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Oil and Gas Roundup — Oct. 14

October 14, 2013
TOPICS: In the news
U.S. rig count down 13 this week, settles at 1,743

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. decreased by 13 this week to 1,743.

The Houston-based company said in its weekly report Friday that 1,367 rigs were exploring for oil and 369 for gas. Seven were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,835 active rigs.

Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Oklahoma gained seven rigs, Alaska and Pennsylvania gained four, New Mexico gained two and Arkansas and Ohio gained one.

Texas lost eight rigs, Louisiana lost six, Kansas and West Virginia lost four, California lost two and North Dakota lost one. Colorado, Utah and Wyoming were unchanged.
The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and bottomed at 488 in 1999.

— Associated Press

Oil and gas jobs soar to new milestone

The U.S. oil and gas industry added new jobs faster than the total private sector during the year that ended in June, jumping 2.6 percent over the previous year and pushing the industry’s roster past 1 million jobs nationwide, according to a new report.

During the first half of 2013, the industry netted 23,700 jobs, driven mostly by extraction, drilling and support sectors, according to the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association’s report released this week. Overall, the industry grew 2.4 percent in that six-month period.

Eight out of nine oil and gas sectors measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics expanded this year. Only jobs in the oil and gas field machinery and equipment sector have appeared sluggish so far in 2013, according to TIPRO.

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Ohio Supreme Court to rule on drilling laws

Utica Shale development could mean billions of dollars worth of development and thousands of jobs for Ohio, but it can also bring air, noise and visual pollution for those living near hydraulic fracturing sites.

In 2004, the Ohio General Assembly gave the state Department of Natural Resources, "sole and exclusive authority to regulate the permitting, location and spacing of oil and gas wells." However, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor said the high court will hear an appeal from the city of Munroe Falls in Summit County to determine if local Buckeye State governments have any authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing.

At least three West Virginia cities — New Martinsville, Wellsburg and Morgantown — tried to ban hydraulic fracturing within their boundaries in 2011. But Mountain State courts quickly ruled the state Department of Environmental Protection had the sole authority to regulate drilling and hydraulic fracturing, thus invalidating such local restrictions.

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Expert: China can learn from U.S. in shale gas exploration

The surging shale energy output in recent years has been centering in North America, but it can also happen in other places like China, a U.S. energy expert said Friday.

Shale gas will come to play a more important role in China's energy mix in the long term, said IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates Chairman Daniel Yergin at a seminar on energy boom in North America.

"China has great potential for shale gas but it will take perhaps five to 10 years to develop, due to the lack of infrastructure and logistic capabilities," Yergin told Xinhua.

He added that Chinese energy companies among others are learning the necessary technologies from their American counterparts to unlock the unconventional energy including shale oil and gas.

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API launches Web-based map for tracking LNG export projects

Trying to keep pace with the recent slew of U.S. liquefied natural gas export approvals, the American Petroleum Institute has launched a Web-based map for tracking the progress of LNG export projects in the U.S. and around the world.

The interactive map gives users a detailed rundown of all pending and approved U.S. LNG export applications, with the 21 pending applications listed next to the map in the order that the U.S. Department of Energy expects to review them.

Clicking on a project's map location enables users to see updated information on a project's current phase, value of exports, capital investment, requested volume to be exported and jobs created. International projects also are accessible through the map, though with less detail.

"The map brings relevant information together in a single place, where it's more accessible to policymakers and the public," API spokesman Zachary Cikanek said.

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France upholds ban on hydraulic fracturing

France’s highest court on Friday upheld a government ban on hydraulic fracturing, in a defeat for a method that has revolutionized the oil and natural gas industry in the United States.

The Constitutional Council ruled against a challenge by Schuepbach Energy, an American company, whose exploration permits were revoked after the French Parliament banned the practice.

The success of the technique over the last decade has led the United States to now claim to be 87 percent self-sufficient in gas.

Environmental concerns, particularly worries about the danger to water supplies, have slowed adoption of the practice in Europe, and the center-right government of former President Nicolas Sarkozy passed a law prohibiting it in 2011.

Schuepbach Energy had claimed that the law violated its rights, unfairly singled out fracking and was unconstitutional. The court rejected those arguments.

The ruling was a victory for President François Hollande, who has tread a careful path on fracking, partly because he wants to maintain the support of the Greens party going into elections next year.

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Oklahoman marks OERB’s 13,000th cleanup

Oklahoma's oldest oil fields are cleaner this week as the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board celebrated its 13,000th abandoned oil field site restoration.

Backed by voluntary funds collected from the state's oil and natural gas producers, the OERB has spent more than $80 million on abandoned site cleanups since the program began in 1993.

“The oil and gas industry is taking responsibility and cleaning this up voluntarily,” OERB spokeswoman Jill Harrison said. “A lot of times these sites are on land that is being used. This particular site is on public land used for hunting and fishing. This is something very positive for the entire state.”

Increased drilling and higher oil and natural gas prices have boosted the OERB's budget, allowing it to pick up the cleanup pace.

The group has spent more than $5.4 million this year on its cleanup effort and is now completing about 1,000 sites each year, or almost three a day.

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