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Oil and Gas Roundup — Feb. 9

February 09, 2015
TOPICS: In the news
A roundup of oil and natural gas industry news from around the state, nation and world:

Drilling rigs in Oklahoma down by seven to 176

The number of drilling rigs actively exploring for oil or natural gas this week in Oklahoma decreased by seven to 176, Baker Hughes Inc. reported on Friday. The tally is down nine from a year ago when it was 185.

Nationwide, the net number of active drilling units decreased by 87 this week to 1,456, said Houston-based Baker Hughes. The total is down 315 rigs from a year ago, when it was 1,771.

Of the rigs operating this week across the U.S., 1,140 rigs were exploring for oil, 314 for gas and two for miscellaneous.

Of the other major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas' count fell by 41, North Dakota dropped 11, New Mexico was down nine and Colorado fell eight. Kansas and West Virginia each lost four, Ohio and Utah were down two apiece and Louisiana was off one.

Alaska, Arkansas, California, Pennsylvania and Wyoming were unchanged.

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

Oklahoma gross revenue hits record level in January

Gross tax receipts for January set a record, State Treasurer Ken Miller said Thursday.

“Total receipts last month brought in more than in any other January,” Miller said. “Also, Oklahomans spent at record levels during the past month due, in part, to increased purchasing power from lower gasoline prices.”

Total gross collections for January were $1.13 billion, topping the previous high set last year by almost $66 million or 6.1 percent.

In spite of the strong bottom line, three components of gross receipts fell short of prior-year collections, Miller’s office said.

Gross production taxes on oil and natural gas dropped by almost $8 million, or more than 12 percent, compared to a year ago.

Personal income tax collections were down by about $3 million or just less than 1 percent from the prior January. Motor vehicle collections slipped below the prior year by $2.4 million or 3.4 percent.

“As expected, less money is coming in from gross production,” Miller said. “January collections reflect oil field activity from November, when prices were dropping steeply. In the past 21 months, gross production collections have dipped below the same month of the prior year only two times, both within the last three months.”

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Data show Texas ozone levels are not driven by hydraulic fracturing

The rapidly-growing Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) metropolitan area in North Texas has struggled for years to reach attainment with federal clean air requirements for ozone, a problem that many environmental activists have blamed on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). But a closer review of publicly available data suggests there is no credible link between ozone nonattainment and development of the Barnett Shale, over which much of the Metroplex sits.

Ground-level ozone, also known as smog, is formed when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) interact with sunlight. An array of industrial activities emit NOx and VOCs, although many regulators have identified tailpipe emissions from cars and trucks as the main cause of smog.

Critics of fracking have alleged for years that oil and natural gas activities emit more ozone precursors than all of the cars and trucks on the road in DFW. Downwinders at Risk, a local environmental group, told Fort Worth Weekly in 2011 that “the gas industry now emits more smog-forming volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, than all the cars and trucks in D/FW combined.”

As part of its “Don’t Frack with NY” advocacy campaign, the environmental group Riverkeeper wrote in 2012 that Barnett Shale activities “emit more smog-causing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than all cars, trucks, buses, and other mobile sources in the area combined.” The claim was also reprinted in the New York Times in 2011 with little scrutiny.

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Oil price slide dims hopes for Mexican replay of Eagle Ford

It’s not hard to see the Eagle Ford shale play from space.

Antonio Ortiz-Mena, head of the Office of Economic Affairs at the Mexican Embassy, recently gazed at a satellite photo showing the region ablaze with light. To the southwest, across the Mexican border, there was nothing but darkness.

“There’s no reason there should be that contrast,” said Ortiz-Mena. Mexico’s shale reserves are the sixth-largest in the world, right behind the United States. Much of that lies in the dark spot on the photo — the Burgos Basin that shares the Eagle Ford’s geology — and the nearby Sabinas Basin.

For the first time in eight decades, Mexico is opening its oil to foreign investment and partnership. But just as Mexico is gearing up its historic drive to turn its huge energy potential into revenue by joining with foreign investors and producers, those ambitious energy reform plans have hit a major bump in the road: Low oil prices.

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