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oil and gas boom

The Devon Energy Center in downtown Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

Crude oil prices continue to rise, but Oklahoma’s oil and gas companies are not necessarily popping any corks. Sarah Terry-Cobo writes in the Journal Record that crude oil hit its highest levels in three-and-a-half years on Friday, but it is more difficult to drillers to make a profit, even though prices have been near or above $60 per barrel since January.

Shane Matson, with BlueJacket Energy, addresses Osage Nation members, oil and gas producers and staff from federal regulatory agencies during the Osage Minerals Council’s Oil and Gas Summit Wednesday at the Osage Casino Hotel in Skiatook.
Sarah Terry-Cobo / The Journal Record

Leaders of the Osage Nation want to develop oil and gas on their land in northeastern Oklahoma. The tribe's Minerals Council told attendees at a conference Wednesday in Skiatook they’re ready for another energy boom.

The Osage Nation can’t approve drilling on its own land. That authority rests with the federal government. Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear wants to develop a plan to pay for infrastructure that could help the oil and gas industry produce more. He said royalties will benefit children and grandchildren of the tribe.

Gov. Mary Fallin speaking at the 2013 Governor's Energy Conference in Tulsa, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday signed into law legislation that banks boom-time tax revenues to cushion the state during energy downturns.

The Energy Revenues Stabilization Act was created through House Bill 2763, authored by Rep. John Montgomery, R-Lawton. The measure siphons off above-average tax revenues levied on corporations and oil and gas production and saves it in an account that can be tapped during state funding emergencies.

Employee Gene Howell and co-owner Ross Ledbetter at Reeder's Auto and Tire in Midtown Tulsa, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Crashing crude oil prices are fueling big bargains for American motorists, who are driving away with tanks full of inexpensive gasoline. Today, the national average is $1.71 for a gallon of regular unleaded. Oklahoma could be one of the first places in the country to see gas prices dip below $1 a gallon.

A shiny black Mercedes pulls up near a pump, the bell rings and Ross Ledbetter tells the driver to pop the hood.

“It’s showing full,” he shouts. “You have a concern?”

Chesapeake Energy's Oklahoma City headquarters.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

More than 500 Oklahoma employees of Chesapeake Energy are out of a job following the latest layoffs Sept. 29, as oil prices stay below $50 a barrel. Gasoline is cheap, but that relief at the pump can fuel widespread worry about Oklahoma’s oil and gas-reliant economy.

Gary Matli, a field inspector supervisor for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, checks on a Craig Elder Oil and Gas disposal well located east of Guthrie, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

While the research connecting Oklahoma’s earthquake surge to oil and gas activity is built on algorithms, statistical analysis and computer models of fluid flow and seismic energy, monitoring compliance with regulatory actions designed to stop the shaking relies on muddy, manual fieldwork.


The oil boom that burst forth in western North Dakota seven years ago had both positive and negative effects on the region. While the increase in wealth and new opportunities for young people were welcomed, they brought along with them increased crime and congestion.

But this fall, the town of Alexander, N.D., is celebrating one unexpected upside of the oil boom: the Alexander Comets.

The Comets are a six-man football team (the school is still too small for an 11-man team). This is the students' first season playing, and the town's first season in 28 years.

In the five years since earthquakes first began blitzing Oklahoma, state officials have been hesitant to agree with scientists who blamed the oil and gas industry.

The shaking doesn't appear to be slowing, but the regulatory response is ramping up as more state officials acknowledge the link between increased seismic activity and waste fluid pumped into the disposal wells of oil fields.

To show how an oil and gas boom fueled a massive surge of earthquakes, scientists used algorithms, statistics and computer models of fluid flow and seismic energy.

Gary Matli, a field inspector supervisor for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, checks on a Craig Elder Oil and Gas disposal well located east of Guthrie, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

While the research connecting Oklahoma’s earthquake surge to oil and gas activity is built on algorithms, statistical analysis and computer models of fluid flow and seismic energy, monitoring compliance with regulatory actions designed to stop the shaking relies on muddy, manual fieldwork.

TURN DOWN THE VOLUME

Workers uncap a well in the western Oklahoma oil field in 2014.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Slumping oil prices have fueled thousands of job losses in big energy states like Oklahoma, which is “gripped by a mini-recession,” economist Mark Snead tells the Journal Record‘s Kirby Lee Davis:

“The notion that Oklahoma has diversified away from oil and gas is, at this point, many, many years away,” he said.

New oil development is driving a huge demand for power in western North Dakota. Utilities have been scrambling to keep up with this demand, and with new government restrictions on carbon emissions, they’re doing it without new coal generation.

Reporter Emily Guerin of Here & Now contributor Inside Energy takes a look about how this region may be a test case for how to generate more power without coal.

Oil-field workers in November 2014 tending to American Energy-Woodford's Judge South well near Perkins, Okla., shortly after the Oklahoma Corporation Commission ordered it temporarily shut-in.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

In November 2011, a 5.7-magnitude earthquake struck near Prague, Okla., causing significant damage and injuring two people. Right away, the possibility that the disposal of wastewater by injecting it deep into the earth — part of the hydraulic fracturing process — was to blame came up.

Oil is a tough business, and when oil prices fall, like they’ve done over the last six months, one of the first things oil companies do is cut back on workers and on the number of drilling rigs.

There were about half as many rigs in March as there were last September, and fewer rigs means more competition for jobs on drill sites.

Disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry are ‘very likely’ responsible for the recent surge of earthquakes in Oklahoma, the state seismologist at the Oklahoma Geological Survey said Tuesday.

Workers with Shebester-Bechtel at an American Energy Woodford rig site in Payne County, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Tax revenues from oil and natural gas production in March dropped to their lowest level since September 2002, a collapse that’s driving a slide in total revenues used to fund state government, new data show.

Officials in at least two cities have publicly questioned bills filed during the 2015 legislative session that would limit the local governments’ authority to regulate oil and gas activity.

The bills’ authors say the measures are meant to prevent towns, cities and counties from banning or effectively banning oil and gas drilling and related production activities, like hydraulic fracturing. Officials in Norman and Stillwater, for their part, say the legislation is an overreach that could limit their ability to write ordinances to protect the health and safety of local residents.

A tanker truck pulling into a terminal at the oil hub in Cushing, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A booming U.S. oil industry has led to near-record amounts of oil production, which has helped drive down oil prices. The energy industry has responded by storing crude instead of selling it at discount rates. That has created a unique situation in Oklahoma, where a major oil storage hub is on track to fill up — completely.

One-fifth of the country’s commercial crude oil storage capacity is located Cushing, Okla., a small city of about 7,900 in northeastern Oklahoma. On the city’s outskirts, field after field are filled with hulking steel storage tanks.

Six months ago, joining a petroleum engineering program seemed like a good investment. With starting salaries above $100,000 and endless optimism about the shale revolution, enrollment climbed in many programs across the country.

But now that there is an oil price slump, some students are reevaluating their decision. And some departments are already worried about what will happen if low prices stick around. From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Stephanie Joyce of Inside Energy reports.

Hundreds gathered at a public meeting in Oklahoma City to hear about an oil company's proposal to drill near Lake Hefner.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Several bills filed for the upcoming 2015 legislate session rein in the power cities and counties have to regulate drilling and oil and gas production.

The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports:

At least eight bills have been filed that would stop cities and counties from banning drilling operations, including proposals from top leaders in the House and Senate.

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