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Oil and Gas Roundup — Sept. 22

September 22, 2014
TOPICS: In the news
A roundup of oil and natural gas industry news from around the state, nation and world:

U.S. rig count unchanged at 1,931

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. was unchanged this week, holding at 1,931.

The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report that 1,601 rigs were exploring for oil and 329 for gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,761 active rigs.

Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, North Dakota gained four rigs, Oklahoma increased by two and California, Colorado and New Mexico each gained one.

Texas declined by five rigs, West Virginia dropped three and Louisiana was down two.

Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wyoming all were unchanged.

The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981 and bottomed at 488 in 1999.

U.S. fuel exports reach record for August, API reports

U.S. exports of petroleum products reached a record in August for the month as refiners boosted rates, the American Petroleum Institute said.

Shipments of fuels increased to 4 million barrels a day last month, up 7.5 percent from a year earlier, the industry-funded group said today in a monthly report. Refiners operated at the strongest seasonal level in August, raising gasoline production to the highest on record for the month.

Fuel exports averaged 3.96 million barrels a day this year through August, up 17 percent from 2013, according to the API. Refineries processed 16.7 million barrels a day of crude last month, up 2.3 percent from a year ago and the highest August level.

Total deliveries of petroleum products, a measure of consumption, climbed 1 percent from a year earlier to 19.3 million barrels a day. Gasoline demand slid 1.2 percent to 9.02 million. Output of the motor fuel averaged 9.77 million, up 4.6 percent and the highest level for the month.

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After a dizzying spike and free fall, guar-gum prices likely to stabilise

KOLKATA — Guar-gum prices that went on a free-fall after reaching dizzying heights two-and-half years ago, are likely to firm up this year from 2013 levels, because of an expected drop in the output of this material used in shale-gas production.

Output of guar seed, the bean from which guar gum is made, is expected to be 25-30% less this year compared with the Kharif, or summer-sown, season of 2013, industry executives said.

Patchy rains across major guarseed producing states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana are likely to bring down the crop to 15-16 lakh tonne from the 22 lakh tonne harvested a year earlier.

In addition, demand for guar gum has emerged from non-traditional markets like Brazil, Argentina, New Zealand, Mexico, Russia, Vietnam and China where oil-sector activities have picked up in recent months.

The gum is used by drilling companies to thicken water that is mixed with sand and pumped through shale rock cracks to extract gas. It is also used as a thickening agent in products like icecream, bread, pasta, sausages and pastries.

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Gas industry remedies 'brain drain' in Western Pennsylvania

For Justin Welker, Western Pennsylvania was always home.

His friends were here. His family was here.

Unfortunately, his job wasn't.

When Welker graduated from California University of Pennsylvania in 2006 with a degree in fisheries management, he had to move to North Carolina to find work as a biological fisherman for the state.

Then came the Marcellus shale boom. Welker, 33 and living in Wexford, was able to return home, landing a job as water supervisor with Range Resources, a leading independent oil and natural gas producer in the region.

The Crawford County native is an example of what experts believe is the natural gas industry's gradual reversal of the region's decades-old “brain drain,” the mass exodus of young, educated workers to other states because there were no local jobs for them.

It's a reversal that includes workers in fields other than those typically in demand by drilling companies, experts said, pointing to new positions in public relations, law, accounting and other specialized areas such as Welker's.

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