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Oil and Gas Roundup — June 15

June 15, 2015
TOPICS: In the news
A roundup of oil and natural gas industry news from around the state, nation and world:

State rig count continues climb; U.S. number drops by 9

The number of drilling rigs actively exploring for oil or natural gas this week in Oklahoma increased by one to 107, Baker Hughes Inc. reported Friday. The tally is down 93 rigs from a year ago, when it was 200.

Nationwide, the net number of active drilling units decreased by nine this week to 859, said Houston-based Baker Hughes. The total is down 995 rigs from a year ago, when it was 1,854.

Among the other major oil- and gas-producing states, Louisiana also gained one rig and Arkansas, California, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Wyoming were unchanged.

Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Utah and West Virginia each declined by one rig.

Of the rigs operating this week across the U.S., 635 rigs were exploring for oil, the lowest number in years, while 221 were deployed for natural gas and three were classified as miscellaneous.

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

Inhofe, GOP senators ask White House to clarify EPA’s methane strategy

Seven U.S. Senate Republicans asked President Barack Obama if mandatory methane reduction requirements for the oil and gas industry are necessary when the industry and states already are making significant headway in reducing emissions.

“Simply stated, the evidence is clear that these mandatory reductions are unnecessary and will be less effective than a voluntary, cooperative effort,” the GOP lawmakers said in a June 11 letter to the president.

“Greater federal regulatory burdens are unnecessary, and will complicate ongoing state efforts to reduce emissions, slow domestic energy production, and, in this instance, possibly trigger even costlier and more far-reaching rules on the sector,” they said.

The group, led by Environment and Public Works Committee Chair James M. Inhofe (Okla.) and Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (Alas.) asked Obama to shelve the proposal, and EPA to postpone mandates for new and modified oil and gas sources indefinitely.

Sens. John A. Barrasso (Wyo.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), David Vitter (La.), and Roger F. Wicker (Miss.) also signed the letter.

The senators said that despite the proposed regulations’ ostensible purpose being to reduce hazardous air pollutants (HAP) and volatile organic compounds (VOC), “we see an attempt to regulate methane…despite [EPA’s] notable misunderstandings concerning key aspects of the industry’s operations.”

Read more at Oil & Gas Journal.

Denton’s HF ban the most expensive in U.S.

A handful of cities across the country have implemented illegal hydraulic fracturing bans, forcing local taxpayers to foot the bill to defend the bans in court.

But which hydraulic fracturing ban has been the most expensive? The one in Denton, Texas, which has cost taxpayers over $1 million.

The ban that the city approved last November has had a hefty price tag thus far: $220,000 in legal fees alone, according to Denton Mayor Chris Watts.

“And that’s no small change,” according to Watts. That’s a far cry from $38,000, which is what Frack Free Denton promised the hydraulic fracturing ban would cost.

The legal fees alone not only show how Frack Free Denton misled the voters, but they also make Denton’s ban considerably more expensive than the ban in Longmont, Colo., which has cost at least $136,000. That number includes the cost of defending it in court, and as Mayor Watts has said about the cost of Denton’s ban, “it could be considerably higher” depending on future court costs.

Read more:

Ten important things to know from EPA’s 1,000-page groundwater study

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its long-awaited study on the relationship between groundwater and hydraulic fracturing, finding that fracturing technology has “not led to widespread, systematic impacts to drinking water resources,” as routinely claimed by oil and gas critics.

The assessment, originally requested in the form of an Appropriations subcommittee rider introduced by then-Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), took five years, tens of millions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of man-hours to complete.

And coming in at nearly 1,000 pages in length, a lot of folks are still trying to figure out what the document actually says. Below, we identify just a few of the highlights that jumped off the page to us:

Fact #1: EPA greatly expands the definition of what “hydraulic fracturing” is for the purposes of its study, but still finds “no widespread, systematic impacts” to groundwater.

As an academic matter, EPA actually defines hydraulic fracturing correctly in the executive summary of the paper: “Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of fluids under pressures great enough to fracturing the oil- and gas-producing formations.”

That’s pretty much in line with the official definition you’ll find in Webster’s dictionary: “[T]he injection of fluid into shale beds at high pressure in order to free up petroleum resources (such as oil or natural gas)”

But even after taking the time to properly cite and define the technology being studied, the agency goes on to explain that the scope of its examination includes processes and procedures used in oil and gas development that have nothing to do with fracturing technology at all.

Read more at Energy In Depth.
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