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Oil and Gas Roundup — Sept. 20

September 20, 2016
TOPICS: In the news
A roundup of oil and natural gas industry news from around the state, nation and world:

Donald Trump to speak at Shale Insight event in Pittsburgh

Organizers say Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will speak Thursday at the annual Shale Insight conference at Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Conference officials tell the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ( ) that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was also invited but declined, citing a scheduling conflict.

The pro-drilling Marcellus Shale Coalition is co-sponsoring the event with the Ohio Oil and Gas Association and the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association.

Trump's appearance comes after he spelled out an economic plan in which he claims he'll promote coal production, safe fracking and energy exploration in "appropriate" parts of federal lands. But Trump's proposal didn't spell out what government restrictions he wants to lift or modify to make that occur.

— Associated Press

Workers waiting out downturn could find patience rewarded

For the past two years, the hits have kept coming for the oil and gas industry. And with each blow, it seemed that there was another layoff announcement.

As of June 2015, we saw more than 150,000 global job losses; by May 2016, that number more than doubled to 350,000 job losses. Upstream drillers and service companies were hit especially hard in one of the worst downturns to date.

And even with chatter of the industry bottoming out, some M&A (mergers and acquisitions) activity and $40-something oil, recruiters are still unable to gauge when we’ll see a full recovery in hiring.

While the recovery is expected to be slow and several energy professionals – fed up with the waiting game – have opted to leave the industry altogether, it should be noted that some employers are making strategic hires.

Jeff Bush, president for CSI Recruiting, recently told Rigzone that certain markets would be quicker to come on line once the industry is on the up-and-up. Namely, the Permian Basin, which has accounted for 25 percent of total M&A oil and gas deals worldwide this year, as well as the Eagle Ford and Marcellus.

Read more at Rigzone.

EIA adds DUC data to drilling productivity report

Drilled but uncompleted wells, or DUCs, are the topic that is the talk of the town, and just about everyone is watching, eagerly awaiting when their power will be unleashed and what the impact could be on oil and gas markets.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is now estimating the number of DUCs in seven of the country's most active shale plays. The estimates, which cover the prior month, are released alongside data in the Drilling Productivity Report.

Other sources already track the DUC tally in the U.S. But the EIA said methodology, operational assumptions and, in some cases, insufficient data, cause other sources’ estimates to vary significantly. The federal agency said it uses a consistent methodology and uniform assumptions for its report on DUC estimates.

Data released Sept. 14 by the EIA showed the oil-dominant Bakken, Eagle Ford, Niobrara and Permian regions had a combined 4,117 DUCs at the end of August, while the natural gas-dominant Haynesville, Marcellus and Utica regions had a combined 914.

The estimated DUC count for both oil and gas regions have been falling; however, the count in oil regions had increased in 2014 and 2015 before dropping by about 400 in the past five months, according to the EIA.

Read more at E&P Mag.

Pipeline delay stirs anger, but not yet action, on Capitol Hill

Republican lawmakers who supported the Keystone XL project are slamming President Obama’s delay of the Dakota Access Pipeline, calling it another example of his harmful approach to energy production.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said it is “astonishing” that the administration delayed the Dakota project despite a federal court ruling it could move forward.

“The courts have ruled, the permits were there, the permission was given, and then the president comes in and intervenes in something that his own department had won the court case on it. So it just shows how anti-energy and anti-economy President Obama is,” Barrasso said.

Activists, environmentalists and American Indians have mobilized opposition to Dakota Access in recent weeks, hoping to recapture the energy that helped grind the Keystone XL pipeline to a halt.

The administration gave the effort a jolt of momentum earlier this month when it delayed final approval of Dakota Access for an agency review.

GOP supporters of Keystone lamented Obama’s decision but are not yet preparing legislative action, with some noting that the administration’s time in office is drawing to close.

“I’m not exactly sure what can be done,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), whose state hosts part of the Dakota Access project.

Read more at The Hill.

Venezuela crises compound as oil industry falls into disarray

EL FURRIAL, Venezuela — One oil rig was idle for weeks because a single piece of equipment was missing. Another was attacked by armed gangs who made off with all they could carry. Many oil workers say they are paid so little that they barely eat and have to keep watch over one another in case they faint while high up on the rigs.

Venezuela’s petroleum industry, whose vast revenues once fueled the country’s Socialist-inspired revolution, underwriting everything from housing to education, is spiraling into disarray.

To add insult to injury, the Venezuelan government has been forced to turn to its nemesis, the United States, for help.

“You call them the empire,” said Luis Centeno, a union leader for the oil workers, referring to what government officials call the United States, “and yet you’re buying their oil.”

The declining oil industry is perhaps the most urgent chapter of Venezuela’s economic crisis. Oil accounts for half of the Venezuelan government’s revenues, what former President Hugo Chávez once called an “instrument of national development.” The state oil company poured its profits, more than $250 billion in all from 2001 to 2015, into the country’s social programs, including food imports.

But those profits have evaporated with mismanagement and the drop in global oil prices over the past two years. Now, even Venezuela’s subsidized oil shipments to its vital ally Cuba are slowly being phased out, oil executives with operations in Venezuela contend, forcing Havana to look to Russia for cheap oil.

Read more at The New York Times.
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