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Oil and Gas Roundup — April 21

April 21, 2016
TOPICS: In the news
A roundup of oil and natural gas industry news from around the state, nation and world:

Oklahoma rig count flat at 63; U.S. count down 3

The number of rigs drilling for oil and natural gas in the United States declined again this week, dropping by 3 to 440, Baker Hughes said Friday. The count is down for 17 consecutive weeks and fell to a new record low, according to numbers Baker Hughes has published since 1968. The rig count is down 77 percent from 1,929 on Nov. 21, 2014.

The number of rigs searching for oil slipped by 3 this week to 351, while the number of natural gas rigs was unchanged at 89.

In Oklahoma, the rig count remained at 63 this week, down 71 percent from 214 active rigs on Nov. 26, 2014.

Among the other major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas lost three rigs to 194, Louisiana gained one to 48, North Dakota was off one to 26, New Mexico gained two to 19, Colorado was unchanged at 17 and Pennsylvania was off one to 16.

U.S. natural gas production hit record high 79 Bcf/d in 2015

Natural gas production in the United States grew 5% last year. The growth brought total production to a record high of 79 Bcf/d for 2015, even as the rig count plummeted and natural gas prices remained depressed. Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Oklahoma and North Dakota made up the increased production, offsetting lower levels of natural gas production in the rest of the United States.

Production from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Oklahoma and North Dakota accounted for 35% of total U.S. natural gas production in 2015, according to the EIA. In most cases, production in those five states production growth slowed in 2015 from 2014 despite high levels of overall natural gas production. Pennsylvania, for example, saw natural gas production growth of 1.5 Bcf/d in 2015, compared to 2.6 Bcf/d in 2014.

Production in Ohio was an exception, however, with production growth increasing 41% year-over-year. Ohio produced 1.4 Bcf/d in 2015, mostly from the relatively less-developed Utica Shale play. Production from the Utica is expected to continue growing, making Ohio an increasingly important part of total U.S. natural gas production.

Natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico grew slightly as well in 2015, reaching 3.6 Bcf/d, 6% more than in 2014. The increase broke a five-year streak of declining natural gas production in the GOM. The EIA suspects that the trend of decreasing natural gas production from projects in the Gulf is likely due to the comparative costliness of offshore production versus onshore.

Read more from Oil and Gas 360.

The New York Times, Democrats and scientists debunk Bernie Sanders’ ad on hydraulic fracturing

A new ad for the Bernie Sanders campaign proclaims, “Bernie Sanders is the only candidate for President who opposes fracking everywhere.”

This is true, which only goes to show how politically marginalized the “ban fracking” position is in both the Republican and Democratic parties.  A ban on fracking, after all, doesn’t square with Sen. Sanders’ proclaimed goals of fighting climate change and alleviating poverty.

Fracking advances causes “dear to most liberals’ hearts”

A New York Times column this week, by Gary Sernovitz, should alleviate any lingering doubt anyone might have about the environmental and poverty reducing benefits of fracking. The column is worth quoting at length:

    “The American shale revolution has advanced three causes dear to most liberals’ hearts. First, fracking has allowed America to lead the world in carbon-emissions reduction. Natural gas emits half the carbon dioxide of coal to generate the same amount of electricity, and the unleashing of gas from shale reservoirs has led in the last decade to a 40 percent rise in gas production in the United States and a 70 percent fall in prices.”

Read more at Energy In Depth.

U.S. running out of space to store natural gas thanks to hydraulic fracturing

America has used hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to acquire so much natural gas the country is now running out of places to store it, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in a report Thursday.

Natural gas storage facilities in the U.S. are already approaching peak design capacity and current natural gas inventories are breaking spring records.

The agency predicts the incredibly high amounts of gas in storage will result in record gas consumption in the electric power sector this year. U.S. natural gas power plants were already predicted to break records before the storage boom.

Natural gas has produced more electricity than coal for every month between July and October of last year, according to data released in December by EIA. Natural gas accounted for 35 percent of all electricity generated between those months. Coal only accounted for  33.6 percent, as shown in calculations performed by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

America’s storage facilities aren’t the only natural gas records being broken either. U.S. natural gas reserves are at their highest levels since 1972 and have risen for six consecutive years. Today, America’s proven recoverable natural gas reserves are seven times larger than they were in 2014.

— The Daily Caller

Senate OKs bill to promote wide variety of energy sources

The Senate overwhelmingly approved a far-reaching energy bill Wednesday that reflects significant changes in U.S. oil and natural gas production over the past decade and boosts alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power.

The bill also would speed federal approval of projects to export liquefied natural gas to Europe and Asia, where prices are higher than in the U.S. following a yearlong boom in domestic gas production.

With its 85-12 vote, the Senate backed its first ambitious energy bill in nearly a decade.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican and chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the bill represented "energy modernization" on a broad scale, reflecting almost a decade's worth of changes in technologies and markets in the energy sector.

"Moving forward with this act will help America produce more energy, help Americans save more money and bring us one step closer to becoming a global energy superpower," Murkowski said.

The bill would boost renewables such as solar and wind power, as well as hydropower, geothermal energy and even critical minerals such as cobalt, beryllium and lithium that are used in cell phones, computers and other electronics.

The bill also would encourage so-called clean-coal technology, including projects to capture carbon dioxide generated by coal-fired power plants, and increase public-private partnerships to develop advanced nuclear technologies.

The measure now must be reconciled with a House-passed version that boosts fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the House measure.

Read more at Associated Press.
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