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Oil and Gas Roundup — Jan. 19

January 19, 2018
TOPICS: In the news
A roundup of oil and natural gas industry news from around the state, nation and world:

Rig count down by 3 nationwide, flat in Oklahoma

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in Oklahoma was unchanged at 121 this week as the U.S. count fell by three to 936.

A year ago, 91 rigs were active in Oklahoma and 694 nationwide.

Of the other major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas was up one to 453, New Mexico gained one to 82, Louisiana gained one to 62, North Dakota fell one to 44, Pennsylvania added a rig to 37, Colorado fell by four to 32, Wyoming gained three to 29 and Ohio lost four rigs to 23.

The Permian Basin was by far the continent’s most prolific basin, approaching half of all U.S. rigs with 409.

Oklahoma innovation furthers industry efficiency and stewardship

After decades of serving in Oklahoma oil fields, Murray Services is primed to improve industry efficiency while furthering goals in environmental stewardship.

Murray’s TuffBase, a plastic platform that can be assembled and placed underneath oil storage tanks, is behind this industry shake-up. The platform limits corrosion and extends the life of the tank by separating the metal tank from the ground.

The idea for the TuffBase didn’t come from an engineer, but from Joe Kokojan, director of new ventures at Murray Services, who earned a business degree at Oklahoma University. He says it was less about being an expert engineer and more about solving a problem.

A tank that sits in moisture can corrode in a single year, causing environmental risk.

“I knew there had to be a better solution,” Kokojan says. “I was at home with my wife and I created the first version [of the TuffBase] in Popsicle sticks and I knew that I could take that to a design engineer and work on it.”

Other solutions included a lot of labor and expensive materials. But the TuffBase can be moved easily with a forklift and each piece locked into place by just two workers.

Read more at Energy HQ.

GOP senators introduce bill to reform onshore energy policies

Five Republican U.S. senators introduced legislation aimed at reforming federal onshore oil and gas policies by giving states authority to manage permitting and regulatory responsibilities on federal land within their borders.

“Punishing regulations and permitting delays have plagued the federal oil and gas permitting process for years,” said John A. Barrasso (Wyo.), the bill’s main sponsor. “Our bill also eliminates unnecessary regulations and increases mineral revenue for states.”

Cosponsors include Sens. John Hoeven (ND), Orrin G. Hatch (Utah), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), and Mike Lee (Utah). Their bill also would exempt oil and gas operations on nonfederal land from federal permitting and environmental review if the federal government holds less than a 50% mineral ownership interest. It also would give states and Indian tribes primacy over regulations, guidance, and permitting for hydraulic fracturing.

The measure, which they call the Opportunities for the Nation and States to Harness Onshore Resources for Energy (ONSHORE) Act, contains onshore provisions similar to those in H.R. 4239, which Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and three cosponsors introduced on Nov. 3, 2017, and the House Natural Resources Committee approved 5 days later (OGJ Online, Nov. 8, 2017).

— Oil & Gas Journal.

BLM, states, industry fighting natural gas venting/flaring lawsuits

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is pushing back against efforts in federal district court to derail the Trump administration's decision to postpone the compliance dates for rules governing associated natural gas flaring and venting on public and tribal lands, calling the rules suspension "a commonsense, time-limited solution to a practical problem."

North Dakota, Texas and three energy industry groups joined the BLM in opposing a pair of lawsuits in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California over the administration's order to delay the compliance dates for BLM's Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation Rule -- aka the venting and flaring rule -- until January 2019. The rule was promulgated in 2016, during the Obama administration.

The lawsuits were filed last month by the states of California and New Mexico, and a coalition of environmental groups, led by the Sierra Club. The BLM, North Dakota and Texas, along with the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the Western Energy Alliance, each filed separate briefs on Tuesday. API had filed a motion to intervene on Jan. 5.

"Plaintiffs would have this court believe that the suspension rule fundamentally revises the 2016 rule," the BLM said. "This is false. The suspension rule merely postpones the most expensive compliance requirements of the 2016 rule for one year, while BLM considers whether to substantively revise the 2016 rule through a separate rulemaking process."

Read more at Natural Gas Intel.

‘Relentless’ growth could see the U.S. topple Russia, Saudi Arabia as world’s largest oil producer, IEA says

The U.S. is well-placed to overtake the likes of Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's leading energy producer over the next 12 months, according to the latest monthly report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

"This year promises to be a record-setting one for the U.S.," the IEA said in its closely-watched report published Friday.

"Relentless growth should see the U.S. hit historic highs above 10 million barrels a day (in production), overtaking Saudi Arabia and rivaling Russia during the course of 2018 — provided OPEC and non-OPEC restraints remain in place," the Paris-based organization added.

The latest monthly report from the IEA comes at a time when crude futures have climbed to highs not seen since the early days of a slump in December 2014. Brent crude futures hit a peak of $70.37 a barrel on Monday, with the global benchmark since paring some of its recent gains to trade at $68.69 on Friday morning.

"What we are trying to understand is the responsiveness of the U.S. shale producers. And because of the dynamism of the industry, the innovation and the vast number of players in that space … to some extent, we are in unchartered waters," Neil Atkinson, head of the oil industry and markets division at the IEA, told CNBC on Friday.

Read more at CNBC.
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