News Types: Press Releases

KBH Energy Center Executive Director Melinda Taylor Speaks on Collaborative Approaches to Regional Subsurface Challenges at 2015 X Latin American Forum in Mexico City

On April 15, 2015, Melinda Taylor, the KBH Energy Center’s executive director, participated in the X 2015 Latin American Forum on Energy and the Environment in Mexico City. Professor Taylor spoke on a panel called “A Conversation on Collaborative Approaches to Regional Subsurface Challenges.” Leigh Evans, a partner at Environmental Resources Management, and Cecilia De La Macorra, the Latin American director of International Government Relations at Exxon Mobil Corporation, were also on the panel.

KBH Energy Center Executive Director Melinda Taylor speaks on Collaborative Approaches to Regional Subsurface Challenges at X 2015 Latin America Forum on Energy and the Environment in Mexico City
KBH Energy Center Executive Director Melinda Taylor speaks on Collaborative Approaches to Regional Subsurface Challenges at X 2015 Latin America Forum on Energy and the Environment in Mexico City

The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences Latin American Forum on Energy and the Environment is a unique by-invitation-only free to attend program that addresses a critical need to bring together public and private sector decision makers, scholars and scientists, to foster dialogue around the sustainable development of energy resources and environmental issues.

Its focus is to advance collaborative cross-disciplinary academic, research and networking opportunities between Mexican and United States geoscientists from academia and the private and public sector.

The Forum’s technical panels are being developed with the support and cooperation of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico’s (UNAM) geoscience research centers, as well as with Mexico’s geoscience professional societies.

The 2015 X Latin American Forum on Energy and the Environment also underscores the objectives of the United States – Mexico Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research, the Fulbright-Garcia Robles Scholarship Program, 100,000 Strong in the Americas and Proyecto 100 MIL initiatives which bring together academia, the public and private sectors so as to promote student exchanges, quality post-secondary education and scientific research cooperation between Mexico and the United States especially in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

For more information, visit the X 2015 Latin American Forum website.

Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law, and Business at The University of Texas at Austin Releases Report Highlighting the Climate Benefits of Reducing Pipeline Gas Losses

AUSTIN, Texas – The Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law, and Business at The University of Texas at Austin released a report today by Romany Webb, a post-graduate research fellow in the Center, which examines the hidden environmental costs of compensating pipelines for natural gas losses. The report is the first comprehensive analysis of the regulation of lost and unaccounted-for gas across every U.S. jurisdiction. “The existing regulatory frameworks don’t do enough to encourage pipeline operators to reduce gas losses due to leaks” said Professor Melinda Taylor, a senior lecturer at the UT School of Law and the KBH Energy Center’s executive director. “Our report suggests a new approach that would encourage improved leak management, reducing greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate climate change.”

The KBH Energy Center’s report cites numerous studies finding that although substituting natural gas for coal or oil in electricity generation and other applications can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants, helping to mitigate climate change and improve air quality, these reductions are frequently offset by emissions during natural gas production. The report argues that realizing the full benefits of this so-called “clean fossil fuel” will therefore require changes in the production process. It urges action to prevent natural gas – which is comprised principally of methane – leaking from the pipeline system. The report notes that there is, however, currently little incentive for pipeline operators to repair system leaks as the cost of leaked gas can be passed through to ratepayers.

“Pipeline operators can recover the cost of so-called lost and unaccounted-for gas, including gas that escapes through system leaks” said Webb. “Many operators have reported gas losses exceeding ten percent of pipeline throughput, with some reporting losses as high as twenty or even thirty percent. This is incredibly wasteful and poses a serious threat to public safety and the environment.”

What changes need to be made to the current frameworks for recovery of lost and unaccounted-for gas in each U.S. jurisdiction to encourage improved management of pipeline leaks? The report recommends a series of changes to the current frameworks to encourage improved management of pipeline leaks, namely that:

  1. lost and unaccounted-for gas should be reported based on a standard definition and calculated using a consistent methodology,
  2. the cost recovery framework should be reformed to incentivize reduction of lost and unaccounted-for gas,
  3. pipeline operators’ claimed gas losses should be carefully scrutinized, and
  4. the federal and state regulations should establish an appropriate cap on cost recovery for lost gas.

“These reforms would create a powerful incentive for pipeline operators to improve system management to reduce gas losses” said Webb. “This can help to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and thereby slow the pace of global climate change.”

View a post summarizing the report on the KBH Energy Center’s Blog.

For additional information, contact Romany Webb at (512) 232-1408 or rwebb@law.utexas.edu.

About the KBH Energy Center

The Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Law, and Business is an innovative interdisciplinary joint venture of the School of Law and the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. The mission of the KBH Energy Center is to provide the finest educational opportunities in the United States to students who wish to pursue careers in energy and to serve as a nexus for incisive, unbiased, and relevant research and analyses for policy makers, with a special emphasis on Latin America.

About Romany Webb

Romany Webb’s current research focuses on managing the environmental impacts of oil and gas production. Webb previously worked at the University of California, Berkeley, where she researched climate change policy. She has also practiced energy and water law in Sydney, Australia.

Brazilian legal scholar Marilda Rosado gives talk on challenges to the oil and gas industry in Brazil at the KBH Energy Center

On April 21, 2015, Brazilian legal scholar Marilda Rosado gave a talk on challenges to the oil and gas industry in Brazil. Her presentation focused on recent trends, a comparative look at what’s happening in the oil and gas sector in other Latin American countries, legal highlights, upcoming opportunities, and challenges. According to Rosado, the biggest challenges include (1) corporate governance, (2) regulatory governance, and (3) good governance, soft law, and global administrative law.

View a PDF of the PowerPoint presentation.

View Professor Rosado’s bio.

Marilda Rosado, Professor of International Law and Oil & Gas Law at the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, speaks to faculty and students at Texas Law about challenges to the oil & gas industry in Brazil.
Marilda Rosado, Professor of International Law and Oil & Gas Law at the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, speaks to faculty and students at Texas Law about challenges to the oil & gas industry in Brazil.

Visiting Professor Owen Anderson gives distinguished lecture at KBH Energy Center on emerging energy issues in the developing world

Owen Anderson, a Visiting Professor from University of Oklahoma College of Law, gave a distinguished lecture on April 16, 2015 at the KBH Energy Center. Professor Anderson spoke about emerging energy issues in the developing world. Professor Anderson argued that if geology is favorable, a well-designed subsoil fiscal and legal system can address today’s challenges in Africa and in other poor regimes of the world. Specifically, a well-designed subsoil fiscal and legal system can ensure that both Host Governments and investors will attain their respective development goals – the capture of economic rents and a reasonable rate of return, as well as allow for “durable and satisfying” development.

Professor Anderson is the Eugene Kuntz Chair of Law in Oil, Gas and Natural Resources, George Lynn Cross Research Professor, and Director of the John B. Turner LL.M. Program in Energy, Natural Resources & Indigenous Peoples Law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. He also regularly teaches at the University of Texas and at other universities on six continents. In 2011, he received the Clyde O. Martz Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation.

View a PDF of Professor Anderson’s PowerPoint Presentation.

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Visiting Professor Owen Anderson discusses oil and gas issues in the developing world.
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Audience members included UT faculty, students, and staff from departments across campus, including law, business, engineering, geosciences, and public affairs, as well as members of the Austin community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Texas Law students win honorable mention for their memorandum for claimant at 2015 Vis (East) Moot in Hong Kong

Each academic year, the KBH Energy Center sponsors a team in the premiere moot court competition focused on international dispute resolution, the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot.

This year, Texas Law’s team competed in the Vis (East Moot), which was held in Hong Kong on March 16-22, 2015, and won an honorable mention for its memorandum for claimant. Ashleigh Acevedo, Lauren Miller, Josh Nosal, David Presley, and Xin Zhang competed on Texas Law’s team. They were coached by Garrett Martin (UT JD ’14), a judicial law clerk at the Supreme Court of Texas.

About the Moot

Because of the international business community’s marked preference for arbitration as the means for resolving trans-border commercial disputes, the Vis Moot was created as a clinical tool for training law students in crucial aspects of the procedure: research, drafting and advocacy.

The goals of both the Vis (East) Moot and the original Vis Moot in Vienna are the promotion and study of international commercial arbitration and the training of tomorrow’s legal leaders in methods of alternate dispute resolution.

Structure of the Moot

Law students participate in two separate but equally important phases: the research and writing of memoranda for both claimant and respondent, and oral arguments based upon the memoranda. Both phases are judged by panels of international arbitration experts. The Moot problem always involves a contract dispute arising out of a transaction relating to the sale and purchase of goods under the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG). The problem involves a different set of arbitration rules each year. Both the Vienna and Hong Kong Moots use the same problem and rules and some law schools send teams to both events.

In the pairings of teams for each general round and in the drafting phase, Moot organisers make every effort to have civil law schools argue against common law schools, so each may learn from approaches taken by those trained in another legal culture. Similarly, the teams of arbitrators judging both the memoranda and the oral rounds are from both common law and civil law backgrounds.

History

World-renowned expert in international commercial transactions and dispute settlement procedures, Willem Vis was born in Utrecht in the Netherlands and graduated from Leyden University and Nijmegen University in the Netherlands. Learn more about the history of the Vis Moot.

Attorney Joseph Fitzsimons gives distinguished lecture at KBH Energy Center on balancing property rights, energy production, and the environment

Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons gave a distinguished lecture on April 7, 2015 at the KBH Energy Center at UT Austin. Fitzsimons gave an excellent overview of some of the key issues that landowners and oil and gas companies deal with in Texas and the challenges that accompany the presence of endangered species on the land, as well as other environmental concerns.

Joseph Fitzsimons (UT JD '85) gives a distinguished lecture at the KBH Energy Center
Joseph Fitzsimons (UT JD ’85) gives a distinguished lecture at the KBH Energy Center

Mr. Fitzsimons is a natural resources, oil and gas, and water law attorney at Uhl, Fitzsimons, Jewett & Burton PLLC in San Antonio, as well as third-generation South Texas rancher. He is a graduate of the School of Law at The University of Texas at Austin. He is a past chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

View a PDF of Mr. Fitzsimon’s PowerPoint Presentation.