KGOU

oil and gas

Oklahoma Water Resources Board project coordinator Jason Murphy samples water in the frigid Canadian River east of Oklahoma City.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma's economy runs on oil. The energy industry drives 1 in 5 jobs and is tied to almost every type of tax source, so falling oil prices have rippled into a state budget crisis.

Crude oil prices have dropped more than 70 percent, and that's created problems across government agencies in Oklahoma. Jason Murphy is a project coordinator for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. He slides on a pair of waders, unspools a sensor probe and splashes into the frigid Canadian River east of Oklahoma City.

Oilfield trucks line up at Overflow Energy's Oakwaood No. 1 disposal well in western Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A string of widely felt earthquakes is rattling residents and seismologists, who are warning that parts of Oklahoma could be primed for more severe shaking.

More than 5,700 earthquakes shook the state in 2015 — a record year of seismic activity in Oklahoma. The New Year is off to a shaky start.

Chesapeake Energy employees leave buildings after layoffs were reported Sept. 29, 2015.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

The downturn in energy prices dominated the news cycle in Oklahoma in 2015, affecting the bottom line of every oil and natural gas producer, the state’s budget, and had countless trickle-down effects in a state with an economy so reliant on the energy sector.

The price plummet actually started in June 2014, when oil was still above $100 per barrel. They rapidly declined, beginning 2015 at around $55, and currently sit in the $30-40 range.

Chesapeake Energy's Oklahoma City campus
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Pennsylvania's attorney general is suing one of the nation's largest producers of natural gas over claims it cheated thousands of landowners who signed drilling leases with the company.

The lawsuit alleges that Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. tricked landowners into signing one-sided leases in the early years of the Marcellus Shale drilling boom and then improperly deducted certain post-production expenses from landowner royalties.

The lawsuit seeks restitution and civil penalties. It was filed Wednesday in Bradford County.

Rebecca Cruise talks with energy analyst Andreas Goldthau, who says if Europe embraces technology like hydraulic fracturing, it’ll reduce the reliance on Russian oil and natural gas.

But first, Joshua Landis analyzes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s surprise visit to Moscow this week to brief Russian President Vladimir Putin on both current and future military operations in Syria. 

A Rosneft oil rig drilling near Ugut, Russia.
Tatiana Bulyonkova / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The year-long drop in crude oil prices has caused economic anxiety across the globe, especially in so-called “petrostates” that rely heavily on oil and natural gas to drive their economies.

Workers in an oil field near Seminole, Okla., in 1939.
Russell Lee / Library of Congress

An upsurge of earthquakes linked to the oil and gas industry continues to rattle Oklahoma, but new research suggests most of the significant earthquakes recorded in the state over the last century also were likely triggered by drilling activity.

When Denton, Texas, voted to ban fracking in the town last year, the state’s oil and gas industry jumped into high gear. The day after the vote, the industry and the state filed lawsuits against Denton. The Texas legislature also passed legislation that stops local governments from regulating most drilling. From Here & Now contributing station KUT, Mose Buchele explains how this “ban on the ban” came about and why Denton just overturned its fracking ban.

Kool Cats Photography / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials say an open-flame heater on the floor of an oil rig likely sparked a December fire that killed three and injured two in Coalgate. 

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration says this wasn't the first time the company that owns the rig was cited for using a heater on an oil rig floor, the McAlester News-Capital reports.

President Obama’s plan to combat climate change relies heavily on replacing coal with natural gas. That would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that electric plants pour into the atmosphere.

But some question the climate benefits of burning natural gas because its main component, methane, comes with it’s own problems.

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.

Since 2009, there’s been a drastic increase in the number of earthquakes in Oklahoma. Many people think it’s tied to an increase in oil and gas drilling, but due to the energy boom, state officials have been reluctant to draw a connection.

On Tuesday, state officials acknowledged the quakes are likely caused by wells used to dispose of wastewater from both traditional drilling methods, as well as hydraulic fracturing.

Richard Masoner / Flickr.com

Oklahoma lost about 500 mining industry jobs between December and January, data from the Oklahoma Employment Securities Commission show.

Almost all in-state “mining” jobs are actually in oil and gas drilling, The Journal Record‘s Sarah Terry-Cobo reports. And while the job losses haven’t yet affected the state’s unemployment rate, currently 3.9 percent, oil sector employment will likely take a big hit in the months to come, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s bulletin The Oklahoma Economist.

roy luck / Flickr

The U.S. has so much crude oil that it's running out of places to put it, and that could drive oil and gasoline prices even lower in the coming months.

The Energy Department reported last week that for the past seven weeks the United States has produced and imported an average of 1 million more barrels of oil every day than it's using. That extra crude is flowing into storage tanks, especially at the main trading hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, and pushing U.S. supplies to their highest point in at least 80 years.

Chesapeake Energy

A judge has barred a Texas-based attorney from contacting Chesapeake Energy Corp. royalty owners about a proposed $119 million settlement covering the company's natural gas wells in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoman reports that District Judge Jon K. Parsley issued a temporarily restraining order last week against attorney Dan McDonald, citing that his "advertising" campaign would disrupt the time between when the settlement is certified and the expiration period to opt out of or object to the settlement.

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.

Kool Cats Photography / Flickr Creative Commons

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. plunged by 98 this week to 1,358 amid depressed oil prices.

The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report that 1,056 rigs were exploring for oil and 300 for gas. Two were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago 1,764 rigs were active.

A rig hand on a Triad Energy horizontal drilling operation near Alva, Okla. Company CEO Mike McDonald says he likely wouldn't have drilled the well with out a tax break Oklahoma's House Speaker has proposed making permanent.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma City-based Chaparral Energy is the second energy company in the city to announce layoffs this week.

Chaparral announced Tuesday that it is laying off 121 employees at its Oklahoma City headquarters. Chaparral CEO and Chairman Mark Fischer said low oil prices is a reason for the layoffs.

Fischer said he expects oil prices to rise, but can't predict when that will happen so the company is reducing its capital, operating and administrative costs.

Meredithw / Flickr Creative Commons

A monthly business survey suggests only modest economic growth is likely in nine Midwestern and Plains states this spring because the agriculture and energy sectors are slowing.

The report released Monday says the overall economic index for the region improved slightly to 54.8 in January from December's 54.4.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, says growth for companies outside of energy and agriculture should offset the declines in those sectors.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes Inc. says the number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. tumbled by 74 this week to 1,676.

The Houston firm said Friday in its weekly report 1,366 rigs were exploring for oil and 310 for gas. A year ago 1,777 rigs were active.

Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas' count dove by 44, North Dakota dropped six, Oklahoma fell five, California and Wyoming each lost four and New Mexico declined by three. Arkansas, Kansas and West Virginia were down two each and Colorado, Louisiana and Utah were off one apiece.

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