oil & gas

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For the first time in 12 years, Texas job creation has been lagging behind the rest of the nation. The numbers come from a new study by the Austin non-profit Texas Taxpayers and Research Association. “The ‘Texas Miracle,’ as our state’s nation-leading economic engine has been dubbed, is currently on ice,” said Dale Craymer, the author of the report.

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Oil prices are set to plunge again, reports quartz.com. Oil producers gathered in Doha this weekend in an attempt to freeze production in the glutted crude oil market. With the news of the proposed production freeze, oil prices had recently soared by more than 30%. But the various oil interests failed to reach an agreement.

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As the oil recession continues, some are beginning to wonder if this setback could turn into a full-fledged oil bust like the one that deeply wounded many Texas small-town economies. Communities across the western part of the Lone Star State are seeing businesses shutter as jobs are cut and production is slashed. As the Texas Observer reports, towns in the Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford and Barnett shale regions are seeing unemployment rates rise.

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The number of rigs actively drilling for oil in the US dipped by another 10 this week, reports fuelfix.com—and the biggest losses came from the Lone Star State. That includes four rigs lost in the Granite Wash shale play of the Texas Panhandle. This leaves only four active rigs in the entire shale region.

Jay Janner / Austin American-Statesman

The revolving door appears to be oiled up and turning smoothly in Texas. When the Texas Railroad Commission was searching for a new director to keep an eye on the oil industry, last year, they selected a former oil and gas executive. And when the Commission needed a new chief lawyer, they turned to the former legal counsel for a coal company.

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There has been an increase in natural gas pipeline explosions in recent years across the US. For example, a 2010 explosion in San Bruno, California, killed eight people. In response to the problem, the U.S. Department of Transportation has expanded federal safety standards for pipelines, reports The Rural Blog.

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Officials in Oklahoma are now using advanced technology in an attempt to get ahead of the spate of earthquakes caused by fracking and wastewater disposal by oil and gas companies. The technology is much needed, as the third largest earthquake in state history was recorded last month.

New seismic sensors have now been put in place to locate and determine the size of the nearest fault line to the big quake’s location in Fairview, reports KFOR. The Oklahoma Geological Survey has also installed a broadband seismometer, an instrument that locates earthquake sources.

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Oil prices appear to have hit their low point. No, really, this is it, says Quartz.com. The new head of the International Energy Agency told a seminar in Oslo recently that “Oil prices appear to have bottomed out.” Neil Atkinson added that “Prices are expected to grow throughout 2016 and into 2017, reflecting expectations that the market is going back into balance in 2017.” And Atkinson may be right.  US benchmark crude West Texas Intermediate is currently up 31% from its February low.

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Many of Oklahoma’s energy companies released earnings reports last week. And the state’s economic predicament continues to grow more and more bleak, reports member station KGOU. 

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Falling energy prices are deepening the pain felt in West Texas, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal. In an examination of the economic effects in the Permian Basin, the Journal noted that there is downward pressure on wages as job applicants swell. Meanwhile, prices on everything from hotel rooms to tacos are falling, and late payments on small business loans are increasing.

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Oklahoma saw a tragic twist to an ignominious story last week. Legendary Oklahoma oil and gas pioneer Aubrey McClendon died following a traffic crash in Oklahoma City. As StateImpact Oklahoma reports, the crash came a day after McClendon was indicted for masterminding a conspiracy to rig the bidding process for oil and gas leases in northwest Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gas has fallen to $1.71. In Oklahoma, the prices could soon dip below a dollar. The state hasn’t seen average gasoline prices this low in 15 years.

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The Sierra Club has filed a federal lawsuit against three Oklahoma energy companies, reports StateImpact Oklahoma. The lawsuit accuses the companies of operating wastewater injection wells that contributed to the massive spike in earthquakes in the state. The three oil companies facing the accusations are Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy and New Dominion.

Mose Buchele / KUT news

Since the birth of Texas cattle rustlers have been a scourge in the state. But now, reports KUT, the slumping oil market has given rise to a new kind of criminal in South Texas: oil rustlers. Thieves have been sneaking into well sites and stealing the crude oil, and it’s becoming a big problem.

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As the price of oil continues to drop, Politico asked a number of experts what the hidden consequences of the crash would be. Their answers varied.

John McLaughlin of Johns Hopkins University said every indication is that prices will not go up markedly. They may even drop further.

Ian Bremmer of the Eurasia Group says Middle East political structures are brittle and based on oil wealth. He asked, what keeps these countries together when the oil money runs out?

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Oil has become incredibly plentiful and cheap recently. So cheap, in fact, that at least one company has suggested that buyers should be paid to take a certain type of low-quality crude. The company is owned by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Driving an oilfield truck in Oklahoma can be deadly, reports member station KGOU. In the past eight years, 36 people in the state have died in crashes involving trucks hauling oilfield wastewater and equipment. According to recent data, seven percent of all truck companies licensed for oil-field work in Oklahoma have been involved in fatal accidents.

Colorado Public Radio

Consumers are expected to have a great month at the pump, according to Colorado Public Radio. That’s because gas prices are expected to keep falling in January. A report released Wednesday showed a sharp increase in gasoline inventories. Early this year companies added another eleven million barrels of gasoline. That created the biggest surge in supply since 1993.

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Last Thursday marked a historic day for the Texas oil and gas industry, reports Bloomberg. The first U.S. shipment of crude oil to an overseas buyer departed Corpus Christi last week.

Despite Oil Sector Woes, Texas Economy Remains Afloat

Jan 4, 2016
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despite a struggling oil sector, most Texas cities are still flying high according to The Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog.

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

The High Plains and Southwest regions are no longer on top when it comes to the nation’s fastest-growing economies. According to The Wall Street Journal’s Real Time Economics blog, the downturn in the oil industry has pushed economic momentum toward the coasts.

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Texas is bracing for another oil bust, reports CNBC. The continued global oil-supply glut will likely weigh on Texas and the rest of the U.S. next year. But the latest crude-oil crash may not inflict as much damage as past downturns. Many parts of the state have now diversified away from crude-based economies.

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Of regional interest, shale drilling during the last couple of decades has had some rather powerful political ramifications, according to new research. The Daily Yonder reports that the U.S. shale boom has led to a shift in votes to Republican candidates in counties where the drilling has taken place.

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Towns in western Oklahoma rely on two key factors to keep their economies running smoothly: agriculture and oil. When oil and gas profits plummet, communities suffer. Those in the oil industry are most directly affected, obviously. But the downturn can affect all industries. Equities.com recently profiled the town of Laverne in northwest Oklahoma. A Laverne oil pumping service called General Inc. recently laid off 15 percent of its workers, with more layoffs possible.

TX Consumers Reap Benefits as Gas Prices Fall

Nov 27, 2015
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Households are expected to save $700 on average this year at the gas pumps, as compared to last year, reports Amarillo.com. And this Thanksgiving holiday, prices for goods and travel have fallen to levels not seen since 2007. OPEC began a price war with U.S. natural gas on Thanksgiving of last year. While the battle has been hard on oil workers, consumers have been the ultimate winners.

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Texas lawmakers are trying to determine how much the decline in oil prices is hurting ranchers, reports KUT. The topic is one of the interim charges for the House Committee on Agriculture & Livestock. That means, the committee has been asked to study the issue before the next legislative session.

As Gas Prices Fall, Kansas Oil Counties Suffer

Nov 2, 2015
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While Kansas consumers may be enjoying cheap gas at the pumps, the lower prices are hitting some oil-producing counties hard, reports The Wichita Eagle. These counties are being forced to cut spending and increase taxes to make up for the petroleum profit shortfall. Oil and gas property values in the state have fallen by percent this year. And 16 oil and gas-producing counties in Western Kansas have seen their total property values decline by 20 percent.

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A Chinese investment company intends to purchase $1.3 billion in oil properties in Western Texas, reports member station KUT. The holding company signed a letter of intent last week to purchase the land through a limited liability partnership.

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The Environmental Protection Agency is pushing for oil and gas officials in Oklahoma to do more to prevent industry-linked earthquakes in the state, reports StateImpact Oklahoma. The federal agency has asked industry regulators to reduce injection volumes, among other changes.

One Oil Company Fights New OK Earthquake Regulations

Oct 16, 2015
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

After Oklahoma issued regulatory actions to try to curb a rash of oil-industry-related earthquakes in the state, one oil and gas operator is challenging the ruling, reports StateImpact Oklahoma. The Marjo Operating Co. Inc.’s filing is the first effort on the part of the oil and gas industry to prevent regulation.

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