hughes for $35 billion, which was quickly followed by plans to shed 1,000 jobs in the Eastern Hemisphere. In mid-December, chief executive David Lesar said more cuts could follow next year as the market for drilling services weakens. BP CEO Bob Dudley emphasized recently that his company’s costs are too high to compete in an environment of lower crude prices. The company plans to cut jobs and may also close or sell some sites or plants, Dudley said. BP, of course, has long been rumored as a takeover target, with Shell mentioned as the most likely suitor. BP’s shares have trailed its peers since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in April 2010, and greater clarity on the extent of liabilities from that case, combined with lower oil prices, could make it more vulnerable to a buyout. The industry hasn’t seen a mega-merger like that since the bust of the late 1990s.


Loren Steffy: Using real-time data to prevent blowouts offshore


Imagine two airplanes flying toward each other on a collision course. In the modern world of commercial aviation, two planes with conflicting flight paths would trigger alarms in in the air traffic control tower. That’s because the safety of commercial aviation relies on the use of real-time data to avert disasters. The same can’t be said for the offshore oil industry. Four and a half years after BP’s Macondo disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the industry remains reluctant to use drilling data it collects from rigs to enhance safety.