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Oil and Gas Roundup — June 6

June 06, 2016
TOPICS: In the news
A roundup of oil and natural gas industry news from around the state, nation and world:

State rig count down 2; U.S. count up 9

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in Oklahoma fell by two last week to 57 after climbing for the past two weeks. The national rig count was up four to 408, the first weekly increase since October of 2015.

Oklahoma's rig count is down 30 this year and is off 73 percent from 214 in November 2014. Nationwide, the count has dropped by 290 this year and is down 79 percent from 1,929 on Nov. 21, 2014.

Of the other major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas gained three rigs to 176, Louisiana was off one to 47, North Dakota was unchanged at 22, New Mexico gained two rigs to 20, Colorado was flat at 16 and Pennsylvania lost two to 14.

Domestic benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude prices have nearly doubled from a 12-year low of $26.05 in February as the national rig count and domestic oil production have declined.


Energy infrastructure investments vital to economic growth

Roads, bridges, high speed rail, airport modernization – when politicians promise to fix the nation’s “crumbling infrastructure” and put Americans to work building shovel-ready projects, transportation is usually at the top of the list. We all notice infrastructure needs when we drive over a pothole or get stuck in traffic back-ups caused by the latest bridge repair.

But flipping a light switch, turning up the thermostat, gassing up the car – and, crucially, what we pay for these essentials – also rely on infrastructure. The difference is, updating energy transportation infrastructure promises major economic gains without costing a dime of consumers’ tax dollars.

More than 199,000 miles of liquid petroleum pipelines and 305,000 miles of gas transmission pipelines crisscross the United States. That may seem like a lot of pipeline capacity, but we actually need more. A lot more – and not just pipelines, but energy infrastructure investment across the board, including storage, processing, rail and maritime development.

Domestic oil and natural gas production soared in the past decade, and it’s soared in areas our energy transportation grid wasn’t designed to accommodate. Prior to an energy resurgence that has made American the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas, the priority was to transport imported energy from the coasts to points inland. Now that production is surging in places like North Dakota and Pennsylvania, infrastructure needs have changed.

According to a recent study from the Boston Consulting Group, U.S. industrial electricity costs are 30-50 percent lower than those of our foreign competitors. American manufacturing costs are now 10 to 20 percent lower than those in Europe and could be 2 to 3 percent lower than China’s by 2018, bringing even more jobs back to American shores on top of the estimated 400,000 manufacturing jobs already supported by shale energy.

Read more at The Hill.


White House hosts discredited researcher for methane briefing

With study after study showing that methane emissions from oil and natural gas production are exceedingly low and continuing to plummet, the White House has gone into overdrive in its effort to justify costly new regulations on the industry.

Last week, the White House invited discredited Cornell researcher Robert Howarth to give a 90 minute briefing on methane to senior staff.

Notably, just about every credible scientist working on methane has criticized Howarth’s research, including his work with activist Cornell Professor Anthony Ingraffea. Both Howarth and Ingraffea have argued that methane emissions from oil and natural gas development are enough to wipe out the fuel’s environmental advantages, a theory that has been widely panned.  Even President Obama’s former Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu (a Nobel Prize-winning physicist), said of Howarth and Ingraffea’s research: “we didn’t think it was credible.”

Other researchers who have criticized Howarth’s work include University of Chicago climate scientist Raymond Pierrehumbert; Berkeley physics professor Richard Muller; and Cornell earth, atmospheric sciences professor Louis Derry.  Michael Levi from the Center for Foreign Relations asked rhetorically about Howarth and Ingraffea’s research: “Is there value in debating people who don’t want to think?”

Reports from MIT, the University of Maryland, multiple reports from the U.S. Department of Energy, Carnegie Mellon and Cornell University have contradicted Howarth’s and Ingraffea’s work. Even the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which Howarth quoted at length in his White House briefing, specifically singled out Howarth’s research as lacking in credibility.

Read more at Energy In Depth.


Las Vegas Review-Journal: Who's ignoring science?

All too often, climate change alarmists are fond of declaring that “the science is settled” when discussing the negative effects of mankind’s use of fossil fuels. In order to make sure that virtually all of our energy resources remain in the ground rather than be tapped to raise our standard of living, environmental activists have created a new bogeyman: fracking.

Fracking utilizes high-pressured fluids, which are pumped into wells to break up rock formations and loosen oil and gas deposits. The process has allowed us to make use of natural resources that were once believed to be inaccessible. It has also made the United States a global energy powerhouse and saved consumers a fortune by creating a stable, predictable domestic supply.

Radical greens, however, warn that fracking threatens our water through leaks, spills, well failures and underground seepage of fracking fluid.

But a new report backs up the findings of previous reports, which concluded that the process poses no discernible risk to the environment. A joint environmental assessment by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement — not exactly right-wing organizations or energy industry mouthpieces — found that fracking off the coast of California has no significant impact on the environment.

Read more at Las Vegas Review Journal.


Noble Energy gets approval for Israel natural gas project

The Israeli government has accepted Noble Energy’s plan to assemble a $5 billion natural gas project in the Mediterranean Sea called the Leviathan, one of the largest undeveloped gas fields in the world, after years of delays.

The Houston oil company’s greenlight comes after months of internal squabbles in the Israeli government over whether Noble Energy and its partners had too much control over Israel’s natural gas market.

Plans for the gas project faced another threat last year: Italian oil major Eni had found a massive pocket of natural gas off the coast of Egypt, leaving the Israeli government with a ticking clock.

“This has been going on for quite some time,” said Andy Lipow, a Houston oil-market analyst.
Under an order from Israel’s Supreme Court, the parties renegotiated the framework agreement to give future Israeli governments more flexibility to change drilling rules in later years. The original agreement had required the government to lock in regulations for 10 years.

Read more at FuelFix.
 
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