Daily Reports

News From The Oil Patch 2/1/2016

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Baker Hughes reports 18 fewer drilling rigs actively exploring for oil and gas across the US last week, at 619.  That's the lowest national count we've seen since August of 1999, at the tail end of a major downturn for Kansas crude prices.  Canada reports 231 active rigs, down 19 for the week.  The company reported nine rigs drilling in Kansas, down one.  Independent reported nine active rigs east of Wichita, up one, and 12 in western Kansas, also up one.  There were 124 rigs stacked and 165 total inactive rigs across Kansas.  There was one rig actively drilling in Ellis County as of last week.
 
Kansas Common Crude at CHS in McPherson closed out the week Friday (1/29) at $23.75/bbl, to average $22.55/bbl for the month of January, 2016.
 
Producers filed just eleven drilling permits for new locations across Kansas last week.  That's 61 so far this year.  There were six new permits filed east of Wichita and five in western Kansas, including two in Stafford County.
 
Independent Oil & Gas Service reports 28 newly completed oil and gas wells across the state last week, for a year-to-date total of 116. There were six completions in eastern Kansas and 22 west of Wichita, with one of those in Ellis County and two in Stafford County.
 
The Kansas Corporation Commission reports just 78 intent-to-drill notices files across the state in January, the worst showing for that statistic since June of 1999.  The list is down from 87 the month before and  down from 459 in January of last year.  
 
The Kansas Geological Survey released new 2015 production figures through October of last year. The Sunflower State had produced 38.6 million barrels through October.  Harper County produced 2.94 million barrels to lead the list of Kansas counties.  Ellis County was next with 2.53 million. Rounding out the top five were Finney County with 1.84 million barrels, Barton County with 1.66 million, and Russell County with 1.5 million.  Stafford County produced just over one million barrels through last October.
 
Kansas is among several states sending O&G wastewater to Oklahoma for disposal.  The Enid News cites OCC records noting that during the third quarter of last year, Oklahoma received more than half a million barrels of brine from out of state, most of that from Texas.  The state disposed of 26 million barrels produced in Oklahoma.  The state disposed of 1.5 billion barrels of produced saltwater last year.  
 
SandRidge Energy last week borrowed almost $489 million, maxing out the credit line it secured early last year.  A spokesman tells the Daily Oklahoman that in the current market, "having guaranteed liquidity provides the maximum operation and financial flexibility to the company."
 
Independent U.S. oil explorers were expected to report 2015 losses totaling almost $14 billion, the result of the steepest price collapse in a generation. 
 
The Texas Railroad Commission released oil production figures for November.  The Lone Star State produced an average of 2.37 million barrels of crude per day, up from 2.25 million a year earlier. The top ten Texas counties for oil production were all located within the Eagle Ford or the Permian Basin. 
 
The AP reports that Libya lost about $68 billion in attacks on that nation's oil infrastructure.  The head of the state oil company said Monday that Libya will fall farther into chaos if its factions don't quickly form a unity government.  The comments came just after the internationally recognized parliament in the divided country rejected a plan to move toward a unified government.  He says the power vacuum will permit other extremist groups to step in. 
 
Colorado regulators have approved new rules intended to give local governments a limited say in the location of large oil and gas facilities. The state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission approved the rules Monday. They allow local governments to consult with energy companies on the location of big facilities in urban areas, generally 1,000 feet from clusters of occupied buildings.
 

News From The Oil Patch 1/25/2016

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The number of intent-to-drill notices filed with the Kansas Corporation Commission dropped in December to just 87 across Kansas.  That brings the statewide total for 2015 to just 2,303.  That's a little over one-third the number of intents filed in 2014.  There was a single intent notice filed in Barton County last month, and one in Ellis County.
 
Baker Hughes reported 637 drilling rigs actively drilling for oil and gas across the US last week, a drop of 13 rigs from the week before.  There were 250 in Canada, up 23.   In Kansas there were 10 rigs actively drilling, down two.  Independent Oil & Gas Service reorts 26 active rigs across the state, including one drilling in Ellis County.
 
There were 35 drilling permits issued for new locations across Kansas last week, including three in Ellis County and one in Russell County.  That's just 50 permits filed statewide so far this year.
 
Independent Oil & Gas Service reports 27 newly completed wells across Kansas, bringing this year's total to 81.  There were 20 completed wells east of Wichita and seven in Western Kansas, including one each in Barton and Ellis counties.
 
That Ellis County completion was a wildcat play, but turned out to be one of two dry holes completed across Kansas last week.  There have been five wildcat wells completed so far this year. As to dry holes, there were six statewide last week, which makes 27 so far this year.
 
If you are waiting for Saudi Arabia to save the oil market, don't hold your breath.  CNN Money reports the country will not cut production and give up its market share in order to prop up prices.  The chairman of Saudi Aramco confirmed that at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.
 
Sandridge Exploration and Production has negotiated a better deal, and will shut down several saltwater disposal wells linked to earthquakes in Oklahoma. Sandridge had refused to comply with an earlier request by regulators, but brokered the deal when faced with a likely lawsuit.  By early February, the company will stop using seven wells located about 100 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. Three will be closed entirely. The other four, plus another previously unused well, will be given over for earthquake research.  Sandridge also agreed to reduce the amoun t of wastewater injected into roughly 40 other wells it will continue to use in the area.  Thanks to horizontal plays in southern Kansas, SandRidge is the largest producer in Kansas.
 
Firms on Wall Street helped bankroll America's energy boom.  Now that the glut is crashing prices many of their loans have soured, dozens of oil companies have gone bankrupt and others are slashing spending and payroll.  Wells Fargo is sitting on more than $17 billion in loans to the oil and gas sector, and is setting aside $1.2 billion in reserves to cover losses.  JPMorgan Chase is setting aside an extra $124 million to cover potential losses in its patch portfolio, but warned that figure could rise to $750 million if oil prices stay low for long.  Citigroup is bracing for about $600 million of energy credit losses in the first half of 2016 if prices remain low.
 
Plummeting oil prices may result in 20,000 additional oil field-related job losses in Texas by the middle of the year, double what an economist predicted earlier.  According to reporting by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, an Amarillo-based economist who works for the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, originally forecast that 10,000 jobs would be eliminated during the first six months of 2016.  But with oil trading below $30 a barrel, Karr Ingham said an additional 10,000 jobs will be lost.
 
Sabre rattling over offshore oil drilling resumes in the South China Sea.  Vietnam says China has moved an oil rig into disputed waters in a move that could result in a repeat of the 2014 standoff between the two communist neighbors. The earlier incident sparked deadly anti-China riots in Vietnam and plunged bilateral relations to their lowest point in years.
 
Berkshire Hathaway continues to amass Phillips 66 stock.  Warren Buffett's conglomerate now controls 12.9 percent of the oil refiner.  Berkshire filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday that disclosed purchases of another 1.6 million Phillips 66 shares.  That's 7.5 million shares purchased this month.  
 
French oil major Total is expected to report a 20% fall in adjusted net profit for 2015 because of the collapse in oil prices.  Analysts expect Total to report adjusted net profit for 2015 of $9.97 billion, down 22% compared to the previous year.
 
Flint Hills Resources LLC, the refining arm of Koch Industries, said it offered to pay $1.50 a barrel Friday for North Dakota Sour, a high-sulfur grade of crude, according to a corrected list of prices posted on its website Monday. It had previously posted a price of -$0.50.
 

News From The Oil Patch 1/18/2016

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Benchmark crude prices dipped below $30 a barrel last week for the first time in years. But for many producers, $30 oil already is a thing of the past. Most barrels of oil garner less than benchmark prices because they are deemed lower quality, or because buyers incur higher shipping costs.   The OPEC basket price fell to $25.69 last week, according to the Wall Street Journal.  Oman crude-oil futures, a benchmark for crude exports from the Middle East to Asia, fell to $25.88 a barrel Wednesday. And some of the cheapest crude oil in the world, in Canada, costs less than $15.  Kansas Common Crude at CHS was down to $19.75 last week.  That's the lowest price we've seen in McPherson since June 10, 2002.
 
Oil's price slump to 13-year lows has led to cutbacks in investments by energy companies. Industry consultancy Wood Mackenzie says 68 large upstream oil and gas projects worth $380 billion have already been put on hold.  The delays mean the equivalent of 27 billion barrels of commercially viable oil and gas will be left in the ground for now. Many of the 68 projects would have taken years to produce. The report concludes that delaying them will deprive markets of 1.5 million barrels of oil per day by 2021, and nearly 3 million barrels by 2025.
 
Baker Hughes reported 650 rigs actively drilling for oil and gas across the US on Friday, down 14 from a week earlier.  The count in Canada gained 61 rigs to 227.  Independent Oil & Gas Service reported a 13.8% drop in the rig counts in Kansas. There were 11 active rigs east of Wichita, down one, and 14 in western Kansas down three.  The Red Top Rig Report notes two more rigs stacked for a total of 149 inactive rigs.   There was one rig actively drilling on site in Ellis County, and one in Stafford County.
 
There were just ten new drilling permits filed last week for new locations across the state, 15 so far this year.  There was one new permit filed in eastern Kansas, and nine west of Wichita including one each in Barton and Stafford counties.
 
Independent Oil & Gas Service reported 13 new well completions last week across Kansas, six in eastern Kansas and seven west of Wichita, for a year-to-date total of 61.  There was one completion reported in Barton County.
 
Independent reported one wildcat play completed last week, a dry hole in Logan County.  There were a total of three dry holes completed statewide last week, 14 so far this year.
 
Bloomberg reports on some interesting talk about the Saudi's possible move to go public, creating the world's first trillion-dollar business.  Some analysts see the move as a sign of oil's weakness.  Some are suggesting the Saudis are hedging their bet on fossil fuels in light of increasing concern over climate change.  One analyst suggests that Saudi is lining up some funding sources in anticipation of a very prolonged environment of low oil prices.
 
A pair of Oklahoma women accuse four petroleum companies of causing a dramatic increase in earthquakes across the state, and are asking a judge to stop them from injecting billions of gallons produced water back into the ground.  This is the second lawsuit filed in Oklahoma blaming oil and gas production for earthquakes.  In the current case, the two filed suit a few days after after more than 70 earthquakes struck the state in a week. In a statement, their lawyer said the companies "acted with reckless abandon in their drilling practices." The women, who are seeking class-action status, named four companies: Sandridge Exploration and Production, Chesapeake Operating, Devon Energy Production Company and New Dominion. Late last year, a Prague, Oklahoma woman sued two firms she blamed for that 5.6 magnitude earthquake that struck Prague in 2011
 
North Dakota regulators ordered a Denver company to forfeit crude oil that was obtained from an area where it did not hold a lease.  The company Gadeco spent more than eight million dollars drilling a the illegal well in Williams County. The North Dakota Industrial Commission on Monday ordered Gadeco to forfeit the 800 barrels of oil. Proceeds from the sale of the oil will go into the state's general fund.  The well is now plugged.  
 
The Justice Department and US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board are trying to enforce subpoenas to which ExxonMobil is not responding.  The demands for information stem from an explosion and fire at a refinery in California. Investigators now say that an 80,000-pound piece of equipment shaken loose by a refinery explosion landed within a few feet of a tank holding tens of thousands of pounds of a toxic hydrofluoric acid. Officials say ExxonMobil has not responded to more than half of the board's requests for information related to the blast -- specifically those related to the near-spill of the acid.
 
The continuing plunge in oil prices translates into a new round of job cuts in the oil patch.  BP said on Tuesday it would eliminate 4,000 of the approximately 24,000 positions in its exploration and production units this year. That would be in addition to about 4,000 jobs that the company cut last year.
 
Bloomberg reports that OPEC may meet sooner than its next scheduled meeting in June, and that could signal a production cut.  The Nigerian oil minister said the slump in oil prices is hurting producers including Saudi Arabia.  He says members of the cartel are already engaged in informal discussions with some non-OPEC producers, including Russia, to join any future production cut to shore up prices.  There's been no formal request for a meeting, but behind the scenes efforts could lead to a meeting in March.

News From The Oil Patch 1/11/2016

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Last Thursday's price for Kansas Common crude at CHS  was $23.50/bbl (1/7/2016).  The last time we saw a price that low in McPherson was on February 12, 2009
 
The Canadian company that proposed the Keystone XL oil pipeline has filed a lawsuit over the U.S. government's rejection of the project. TransCanada's lawsuit claims President Barack Obama's decision to reject the project exceeded his power under the U.S. Constitution. The company also announced it will submit a separate petition seeking more than $15 billion in damages.
 
The state commission that regulates Oklahoma's oil and natural gas industry has ordered some injection well operators to reduce wastewater disposal volumes again, after at least a dozen earthquakes hit an area north of Oklahoma City in less than a week. A 4.2 magnitude temblor on New Year's Day caused minor damage but no injuries.
 
An Oklahoma oil company is defying the state regulator?s request that it shut down six wells used to dispose of wastewater, despite fears they may be contributing to earthquakes.  Sandridge Energy Inc., which has complied with similar requests in the past, said this time it won?t stop using its wastewater disposal wells, which are part of the company?s oil-and-gas operations.  A growing body of research links temblors in Oklahoma and other oil-and-gas-producing states to the use of disposal wells, though Sandridge and other prominent shale producers have been vocal critics of those geologic reports.  The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates energy companies, is working on legal action to modify Sandridge?s permits in order to force it to abandon the wells, said Matt Skinner, a spokesman for the agency.
 
News last week that the Saudi government is considering an initial public offering for Saudi Aramco set off speculation about the world’s first trillion-dollar-plus company by market value and put dollar signs in the eyes of some bankers and energy investors.   The company has proven reserves in the 250 billion barrel range and pumps over one-tenth of the world’s crude.
 
The American Petroleum Institute reports that total petroleum deliveries rose 1.2 percent in November from level a year ago year ago to average 19.6 million barrels per day, the highest November deliveries since 2007.   At an average of 9.1 million barrels per day, U.S. crude oil production in November fell 0.8 percent from November 2014.   Total crude oil imports in November were up compared with the prior year, increasing by 6.7 percent from November 2014 to average nearly 7.8 million barrels per day.
 
The holiday break slowed down oil & gas activity in Kansas on a couple of fronts.  There were just five drilling permits filed last week for new locations in Kansas, two east of Wichita, three in western Kansas, including one in Russell County.
 
Independent Oil & Gas Service reported 48 well-completions during the first week of January, one each in Ellis and Stafford counties.  There were 40 completions in eastern Kansas, and eight west of Wichita including a whopping six dry holes.
 
Baker Hughes reported 664 active oil and gas rigs nationwide, down 34 rigs from the final report last year.  Rig Counts across Kansas were up 11.5% from the end-of-year numbers.  Independent Oil & Gas Service reports 12 active rigs east of Wichita, down one, and 17 west of Wichita, up four.  But one more rig was shut down and two more were stacked for 147 total inactive rigs across the state. They were drilling at one site in Ellis County last week. 
 
Independent Oil & Gas Service reported 137 new well-completions across Kansas last month, bringing the total for 2015 to 3,665, down from 5,832 competions for the year 2014.  Barton County completed 108 wells last year.  Ellis County completed 73.  Russell County reported just 47 completed wells and there were 53 in Stafford County.  The state completed 571 dry holes last year.  That's 15% of the total well completions statewide.  Of the 3,665 well completions across Kansas last year, 325 were at wildcat plays.
 
There were 86 permits filed for drilling operations at new locations across Kansas in December.  That brings the total for 2015 to 2,237 permits, a far cry from the 7,031 filed in the previous year.  There were 62 permits filed last year in Barton County, 54 in Ellis County, 18 in Russell County and 33 in Stafford County.
 
China is building underground caverns capable of holding up to a quarter of its expanded strategic oil reserves by 2020.  They are looking for new storage methods away from expensive and exposed above-ground tanks in crowded coastal regions.  China is spending billions of dollars to build up strategic petroleum reserves to meet up to 90 day's worth of net import demand in case of a disruption.
 
One of the nation's main debt rating services is maintaining Oklahoma's credit rating, but notes the state's outlook as "credit negative" because of continued low prices and production of oil and natural gas.  Oklahoma Treasurer Ken Miller noted the revised outlook by Moody's Investor's Service in his monthly economic report.  Moody's late last month issued the new credit outlo ok just days after Oklahoma revised its revenue projections downward for the current fiscal year and estimated a 13 percent decline for fiscal year 2017.
 
Some of the top oil and gas producers are writing off billions in assets because of declining crude prices and shorter well-production lives.  EOG Resources and Devon Energy recorded write-offs, also known as impairments, of $6.4 billion and $15.5 billion through the first nine months of 2015. Marathon Oil listed $381 million in write-offs across its operations through the first three quarters of last year.  Anadarko Petroleum posted $3.6 billion over the same time period, and Chesapeake Energy reported write-offs of $15.4 billion through the first three quarters of 2015.

News From The Oil Patch 12/30/2015

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Another big drop in rig counts reflects a contracting US energy industry.  The Independent Oil & Gas Service Red Top Rig Report shows a 23.5% drop in active rigs across Kansas.  There were 13 rigs actively drilling in eastern Kansas, down two, and 13 west of Wichita, which is down six.  There are now 57 rigs listed as pending their next location assignment.  There are 144 rigs listed as shutdown or stacked.  Drilling was underway at one well site in Ellis County, and was about to commence at one site in Barton County.  Baker Hughes reported 700 active rigs nationwide, which is down nine from the week before.  The oil rig count dropped three to 538 rigs, while the number of rigs drilling for natural gas dropped six to 162 active drilling rigs.  There were 126 active rigs in Canada, down nine.
 
The Kansas Geological Survey updated its numbers to reflect just over 35 milllion barrels of total oil production through September.  That compares to last year's production of roughly 42 million barrels through September of last year. Harper County led the way with 2.67 million barrels, followed by Ellis County at 2.29 million. Finney County was third with 1.67 million barrels produced. Barton County reported 1.5 million barrels, Russell County weighed in with 1.4 million, and Stafford County reported 955-thousand barrels.
 
There were just 18 new drilling permits filed statewide last week, for a year-to-date total of 2,222.  There were 11 permits filed for new locations in eastern Kansas, and seven west of Wichita.
 
Independent Oil & Gas Service reports 22 new well-completions across the state of Kansas last week. That's 3,665 so far this year, compared to 5,711 last year at this time.  There was one completion reported east of Wichita, and 21 in western Kansas, including one each in Barton, Ellis, Russell and Stafford counties. There were ten dry holes out of 22 total well-completions last week in Kansas. There were nine dry holes completed west of Wichita, out of 21 completions total.  Barton, Ellis and Stafford counties each reported one well completed without reaching pay dirt.  There were six wildcat wells completed across Kansas, but that included five dry holes.  That's 325 total wildcat wells completed so far this year in the Sunflower State.
 
For the first time in four years, the price of WTI on the Nymex topped the global price briefly last week. Since that time, Brent prices once again exceeded those for light, sweet crude contracts on the Nymex, but the Wall Street Journal says the trend is another sign that a supply glut that originated in the US is now firmly entrenched worldwide.  Some analysts tell the Journal that parity between the two benchmarks could also signal the start of a recovery, as demand remains strong while US producers cut output.  (On 12/30, Brent Crude was priced at $37.40/bbl, while the Nymex price was $37.20.  Both prices were for the near-month contract)
 
A pair of energy firms began exporting ultra-light US crude earlier this year.  Now one of those companies announces plans to ship 600-thousand barrels of light, sweet crude to a trading firm in northern Europe.  Enterprise Products Partners will load that shipment into a tanker in Houston beginning next week.  This marks the first shipment since the government lifted the US oil export ban earlier this month.  It marks the first shipment of West Texas Intermediate crude since the administration of President Gerald Ford.
 
The free-falling price of crude oil, and its far-reaching impact on the Canadian economy, has once again been voted The Canadian Press Business Story of the Year.  A senior editor at the Financial Post suggested that every Canadian business story this year was, in part, driven by tumbling crude prices.  Editors and news directors across the country chose the crude collapse in a landslide. It’s the second year in a row that story got top billing in the annual survey.
 
North Dakota’s Land Board has awarded $5 million to hospitals in the state’s oil-producing region aimed at helping communities deal with the effects of rapid energy development. The Land Board last week also awarded $1 million to enhance services for disabled citizens in the region.  The Land Board is headed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple.
 
Christmas came early at Hilcorp Energy. Forbes magazine reports that despite the depression in the oil and gas sector, employees are each getting a $100,000 bonus. It's a continuing tradition. Five years ago, when Hilcorp achieved its goal of doubling its oil and gas production, billionaire owner Jeffery Hildebrand gave every employee the choice of $35,000 cash or $50,000 towards a new car. This year, despite the downturn, Hilcorp doubled its output again, to more than 150,000 barrels per day. So Hildebrand doubled the bonus — to $100,000.
 
The population of oil-rich North Dakota has reached an all-time high as people flock to take advantage of a booming economy, even as that economy turns downward due to low oil prices. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau show the state population reached an all-time high of 756,927, a 2.5 percent increase from last year and the largest net increase for any U.S. state. 
 
Budget officials in the State of Oklahoma are coming to grips with sustained low oil prices.  Last week officials projected the state will  have about $901 million less to spend next year than expected. That means the state won't have enough to fully fund its Fiscal-Year 2016 budget that went into effect July 1st.  That has legislative leaders meeting to discuss appropriations months before the legislative session resumes.
 
The ongoing plunge in crude-oil prices is pressuring some of America's adversaries.  The Washington Post reports cheap oil has dovetailed with some of the Administration's foreign policy objectives regarding Russia, Venezuela and Iran. It's also making life easier, and cheaper, here in the homeland.  
 
ConocoPhillips confirms the sale of its stake in a joint venture that produced 4 million barrels a day in northwestern Russia.  It launched the project, known as Polar Lights, in 1992 with state-owned Russian energy giant Rosneft.  Conoco sold its 50 percent stake to a firm called Trisonnery Asset Limited. The terms were not disclosed.  

News From The Oil Patch 12/22/2015

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Don't expect a huge drain on our oil stockpiles right away, now that Congress and the President approved the lifting of the 40-year-old ban on U.S. oil exports.  But The Economist magazine lists three potentially positive outcomes eventually.  It will increase the market for the light, sweet crude pumped out of America’s shale deposits, giving that sector a bump.  It will give refineries outside America access to a greater variety of oil, increasing efficiency. And it just might make West Texas Intermediate crude, the reference price in the United States, a global benchmark again. 
 
Lifting the ban could bring a gush of new supply to global markets, just as leaders in China—the world’s biggest importer—say they are growing concerned that oil is too cheap.  Even if the bulk of new U.S. oil exports don’t go to China or other parts of Asia in the near term, they could still weigh on global prices, complicating China’s promised switch away from fossil fuels, analysts say.
 
The Wall Street Journal reports on a group of likely beneficiaries should oil exports take off now that Congress has lifted the ban.  What they call a small club of little-known European and Asian trading houses have already become big players exporting what little US ultralight crude that has been allowed up to now.   Trafigura Group Ltd., Vitol Group and Mitsubishi International Corp. have sold millions of barrels of U.S. oil over the course of the last year, alongside more recognizable producers such as BP, Royal Dutch Shell and the refiners Valero Energy and Sunoco.
 
Independent Oil & Gas Service's Red Top Rig Report notes a 22.7% drop in the number of oil and gas drilling rigs active in Kansas last week: 15 east of Wichita, down five, and 19 in western Kansas, also down five.  Those ten rigs are now listed as pending their next location assignment.  There were 143 rigs that were shut down or stacked, unchanged from last week.  Drilling operations continued at one site in Ellis County.  Baker Hughes reported 709 total active drilling rigs nationwide which is unchanged, but the number of rigs drilling for oil was actually up by 17 on Friday, and the gas rig count dropped by the same amount.
 
Of the 24 well completions reported last week in western Kansas, and 25% were dry holes.  For the month of November there were 102 completions west of Wichita, and 29 of those were dry holes. The numbers are a little better in eastern Kansas, where just two dry holes were reported out of 96 completions last month.
 
There were just 24 drilling permits for new locations filed across Kansas last week, including one in Barton County.  That's 2,204 so far this year compared to 6,860 at this time last year.  There were 15 permits filed in eastern Kansas, and nine west of Wichita.
 
Independent Oil & Gas Service reports 48 completed wells across the state last week, 3,643 so far this year, including one in Barton County, four in Ellis County, one in Russell County, and one in Stafford County.  There were 20 newly-completed wells in eastern Kansas, including three dry holes, and ten dry holes out of 28 completions west of Wichita.
 
The best price ever for Kansas Common crude in McPherson that we can find was $134.50/bbl, on July 14, 2008.  At that time, the active drilling rig count across Kansas was floating at what were then historic levels, reaching a peak of 118 active rigs drilling 1,266 wells statewide at the end of June of that year.  What followed was perhaps the most dramatic reversal in fortunes in the history of the Kansas oil patch.  In just seven months, the price dropped $111 to $23.50/bbl on February 12, 2009. Rig counts reflected that, dropping 34% to just 41 active rigs in April of 2009.  But we've seen worse, lately.  The biggest drop in rig counts the state has ever seen appears to have bottomed out three months ago.  Rigs counts dropped from the record 147 in September of 2012 to just 37 rigs at the end of September of this year.  The pricing trend has been equally dire, from $95/bbl in June of last year, to just $25.25/bbl on Thursday.
 
Gasoline prices last week were at their lowest levels since 2009.  The national average continues to drop slowly, and is tantalizingly close to dropping below $2 per gallon nationwide.  Triple-A tells us the average across Kansas was down to just under $1.81 per gallon.  We spotted prices as low as $1.85 in Great Bend and $1.89 per gallon in Hays. 
 
Arctic offshore drilling by Royal Dutch Shell PLC drew protests on two continents this year, but a more modest proposal for extracting petroleum where polar bears roam has moved forward with much less attention.  While Shell proposed exploratory wells in the Chukchi Sea about 80 miles off Alaska’s northwest coast.  A Texas oil company wants to build a gravel island as a platform for five or more extraction wells that could tap oil 6 miles from shore in the Beaufort Sea. A successful well would mean the first petroleum production in federal Arctic waters.