Daily Reports

News from the Oil Patch 8/8/2016

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The latest numbers from the Kansas Geological Survey show the state had only produced about 13.1 million barrels of oil through April.  The county numbers offered a few surprises.  Ellis County is the leading producer in the state as of the end of April, with 897-thousand barrels.  We topped Harper County for the first time in a couple of years.  Harper County production through April was 891-thousand barrels.  Barton County was next at 589-thousand barrels.  Finney County checks in with 578-thousand.  Russell County produced 535-thousand barrels and Stafford had 372-thousand.  KGS updated its production numbers on July 18.
 
The Kansas Corporation Commission reports 146 intent-to-drill notices filed in July across Kansas. That's 55 higher than the 91 filed in June and brings to 539 the total number of intents filed so far this year. There was one new intent filed in Barton County, two in Ellis County and two in Stafford County.  
 
Baker Hughes reported 464 active drilling rigs nationwide last week, up one.  There were 122 in Canada, up three.  Independent Oil & Gas Service reported eight active rigs in eastern Kansas, down one, and 23 west of Wichita, up six.  There were 146 rigs stacked and 168 total inactive rigs in Kansas.  Operators were moving in completion tools at one site each in Barton and Ellis counties, at two sites in Russell County and three in Stafford County.
 
Independent Oil & Gas Service reported 31 newly-completed oil and gas wells across Kansas last week. That's 719 so far this year.  There were 13 completions last week in eastern Kansas and 18 west of Wichita, including one in Stafford County and one dry hole in Barton County.  
 
There were 25 permits for drilling in new locations filed across Kansas last week, which brings the total so far this year to 565.  There were eight permits filed in eastern Kansas and 17 west of Wichita including one in Stafford County.
 
Kansas has joined a dozen other states in the lawsuit challenging EPA's final rule regulating emissions standards in the patch.  Attorney General Derek Schmidt is asking for judicial review of one of the three new rules regarding methane emissions. He says the rule is illegal because he says the agency skipped past the "endangerment finding" as required by law.  In the petition filed August 2nd, petitioners asked that the rule be vacated until such time as EPA can conduct the required endangerment finding process and cost analysis.
 
Chevron has persuaded a federal appeals court to block enforcement in the U.S. of an $8.65 billion pollution judgment in South America that the company said was obtained through bribery and fraud.  The court agreed with that assessment of the plaintiffs in the Ecuadorean rainforest pollution case.  In the 127-page decision, a judge said "even innocent clients may not benefit from the fraud of their attorney."  While not disputing that pollution occurred, Chevron has said attorney Steven Donziger and his associates arranged the ghostwriting of a key environmental report and bribed the presiding judge in Ecuador.  The oil company has also said a 1998 agreement between Texaco and Ecuador absolved it of further liability. It's likely not the end decades-long court case. Donziger's attorney says they will explore all available options for further review.
 
OPEC may resurrect its heretofore futile attempts to freeze petroleum output in a bid to inject life into oil prices.  In a statement Monday, member countries said they would hold an informal meeting at the International Energy Forum next month in Algeria. The cartel, and some non-member nations, considered an output freeze multiple times over the last year, but failed to reach a consensus.
 
Improved fracking techniques have helped cut Pioneer Natural Resources' production costs in the Permian Basin to about $2 a barrel, low enough to compete with oil rival Saudi Arabia.  The comments from CEO Scott Sheffield were perhaps the most concrete sign yet that the fittest U.S. shale oil producers will survive the price crash.  Dozens of shale companies, many with marginal assets, have filed for credit protection in the biggest wave of corporate bankruptcies since the telecom crash of the early 2000s. Sheffield said high costs would continue to make U.S. shale plays outside the Permian basin relatively less competitive.
 
Bloomberg reports that two years into the oil price crash and big oil firms' debts have doubled to a combined $138 billion.  Those debts have grown by ten times since 2008, and analysts say the total is likely to increase in the third and fourth quarters of this year.
 
An outplacement firm out of Kansas City says cheap oil can now be blamed for 195,000 job cuts across the US.  The firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas says the cuts are happening at a time when many other sectors of the economy have been adding jobs.  The report released Thursday said 95,000 positions were eliminated by energy companies this year.

News From The Oil Patch 8/1/2016

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Baker Hughes reported 463 active drilling rigs nationwide last week, up one from the week before. In Canada there were 119, also up one. Independent Oil and Gas Service reported nine active rigs in eastern Kansas, down two, and 17 west of Wichita, up one.  There are a total of 171 INactive rigs in Kansas, including 148 that are stacked, and 23 that are shut down awaiting new contracts.
 
There were just 19 permits issued for new locations across Kansas last week, bringing the total so far this year to 540.  There were two new permits filed east of Wichita, and 17 in western Kansas, including one in Ellis County.
 
Independent Oil & Gas Service reported seven newly completed oil and gas wells across the state last week. That's 688 so far this year.  There was one in eastern Kansas and six west of Wichita, including one dry hole completed in Ellis County.
 
U.S. officials announced to speed up permitting for oil and gas drilling on federal and Indian lands to reduce delays.  Applications were projected to be down 40 percent versus their historical average amid the ongoing price slump.  Drilling applications would have to be filed online under the new proposal.
 
News out of Libya is likely to push prices lower. Libya’s state-controlled National Oil Co. said it was taking steps to restart exports from three blocked oil ports after the government reached a deal with local guards that had blocked the facilities during a pay dispute.  
 
A big player in the patch could be chosen as part of Donald Trump’s cabinet if the Republican nominee is elected president. Sources told Reuters that Trump is considering Harold Hamm for the position of Energy Secretary.  If Hamm is selected, he will be the first energy secretary to work directly in the oil and gas industry since the cabinet position was created in 1977.  Hamm and his company Continental Resources are well known for pioneering the explosive growth of shale oil production in North Dakota.
 
The Dakota Access oil pipeline received its final federal permit approvals.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved 60 river crossings in Iowa. Several lawsuits are still pending, but a company spokeswoman says they hope to have construction completed and be in service by the end of this year. The $3.8 billion pipeline will transport up to 570,000 barrels of oil per day from North Dakota to the refining cluster at Patoka, Ill.  The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is suing federal regulators for approving permits for Dakota Access.  Tribal officials filed the new lawsuit last week, they oppose the pipeline because it fears a spill could contaminate drinking water on its reservation, which is home to 8,000 people.  The tribe also says the project threatens sacred sites and violates federal laws.
 
The state of Nebraska will not appeal a judge's decision to bar a Colorado company from disposing of oil & gas wastewater in a well in the Nebraska Panhandle.  A judge ruled last month that the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission exceeded its authority when it approved the request. 
 
Saudi Aramco's plans for a public stock offering has kicked off a scramble among banks for a role in a deal that could generate $1 billion in fees—the biggest investment-banking deal ever. The Wall Street Journal says the plan is to float as much as 5% of the Aramco, the world's largest oil company. The kingdom estimates the company has a value of between $2 trillion and $3 trillion. But the Journal says "let the buyer beware," citing the poor track record of several publicly-listed, state-run oil companies.  The Aramco IPO, which could happen as soon as 2018, is part of a plan to raise funds to diversify the Saudi economy after a two-year slump in oil prices. Saudi officials said New York, London and Hong Kong are potential locations for a listing. 
 
The Wall Street Journal calls it "the end of the US oil-train boom." Rail became a big mover of crude oil after companies began unlocking shale formations and production skyrocketed.  Starting at near zero in 2009, oil-by-rail jumped to more than one million barrels per day by 2014. But those numbers began falling after oil prices started tumbling two years ago, and aren’t projected to recover anytime soon. In April, just 430,000 barrels of oil rode the rails each day, according to the latest federal figures.
 
Norway’s biggest oil company, Statoil, will buy an offshore oil block in Brazil from Petrobras for $2.5 billion.  Bloomberg says this is Statoil's biggest acquisition since 2011.  The play is estimated to hold between 700 million and 1.3 billion barrels equivalent of recoverable oil, according to a statement from the Norwegian driller. 
 
European oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and Total reported a sharp decline in profits in the second-quarter, as the low oil price continued to weigh on earnings.  CNBC tells us that Shell's second-quarter earnings totalled $1 billion, down from $3.8 billion in the same period last year, a 72 percent fall.  Meanwhile, France's Total said second-quarter adjusted net income was down 30 percent year-on-year to $2.2 billion, but noted on a quarter-on-quarter basis, it actually rose.
 
U.S. ConocoPhillips reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss, and cut its 2016 budget for the third time this year.  ConocoPhillips' net loss widened to $1.07 billion in the second quarter.
 
Exxon Mobil missed analyst estimates, reporting declining quarterly profits, as an oil glut spread to motor fuels, dragging down refinery margins.  Net income dropped to $1.7 billion. Crude and natural gas prices, along with diesel and gasoline prices, slumped during the period.  Exxon and other majors were deprived of the tempering effect oil refining typically provides during times of low crude prices.
 

News From The Oil Patch 7/25/2016

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Baker Hughes reported a big jump in the US rig count Friday, a total of 462 active rigs, up 15 for the week.  There were 14 more active rigs drilling for oil nationwide.  The count in Canada was up seven to 102 active rigs.  Independent Oil & Gas Service reports 11 active rigs in eastern Kansas, up three, and 16 west of Wichita, up one.  In Barton County, they're moving in rotary tools at one site and moving in completion tools at another.  Crews are also moving in completion tools at one site in Ellis County, one site in Russell County, and at three sites in Stafford County.
 
There were 41 permits issued over the last week for drilling in new locations across Kansas.  Of those, 22 were in eastern Kansas and 19 were west of Wichita, including one new drilling permit in Barton County.
 
Independent Oil & Gas Service reports 20 well completions last week across the state.  15 of those were east of Wichita and five were in western Kansas, including one dry hole completed in Ellis County.
 
Bloomberg reports the number of dormant crude and natural gas wells in the U.S. stopped growing in the first quarter, and may all but disappear should prices hold steady.  As of April 1, there were 4,230 wells left idle after being drilled, a figure little changed from January, according to an analysis by Bloomberg Intelligence. While some explorers have continued to grow their fracklog of drilled but not yet hydraulically fractured wells, the report showed others began tapping them in February as oil prices rose.  One analyst says crude prices in the $40- to $50-a-barrel range may wipe out most of the fracklog in Texas’s Permian Basin and as much as 70 percent of the inventory in its Eagle Ford play by the end of next year.
 
Despite the government's announcement last week, the state of Kansas and others will continue their lawsuit against listing the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week announced it is dropping the effort.  This is good news for the oil patch in Kansas, where the listing would have cost producers a lot of money to protect the bird.  But, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says his lawsuit continues until Schmidt and other AGs get assurances that the federal government will not change its mind or shift what Schmidt called the agency's regulatory zeal to another species. Schmidt issued a statement calling the announcement "good news for private property rights, the rural Kansas economy and common sense." 
 
The State of North Dakota is suing the EPA over the agency’s rule to reduce methane emissions from oil and natural gas sources. In its petition for review, North Dakota asked the court to determine whether the EPA’s final rule on methane standards for new, reconstructed and modified sources in the oil and gas industry exceeds the agency’s statutory authority.  The petition contends that the rule “goes beyond the bounds established by the United State Constitution and is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with law.” North Dakota asked the court to find the rule unlawful and set it aside.
 
Prosecutors dismissed 22 counts of fraud against a Texas lawyer and six co-defendants accused of faking more than 40,000 damage claims after the Gulf oil spill.  That leaves 73 charges against attorney Mikal Watts of San Antonio, two non-attorney members of his law firm and four contract field workers on trial in Mississippi.  Prosecutors say they invented victims or used real people's names without permission to land Watts a spot on the lucrative BP litigation steering committee and inflate legal fees he might collect.  Kenneth Feinberg, the head of the oil spill claims office testified that he was suspicious when Watts told him he was handling claims from 41,000 fishermen.  Feinberg read a letter in which he had told Watts: "It's hard to believe there are even 41,000 fishermen in the Gulf who would even file a claim."  The claims office had paid $1 billion to 50,000 people at that point, and Feinberg was skeptical that Watts alone could nearly double the list.  The trial is expected to last six to ten weeks.
When BP and other companies involved agreed to the class action settlement for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, it included a $600 million cap for attorney fees and expenses. The 107 law firms that make up the Plaintiffs Steering Committee spelled out just how much work they have done in a court petition filed last week.  The New Orleans Times-Picayune reports lawyers logged more than 527,000 work hours...collectively about 60 years...in their efforts to recover damages for 130,000 individuals, businesses and governmental entities that took part.  The 107 firms in the multi-district litigation spent $45 million of their own money on that time, according to the petition. That would leave $555 million for actual fees.
 
The Vancouver, Washington City Council has voted to prohibit new or expanded crude oil storage facilities in the city. But it will likely have little effect on a massive oil shipping terminal planned for the Port of Vancouver.  The city council voted to prohibit the expansion of existing and new crude oil refineries and facilities that average less than 50,000 barrels a day within the city. Two refiners, Tesoro and Savage Services, want to build a rail-to-marine oil transfer terminal along the Columbia River that can handle an average 360,000 barrels of crude per day.
 
Britain's vote to exit the European Union is compounding the impact of the market slump in the North Sea, Bloomberg reports the pace of oil-field shutdowns is picking up.  Projected spending on decommissioning is expected to rise to $22.4 billion by the year 2024. The consulting firm Wood Mackenzie says the rout in crude to less than $50 a barrel has left about 30 percent of fields in the North Sea operating at a loss.  The collapse was pushing more producers to hasten plugging wells on the sea floor even before the U.K. decision to leave the European Union.

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.