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Oil and Gas Roundup — Aug. 17

August 12, 2015
TOPICS: In the news
A roundup of oil and natural gas industry news from around the state, nation and world:

Oklahoma rig count falls by 4; U.S. count unchanged

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. reported the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. this week remained steady at 884. The number of rigs in Oklahoma fell by four to 103.

Houston-based Baker Hughes said Friday 672 rigs were seeking oil and 211 explored for natural gas. One was listed as miscellaneous. A year ago, 1,913 rigs were active.
Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas gained six rigs, Alaska was up three and Colorado, Kansas and Wyoming each rose by two.

Louisiana declined by four rigs as well, New Mexico and North Dakota were down two, and Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia dropped by one each.

Arkansas, California and Utah were unchanged.

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


Federal judge orders trial in Kingfisher wind project suit

A federal judge in Oklahoma City has ordered an April trial over nuisance claims against a wind farm under construction in Kingfisher and Canadian counties.

U.S. District Judge Timothy D. DeGiusti set a bench trial for April 11 against Kingfisher Wind LLC, a unit of Apex Clean Energy Inc. A group of landowners want the turbines to be placed at least two miles from their homes.

Construction already has started on the 298-megawatt wind farm in southern Kingfisher County and northern Canadian County.

The company has said it expects the project to be finished by year's end.

The landowners filed the lawsuit a year ago, listing concerns about noise, ice shearing off turbine blades, shadow flicker and other complaints. DeGiusti allowed a claim of anticipatory nuisance to progress but dismissed a claim of anticipatory trespass earlier this summer.

"We are ecstatic to have a trial date scheduled in the near future and the opportunity to share our concerns with the court," said Terra Walker, one of the plaintiffs and a property owner in Okarche. "Apex is taking a big risk in continuing to construct these industrial wind turbines when a ruling could require removal shortly after construction. We have an outpouring of support from our members and local citizens and are anxious for April to get here."

Read The Oklahoman story: http://newsok.com/federal-judge-orders-trial-in-kingfisher-wind-project-suit/article/5440118


EPA starts to roll out new emission rules for methane

The Environmental Protection Agency rolled out strict new emission regulations on Friday for controlling methane from landfills, in the latest move to implement the president's climate change agenda.

"Under today's proposals, new, modified and existing landfills would begin collecting and controlling landfill gas at emission levels nearly a third lower than current requirements," the EPA said in a statement.

The EPA explained that the new regulations are part of President Obama's Climate Action Plan and methane reduction strategy, which contains several regulations and executive actions to mitigate the threat of global warming.

EPA and the White House are particularly concerned about methane emissions, and today's action is just the tip of the iceberg in addressing methane, according to industry. "Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential more than 25 times that of carbon dioxide," which is a principal cause of climate change "threatens the health and welfare of current and future generations," says EPA.

The oil industry says other rules are expected in the coming weeks and months targeting methane from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which is used to extract oil and gas from shale rock formations.

Read more from the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/epa-starts-to-roll-out-new-emission-rules-for-methane/article/2570213


Obama surprises with gesture to ease oil export ban

The Obama administration made a surprise decision Friday to allow exports of oil to Mexico, although the decision likely means little compared to lifting a 40-year-old ban on oil exports that both industry and Republican members of Congress want.

The American Petroleum Institute and other industry groups have made lifting the 1970s ban on crude oil exports a top legislative priority when Congress returns in September. The Senate energy committee already passed legislation that would lift the ban, but observers say it will likely be a heavy lift to get it through the full Senate, as Democratic opposition will be fierce.

At the same time, industry is urging the administration to take executive action to remove the ban in its entirety, which it has the legal authority to do. The ban was put in place as an energy security measure by Congress in response to the Mideast oil embargoes of the last century.

The Obama administration has hinted in the past that the president is supportive of allowing partial exceptions to the ban, but is leaving the ban's complete removal up to Congress, say industry officials. Oil producers, because of the shale energy boom, argue that the situation has changed from the '70s, since the U.S. is now a leading oil and gas producer, making it less reliant on imports and able to sell surplus supplies into the global market.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/obama-surprises-with-gesture-to-ease-oil-export-ban/article/2570243


New ozone limits unnecessary, 370 state business groups declare

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to reduce ozone limits is both costly and unnecessary, 370 state business groups from across the country—including petroleum councils affiliated with the American Petroleum Institute—told White House Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough.

EPA’s current regulations are working, air quality continues to improve, and the United States is leading the world in reducing emissions,” the groups said in an Aug. 13 letter to McDonough.

“New ozone standards could significantly damage the economy by imposing unachievable emissions limits and reduction targets on almost every part of our country, including rural and undeveloped areas,” they continued. “Therefore, we strongly urge you to retain the current ozone standards when finalizing this proposal.”

EPA proposed reducing allowable ground level ozone limits under the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) from 75 ppb, where they were set in 2008, to a 65-70 ppb range late last year (OGJ Online, Nov. 14, 2014). It also said it would take comments on possibly reduce the limits to 60 ppb.

API, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Manufacturers have said that emissions have been dropping dramatically and lower limits aren’t necessary, especially since the 2008 program has not been fully implemented. Proposed reductions also could push national parks and other rural areas into non-attainment status, they warned.

Read more at Oil & Gas Journal: http://www.ogj.com/articles/2015/08/new-ozone-limits-unnecessary-370-state-business-groups-declare.html
 
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