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EIA: U.S. Gas Pipeline Companies Added 2,400 Miles of New Pipe in 2011

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a report that it estimates that U.S. natural gas pipeline companies added about 2,400 miles of new pipe to the grid as part of over 25 projects in 2011.

New pipeline projects entered service in parts of the U.S. natural gas grid that can be congested: California, Florida, and parts of the Northeast. Only a portion of this capacity serves incremental natural gas use; most of these projects facilitate better linkages across the existing natural gas grid, the EIA said.

By convention, the industry expresses annual capacity additions as the sum of the capacities of all the projects completed in that year. By this measure, the industry added 13.7 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of new capacity to the grid in 2011. The six largest projects put into service in 2011 added 1,553 miles and about 8.2 Bcf/d of new capacity to the system. Much of this new capacity is for transporting natural gas between states rather than within states. Golden Pass, Ruby Pipeline, FGT Phase VIII, Pascagoula Expansion, and Bison Pipeline projects added 6.1 Bcf/d, or about 80%, of new state-to-state capacity.

The EIA said that natural gas pipeline capacity additions in 2011 were well above the 10 Bcf/d levels typical from 2001-2006, roughly the same as additions in 2007 and 2010, but significantly below additions in 2008 and 2009. Capacity added in 2008 and 2009 reflected a mix of intrastate and interstate natural gas pipeline expansions, related mostly to shale production, liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, and storage facilities.

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Judicial Watch’s ‘Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians’ for 2011

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by Tom Fitton

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released its 2011 list of Washington’s “Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians.” The members of the Obama Administration on the list, in alphabetical order, include:

Dishonorable Mentions for 2011 include:

Attorney General Eric Holder: Attorney General Eric Holder now operates the most politicized and ideological Department of Justice (DOJ) in recent history. And revelations from the Operation Fast and Furious scandal suggest that programs approved by the Holder DOJ may have resulted in the needless deaths of many, including a federal law enforcement officer.

Fast and Furious was a DOJ/Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) “gun-running” operation in which guns were sold to Mexican drug cartels and others, apparently in hopes that the guns would end up at crime scenes. This reckless insanity seems to have resulted in, among other crimes, the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed in a shootout with Mexican criminals in December 2010. Fast and Furious guns were found at the scene of his death.

The Fast and Furious operation by itself should have resulted in Holder’s resignation, but it is the cover-up that has prompted serious calls for Holder’s ouster.

On May 3, 2011, in a House Judiciary Committee hearing chaired by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Holder testified: “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.” Newly released documents show he was receiving weekly briefings on Fast and Furious as far back as July 5, 2010. It appears Holder lied to Congress. Judicial Watch sued the DOJ and the ATF to obtain Fast and Furious records. The Judicial Watch investigation continues.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Holder’s corruption and abuse of office, Fast and Furious is just the tip of the iceberg.

On February 23, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that DOJ lawyers would no longer defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), as applied to homosexual couples. DOMA had passed Congress by a vote of 85–14 in the Senate and a vote of 342–67 in the House. President Clinton signed the act into law on September 21, 1996.

Judicial Watch filed two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the DOJ (including one on behalf of the Family Research Council) for records related to this pro-homosexual marriage decision. This failure to defend this federal law is unprecedented and raises serious questions as to whether President Obama and Eric Holder are upholding their oaths of office and following the Constitution’s command to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

The DOJ continues to stonewall the release of information regarding Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s participation in Obamacare discussions when she served as Solicitor General. In addition to forcing Judicial Watch to file a lawsuit to obtain this information, Holder’s DOJ thumbed its nose at Congress by failing to release this material to the Senate Judiciary Committee during Kagan’s judicial confirmation hearing. Holder continues to personally resist requests from Judicial Watch and Congress for additional information on this controversy. Kagan’s role in these discussions is especially significant now that the U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will consider challenges to the constitutionality of Obamacare in Spring 2012.

New revelations emerged in 2011 about the DOJ’s Black Panther scandal. Judicial Watch uncovered evidence that the liberal special interest group National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) may have had an inappropriate amount of influence on the DOJ’s decision to drop its voter intimidation lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense. This comes on the heels of sworn testimony that the Civil Rights Division of the Holder DOJ makes enforcement decisions based upon race.

Most recently, Judicial Watch obtained shocking documents suggesting the Holder DOJ is conspiring with scandal-ridden Project Vote (President Obama’s former employer and ACORN front) to use the National Voter Registration Act to increase welfare voter registrations. One former ACORN employee (and current Project Vote Director of Advocacy), Estelle Rogers, is even helping to vet job candidates for the Justice Department’s Voting Rights Division! ACORN and Project Vote have a long record of voter registration fraud.

Seeming to affirm ACORN’s hijacking of the DOJ, Holder recently said in a speech that he plans to use “the full weight” of the agency in 2012 to attack states that are enforcing laws that protect against fraud in the voting booths. This speech ended the pretense that the DOJ is independent from the Democratic National Committee and the Obama campaign – as it repeated almost verbatim the partisan arguments made by the Democratic Party against voter ID laws.

Holder must go. Pick your reason – Black Panthers, race-based decision making, abandoning the Defense of Marriage Act, Fast and Furious killings and lies, or turning the DOJ into an arm of the radicalized left – but Holder must go.

President Barack Obama: President Obama makes Judicial Watch’s “Ten Most Wanted” list for a fifth consecutive year (the former Illinois Senator was also a “Dishonorable Mention” in 2006). And when it comes to Obama corruption, it may not get any bigger than Solyndra. Solyndra was once known as the poster child for the Obama administration’s massive “green energy” initiative, but it has become the poster child for the corruption that ensues when the government meddles in the private sector. Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in September 2011, leaving 1,100 workers without jobs and the American taxpayers on the hook for $535 million thanks to an Obama administration stimulus loan guarantee.

Despite the Obama administration’s reticence to release details regarding this scandal, much is known about this shady deal. White House officials warned the president that the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program was “dangerously short on due diligence.” Nonetheless, the Obama administration rushed the Solyndra loan through the approval process so it could make a splash at a press event. The company’s main financial backer was a major Obama campaign donor named George Kaiser. While the White House said Kaiser never discussed the loan with White House officials, the evidence suggests this is a lie. And, further demonstrating the political nature of the Obama administration’s activities, the Energy Department pressured Solyndra to delay an announcement on layoffs until after the 2010 elections. Despite the public outrage at this scandalous waste of precious tax dollars, President Obama continues to defend the indefensible and has refused to sack anyone over the Solyndra mess.

President Obama continues to countenance actions by his appointees that undermine the rule of law and constitutional government:

  • Despite a ban on funding that Obama signed into law, his administration continues to fund the corrupt and allegedly defunct “community” organization ACORN. In July 2011, Judicial Watch uncovered a $79,819 grant to AHCOA (Affordable Housing Centers of America), the renamed ACORN Housing organization which has a long history of corrupt activity. In absolute violation of the funding ban, Judicial Watch has since confirmed that the Obama administration has funneled $730,000 to the ACORN network, a group that has a long personal history with President Obama.In 2011, JW released a special report entitled “The Rebranding of ACORN,” which details how the ACORN network is alive and well and well-placed to undermine the integrity of the 2012 elections – evidently with the assistance of the Obama administration.
  • Barack Obama apparently believes it is his “prerogative” to ignore the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law when it comes to appointing czars. According to Politico: “President Barack Obama is planning to ignore language in the 2011 spending package that would ban several top White House advisory posts.” Obama said this ban on “czars” would undermine “the President’s ability to exercise his constitutional responsibilities and take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” In other words, Barack Obama believes he must ignore the U.S. Constitution to protect the U.S. Constitution. Many Obama administration czars have not been subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate as required by the U.S. Constitution. In 2011, JW released a first-of-its-kind comprehensive report on the Obama czar scandal, entitled “President Obama’s Czars.”
  • In an historic victory for Judicial Watch and an embarrassing defeat for the Obama White House, a federal court ruled on August 17, 2011 that Secret Service White House visitor logs are agency records that are subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell issued the decision in Judicial Watch v. Secret Service. The Obama administration now will have to release all records of all visitors to the White House – or explain why White House visits should be kept secret under the law. The Obama White House continues to fight full disclosure and has stalled the release of records by appealing the lower court decision. Judicial Watch gave Obama a “failing grade” on transparency in testimony before Congress in 2011. Read the testimony in full, as well as additional congressional testimony during a hearing entitled “White House Transparency, Visitor Logs and Lobbyists.”
  • In 2011, the Obama National Labor Relations Board sought to prevent the Seattle-based Boeing Company from opening a $750 million non-union assembly line in North Charleston, South Carolina, to manufacture its Dreamliner plane. Judicial Watch obtained documents from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) showing this lawsuit was politically motivated. Judicial Watch uncovered documents showing NLRB staff cheerleading for Big Labor, mouthing Marxist, anti-American slurs and showing contempt for Congress related to the agency’s lawsuit against Boeing, including email correspondence attacking members of Congress. And it starts at the top. Obama bypassed Congress and recess-appointed Craig Becker–who is connected to the AFL-CIO, SEIU, and ACORN–to the NRLB.
  • Obama’s corrupt Chicago dealings continued to haunt him in 2011. Obama’s real estate partner, campaign fundraiser, and Obama pork recipient Antoin “Tony” Rezko was finally sentenced to jail this year, as was former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who is now set to serve 14 years for attempting to sell Obama’s former Senate seat to the highest bidder. The FBI continues to withhold from Judicial Watch documents of its historic interview of then-Senator Obama about the Illinois corruption scandal. The FBI interview was conducted in December 2008, about one month before Obama was sworn into the presidency.

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS:

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano: While Attorney General Eric Holder was busy attacking states seeking to protect themselves from uncontrolled illegal immigration in 2011, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano presided over a campaign to bypass Congress and provide amnesty to millions of illegal alien lawbreakers, all in an obvious attempt to garner more Hispanic votes for Obama’s reelection.

At first, Napolitano’s campaign was begun in stealth. But in 2011 the Obama administration finally admitted that illegal alien amnesty is now the official policy of the United States of America, courtesy of Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

According to The New York Times:

The Department of Homeland Security will begin a review on Thursday (November 17, 2011) of all deportation cases before the immigration courts and start a nationwide training program for enforcement agents and prosecuting lawyers, with the goal of speeding deportations of convicted criminals and halting those of many illegal immigrants with no criminal record.

Don’t believe for a second DHS’s line that criminal illegal aliens won’t find themselves “outside the department’s priorities.” This is an outright lie.

In 2011, Judicial Watch uncovered documents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) proving that immigration officials were urged to use “prosecutorial discretion” to dismiss deportation proceedings against a wide variety of illegal alien criminals — including those convicted of serious crimes such as sexual assault, solicitation of murder, aggravated assault, assaulting a police officer, and kidnapping, as well as numerous drug charges.

And to highlight the depth of this amnesty scheme, consider the case of Carlos Martinelly-Montano, the drunk-driving illegal immigrant from Bolivia who killed a Catholic nun and severely injured two others in Prince William County, Virginia, on August 1, 2010. Napolitano ordered an investigation into Montano’s background but initially refused to release the agency’s findings — until Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit. On March 3, 2011, Judicial Watch finally got hold of the “cleaned up” version of the Homeland Security report (after a lengthy back-and-forth with DHS).

And what did Judicial Watch uncover? Montano should have been deported, but thanks to the illegal alien sanctuary policies of the federal government, local authorities and the courts, he was allowed back onto the streets.

Evidently, Janet Napolitano believes her agency may simply choose to ignore illegal immigration laws to help Obama get reelected. Moreover, the DHS seems more than willing to stonewall and obfuscate in order to conceal its questionable activities. As some key of members of Congress wrote Napolitano:

“This new [backdoor amnesty] policy undermines the rule of law and intrudes on the role of Congress to make the law, while denigrating the role of the executive to carry out the laws enacted by Congress.”

Napolitano’s attempt to rewrite immigration law on her own is an affront to constitutional government.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: What did Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discuss during all of those secret Obamacare meetings she held with Vice President Biden and Big Labor leaders? Obamacare waivers would be an excellent guess.

In September 2011, HHS announced an arbitrary cut-off to waiver applications, which had skyrocketed to 1,472 unions and companies seeking to get out from underneath the Obama administration’s healthcare overhaul. At the time of the cut-off, approximately 50% of the waivers granted covered employees of unions, even though union workers represent about 12% of the total workforce!

From the beginning, HHS has kept these waivers shrouded in secrecy. Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against HHS on December 30, 2010, and yet the agency refuses to explain to the American people how decisions were made regarding which organizations received or did not receive a waiver.

While HHS was disproportionately doling out waivers to unions, JW also obtained documents from HHS that provide new details on a massive, taxpayer-funded, multimedia campaign designed to promote Obamacare. The total cost of this campaign, which notably targets Obama’s electoral coalition, could reach as much as $200 million over the next five years.

And this is how HHS describes the key to success for this campaign: “Health and program-related messages are processed by the target audience according to a particular reality, which he or she experiences. Attitudes, feelings, values, needs, desires, behaviors and beliefs all play a part in the individual’s decision to accept information and make a behavioral change.” In other words, the Obama administration is paying hired guns a lot of your money to manipulate American taxpayers into “accepting” the Obama way and “changing” their behavior.

This is certainly what HHS was trying to do with a series of three Medicare television advertisements featuring actor Andy Griffith. As Judicial Watch uncovered through FOIA, the Obama administration spent $3,184,000 in taxpayer funds to produce and air the advertisements on national television in September and October 2010. According to FactCheck.org, a project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, the advertisements intentionally misinformed the American people.

And then there’s health care rationing. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS), which is under the auspices of HHS, proposed that Provenge, a Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment for prostate cancer, be placed under a controversial “review.” After enormous public scrutiny, CMS relented and recommended the potentially lifesaving drug be covered by insurance. According to a Judicial Watch investigation, while the Obama administration claimed the cost of Provenge had nothing to do with their review process, records obtained by JW suggest otherwise (Medicare, the FDA, and private companies are legally prohibited from denying approval of a medical treatment based solely on cost).

And then there is Sebelius’s war on the Catholic Church and other “conservative” religious organizations. Sebelius’s HHS has written Obamacare regulations to punish long-held religious views that don’t comport with liberal ideology and would force hundreds of religious institutions to drop insurance coverage or risk running afoul of Sebelius’s pro-abortion Obamacare regulatory scheme.

The constitutionality of Obamacare may ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. But in the meantime, Kathleen Sebelius has turned HHS into a political machine, using underhanded tactics to stack the deck in favor of Obamacare, while greasing Big Labor and other Obama political campaign allies.

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Top 5 Rigzone Articles of 2011

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Consider this the Grammys for Rigzone (minus the red carpet, celebrities, movies, etc.). A special thanks goes out to our dedicated Rigzone readers for making this a wonderful year for the Rigzone team.

So without much ado, click through the slideshow below to view

Rigzone’s top five most-read articles of 2011.

USA: Hercules Offshore Posts USD 17 Million Loss in 3Q 2011

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Hercules Offshore, Inc. today reported a loss from continuing operations of $17.0 million, or $0.12 per diluted share, on revenue of $163.0 million for the third quarter 2011, compared with a loss from continuing operations of $16.1 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, on revenue of $157.6 million for the third quarter 2010.

John T. Rynd, Chief Executive Officer and President of Hercules Offshore stated, “Activity levels in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico Shelf are on the rise, as operators increasingly focus on liquids rich drilling opportunities. Concurrently, several jackup rigs have departed for international opportunities, resulting in a tight environment for rig availability in the region. Hercules Offshore has been the primary beneficiary of the improving fundamental trends in the shallow water U.S. Gulf of Mexico, which have accelerated during the third quarter. Average dayrates in our Domestic Offshore segment have increased by nearly $10,000 per day over the past year, with leading edge rates suggesting further upside for our domestic jackup fleet.

“Our International Offshore segment was recently successful at securing several contracts, including attractive, long term extensions for the Hercules 261 and Hercules 262 in the Middle East. These contracts are a testament to our strong performance and relationship with the customer, Saudi Aramco. Tempering our international success was the recently announced damage to the Hercules 185, where we are anticipating approximately six months of downtime for repairs.”

Offshore

Domestic Offshore revenue increased to $60.2 million in the third quarter 2011 from $25.1 million in the comparable period in 2010. Approximately 70% of the revenue increase is attributable to the acquisition of the Seahawk rigs, while higher utilization and dayrates on the legacy fleet contributed to the remaining revenue growth. Average revenue per rig per day increased by $9,722 per rig per day to $49,060 in the third quarter 2011 compared to $39,338 in the prior year period. Utilization in the third quarter 2011 increased to 74.2% from 62.9% in the third quarter 2010. However, operating days rose by more than 90%, largely as a result of the acquisition of the Seahawk rigs. Domestic Offshore operating expenses increased to $53.2 million in the third quarter 2011 from $38.7 million in the third quarter 2010, due to costs associated with the acquired Seahawk rigs. Domestic Offshore recorded an operating loss of $12.8 million in the third quarter 2011 compared to an operating loss of $32.1 million for the respective prior year quarter.

International Offshore revenue declined to $49.0 million in the third quarter 2011 from $74.4 million in the third quarter 2010. The decline was primarily driven by new contracts at lower market rates on the Hercules 208, Hercules 258, Hercules 260 and Rig 3, as well as the downtime related to transition between contracts. The reduction in revenue related to these aforementioned rigs was partially offset by the increased utilization on the Hercules 185. Overall, average revenue per rig per day declined to $96,388 in the third quarter 2011 from $138,344 in the third quarter 2010, and operating days declined to 508 days from 538 days, in the respective periods. Third quarter 2011 operating expenses were $29.1 million compared to $31.1 million in the third quarter 2010, as lower costs associated with new contract terms on the Hercules 258 and Hercules 260 were partially offset by higher costs on the Hercules 185. International Offshore general and administrative expenses during the third quarter 2011 include an $8.0 million benefit, compared to a $1.5 million benefit during the third quarter 2010, from the reversal of an allowance for doubtful accounts related to payments received from a customer in Angola. Operating income decreased to $12.9 million in the third quarter 2011 from $26.9 million in the third quarter 2010.

Inland

Inland revenue for the third quarter 2011 increased to $8.1 million from $5.7 million in the third quarter 2010, primarily driven by an increase in average revenue per rig per day to $31,008 in the third quarter 2011 from $21,357 in the third quarter 2010. Utilization of 94.9% during the third quarter 2011 is comparable to 97.5% for the prior year period. Third quarter 2011 operating expenses were $3.5 million, which includes approximately $2.6 million in gains for asset sales, compared to $8.3 million in the comparable period in 2010. Year ago results include an accrual of approximately $3.0 million related to a multi-year state sales and use tax audit. Inland recorded operating income of $0.9 million in the third quarter 2011 compared to an operating loss of $8.6 million in the third quarter 2010.

Liftboats

Domestic Liftboats generated revenue of $16.7 million in the third quarter 2011 compared to $24.6 million in the third quarter 2010. Year ago results were positively impacted by coastal remediation work related to the BP-Macondo incident. The absence of the BP-Macondo related work led to a decline in utilization to 69.8% during the third quarter 2011 from 91.6% for the prior year period. Average revenue per liftboat per day was down slightly to $7,443 in the third quarter 2011 compared to $7,684 in the third quarter 2010. Operating expenses were essentially flat at $11.4 million in the third quarter 2011. Operating income for Domestic Liftboats was $0.6 million in the third quarter 2011 compared to operating income of $9.4 million in the comparable prior year period.

International Liftboat revenue increased modestly to $28.9 million in the third quarter 2011 compared to $27.8 million in the third quarter 2010, largely due to higher utilization, which rose to 64.1% in the third quarter 2011 from 56.6% in the prior year period. This was partially offset by a decline in average revenue per liftboat per day to $21,325 from $23,176 in the same periods, respectively. Operating expenses increased to $14.1 million in the third quarter 2011 versus $13.0 million in the prior year period due to higher labor and maintenance costs. Operating income for International Liftboats was $8.5 million in the third quarter 2011, compared to $9.4 million in the same period of the prior year.

Discovery Offshore S.A. Investment

Since Hercules Offshore’s initial $10 million investment in Discovery Offshore S.A. (Oslo Axess: DISC), which gave the company an 8% ownership stake, the Company has completed several purchases of Discovery common stock, totaling approximately $24.2 million. The most recent purchase on September 13, 2011 increased Hercules’ holding in Discovery to 18.4 million shares, corresponding to 28.0% of Discovery’s share capital.

Additional Information

Headquartered in Houston, Hercules Offshore, Inc. operates a fleet of 49 jackup rigs, 17 barge rigs, 65 liftboats, two submersible rigs, and one platform rig. The Company offers a range of services to oil and gas producers to meet their needs during drilling, well service, platform inspection, maintenance, and decommissioning operations in several key shallow water provinces around the world. Hercules Offshore currently holds 28.0% of share capital in Discovery Offshore, a pure play, ultra-high specification jackup rig company.

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