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Oil and Gas Roundup — Sept. 29

September 29, 2017
TOPICS: In the news
A roundup of oil and natural gas industry news from around the state, nation and world:

State rig count down 3 for second straight week; national count up 5

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in Oklahoma fell by three rigs for the second straight week, to 124, for the week ending Sept. 29. That number is up from 68 a year ago.

Nationwide, five additional rigs came online, raising the count to 940, up from 522 a year ago.

Of the other major oil- and natural gas-producing states, Texas lost two rigs to 451, New Mexico gained one to 69, Louisiana added two to 67 and North Dakota was up one to 50. Colorado (33), Pennsylvania (33), Ohio (29) and Wyoming (25) were all unchanged.

Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes said that 750 rigs sought oil and 189 explored for natural gas this week. One was listed as miscellaneous.

The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981. It bottomed out in May of 2016 at 404.

Congress probes Russia's involvement in US anti-fracking campaigns

A U.S. House committee investigating whether Russia has tried to influence U.S. public opinion on fossil fuels asked Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet on Wednesday to turn over information about Russian entities that may have bought anti-fracking advertisements.

House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and climate change denier, asked the CEOs of the technology companies to turn over documents by Oct. 10 that detail the involvement of Russian-based or funded entities detected on their platforms, information on ads they purchased, and any communications concerning ads advocating for “so-called green initiatives.”

Smith and the Republicans on the committee that oversees U.S. scientific agencies have targeted mainstream climate change scientists, questioning their integrity and calling for eliminating federal funding for climate research. They have also accused environmental groups of colluding with Russians to push for regulations to curb fossil fuel extraction.

“The committee is concerned that divisive social media and political messages conveyed through social media have negatively affected certain energy sectors, which can depress research and development in the fossil fuel sector and expanding potential for natural gas,” Smith wrote in letters to the CEOs.

The committee, which oversees U.S. scientific agencies, believes such anti-fracking ads reflect “the Russian government’s concern about the impact of fracking ... on the global energy market and potential challenges to profitability” of Russian energy companies, the letter said.

Read more at Reuters.

Collins, McCain undecided on latest drilling push

Two Republican senators who in the past have opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are taking a wait-and-see approach toward the issue if it re-emerges this fall as part of the fiscal 2018 budget process.

Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and John McCain of Arizona — both known for their independent voting records — said yesterday they needed more information before deciding how to vote on any new push to open a portion of the 19-million-acre refuge in Alaska to oil and gas drilling.

"I want to look at the parameters of it. I want to look at the proposal first," McCain said as he hustled to a vote in the Capitol. "I've got to know where, how much, what's the extent, whether there are regulations, all that. I need to look at the issue."

Collins was similarly cautious in comments to E&E News. "Well, I don't even know what's going to be in the budget resolution, so it's totally premature for me to make a decision on that," said the Maine senator, noting she has "consistently voted against opening ANWR to drilling in the past."

Collins also said she wanted to find out more about horizontal drilling, developed in the years since she has voted against extraction at ANWR.

"I don't know whether it truly poses far fewer risks to the environment, or whether there are still some risks," she said. "That's what I would need to look at."

The issue of drilling in the refuge has cropped up again because conservation groups believe it will be linked to a broader Republican push to use budget reconciliation to fast-track tax reform through Congress this fall.

Read more at E&E News (subscription required).

U.S. fuel demand hits highest level in a decade for August

U.S. fuel consumption to its highest level in a decade for the month of August, driven by a rise in distillate demand, as gasoline deliveries fell, the American Petroleum Institute said.

Total deliveries of petroleum products, a measure of demand, climbed 1.3 percent from a year earlier to average 20.5 million barrels per day, according to a monthly report Thursday from the industry-funded group.

Distillate deliveries rose 6.5 percent to 4.13 million barrels a day, the best August in 10 years.

Gasoline demand slipped 1.5 percent in August from the year earlier to 9.55 million barrels a day, even though it was the peak of the traditional summer driving season.

At the end of August, Hurricane Harvey struck the the Gulf Coast and stymied Texas oil refiners. Nonetheless, strong economic fundamentals throughout the course of the month was seen as boosting overall refined products demand.

“Strong economic growth is boosting petroleum demand,” Hazem Arafa, director of statistics at the API in Washington, said in an e-mailed statement.

“Meanwhile domestic production remains high allowing consumers and businesses to continue to enjoy relatively low fuel costs.”

U.S. crude oil production reached 9.3 million barrels per day in August, its second highest tally for the month in 45 years. It marked the seventh-straight month during which daily output topped 9 million barrels.

U.S. crude oil imports dropped 7 percent from August 2016 to 7.46 million barrels per day in August, while refined product imports decreased 6.4 percent. Both were the lowest imports since November 2015.

— Bloomberg
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