Showing posts with label Fracking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fracking. Show all posts

Monday, August 17, 2015

NY Fracking Ban Is Literally Impoverishing Rural Towns

New York’s ban on hydraulic fracturing is great news for environmentalists, but horrible news for those living upstate who are seeing their economic opportunities fade as the state government closes the door on drilling.
recent report by the state comptroller found that while New York added 538,000 jobs between 2009 and 2014, virtually all of these jobs were concentrated in New York City. The Southern Tier, on the other hand, has been suffering. This is the region where most natural gas operations would be occurring had it been allowed by the state government. It didn’t, and now people are losing jobs and hope.
“The Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, Central New York and North Country regions all experienced employment declines over the five years, with lower rates of total wage growth,” the comptroller’s report found, adding that overall labor participation in the region was falling as well.

Earlier this year, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo finalized a state ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, over concerns it would contaminate state water supplies and worsen air quality. Ironically, Cuomo’s ban came after the federal EPA said there was no “evidence that [fracking activities] have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”

Via: Daily Caller

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Frack Now, Pay Later: A New Era in U.S. Oil?

Frack Now, Pay Later: A New Era in U.S. Oil? | RealClearEnergy
With oil prices now dipping close to six-year lows, the energy sector is getting thumped across the board.
The double-dip will likely cause fresh cuts to spending, drilling, and staff. Last week, Baker Hughes reported a surprise uptick in the number of rigs drilling in North America, which jumped by 10 to 884 for the week ending on August 7.
Oil prices fell even further on the news, with both WTI and Brent dropping by 2 percent to close out the week. Even though the additional rigs are a rounding error when compared to the 1,000 rigs that disappeared over the past year, the markets took the data as evidence that the supply overhang may not balance out in the near term, as new drilling could be taking place before oil production has appreciably declined.
Over the course of the last year, the companies that arguably suffered the worst were those whose business relies on drilling activity. Oilfield service companies offer rigs, drilling completions, equipment, and other services that actually allow drilling to happen. When drilling slows down, their business dries up. They bear the brunt of a market downturn.
The unprecedented crash in the rig count North America, notwithstanding minor gains in recent weeks, inflicted damage most acutely on these oilfield service companies. With exploration facing a prolonged period of lower activity, a few service companies have come up with a novel, if desperate, approach to keep business alive.
Schlumberger and Halliburton, the two largest service firms, have offered operators the option to “frack now and pay later.” According to Reuters, the new offer amounts to the service firms acting as lenders to oil companies.
Halliburton saw its profit for the second quarter fall by more than a half billion dollars from a year before, and backed by $500 million in cash from asset manager BlackRock, Halliburton is looking “at additional ways of doing business with our customers,” Halliburton’s CEO Dave Lesar said recently.
The “frack now pay later” model that Reuters described consists of companies like Halliburton or Schlumberger covering the cost of drilling a well in exchange for a portion of the well’s production. That is not always a preferred option for operators, who may not want to give up a share in the project and would simply opt for a conventional service contract. However, for companies that are running low on cash and may start to see their credit lines shrink, paying later for drilling today sounds like a pretty good option.
“It's just a reflection of do they want to capture more of the value themselves or would they like to outsource all the risk and potentially much more of the upside to us?” Schlumberger Chief Executive Paal Kibsgaard said when reporting second quarter results in July.
Interestingly, much of the focus is on “refracking,” in which wells that have already been fracked once are simply fracked again. Refracking old wells is less expensive than fracking new ones, and while the volume of recoverable oil varies, some of the best refracking examples produce an impressive return.
The reason that the “frack now, pay later” model may be concentrated on refracking operations is because the technique is not well known throughout the industry and is still relatively new. That has wary operators unwilling to shell out the capital for something they are unsure of, especially now that they are safeguarding a shrinking pile of cash.
But Schlumberger is confident in the approach. While reporting first quarter earnings on a conference call with investors, Schlumberger’s CEO Paal Kibsgaard extolled the market potential for refracking. “I think you're talking billions, in terms of revenue opportunities, over an extended period of time,” he said. “And I think the key here is that we're so confident in our ability to identify the right candidates and execute the refracturing work that we're prepared to take significant risks, in terms of how we go about doing this work. In many cases, if we can select the candidates, prepare to foot the entire bill for the refracturing work and then get paid back in production.”
With “lower for longer” suddenly becoming the new prevailing mantra in the oil markets, the oilfield service giants may have to increasingly cover the costs of fracking and refracking as operators scale back.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Oklahoma: Gov. Mary Fallin: Regulations won't have immediate impact on number of quakes

Fallin (copy)
OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Mary Fallin on Tuesday said changes in regulatory policies governing disposal wells will not have an immediate impact on the number of earthquakes in the state.
“I think it is important for the people of Oklahoma to understand that just because there is a change in regulatory policy doesn’t mean you are going to see an action next week or one month or two months or six months,” Fallin said. “It could be a year until we see a measurable difference. We are trying to figure out day by day what is the best thing to do.”
She was complimentary of actions taken by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which required some disposal well operators to reduce volume and the depth of waste-water injections. Disposal wells have been tied to the increased number of earthquakes.
Tim Baker, a staff member of the Corporation Commission, said the agency could go through the legal process to seek a moratorium on disposal wells, but it could be drawn out. The agency has had good cooperation from the industry and hopes to continue to use administrative remedies, he said.
Fallin’s comments came after a meeting of the Coordinating Council on Seismic Activity, a panel she created about a year ago that includes agency officials, members of the industry and academia.
The panel’s meetings are not required to be open to the public because it is advisory and does not make policy, Fallin said.

Fallin said crafting a response to the increased number of earthquakes requires balancing the interests of homeowners, business owners and the industry, which is responsible for a significant number of jobs in the state.
Fallin was asked what advice she would give to homeowners who are affected by earthquakes.
“I would advise Oklahomans that they should call their insurance agent and see what types of products are available,” Fallin said.
Angela Spotts, co-founder of Stop Fracking Payne County, said many insurance policies have high deductibles and cover only catastrophic damage. Spotts attended the press conference following the panel’s meeting.
Fallin was asked if the state has acted aggressively and done everything in its power to get on top of the situation, which has many residents on edge.
“We are sure trying to,” she said.
She said she believed the state has made tremendous progress in the past year.
Spotts disagreed.
“It really appears to me we are protecting the industry in this state,” Spotts said. “Their jobs are important. But my home and all the people I speak for that don’t have the courage to stand up and speak out, our lives, homes, property and well-being is every bit as important as the jobs in the oil and gas industry.
“And I sincerely don’t believe the actions have been quick enough and fast enough and protecting from one of the big ones from happening.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Federal Judge Block’s Obama’s New Fracking Rules

In a legal setback for the Obama administration's environmental agenda, a federal judge in Wyoming sided with the Attorney Generals of Colorado, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming,  temporarily blocking implementation of the administration’s regulations for hydraulic fracturing on federal land, hours before they were set to take effect. 

On June 23, the U.S. District Court of Wyoming issued a preliminary stay to Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) planned June 24th launch of the administration’s first major rewrite of fracking regulations on energy companies that lease federal land. 

Oil-and-natural-gas-heavy Colorado, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming, sued to stop the rule, along with did two industry associations. 

In remarks, presiding Judge Scott Skavdahl said the stay was necessary to give the federal government more time to explain how it developed the rule and how it considered public comments. 

“It is too important an issue” for a quick ruling, Skavdahl said. 

Associations, States, Applaud Decision

Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government affairs at the Western Energy Alliance, one of the two industry associations which sued to stop the rule, issued a statement saying, “BLM was ill-prepared to implement an extremely complex rule in a short period of time. We highlighted how the BLM Washington office has not given sufficient guidance to the state and field offices that are implementing the rule, and as a result they were issuing confused instructions to companies on how to comply. 

Sgamma continued, “The judge agreed that it makes no sense to implement an ill-conceived rule which could ultimately be overruled in court.” 
Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R) applauded Skavdahl’s decision on Twitter, saying, “We appreciate the court is taking its time to carefully consider this important decision.” 
Lawsuits were filed challenging the new rule within an hour of the BLM publishing them in  March. 

The standards addressed well construction, wastewater storage and fracking chemical disclosure.

The four states involved in the suit argued their own fracking regulations are sufficiently protective of public health and the environment and ought to supersede federal rules.
The Interior Department indicated it will comply with the judge’s order while considering its next step. 

BLM, Congress Reviewing Next Steps

The Hill (6/23/15) reported, Interior Department spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw said, "The BLM is consulting with the Office of the Solicitor and the Department of Justice about the decision of the U.S. District Court in Wyoming to temporarily stay implementation of the hydraulic fracturing rule. While the matter is being resolved, the BLM will follow the court's order and will continue to process applications for permit to drill and inspect well sites under its pre-existing regulations.” 

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, told the June 24, Denver Business Journal, “We are pleased the court agreed that the new BLM regulations present serious and difficult questions that justified a stay of these rules’ effective date." 

"We believe these rules intrude on Colorado’s sovereign right to responsibly and safely regulate the oil and gas industry within our borders," said Coffman. 

Judge Skavdahl required the federal government to provide documents necessary for him to rule more fully on the injunction by July 22.

In the meantime, the Senate Interior Department appropriations bill, passed out of committee, would rescind the new federal standards and instead require the BLM to defer to state fracking regulations.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Shale Industry Could Be Swallowed By Its Own Debt

The debt that fueled the U.S. shale boom now threatens to be its undoing.
Drillers are devoting more revenue than ever to interest payments. In one example, Continental Resources Inc., the company credited with making North Dakota’s Bakken Shale one of the biggest oil-producing regions in the world, spent almost as much as Exxon Mobil Corp., a company 20 times its size.
The burden is becoming heavier after oil prices fell 43 percent in the past year. Interest payments are eating up more than 10 percent of revenue for 27 of the 62 drillers in the Bloomberg Intelligence North America Independent Exploration and Production Index, up from a dozen a year ago. Drillers’ debt ballooned to $235 billion at the end of the first quarter, a 16 percent increase in the past year, even as revenue shrank.
“The question is, how long do they have that they can get away with this,” said Thomas Watters, an oil and gas credit analyst at Standard & Poor’s in New York. The companies with the lowest credit ratings “are in survival mode,” he said.
The problem for shale drillers is that they’ve consistently spent money faster than they’ve made it, even when oil was $100 a barrel. The companies in the Bloomberg index spent $4.15 for every dollar earned selling oil and gas in the first quarter, up from $2.25 a year earlier, while pushing U.S. oil production to the highest in more than 30 years.
“There’s a liquidity issue, and you start looking at the cash burn,” Watters said.

Distressed Debt

Continental borrows at cheaper rates than many of its smaller peers because its debt is investment grade. S&P assigns speculative, or junk, ratings to 45 out of the 62 companies in the Bloomberg index.
“Our cash flow easily covers interest costs, and we expect to continue maintaining our investment-grade credit rating as commodity prices recover,” said Warren Henry, a spokesman for Oklahoma City-based Continental.
Almost $20 billion in bonds issued by the 62 companies are trading at distressed levels, with yields more than 10 percentage points above U.S. Treasuries, as investors demand much higher rates to compensate for the risk that obligations won’t be repaid, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
“Credit markets have played a big role in keeping the entire sector alive,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd., a consulting firm in London.
So far this year, S&P lowered the outlook or downgraded the credit of almost half of the 105 U.S. exploration and production companies that it rates, according to a May report.

Friday, June 5, 2015

EPA declares no ‘widespread’ harm to drinking water from fracking, boosting industry

  • FRACKING SUPPORTERS receive a boost by a new EPA report finding the controversial oil-and-gas extraction process has not caused "widespread" harm to drinking water in the United States.

Fracking supporters were boosted Thursday by a new Environmental Protection Agency report finding the controversial oil-and-gas extraction process has not caused "widespread" harm to drinking water.
The findings were contained in a draft assessment, as part of a report requested by Congress.
The report said the agency "did not find evidence" that any process has "led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States."
The agency did say the controversial drilling technique could affect drinking water if safeguards aren't maintained. It found specific instances where poorly constructed drilling wells and improper wastewater management affected drinking water resources.
But the EPA also reported the number of cases was small compared with the large number of wells that use hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking.
For industry and congressional voices who have long argued the health hazards associated with fracking are overblown, the report appeared to be a boon.
"Today's study confirms what we already know. Hydraulic fracturing, when done to industry standards, does not impact drinking water," Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. "States have been effectively regulating hydraulic fracturing for more than 40 years and this study is evidence of that."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

U.S. oil production passes imports

The new crude oil production from shale formations like the Bakken in North Dakota are making a huge difference in the U.S. energy profile. In October, for the first time since 1995, more crude oil was produced in the United States than the nation imported. It isn’t energy independence but it’s a big step in that direction.
The surge in domestically produced oil can be tracked to the development of horizontal drilling technologies and hydraulic fracturing. Combined, the two advances in oil-field technology have, for the first time, allowed drillers to effectively tap shale formations that hold crude oil and natural gas.
Because of horizontal drilling and fracking, North Dakota has been setting oil production records. The state has passed sister states in oil production, and only Texas produces more crude oil than North Dakota.
Experts believe that the U.S. will surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer by 2015. North Dakota’s production will be a big part of that changed status.
Of course, North Dakotans have been feeling the rising volumes of crude oil production. The oil activity in western North Dakota has been intense, putting extreme demands on public and private services, generating profits for oil-related business and mineral owners, and pumping up the state budget surplus with tax revenues. Creating and expanding infrastructure has been the priority for everyone associated with the oil boom. Environment issues, related to drilling and transporting oil, are providing challenges to the state and nation as production expands.
The North Dakota experience, seen close at hand, has a tendency to eclipse what’s happening with oil and gas nationally. The drive for U.S. oil independence, long thought to be wishful thinking, seems, now, probable. Shale formations have been the game changer. And the remaking of North Dakota’s economy, with energy taking on a larger and larger role, is part of that change.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

CA Not Enjoying TX-Sized Boom in Revenues From Oil

California increased its revenues last year by $8 billion a year, through passing the Proposition 30 and Proposition 39 tax increases.
Texas has added even more to its revenues, but did so a different way. The fracking boom added $28.6 billion in revenues to the Texas state budget during the last three years, or $9.3 billion a year.
Yet it’s a Los Angeles-based oil company, Occidental Petroleum, which owns 1.2 billion barrels of oil (or its equivalent) in Texas’ Permian Basin.  Sixty percent of Oxy’s oil and gas extraction comes from carbon dioxide flooding, which is used when water injection and pumping no longer works.
Oxy has successfully used C02 hydraulic fracturing of rock — called fracking — in the Permian Basin in Texas since 2011, when the West Texas Intermediate benchmark crude oil price went over $100 per barrel. Currently, that price is $97 a barrel.


But since 2011, Oxy has not enjoyed similar success back here in the Golden State with its development of the Monterey Shale Formation. Oxy has suffered tough permitting delaysenvironmental opposition, threats of a permanent fracking ban and a lengthy 10-month delay in passing the SB4 fracking law.
Oxy reports that its Monterey Shale production of a piddling 370 barrels of oil per day can’t compare to its 45,000 barrels per day from other shale oil fields in California.
A big boost to drilling in California is that many wells can be drilled vertically and stimulated with cheaper hydrofluoric acid, rather than by the horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing of rock. This is why SB4 specifically regulates hydrofluoric acid flushing.  Technically, matrix hydrofluoric acid stimulation is not fracking, but fracture acidizing is.  Occidental found that fracking was not economic in the Monterey Shale several years ago.
Both state and local politics aren’t the only impediments to Occidental and other oil producers in California.  Those holding shallower deposits have lower costs and potentially higher profits, according to Mike Edwards of Venoco Oil.

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