Daily Reports

News From The Oil Patch 10/6/2014

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Oil prices continued their free fall in early Monday trading.  Mymex contracts lost another 74 cents per barrel at $89.00.  London Brent was down 85 cents at $91.46/bbl.  Friday's closing price for Kansas Common at NCRA was $79.50 per barrel.  The last time that price closed below $80 was on April 23rd of last year.
 
Saudi Aramco cut prices last week by about a dollar per barrel to Asia, and by 40 cents a barrel to the United States.  That sends a strong signal that Saudi Arabia is more interested in maintaining market share than in defending prices. 
 
Baker Hughes reported 1,922 active drilling rigs nationwide, which was down two from last Friday. Canada had 430, down one.  The count in Kansas was 24, down one from last week.  Independent Oil & Gas reported 125 active rigs in Kansas, 31 pending their next location assignment and 78 stacked or idle.  There were 40 active rigs reported in eastern Kansas, up three, and 85 west of Wichita, down one.
 
The Kansas Corporation Commission reported 622 new intent to drill notices during the month of September.  That's up from 588 in August and  574 in September of last year.  There were ten intents filed in Barton County last month, 14 in Ellis County, 12 in Russell County and three in Stafford County. 
 
Independent Oil & Gas Service reported 66 well completions last week, for a year-to-date total of 4,464 across Kansas.  Last week there were 45 completions noted in eastern Kansas, and 21 west of Wichita.
 
There were 141 drilling permits issued for new locations in Kansas last week, bringing the total this year to 5,640.  There were 89 new permits east of Wichita and 52 in western Kansas, including four in Ellis County and two in Russell County.
 
The president of Turkey insists that the fight against the Islamic State is his country's top priority but there is growing evidence Turkey is helping Islamic State smuggle it's oil.  The Turkish Energy Minister says his country wouled never partake in any illegal transactions.  There are no firm numbers for oil being smuggled from Syria, but in the first six months of this year, the Turks have seized more than 486,000 barrels of illicit crude.
 
AP and ABC are reporting on a big crackdown on oil smuggling along Turkey's border with Syria.  What used to be a lucrative sideline for the locals has become big business for Islamic State.  authorities, smugglers and vendors say business was booming until about six months ago. when Turkish authorities ramped up a multi-layered crackdown to disrupt the illicit trade.  According to the AP report, the Turks have beefed up border controls and arrested dozens of smugglers.  They're also reportedly going after consumers with an extensive stop-and-search operation on Turkish highways were fueld tanks are tested for smuggled oil. 
 
The AP reports on a company called Energy Intelligence, whose president wants to expand the use of drone aircraft to monitor oil pipelines in North Dakota.   Currently, pipelines are checked for problems by occasional manned aircraft flyovers, on-the-ground observations by foot or vehicle, and production loss reports...some use fiber-optic early warning systems.  But experts say those methods still "pretty archaic," and often leave underground spills undiscovered for days.  The firm hopes to begin test flights this fall. 
 
The state task force looking at Kansas earthquakes has submitted its action plan to Governor Brownback.  The Seismic Action Plan consists of two major components – a plan for enhanced seismic monitoring and a response plan. The group recommends installation of a strategically-located permanent monitoring network, and a portable seismic array to provide a closer look at localized earthquakes.  The report from Te Kansas Geological Survey, Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Corporation Commission provides background from national studies linking seismic activity to fluid injection, but the task force says it has no conclusive evidence linking fluid injection to specific seismic events in Kansas.  Thus far in 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Earthquake Information Center has recorded 58 earthquakes, ranging from magnitude 1.3 to 3.8, nearly all in Sumner, Harper, and Barber counties.
 
BP is challenging a federal judge's finding of gross negligence in the Gulf Oil Spill, saying he based the ruling on expert testimony he said he wouldn't consider.  The ruling exposes the oil company to as much as $18 billion in fines.  In court documents filed Thursday, the oil company asked the judge to change his finding or grant a new trial.  

News From The Oil Patch 9/30/2014

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Baker Hughes reported 1,931 active drilling rigs across the US on Friday, unchanged from last week. There were 420 in Canada, up one, and 25 in Kansas, unchanged.  Independent Oil & Gas Service reported 125 active rigs, 40 in eastern Kansas (up three) and 85 west of Wichita (down one). There were 31 rigs listed as pending their next location assignment and 78 were stacked or idle.
 
Independent reported 130 drilling permits for new locations in Kansas last week, for a year-to-date total of 5,499.  There were 63 in eastern Kansas and 67 west of Wichita, including two in Barton County, two in ellis County, and two in Russell County. There were 153 new well completions reported across the state last week, which is 4,398 so far this year.  There were 79 east of Wichita and and 74 in western Kansas, including one new well completion in Barton County.
 
Booming oil production has produced a record $1.26 billion dollars for K-12 public education in Texas. A spokesman for the Texas General Land Office spokesman said the increase is due to a spike in drilling on state lands.  The Permanent School Fund is now valued at more than $34 billion, but they can only spend the interest.
 
The ever-increasing production numbers out of Texas continue to astound.  The Permian basin, now the nation's most productive, is producing 1.7 million barrels of crude per day as of September.  2nd on the list is the nearby Eagle Ford, with 1.5 million barrels per day.  The Bakken Shale in North Dakota recently topped one million barrels poer day.
 
One of Canada's largest producers is moving into the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico in a big way.  Encana is buying Athlon Energy for $5.9 billion, in a deal that will add 140,000 net acres to the Canadian driller's portfolio.  Analysts say the deal will add about 30,000 barrels of crude oil per day to Encana's production capabilities.  Behinc the deal is Encana's ongoing efforts to move away from natural gas, with its low prices, and into oil, which is seen as more lucrative.
 
We've heard a lot of late about the possibility of relaxing decades-old restrictions on the export of US oil.  Loren Steffy of Forbes Magazine argues against it.   Steffy acknowledges that relaxing the US export ban could give us more leverage in influencing prices in the global market, which he says could be important since we are the world's largest consumer of crude oil.  But he points out that the US last year imported slightly more oil than we produced.  That's just under 7.5 million barrels per day in production, compared to about 7.7 million barrels imported.  He says every barrel we export is one more barrel we're going to have to import.  
 
According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. oil exports, mostly to Canada, hit a 57-year high in July.  U.S. crude shipments averaged 401,000 barrels a day in July, up from 396,000 barrels a day the prior month and nearly quadruple the 104,000 barrels a day exported a year ago at this time.  It was the second month in a row that exports were the highest since March 1957, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.   Congress prohibited exporting crude oil without a license in 1975. Most licenses are for shipping crude to Canada.
 
Enbridge Inc on Tuesday announced a delay in its planned Sandpiper oil pipeline taking crude from the Bakken oilfields of North Dakota to its mainline system.  They pushed the beginning of operations back until 2017, a year later than originally forecast. Enbridge's chief executive said the delay was caused by the Minnesota regulator's decision to split a review of the need for the line and its routing into two separate hearings.
 
Tuesday was the dealine set by the Transportation Department for industry response to government oil-by-rail safety proposals.  We heard from representatives of the refining and producing sectors Tuesday, and as you might expect, both opposed some of the proposals.  According to Reuters, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers called a plan to check crude deliveries for esxplosive gas vapor "...unnecessary, unduly proscriptive and burdensome."   Industry leaders said a demand to quickly retool or retire the US fleet of tank cars would stifle transit.  The American Petroleum Institute said a three-year phase out program could weigh on the economy "because you can't get enough cars to continue moving the product."  Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has said he hopes to have the proposal done by the end of the year.
 
The American Petroleum Institute has published new recommendations for testing and classifying crude oil and then loading it into tank cars. The so-called "RP-3000" offers guidance on sampling and testing, determining how often crude should be sampled and tested, documentation, assigning packing groups, and proper quantity measurement to prevent overfilling tank cars.  API began publishing standards in 1924, and currently has over 650 standards and technical publications, with over 100 of them already incorporated into US regulations. 
 
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton wants added safety measures for oil trains leaving North Dakota.  Dayton made the request Tuesday in a letter to North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple. Dayton says Minnesota is “one of the primary routes” for Bakken oil being transported from North Dakota. But Dayton says Minnesotans receive little benefit from the oil trains while experiencing increased risks of a derailment.
 
North Dakota oil producers told the state’s energy regulators on Tuesday that field practices used to prepare Bakken crude for rail transport are safe and that tougher rules could do more harm than good. The North Dakota Industrial Commission hosted experts ahead of its planned release of new regulations by mid-December.
 
Canada's largest oil and gas producer, Suncor Energy, is shipping its first ever tanker of Western Canadian heavy crude to Europe, via Canada's East Coast.  A spokeswoman confirmed Reuters shipping data showing a tanker was set to pick up the cargo from the port of Sorel-Tracy on the St Lawrence River in Quebec.  Reuters says the crude was delivered by rail to a storage facility at the port.  The company would not comment on where the cargo is going.
 
Despite US sanctions, Exxon Mobil and the Russian oil firm Rosneft have continued deepwater drilling operations in the Arctic waters of the Kara Sea. Last week they reported hitting pay dirt, and according to World Oil, they could be sitting on more than one billion barrels of crude.  The two companies have been drilling since August of last year at the site.  
 
In the first of its kind that we've seen, Pemex has announced a memorandum of understanding between the state-owned Mexican energy firm with Petronas of Kuala Lumpur.  The MOU covers possible joint development of infrastructure, deepwater projects, and work on mature fields.
 
Pemex claims the country's drug cartels have drilled 2,481 illegal taps into state-owned pipelines, stealing some 7.5 million barrels of crude oil.  Most of that "bunkering" is happening in the same area of Mexico that is about to become the center of activity as the country expands it's energy sector to foreign investment.

News From The Oil Patch 9/22/2014

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We're just getting started crunching the numbers on a new Kansas Open Records Act request for information on the disposal wells being blamed by some for the uptick in earthquakes in our area.  The Kansas Corporation Commission gave us the numbers for all counties in Kansas from 1985 to 2013.  It might surprise you to learn than in 2012, the state for the first time topped one billion barrels of wastewater injected into Class-2 disposal wells here.  That includes wastewater returned to active oil reservoirs for the purpose of Enhanced Oil Recovery.  The total for 2013 was 1.05 billion barrels, including more than 260 million barrels for EOR, and nearly 800 million for permanent disposal. The cumulative total over nearly three decades is 14.7 billion barrels of wastewater. 
 
State utility regulators fined a Lenexa oil company $75,000, and shut down and sealed the company's wells, saying the company had reaped more than one million dollars through illegal drilling operations. The Wichita Eagle reports Viva International was penalized on 87 different violations of state regs, had its license suspended eleven times and has twice paid $10,000 fines for operating on a suspended license.  According to the KCC order, all of Viva's production over 109 days this year have been illegal.  According to the Commission, the company has 570 wells in the state of Kansas.
 
The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers wants you to know they're hiring.  They've launched a workforce development web site (at http://workforce.afpm.org) to provide information for anyone seeking a career in the refining and petrochemical industries.  The AFPM says the two industries currently support nearly 2 million American jobs, but that's expected to grow to almost 3.9 million over the next decade.
 
Baker Hughes reported 1,931 active oil and gas drilling rigs Friday, that's unchanged.  Canada's count was 377 rigs, down 28.  The count in Kansas was unchanged at 25.  Independent Oil & Gas Service reported 121 rigs, 37 in the eastern region, down three, and 84 in western Kansas, down one. Thirty-six rigs were listed as pending their next location assignment and 78 were reported stacked or idle.
 
Independent reports 156 drilling permits for new locations in Kansas.  There were 103 new permits east of Wichita last week, and 53 in western Kansas, including two in Barton County, one in Ellis County, one in Russell County and one in Stafford County.
 
There were 124 new well completions last week, for a year-to-date total of 4,245.  There were 82 new well completions in eastern Kansas and 42 west of Wichita.
 
Investors are lining up oil tankers to store crude oil bought on the spot market and sell it in the futures markets.  The price-contango strategy is tying up between 25 million and 50 million barrels of crude, up from almost zero as of April, according to analysis in the Wall Street Journal. That amount represents more than one to two days' worth of U.S. demand.
 
With great fanfare, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell on Wednesday announced the value of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend.  That's the oil money handed out each year to residents just for living in Alaska, and the Associated Press calls it the sweetest deal since the Great Recession and the third-richest ever.  Nearly $1,900 each for every man, woman, and some children living in Alaska.  It will more than double last year's checks, but fell short of the record payout of nearly $21-hundred in 2008.  The checks go in the mail October 2nd.
 
Booming oil production has produced a record $1.26 billion dollars for K-12 public education in Texas.  A spokesman for the Texas General Land Office spokesman said the increase is due to a spike in drilling on state lands.  The Permanent School Fund is now valued at more than $34 billion, but they can only spend the interest.
 
Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples will step down early to take a job with The Texas Oil & Gas Association, the oldest and largest group in Texas representing petroleum interests. Staples replaces Rob Looney, who announced in March that he would leave the association after 26 years.  Staples lost a bid this year for lieutenant governor.
 
The lawyer who sued in Oklahoma Supreme Court to block a new oil and gas production tax has now asked the high court to dismiss his lawsuit. Jerry Fent asked the court to dismiss the suit with prejudice to prevent it being refiled.  The law sets the oil and natural gas production tax at 2 percent for the first 36 months of production. It then increases to 7 percent.  
 
China hits paydirt in the South China Sea, believed to hold trillions of cubic feet of natural gas.  This particular location is not in dispute, but the rig that found the gas deposits was the same offshore rig at the heart of China's recent dispute with Vietnam. 
 
An oil execuive facing more than 50-years in prison for illegally dumping drilling liquid in southwestern North Dakota has reached a plea deal.  The US Attorney confirmed a plea bargain but did not disclose terms or sentencing recommendations. Executive Drilling President Nathan Garber allegedly ordered the illegal dumping of 800-thousand gallons of oilfield wastewater into a former oil well, and then trying to hide that fact from regulators.  Garber is due back in federal court in Bismark September 26th.

News From The Oil Patch 9/16/2014

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Baker Hughes reported 1,931 active drilling rigs across the US, up six.  The count in Canada dropped nine rigs to 405.  In Kansas there were 25 rigs actively drilling for oil and gas, up two. Independent Oil & Gas reported 123 active rigs across Kansas plus 33 awaiting their next assignment and 78 stacked or idle rigs.  There were 40 active rigs reported east of Wichita, up three, and 83 in western Kansas, unchanged.
 
Independent Oil & Gas reported 157 new drilling permits issued last week in Kansas for a year-to-date total of 5,213.  There were 157 permits for new locations in eastern Kansas, and 50 west of Wichita. There were one each in Barton, Ellis, and Stafford counties, and four in Russell County.  
 
Kansas producers completed 128 oil wells last week, which is 4,121 so far this year.  There were 68 completions reported east of Wichita and 60 in the western range.
 
The monthly completion report from Independent demonstrates fairly vividly the risk producers take when they drill for oil.  In western Kansas last month, operators reported 171 well completions west of Wichita, and more than a third of them were dry holes. 322 total completions reported across Kansas in August.  Barton County had five, Ellis County had seven, there were four in Russell County and five in Stafford County.  There were 574 new drilling permits across Kansas last month.
 
In OPEC's monthly oil-market report, Saudi Arabia revealed it had cut production by about 400,000 barrels per day last month.  The kingdom is beset by competitors, dropping demand, and a US production boom.  But the Wall Street Journal reports a split in OPEC's response to falling prices.  Iran and Nigeria together increased output by more than a third of the Saudi cut in August.  Libya's ports and oil fields are open for business, with production increasing fivefold in three months to about 800,000 barrels per day. Add it up and goes a long way to explain the lowest oil prices in a year and a half.  The international benchmark lost another 55 cents a barrel to $97.49 by midday Thursday.  Nymex futures gained a little ground to $92.15 a barrel, but Wednesday's price at NCRA of $81.50 was the lowest at the McPherson refinery since January. 
 
The Wall Street Journal says a global oil surplus is driving US crude prices down.  Gulf Coast refineries are using less as they slow production ahead of yearly repairs.  More oil is traveling to Cushing after a pipeline was reversed last month.  The amount of crude stored at the Oklahoma hub is up 14% in the last seven weeks after hitting a six-year low.
 
Enterprise Products Partners hopes to build a new pipeline to carry oil from North Dakota to the oil storage and distribution facility in Cushing, Oklahoma.  According to the Denver Business Journal, the company will route the pipeline through Wyoming and Colorado, in hopes of picking up customers in the Power River and Denver-Julesburg basins.  The company says the 30-inch pipeline would carry about 340,000 barrels of oil per day to start, and could expand to more than 700,000 barrels per day.  If Enterprise finds enough customers, the Colorado to Oklahoma section could be operational by the end of 2016.
 
Analysis by Platts indicates that Congress will not likely pass, or even debate, lifting or relaxing oil export restrictions until after the election.  House and Senate aids concede there is growing support in Washington to end the 40-year-old restrictions, the debate to do so is not something they are willing to undertake this year.  Meanwhile, some leaders in Congress, who largely support US energy producers, have declined to speak in favor of such a policy change over fears that it might be linked to an increase in gasoline prices, even though economic studies claim increased exports will actually have the opposite effect.
 
Russia's state-owned energy powerhouse Rosneft is preparing to fire up to one thousand employees, or one-fourth of its workforce.  According to the newspaper Kommersant, the firings could begin next month.  Rosneft has been affected by recent Western sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine incursion, with chief executive Igor Sechin's assets frozen by the United States and potential deals reportedly being shelved amid tensions.  The St Petersburg Times reports the sanctions could hit the company's ability to maintain production levels and move forward with its long-term development plans, including drilling in the Arctic.  Rosneft's production in August dropped to its lowest level in over a year, according to Bloomberg.
 
The budget for the oil boomtown of Williston, North Dakota has increased nearly fivefold in just three years.  The town's population was nearly 15 thousand in the 2010 census, but tens of thousands of people have moved to the area since then, ramping up costs for roads, bridges, water and sewer service.  The city budget was $20 million in 2000, $53 million in 2012.  Next year's city budget, passed Tuesday, tops out at a whopping $250 million.
 
The stage has been set for an appeal of a high profile verdict against a Texas oil and gas company after a judge refused to grant a new trial in the case of a family sickened by noxious air emissions. Judge Mark Greenberg letting stand the $2.9 million jury award to Lisa and Bob Parr who sued the company after more than 100 wells surrounded their once rural ranch south of Dallas.  A spokesman says the company will now take the case to the Texas Court of Appeal. 
 
The final report from a landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, found no evidence that chemicals or brine water from the gas drilling process moved upward to contaminate drinking water at a site in western Pennsylvania.  The Department of Energy report, released Monday, was the first time an energy company allowed independent monitoring of a drilling site during the fracking process and for 18 months afterward. After those months of monitoring, researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas stayed about 5,000 feet below drinking water supplies.

News From The Oil Patch 9/8/2014

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Baker Hughes reported 1,925 active drilling rigs across the US last week, up eleven from the week before. The count in Canada was up five at 414.  In Kansas there were 23 rigs, down two.  Independent Oil & Gas Service reported 120 rigs across Kansas, with 37 in eastern Kansas, up two, and 83 west of Wichita, up one from last week.
 
Independent reported 158 new well completions across Kansas last week for a year-to-date total of 3,993.  There were 66 east of Wichita and 92 in western Kansas.
 
There were 100 new drilling permits issued last week across the state, which is 5,056 so far this year.  There were 57 in eastern Kansas, and 43 west of Wichita, including seven in Barton County, five in Ellis County, and two in Russell County. There were no new permits in Stafford County.
 
The Kansas Corporation Commission reports 588 intent-to-drill notices filed across Kansas during the month of August.  In the last 30 days, there were 19 new intent notices filed in Barton County, nine in Ellis County, 12 in Russell County, and nine in Stafford County.
 
A US judge on ruled that BP was "grossly negligent" in its role in the Gulf oil spill four years ago.  The court concluded that the discharge of oil was the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct by the company.   Under terms of the Clean Water Act, the company could see up to $18 billion in fines.  BP has already shelled out more than $42 in settlements and other costs associated with the spill.  Experts say the companies subsequent asset sales have alrready erased about a fifth of BP's earning power.  The judge is set to assign the actual dollar amounts in a third phase of the civil trial, set to begin next January.  On its Web site, the company said it "strongly disagrees" with the ruling, adding that "it believes an impartial view of the record does not support the erroneous conclusion reached by the court.
 
Reuters reported one possible side effect of that huge civil judgment against BP for the Gulf Oil spill, suggesting the prospect of up to $18 billion in new fines could encourage the company to sell off some of its Russian interests.  Analysts are suggesting the judgment could prompt BP to look at reducing its exposure to Russia, perhaps even selling off or reducing it's 19.75% stake in the BP-Rosneft joint venture.  Assets in Russia currently generate up to one fourth of BP's production worldwide.
 
The British government has filed a friend of the court brief, urging the US Supreme Court to review appeals court rulings against BP requiring the company to pay damages to claimants who was not injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  The Brits assert that the lower court rulings raise what it called grave international concerns by undermining confidence in the "vigorous and fair resolution of disputes."
 
Halliburton announced it has agreed to pay $1.1 billion to settle most of the lawsuits brought over its role in the Gulf oil spill.  The agreement is subject to court approval.  Halliburton was accused by victims, and by BP, of doing defective cementing work on the Macondo well before it blew out in April of 2010. The company blamed the incident on decisions by BP, which owned the well. 
 
According to a new report from the Brookings Institution, China has passed the US as the world's largest oil importer, and buys more crude from the Middle East than we do.  China currently imports a net 5.6 million barrels of oil per day.  About half of those imports are from the Persian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Oman and Iraq.  The US now imports about five million barrels per day, with about 41% of that coming from the Persian Gulf, and more than 50% from Canada and Mexico. 
 
Iraq's oil ministry refiled a complaint in a U.S. court asking authorities to seize a million barrels of Kurdish oil waiting off the coast of Texas.  A previous request was thrown out over questions of jurisdiction, but Baghdad refiled the complaint last week.  The Kurds must respond within 21 days to avoid a default judgment.
 
The Chief Executive Officer at Royal Dutch Shell calls on the US to lift its decades-old ban on crude oil exports.  Ben van Beurden told a conference at Columbia University that oil and natural gas exports would "reinforce the long term future of North American energy production."  Van Beurden also said lifting the ban would help fuel consumers in the US because it would prompt an increase in US oil production, which would, he says, keep prices down. According to Reuters, Van Beurden called for a systematic and gradual opening up of the export ban.

News From The Oil Patch 9/2/2014

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Baker Hughes reported 1,914 active drilling rigs across the US Friday, up 18 from last Friday.  The count in Canada was up four at 409, which in Kansas there were 25 rigs actively drilling for oil and gas, down three.  Independent Oil & Gas reported 117 rigs across the state, including 35 east of Wichita (up four) and 82 in western Kansas unchanged.
 
Independent reported 164 drilling permits fornew locations in Kansas last week, and 4,956 so far this year.  There were 112 new permits in eastern Kansas, and 52 west of Wichita, including two in Barton County, none in Ellis County, five in Russell County, and four in Stafford County.
 
There were 120 new well completions reported across the state last week, or 3,835 for the year.  There were 46 completions in eastern Kansas, including one dry hole, and 74 in the western Kansas region, in cyhidh there were 21 dry holes.
 
A new company based in Hays offers acidization services to Central and Western Kansas.  ESCA Service is located at 1942 Highway 40, and offers oil field chemicals for acid stimulation for oil and gas wells.
 
That ballot initiative to repeal Alaska’s oil-industry tax cuts failed by just 8,443 votes, out of about 172,000 votes cast.  The New York Times reported absentee ballots counted last week sealed the deal, and nixed the repeal.
 
That “ghost ship” oil tanker has reappeared on Satellite imagery near where it disappeared off the US coast last week.  The vessell is carrying approximately $100 million of disputed Iraqi Kurdish crude oil.  The tanker seems not to have offloaded its oil.  According to the US Coast Guard and Reuters, the tanker is still 95 percent full and has not yet unloaded its cargo. The vessel was anchored Monday in the Galveston Offshore Lightering Area, close to its previously known position.
 
A senior U.S. Congressman from Texas has come out in full support of the United States lifting its 40-year old ban on crude oil exports.  Until now, Representative Joe Barton has maintained a relatively neutral public stance on the topic.  The matter has divided Republican members of the House energy and commerce committee.  Barton told Reuters in a statement that the time was right for the US to overhaul its long-standing restrictions on exporting crude oil.
 
The Wall Street Journal says at least ten large oil companies, including Marathon Oil , ConocoPhillips, Hess Corp and Continental Resources, are planning a lobbying effort after the election to loosen the US ban on oil exports.    They say with booming US production, we can afford it.   A majority of voters polled on the subject remain concerned about the impact on gas prices.  Most refineries oppose the move, because a glut of oil here lowers prices, which improves their bottom lines.
 
Occidental Petroleum on Tuesday broke ground on a new 600-employee office complex in Midland, Texas to serve as the center of the company’s oil-and-gas operations in the Permian Basin.
 
The windfall in oil-tax revenue in Texas is a mixed bag, according to reporting in the Houston Chronicle.  The Texas Oil & Gas Association says there are 400,000 people employed in the Texas oil patch with an average salary of $120,000.  That’s $48 billion total in salaries and wages.  The industry is shelling out $11 billion each year in royalties, to about 570,000 landowners.  The state’s Rainy Day Fund for emergency initiatives is on track to reach $12 billion.  
 
Authorities in Nigeria say that country has lost about $243 million to bunkering, the puncturing of oil pipelines by vandals and thieves.  There were more than 3,500 cases last year, compared to just 2,230 cases the year before.
 
Royal Dutch Shell has taken the first steps toward restarting its efforts to drill for oil in Arctic waters off the coast of Alaska.  The company on Thursday submitted a plan that consists of two drilling rigs working at the same time in the Chukchi Sea.  Shell has not made a final decision on whether to drill next summer, according to the New York Times.  If Shell received government approval, it could likely see another round of court challenges to the effort.