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Oil and Gas Roundup — May 5

May 05, 2014
TOPICS: In the news
A roundup of oil and natural gas industry news from around the state, nation and world:

Continental's Rick Muncrief to be new WPX Energy CEO

A top executive at Continental Resources Inc. has resigned to take over the top post at Tulsa-based WPX Energy, the Oklahoma City-based company announced Thursday.

Rick Muncrief had been Continental’s senior vice president of operations and resource development. He will take over May 15 as WPX Energy’s chief executive.

“We wish Rick the absolute best and are confident he will be as successful in his new role as he has been at Continental,” Continental CEO Harold Hamm said. ”Rick is an outstanding individual who has contributed significantly to Continental’s achievements the past five years.”

Muncrief will replace Ralph A. Hill, who stepped down from the post in December after spending 32 years at WPX and parent Williams Cos. Inc.

“Rick has an accomplished record of sizing things up and driving plans that produce exceptional results, profitable growth and lower costs,” WPX Chairman William G. Lowrie said in a news release. “He has prior experience in our growth areas, particularly the Williston and San Juan basins, and is ready to hit the ground running.

“His technical acumen, driven nature, operations experience and character are a great fit for shaping the future of the company.”

Muncrief, 55, is a petroleum engineer who has more than 30 years of upstream and midstream energy experience.

Read The Oklahoman story:

Drilling rig count in state up by three this week to 195

The number of drilling rigs actively exploring for oil or natural gas in Oklahoma rose by three this week to 195, Baker Hughes Inc. reported Friday.

The tally is up seven from a year ago, when it was 188.

Nationwide, the net number of active drilling units fell by seven this week to 1,854, according to Houston-based Baker Hughes. The total is up 90 rigs from a year ago.

Of the rigs operating this week across the U.S., 1,527 were exploring for oil, 323 for gas and four were listed as miscellaneous.

Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, benchmark U.S. crude oil for June delivery gained 34 cents to close at $99.76 a barrel.

Natural gas fell 5 cents Friday to end the week at $4.67 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Democrats push Obama on LNG exports

Five Senate Democrats sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Friday pleading for the government to pick up the pace in vetting proposals to export natural gas.

The senators — including four facing voters for reelection this November — said they are concerned that the Energy Department’s relatively slow work in reviewing applications is preventing the U.S. from realizing potential benefits domestically and abroad.

Taking “swift and decisive action” on those export proposals would help safeguard allies overseas “while boosting our economy, creating jobs and protecting the environment here at home,” the senators wrote.

They group told Obama they had united “to demonstrate there is significant Democratic support for this policy, along with Republican interest in this idea as well.”

Directed to Obama — instead of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz — the letter may be a tacit acknowledgement that the administration’s policy on natural gas exports is being shaped by the White House.

It also could escalate the political debate surrounding the issue, as the House prepares to take up legislation that would impose a deadline on the Energy Department’s review of proposed liquefied natural gas exports.

The letter was spearheaded by Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., who introduced a similar bill to accelerate the review process last March and may push another LNG plan during a Senate debate on energy efficiency.

Read more:

Just 20 counties accounted for half of U.S. oil production

Last year, more than half of U.S. oil production came from 20 counties, six of which are located in South Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale, according to recent data from consultancy DrillingInfo.

The 20 counties — half spread through Eagle Ford and North Dakota’s Bakken Shale — represent just 2 percent of U.S. oil-producing counties yet accounted for 52 percent of 2013’s output. Karnes County, southeast of San Antonio, ranked 7th on the list, making it the highest-producing county in the Lone Star State.

In addition to the six Eagle Ford locales and four in North Dakota, the list included counties dotted through traditional oil-production spots such as Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

Next year, the results are likely to skew even higher to shale locations, usually described as “unconventional” basins, Drillinginfo engineering research analyst Kevin Thuot writes in a blog post on the data.

Read the report:

Putin’s anti-HF campaign

Vladimir Putin, the ruler of Russia, wants to ban fracking in other countries. He is very concerned about their environments. If you frack, Putin told a global economic conference last year, “black stuff comes out of the tap.”

Alexey Miller — a longtime Putin crony going back to the early 1990s, when they stole the money that was supposed to buy food for the starving city of Leningrad, who now oversees the Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom — strongly supports his friend on this issue. He would like to see an EU-wide ban on fracking, and the Gazprom board is with him 100 percent.

“The production of shale gas is associated with significant environmental risks, in particular the hazard of surface and underground water contamination with chemicals applied in the production process,” they warned the world in 2011. “This fact has already caused the prohibition of the shale gas development and production in France.”

Alexandr Medvedev, the general director of Gazprom Export, is also very supportive of efforts to ban fracking in Europe.

“I would like to quote the president of France, who said that as long as he’s president, he will not allow the production of shale gas in France,” Medvedev said in a television interview last August. “The cost of production of shale gas in Europe is incomparably higher than in the U.S. and also the situation with the environment is different, because in the U.S. its main production is in unpopulated areas, which are quite available in the U.S., but in Europe we can’t find such big unpopulated areas with reach to the water.”

The fact that Kremlin opposition to European fracking has nothing to do with environmental concerns should be clear even to the dullest among us, because Russia has massive fracking projects of its own underway in Siberia. The real goal is to keep Europe dependent upon Russia for its fuel supply.

Read more:

The Weekly Oil and Gas Follies

Each week Forbes contributor David Blackmon outlines the week's silliness, shenanigans, fake news and real news related to the oil and natural gas industry.

Read this week's here:
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