Daily Reports

News From The Oil Patch 7/18/2016

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OPEC has captured its largest oil market share since 1975.  Oil producers in the Middle East now have 34 percent of the global market share at 31 million barrels per day, the highest since it had 36 percent back in 1975.   The U.S. has lost 900,000 barrels per day since April 2015 with low prices forcing some companies to stop drilling.  Rather than curtailing production in order to prop up prices as they have in the past, OPEC members ran huge budget deficits and increase output, crushing prices and forcing many high-cost drillers out of the market 
 
The Kansas Corporation Commmission reports 91 new intent-to-drill notices last month, bringing the mid-year total to 448.  The June count is up from the 75 intents filed in May, but lower than the 229 filed in June of last year, and well below the 473 intents filed in June of 2014.  The updated report on the KCC Web site shows two new intents in June in Barton County, five in Ellis County, and none in Russell or Stafford counties.  
 
Baker Hughes reported another jump in active drilling rigs Friday, with 447 active rigs nationwide, up seven.  There were six more rigs drilling for oil and one for natural gas.  The count in Canada was 95 active rigs, up 14.  Independent Oil & Gas Service reported eight rigs actively drilling in eastern Kansas, down two, and 15 in western Kansas, up three.  
 
Independent Oil & Gas reported 17 newly completed wells across Kansas last week, all 17 in western Kansas, including two in Barton County. That raises the year-to-date total to 661 completions. There was one dry hole completed.
 
Across Kansas, there were 31 drilling permits filed for new locations.  That's 480 so far this year. There were 17 east of Wichita and 14 in western Kansas, one of those in Stafford County.
 
For the month of June, there were 91 permits filed for drilling in new locations across Kansas, 60 in eastern Kansas and 31 west of Wichita.  There were two new permits filed in Barton County and five in Ellis County last month, according to Independent Oil & Gas Service.
 
There were just 78 oil and gas wells completed last month across the state, 16 of those were dry holes.  Through the end of June, the total number of well completions was just 635.  There were three completions reported in Barton County, three in Ellis County, and one each in Russell and Stafford counties.
 
CEO Ben van Beurden of Royal Dutch Shell told investors and analysts last week that Britain's vote to leave the European Union could put the brakes on the oil company's plan to sell $30 billlion in assets.  The Anglo-Dutch oil giant had previous announced hopes of wrapping up the disposal of assets by 2018, in hopes funding its $54 billion acquisition of Rival BG, completed in February.
 
A string of earthquakes in the Blanchard area has Oklahoma regulators investigating, since there's not any active, deep disposal wells in the area. The U.S. Geological Survey has recorded at least eight tremors in the area near Blanchard south of OKC since last week, including three of magnitude 3.0 or higher. The commission says it is investigating all oil and gas activity in the area anyway.
 
Accident-prone tank cars used to haul crude oil and ethanol by rail could remain in service for another 15 years under federal rules that allow companies to phase in upgrades to the aging fleet.  The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, along with railroad representatives, have touted the rules as a key piece of their efforts to stave off future disasters following a string of fiery derailments and major spills.  NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said in a letter Tuesday "the decision to upgrade to safer tank car designs "is left entirely to tank car fleet owners, and may be driven by market factor influences, not safety improvements."
 
A $30 million lawsuit has been filed against Chesapeake Energy and another company alleging a conspiracy led to a third party’s sale of oil and gas leasehold interests for artificially depressed prices. Chisholm Partners filed the lawsuit in Kansas City. Chisholm sold the interests to Chesapeake Energy. According to the lawsuit, Chesapeake and SandRidge Energy were active bidders for oil and gas leasehold interests in the Anadarko Basin Region in Kansas and Oklahoma in 2011 and 2012.  The lawsuit says Chesapeake and SandRidge illegally divided up the area in Kansas and agreed to not compete and drive up prices for the leasehold interests there. 
 
Jury selection was scheduled to begin Monday for the federal trial of a San Antonio attorney and others accused of helping to inflate his client list for BP oil spill litigation.  Mikal Watts, two non-attorney members of his law firm and four contract field workers are going on trial Monday in federal court in Mississippi.  The judge says the trial is expected to take six to 10 weeks. 
 
The Bureau of Land Management delays next week’s lease sale in the heart of New Mexico oil and gas country after anti-industry activists raised concerns about transparency.  The BLM is still expecting protesters at the auction, which involves three dozen parcels that cover more than 21 square miles.  Such protests have been noted at other lease auctions in New Mexico, Nevada and Utah. 

News From The Oil Patch 7/5/2016

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Baker Hughes reports another increase in the US active drilling rig count Friday, 431 oil and gas rigs actively drilling, up ten.  There were eleven more rigs drilling for oil last week, and one fewer gas rig. Canada reported 18 active rigs, which was unchanged.  Independent Oil & Gas reorted ten active drilling rigs in eastern Kansas, up three, and 13 west of Wichita, down two.  They're moving in rotary tools at a new location in Barton County, and moving in completion tools at two  leases in Barton County, plus one site each in Ellis, Russell and Stafford County
 
Independent Oil & Gas Serivce reported 16 new well completions across Kansas last week, 11 east of Wichita and five in western Kansas.  There was one new completion in Barton County, one in Russell County and one in Stafford County.  There have been 635 wells completed across the state so far this year.  By this time last year, Independent had reported more than 25 hundred completions.
 
There were 28 permits to drill at new locations issued last week across Kansas.  That's 433 so far this year.  There were 19 in eastern Kansas and nine west of Wichita, including one new drilling permit in Barton County.
 
The number of earthquakes in Oklahoma has fallen 25% in 2016 compared with a year earlier, attributed in part to actions by state regulators to limit oilfield wastewater disposal.  The Oklahoma Corporation Commission earlier this year stepped up efforts to get companies to reduce the amount of wastewater they inject into disposal wells, which have been blamed for a surge in earthquake activity in the state over the past decade.  So far this year, Oklahoma has had 1,098 quakes strong enough to be felt by humans, which is down by about 400 from the same period last year.
 
Chevron is selling off assets, including its stake in a natural gas joint venture in Kansas.  Oil & Gas Investor says the Kansas assets are located across 28 counties in the Stirrup, Adamson, Panoma, Spivey Grabs Basil and Guymon NE oil fields.  EnergyNet has been retained to handle the sales.
 
Canada's Federal Court of Appeal has overturned the previous government's controversial approval of a pipeline from Alberta to the Pacific Coast for shipment to Asia.  In a ruling released Thursday, the court said the former Conservative government did not adequately consult aboriginal communities regarding their traditional territory or accommodate their concerns.  The ruling said "it would have taken "little time and little organizational effort to engage in meaningful dialogue."  The court sent the matter back to the new Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for "prompt redetermination."
 
Denying Keystone may have violated NAFTA regulations.  TransCanada has filed a request for arbitration under the North American Free Trade Agreement, arguing that the State Department's actions led them to believe the second international crossing would be approved.  A spokesman for the Canadian developer says the November rejection by President Obama was "arbitrary and unjustified." The company also argued in its filing that the administration rejected the project to bolster its environmental credentials.
 
Venezuela’s oil output, already the lowest since 2009, is set to slide further this year as contractors scale back drilling.  Barclays reports the Latin American nation’s oil production will decline by about 11 percent to 2.1 million barrels a day by the end of the year. Bloomberg reports output is falling largely because oil-services companies aren’t being paid.  Contractors began scaling back drilling after Venezuela fall more than $1 billion behind on debt payments.
 
Texas-based Tesoro Corp. has bought an oil refinery in southwest North Dakota that has struggled to turn a profit due to a dramatic fall in demand and low diesel prices.  MDU Resources Group and Calumet Specialty Products Partners spent $430 million on the Dakota Prairie Refinery in Dickinson. It has not been profitable since it began selling fuel last year.  Current red ink totals about $66 million.  The plant lost $7.2 million in the first three months of this year, and officials in May announced plans to operate it at only 75 percent capacity. 
 
Nostra Terra Oil & Gas announces it has accepted an offer for its 20 per cent interest in a prospect operated by Ward Petroleumin the Chisholm Trail Prospect, northwest of Oklahoma City for approximately US$2.1 million net.  The company says the buyer is a privately held, Oklahoma-based oil and gas company.  The sale is anticipated to close by this August.  

News From The Oil Patch 6/27/2016

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Investors pushed oil prices up to two-week highs last week, based on optimism that voters would reject a British plan to leave the European Union. They didn't.  Since Thursday's vote to leave the EU, oil futures prices have dropped more than 6%.  In morning trading Monday, the Nymex benchmark was down $1.07 to $46.57/bbl.  London Brent was off $1.06 to $47.35/bbl.  At CHS in McPherson, Kansas Common crude starts the week down more than two dollars, closing Friday at $38/bbl.
 
U.S. oil drillers pulled drilling rigs out of service last week after three weeks of additions. Baker Hughes reported 421 active drilling rigs across the US. Seven oil rigs dropped off the list, while four rigs drilling for natureal gas were added.  The count in Canada was up 7 to 76 active drilling rigs. Independent Oil & Gas Service reports seven active rigs in eastern Kansas, up two, and 15 west of Wichita, up one.  Drilling is underway at one site in Russell County
 
There were just 20 permits to drill at new locations filed across Kansas last week.  That's 405 so far this year.  Independent Oil & Gas Service reported 14 new permits in eastern Kansas and six west of Wichita, including one in Barton County.
 
Independent reported 11 new well completions last week, 619 year-to-date.  There was one new completion east of Wichita and ten in western Kansas.  One of those was in Ellis County, a dry hole.
 
Officials in Iowa have revoked a stop-work order on the Bakken oil pipeline where it crosses American Indian burial grounds.  Iowa Department of Natural Resources granted Dakota Access an amendment to its sovereign lands construction permit.  The pipeline will run about 85 feet underground in the Big Sioux River Wildlife Management Area by using special equipment rather than digging a trench for a route.  The State Archaeologist says the proposed method is a satisfactory avoidance procedure.
 
Nearly $1.24 billion in punitive damages arising from BP's 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill will become available to property owners and some fishermen affected by the spill under a pending settlement with two corporations that also had a role in the disaster.  A federal court hearing has been set for Nov. 10 on the agreement involving Halliburton Energy Services, Transocean Deepwater Inc. and related companies.  The companies have agreed to pay punitive damages — payments meant to discourage future harmful acts — in addition to earlier settlements for actual damages.  A news release on the settlement released Wednesday says most affected property owners won't have to file a claim because they have filed claims for actual damages under a 2012 settlement.
 
If in fact the Saudis have declared a cease fire in what a Bloomberg columnist called the Oil War, it would appear that both sides have suffered casualties. According to Haynes and Boone's Oil Patch Bankruptcy Monitor, 81 North American oil and gas companies have filed for bankruptcy since the beginning of 2015, half of those in Texas.  The Saudi economy has paid a huge price.  At its current output of 10.2 million barrels of crude oil per day, Saudi Aramco is making $600 million a day less than if the oil price had stayed above $100 a barrel. The U.S. economy has, on balance, benefited from lower oil prices, while the Saudi economy has suffered because it's almost entirely oil-dependent. 
 
OPEC's 2015 oil export revenues slumped 46 percent to a 10-year low.  In a report published on Wednesday, officials said the 13 member states reported a combined current account deficit of $99.60 billion in 2015, compared with a surplus of $238.10 billion in 2014. They earned $518.2 billion from petroleum exports last year,  the lowest level since 2005.
 
Texas bean counters dodged a bullet when the state's Supreme Court rejected sales tax exemptions claimed on oil and gas drilling equipment.  Midland, Texas-based Southwest Royalties asked for a $500,000 refundfor such equipment.  The State Comptroller challenged the claim, saying such a change in policy could cost the state upwards of $4.4 billion in refunds next year, and another $500 million per year thereafter.  The state argued that the oil pipes in question are basically a form of transportation and not a manufacturing process or system and the court agreed.
 
Those oil militants who have slashed Nigeria's petroleum production with attacks on pipelines called Sunday for a referendum on breaking up the Nigerian federation.  The Niger Delta Avengers group posted a map on social media suggesting that the West African power house could divide into five countries.  In a statement they likened the move to the vote last week to pull Britain out of the EU.
 
Hundreds of  oil workers in Norway could go on strike Saturday if employers and unions fail to agree to a new wage deal before a Friday deadline.  A final round of mandatory talks will be hosted by a state mediator on June 30 and July 1 in an effort to avoid a conflict that could start the following day. Employers have argued that a plunge in oil prices since 2014 must be accompanied by cost cuts and flexible work practices to help make the industry stay competitive. Unions say members should receive pay increases matching those in other industries.
 
Saudi Arabia’s crude stockpiles have declined for six straight months, the longest stretch since tracking of Saudi supply levels began nearly 15 years ago.  This comes despite record production from the kingdom.  Analysts say the Saudis are selling more oil than they're producing, and are preparing their own stretch of summer demand. Thus the drawdown on their stockpiles was expected to continue.
 

News From The Oil Patch 6/20/2016

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Baker Hughes reported a big jump in active rigs last week, 424 total, up ten, including an increase in nine rigs drilling for oil and one drilling for natural gas.  The count in Canada was 69 rigs, up four. Independent Oil & Gas Service reported five rigs east of Wichita last week, up one, and fourteen in western Kansas, also up one.  Two more rigs were stacked last week, leaving 169 total inactive rigs across Kansas.
 
There were 16 drilling permits issued across Kansas last week, 385 so far this year.  There were nine permits filed for drilling at new locations in eastern Kansas and seven west of Wichita.
 
Independent Oil & Gas Service reported 20 new well completions across the state last week, including three dry holes.  There were 14 newly-completed wells east of Wichita and six in western Kansas.
 
While many areas of the oil patch will see increases in drilling activity at $50 per barrel,  crude prices would need to rise to near $60 to spawn a spike in the Mississippian Lime play. which is largely being blamed for a spike in earthquakes in southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma.  The increased cost of finding alternative means of disposing of wastewater is blamed, according to new analysis from Reuters.  The managing partner at Ponderosa Advisors says that if the water-handling requires trucking it away, it would increase the break-evens by between $3 and $7. Bernadette Johnson tells Reuters that all depends on the size of the operator, the amount of water and the distance it needs to be shipped.
 
Data released by OPEC showed that Venezuela suffered its largest monthly oil-production decline in a decade last month. A decline of 120,000 barrels a day, to 2.37 million barrels a day.  The state-owned energy company has failed to maintain oil-industry investments.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the region’s largest petroleum exporter suffers from a debilitating cash crunch, widespread food shortages and civil unrest. 
 
North Dakota Wednesday reported the largest month-to-month oil production decline in the state's history, April's 1.04 million barrels per day was down more than 70 thousand barrels per day from March.  Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms says the all time high was in December of 2014 when North Dakota produced more than 1.22 million barrels per day.
 
The oil and gas industry will cut $1 trillion from planned spending on exploration and development because of the slump in prices, leading to slower growth in production.  Consultant Wood Mackenzie says worldwide investment in the development of oil and gas resources from 2015 to 2020 will be 22 percent, or $740 billion, lower than anticipated before prices plunged in 2014. Bloomberg says the deepest cuts were in the U.S.  The consultant says another $300 billion will be eliminated from exploration spending and global production this year will be 3 percent lower than previously forecast.
 
That wildfire in Alberta, Canada will prove to be very expensive for oil-sands giant Suncor, but a company officials say the return to operations is "going as planned."  The Web site oil-price-dot-com quotes unnamed company employees placing the losses at one billion dollars or more, Canadian, which is about 760 million U.S. dollars. They're still counting costs attributed to worker transportation and lodging.  Energy companies Husky and Cenovus, which resumed operations last week, did not expect their wildfire losses to be substantial, but did not provide a dollar estimate.
 
The Brits are abuzz about Goodluck Jonathan, the former president of Nigeria, who bought a 12,000 square foot house in a posh English neighborhood, for upwards of 21 million US dollars.  The president in exile claims he's been at the forefront of the fight against his country's corrupt oil connections, but several of his top aides are now in jail awaiting trial, and groups of children are coming to the forefront, begging the  Niger Delta Avengers rebel group to stop its ongoing campaign of sabotage on oil operations.
 
The CEO at BP says that company will not be investing in the IPO of Saudi Aramco.  Chief Executive Bob Dudley also told reporters the global oil industry needs to readjust costs based on an oil price of around $50 per barrel.
 
Marathon Oil agreed to buy PayRock Energy Holdings, a portfolio company focusing on Oklahoma and Kansas.  The deal improves Marathon's already huge Oklahoma presence, adding about 9,000 net barrels of oil equivalent per day in Oklahoma's STACK play.
 
The Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas issued a report saying banks in Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico are setting aside more money to guard against loan losses, as energy companies struggle with low prices.  The regional Fed bank's president, Robert Kaplan, said in the report that loan growth slowed down "markedly" in 2015 , that the region’s banks remain profitable, but its bankers are setting aside more in provision expense to cover possible loan losses in the energy sector.
 
In west Texas, they call them the "Wink Sinks," and they're getting bigger.  Two giant sinkholes between the towns of Wink and Kermit, Texas have been around for quite a while, but scientists now say they're unstable and are likely to grow larger. SMU geophysicists say radar images of the sinkholes over the last seven years show they're still sinking, and areas near the Wink Sinks are also sinking, by about five inches per year.  The sinkholes are the after-affect of a lot of oil production there some 60 years ago, but the instability originally caused by oil drilling is now being compounded by changing groundwater levels.

News From The Oil Patch 6/13/2016

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Oil prices have retreated somewhat from last week's eight-month highs.  By mid-morning Monday (6/13) the Nymex near-month contract for light sweet crude was down another 29 cents to $48.78 per barrel.  London Brent was down 27 cents to $50.27.  Kansas Common Crude at CHS in McPherson starts the week at $39.25, the same price posted June 1.  The price of oil has nearly doubled since January, when it hit its lowest since late 2003.  Analysts credit unplanned outages and dropping U.S. production for the price increases since then.
 
Baker Hughes reported increases in both oil and gas drilling rigs on its weekly active list.  There 414 total active rigs in the US, up six ( a gain of three gas rigs and three oil rigs).  Canada reports 65 active drilling rigs, up 24 for the week. Independent Oil & Gas Service reported four active rigs in eastern Kansas last week, unchanged, and 13 west of Wichita, down one from the week before. They're drilling at one site in Barton County.  And they're moving in completion tools at one site in Barton County, one site in Ellis County, one site in Russell County and three sites in Stafford County.  
 
Independent Oil & Gas Service reported 23 new well completions across Kansas last week, or 588 so far this year.  There were two new completions in Barton County and one in Ellis County.  For the month of May, Independent reports 81 well completions, including five in Barton County, one in Ellis County, and two each in Russell and Stafford counties.
 
The monthly dry hole report includes eight dry holes across Kansas last month, out of 81 completions, just less than ten percent.  
 
There were just 24 new permits filed last week for drilling in new locations in Kansas, bringing the total so far this year to 369.  Two of those were in Ellis County. There were 72 permits filed during the month of May, two in Barton County, four in Ellis County, five in Russell County and three in Stafford County.
 
The Nomenclature Committee of the Geological Society recognized and named four new oil and gas fields in Kansas during its meeting June first, including one in Barton County (the Schneider SE field, on the Shirer lease in Barton County.  American Oil is the operator of record)  That's just 11 new fields recognized so far this year, down 75% from the 34 recorded last year at this time.  
 
Texas crude output was nearly 3.08 million barrels per day in March (3079 kb/d), about 29 thousand bpd higher than the 3.05 million barrels per day produced in February.  Kansas total production through February was 6.55 million barrels.  There are currently only 40,730 producing oil wells in Kansas, the lowest number in recent memory.
 
Work is underway in Iowa on an oil pipeline from North Dakota despite repeated attempts by landowners and environmental groups to stop it. The Iowa Utilities Board signed a final order last Wednesday allowing construction, and work began shortly after that, according to a spokeswoman for Dakota Access.  Iowa was the last state to approve construction on the pipeline, which will carry oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa before ending at a storage facility in Illinois. Work began last month in the other three states.  Opposition groups plan non-violent protests to stop the work as soon as next month.  The Corps of Engineers has not yet granted permits for river crossings and other federal land in Iowa, and the project still faces as least five lawsuits challenging the builder's use of eminent domain.
 
The timing of Oklahoma oil man Aubrey McClendon's death by car crash was suspicious, but it doesn't appear to be suicide.  Oklahoma City police had been investigating the deadly March 2 wreck that killed the founder and former CEO of Chesapeake Energy  just a day after he was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly trying to rig oil prices.  Police said they can't rule out suicide as a cause of the crash, but that they've found no evidence which would lead them to believe it was a suicide.
 
Russia's mostly state-owned oil giant Rosneft posted a whopping 75 percent drop in first-quarter net profit, raising questions over how much money the government will be able to glean from its crude producers as commodity prices remain low. Rosneft missed analyst forecasts, reporting 14 billion rubles ($216.8 million) in net profit, against Reuters consensus polls predicting 33 billion roubles in net income.
 
County leaders in western North Dakota have once again delayed a decision on whether to approve an $850 million oil refinery.  Houston-based Meridian Energy Group Inc. said the delay could prevent construction from starting this summer.  On Tuesday, the Billings County Commission decided to wait until its July 6 meeting, to allow for a public meeting with refinery developers and state regulators.
 
The Wall Street Journal calls them vultures, investors hoping for a bargain, buying up oil and gas wells from cash-strapped operators in the North Dakota’s Bakken Shale.  The Journal cites state figures showing hundreds of wells changing or in the process of being sold.  The newspaper describes the buyers as fortune seekers ranging from industry experts to first-time wildcatters. They are picking up properties as more established producers scale back or shed assets to pay creditors.  Among the sellers cited in the Journal were Occidental Petroleum and Whiting Petroleum, which together account for the sale of nearly four hundred North Dakota wells.
 
Oklahoma oil and gas companies are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by members of an environmental group that seeks to reduce production waste that could be fueling a spike in earthquakes.  In separate legal filings, Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy and New Dominion said the Oklahoma Corporation Commission is already taking action to reduce the volumes of wastewater in disposal wells.  While the companies were responsible for about two-thirds of the wastewater injected in 2014, they said any injunction against them wouldn’t cover other operators who might also be contributing to induced seismicity.
 
The 40-year ban on exporting U.S. crude was lifted last December. Since then, there's been a sevenfold increase in America's oil exports to destinations other than Canada, which was excluded from the ban.  The frenzy of export activity, while still relatively small, is noteworthy given the depressed environment in the oil patch these days. Not only is the U.S. pumping less oil, but there remains a lingering glut of oil around that world that earlier this year caused crude to crash to 13-year lows.  U.S. oil exports hit an important milestone in March, the latest month that statistics are available for. For the first time since 2000, the majority of U.S. crude exports were to destinations other than Canada, according to JBC Energy.

News From The Oil Patch 6/6/6016

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Crude futures prices were significantly higher by mid-morning Monday.  July Nymex crude was up $1.10 to $49.72/bbl.  London Brent for August gained 92 cents to $50.56/bbl.  Kansas Common Crude at CHS in McPherson begins the week at $38.75/bbl after dropping 75 cents a barrel on Friday.  
 
There were just 12 permits filed for drilling in new locations in Kansas last week for a year-to-date total of 345.  Two of those were in eastern Kansas and ten were west of Wichita, including six in Ellis County and one in Stafford County.
 
Independent Oil & Gas Service reported eight newly-completed wells across the state last week, 565 so far this year.  There were two completions in eastern Kansas and six west of Wichita.
 
Out of eight total completions last week, six were dry holes including one dry hole completed in Ellis County.
 
The national oil rig count had its biggest jump in months, but the counts in Kansas were lower. Independent Oil & Gas Service reported a 21.7% drop in the US active rig count last week, but most of those that dropped off the active list are now noted as pending their next location assignment. The total number of INactive rigs was unchanged at 167.  There were just four active rigs east of Wichita, down two, and 14 in western Kansas, also down two.  They're moving in rotary tools to one site in Barton County after a weather delay, and drilling was about to begin at a site in Stafford County. They are moving in completion tools to a site in Ellis County, one in Russell County and three in Stafford County.  Baker Hughes reported 408 active drilling rigs nationwide, up four.  There was an increase of nine oil rigs last week.  Canada reports 41 active rigs, down two from the week before.
 
Operators filed just 75 intent-to-drill notices across Kansas in May, and that makes 444 for 2016 through the end of May.   That's down by more that half from last year at this time, and less than one fourth the total through May two years ago.
 
The world's biggest oil cleanup is getting bigger. Operations got underway Thursday in the Ogoni district of Nigeria in a gargantuan effort to remediate tens of millions of barrels of crude oil spilled over the last 50 years in the Niger Delta. The cost of the cleanup is expected to top $1 billion. Many of the initial spills were caused by mechanical failure or pipe corrosion, but sabotage emerged over the last ten years as a leading cause. Bloomberg reports the nation’s oil production is down to its lowest in 27 years after a recent surge in attacks on facilities.  The so-called Niger Delta Avengers militant group has claimed multiple new attacks on Nigeria's battered oil infrastructure, promising to drag production down to "zero".  
 
BP agreed last week to pay $175 million to shareholders who brought a class-action lawsuit that accused the oil company of understating the severity of the Gulf oil spill.  BP said the claims will be paid during 2016-2017.  However, the company said in a statement this settlement does not resolve other securities-related litigation in connection with the spill.
 
The Three Affiliated Tribes are working to reclaim oil production on their North Dakota reservation by picking up new and expiring leaseholds.  Tribal-owned oil company MRR drilled four wells last year. It also has plans for three four-well projects yet this year, and a 32-well project next year. According to the Billings Gazette, the tribe benefits more by drilling its own oil, as 26 percent of the royalties are paid back to the tribe, compared to 18 percent when private companies do the drilling.
 
Oklahoma lawmakers are taking steps to survive the NEXT oil bust.  Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law legislation that banks boom-time tax revenues to cushion the state during energy downturns.  The Energy Revenues Stabilization Act 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.  Oklahoma’s new fund can only be withdrawn if state finance officials declare a revenue failure, as they did in February of this year.