The oil and natural gas industry could expect October to be one of its most critical months in the market, amid finalization of capital spending and banks' reassessment of borrowing base financing, writes Skip York, vice president of integrated energy in Wood Mackenzie's Americas Research Team. "How aggressively a company cuts could tell us how optimistic it is about near-term oil price prospects, as well as where it is in the project investment cycle," he notes. Strategic decision-making will depend on the industry's most predominant price and operator confidence, York writes.
Many Alaska Native leaders support oil and natural gas development, saying the activity has long driven economic advantages for the state. Leaders have made ways for communities to regulate and benefit from the activity. "We firmly believe that the oil and gas and our animals can live in harmony by ensuring that the oil and gas development is done in a manner that won't affect the well-being of our subsistence resources," said Jacob Adams, chief administrative officer for the North Slope Borough.
Rail and barge operators in Louisiana may have to find markets outside the state, such as the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, as crude oil pipeline expansion projects are likely coming to Louisiana to reach undersupplied refineries. Among these projects are the Bayou Bridge pipeline connecting Texas and southern Louisiana and a possible reversal of the Capline pipeline linking the state to Patoka, Ill. RBN Energy Director of Energy Analytics Sandy Fielden said the Bayou Bridge could displace rail shipments if it transports Bakken crude to refiners.
The Obama administration should relax drilling restrictions to maintain operations and make up for the declining volumes of oil on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, which has served as the state's economic engine for decades, state officials and observers say. Gov. Bill Walker said the pipeline accounts for about 75% of state revenue and is now "two-thirds empty." According to pipeline operator Alyeska Pipeline Service, the pipeline is having a 5% drop in volumes per year, seeing a decline from 2 million barrels per day in 1988 to 513,441 barrels per day last year.
Proposed ozone standards could be costly for the US, and the Obama administration is limiting a final review of them, the American Petroleum Institute said Monday. The White House Office of Management and Budget said the review started Aug. 28 when it received the rule from the Environmental Protection Agency, leaving itself only about a month to meet the Oct. 1 court deadline for issuing the final rule. "EPA's proposal to tighten the ozone standards would fall on top of current limits that are already improving air quality," API Senior Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Howard Feldman said.
President Barack Obama last week defended the federal authorization of Royal Dutch Shell's oil drilling program in Alaska's Chukchi Sea. The activity is conducted "at the highest standards possible with requirements specifically tailored to the risks of drilling off Alaska. We don't rubber-stamp permits," Obama said. He added that domestic oil and natural gas production is vital to the U.S. economy, as the nation reduces its reliance on imports and moves toward realizing climate change goals.
The oilfield services sector is likely to see a surge in mergers and acquisitions activity, as oil prices continue to drop for a longer period, analysts say. Such a trend "is positively correlated with periods of sustained declining cash flow resulting from lower prices. If oil prices remain before $60 per barrel for the remainder of 2015, M&A activity may meaningfully accelerate," Wells Fargo said. Meanwhile, Robert W. Baird & Co. predicted that FMC Technologies and Drill-Quip could be headed for a consolidation.
The Environmental Protection Agency last week implemented the Clean Water Rule in some states, despite a federal judge's ruling that placed a temporary injunction against the rule. EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said the injunction applies only to 13 states, led by North Dakota, that filed the lawsuit challenging the rule. However, the agency's explanation contradicts statements from some supporters and opponents of the rule.
Two environmental bills aimed at cutting carbon emissions and oil use in California are headed into final votes in the State Assembly, as the legislative session is set to end on Sept. 11. One of the bills would require emissions reduction with targets of 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050 from 1990 levels, while the other bill would reduce oil consumption by vehicles by 50%. Beth Miller, spokeswoman for Western States Petroleum Association advocacy group California Drivers Alliance, criticized the bill on petroleum use, saying that it "contains no details on how this state will achieve those kinds of mandates."
President Barack Obama may be visiting Alaska only to promote his climate agenda and paint himself as an environmentalist, according to the oil and natural gas industry and some state residents. Louis Finkel, executive vice president for government affairs at the American Petroleum Institute, said the Obama administration has abandoned "an 'all of the above' energy policy." Besides excluding most offshore Alaska areas in the federal lease plan, the administration is putting up a "regulatory avalanche" against the industry despite the oil and gas boom that has prompted the U.S. economic revival, Finkel said.
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