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Oil and Gas Roundup — July 15

July 15, 2014
TOPICS: In the news
A roundup of oil and natural gas industry news from around the state, nation and world:

Oklahoma rig count drops back below 200

The number of drilling rigs actively exploring for oil or natural gas in Oklahoma fell by 11 this week to 198, Baker Hughes Inc. reported Friday.

The tally is up 29 from a year ago, when it was 169. Nationwide, the net number of active drilling units rose by one this week to 1,875, according to Houston-based Baker Hughes. The total is up 116 rigs from a year ago.

Of the rigs operating this week across the U.S., 1,563 were exploring for oil, 311 for gas and one was listed as miscellaneous.

Denton’s proposed HF ban likely to go to voters

DENTON, Texas — A proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing within Denton city limits, the first in the state, likely will be decided by voters in November, city officials said Monday.

In this gas-rich North Texas town where some wells are less than 200 feet from residential areas, the long-simmering debate about hydraulic fracturing will go before city council Tuesday in the most closely watched city decision in years, officials said. Opponents earlier this year gathered more than 1,900 signatures on a petition to ban hydraulic fracturing within Denton city limits. Enough registered voters signed to force council to vote and on Tuesday, they face two options: Approve a ban outright or place the issue on the November ballot.

“I think everyone all along assumed this was going to go to a citywide vote given the uncharted waters we find ourselves in,” Councilman Kevin Roden said in an interview. “My guess is there’s comfort in letting it go to an entire city vote as opposed to seven of us trying to decide this.”

Denton sits atop the Barnett Shale, one of the nation’s largest natural gas fields.

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Colorado anti-HF initiative pulled due to lack of support

DENVER — The organizer of Initiative 75, the grassroots anti-fracking measure, announced Monday that he has folded the statewide campaign after failing to collect enough signatures.

In a letter to the Pagosa Daily Post, lead organizer Cliff Willmeng said supporters made “heroic efforts” to place Initiative 75 on the Nov. 4 ballot, but were not on pace to gather the requisite 86,105 valid signatures needed by the Aug. 4 deadline.

Initiatives generally need about 125,000 signatures to clear the petition hurdle, given that many signatures are inevitably found to be invalid by the Secretary of State’s office.

Willmeng vowed to resume the anti-fracking fight in 2016 with more money and better preparation. His group, the Colorado Community Rights Network, had only raised about $5,000 and was relying on an army of anti-fracking volunteers to circulate petitions.

Karen Crummy, spokeswoman for the industry-backed Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence, said she wasn’t surprised by the anti-fracking proposal’s lack of support.

“I think Coloradans saw this initiative as killing state jobs and having severe repercussions on the economy,” said Crummy. “That isn’t going to change two years from now.”

Initiative 75, the Colorado Community Rights Amendment, would have allowed localities to supersede state authority in order to ban corporate activity within their borders, including anti-drilling and anti-fracking laws.

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Report: Oil companies remain complacent about computer dangers

WASHINGTON — Oil companies and others with critical infrastructure are ill-prepared to thwart computer system threats, even though more than two thirds have had at least one significant security compromise in the past year, according to a report released Thursday.

The Ponemon Institute analysis shows that the people in charge of managing  critical control systems know their organizations are not ready for the sophistication and frequency of cyberattacks.

Just 17 percent of the 599 security executives at utility, oil, gas, energy and manufacturing companies surveyed by the research group said they had deployed most of their major information technology initiatives meant to fend off cyberattacks.

And only 28 percent of the respondents said security was one of the top five strategic priorities at their organizations.

“This is a big issue, and you’d expect folks to be engaged,” said Larry Poneman, head of the institute that conducted the survey. But there’s a “big disconnect between the (corporate) levels and the people doing security.”

The result is that while “people across the board recognize the problem and impact of security, as an organizational priority it is not in the top five,” Ponemon added. “People aren’t doing enough.”

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Keystone backers want to keep pipeline in the public eye

Proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline are working to keep the project in the public eye, even as it becomes clear it will not be green-lighted until after the elections.

The Nebraska Supreme Court announced this week that it would hear oral arguments in a lawsuit about Keystone’s route through the state in early September.

Because the State Department decided in April to suspend its review while the pipeline’s route through Nebraska is litigated, this means a final decision is unlikely until after the midterms.

And that’s setting up a challenge for the project’s supporters, who want to keep the pressure on leaders to approve Keystone.

“There are a lot of other things happening right now — Export-Import Bank, immigration, tax reform, all kinds of stuff — and we don’t want Keystone to get lost in this whole thing,” said Chip Yost, the assistant vice president for energy at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).

“We want people and the president to know that this is still a priority for manufacturers and businesses,” Yost said.
NAM joined 43 business groups this week in sending a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to immediately recommend that President Obama approve the pipeline, instead of waiting for the Nebraska case.

“The purpose of that letter is to keep this at the forefront, not to let it die away,” Yost said.
Keystone supporters are also commissioning surveys, backing legislation and speaking publicly about it.

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