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Oil and Gas Roundup — Feb. 2

February 02, 2018
TOPICS: In the news
Rig count flat in state, down 1 nationwide

The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in Oklahoma was constant this week at 117. The national count fell by one to 946.

A year ago, there were 102 rigs active in the state and 729 across the U.S.

Of the other major oil- and natural gas-producing states, Texas was down 1 to 465, New Mexico was unchanged at 85, Louisiana lost one rig to 58, North Dakota was up one to 45, Pennsylvania was flat at 37, Colorado added two to 34, Wyoming lost three to 26 and Ohio gained one to 23.

Nationwide, 765 rigs were exploring for oil, up six, and 181 were exploring for natural gas, down seven. There were 808 horizontal rigs, up 212 from a year ago, and 66 vertical, down one from a year ago.

Interior rolls back oil drilling policies for federal land

The Interior Department implemented a new policy Thursday aimed at streamlining the oil and natural gas drilling process on federal land by cutting back on the opportunities for drilling opponents to slow down the process.

A memo signed Wednesday and released Thursday by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) states that it is the agency’s policy to “simplify and streamline the leasing process to alleviate unnecessary impediments and burdens, to expedite the offering of lands for lease,” and to ensure drilling rights sales happen regularly.

The changes include setting a 60-day deadline for processing proposed lease sales, leaving public participation in certain reviews up to low-level officials, limiting protest periods for sales to 10 days and repealing an Obama administration policy that let other land users, like hunters and anglers, object.

The memo is part of a wide-ranging plan at Interior and elsewhere to tear down barriers to domestic production of oil, natural gas and other fossil fuels.

Read more at The Hill.

U.S. oil output hits 10 million barrels for 1st time in decades

U.S. oil production surged above 10 million barrels a day for the first time in more than four decades, another marker of a profound shift in global crude markets.

The milestone comes weeks after the International Energy Agency said the U.S. is poised for "explosive" growth in oil output that would push it past Saudi Arabia and Russia this year. New drilling and production techniques have opened up billions of barrels of recoverable U.S. oil in shale rock formations in the past 10 years, reversing decades of declining output and turning the nation into an exporter.

The news also comes after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries decided last year to extend an agreement with several non-OPEC members to curb output in response to a global supply glut fed in part by shale. That agreement was finally showing signs of working, with prices emerging from a three-year downturn. After falling near $26 a barrel in 2016, the global benchmark oil price climbed above $70 a barrel in January, and the U.S. price is following suit. Yet, increasing output from the U.S. may threaten rising prices.

“You are starting to see a little bit of a shift in market sentiment on oil given the fact that production is really starting to ramp up,” Joseph Bozoyan, a portfolio manager at Manulife Asset Management LLC in Boston, said by telephone. “These U.S. production numbers are starting to take the wind out of the sails of the crude oil market.”

Read more at Bloomberg.

Texas shale challenges North Sea crude as world oil benchmark

Surging shale oil production in Texas and North Dakota is being felt on trading desks in Chicago, Houston and New York, where a brisk business in West Texas Intermediate crude futures is far outpacing contracts for London-based Brent crude.

As the United States approaches a record 10.04 million barrels of daily production, trading volumes of so-called “WTI” futures exceeded volumes of Brent crude in 2017 by the largest margin in at least seven years.

A decade ago, falling domestic production and a U.S. ban on exports meant that WTI served mostly as a proxy for U.S. inventory levels.

“There was a time when the U.S. was disconnected from the global market,” said Greg Sharenow, portfolio manager at PIMCO, who co-manages more than $15 billion in commodity assets.

Two changes drove the resurgence of the U.S. benchmark. One was the boom in shale production, which spawned a multitude of small producers that sought to hedge profits by trading futures contracts. Then two years ago, the United States ended its 40-year ban on crude exports, making WTI more useful to global traders and shippers.

Read more at Reuters.
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