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4 quakes of magnitude 4.0 or more hit northwest Oklahoma

FAIRVIEW, Okla. (AP) — Four earthquakes capable of causing moderate damage rocked northwestern Oklahoma, but there were no immediate reports of significant damage or injuries.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports a magnitude 4.7 quake hit just before 10:30 p.m. Wednesday about 20 miles northwest of Fairview and a magnitude 4.8 quake struck about a half mile away less than a minute later. A magnitude 4.0 quake was recorded in the area just after 2:30 a.m. Thursday and another magnitude 4.0 temblor struck in the same area just before 2 p.m. Thursday.

Oklahoma's earthquakes have been linked to injecting wastewater underground from oil and gas production. Regulators have ordered a reduction in volume or the closure of some wells.

Keystone sign and pipes in Nebraska pumping station
AP Photo/Nati Harnik
Oil

TransCanada to file 2 legal challenges to Keystone rejection

HOUSTON (AP) — The Canadian company that proposed the Keystone XL oil pipeline on Wednesday filed a lawsuit over the U.S. government's rejection of the project and announced it plans to file a second legal challenge that will seek more than $15 billion in damages.

TransCanada filed a federal lawsuit in Houston alleging President Barack Obama's decision in November to kill the pipeline exceeded his power under the U.S. Constitution.

The company also announced it will submit a separate petition seeking the billions in damages, alleging the U.S. breached its obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Obama, Iraq's leader work to contain Iran-Saudi fallout

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and Iraq's leader are discussing ways to prevent a diplomatic dust-up between Saudi Arabia and Iran from exacerbating ongoing sectarian conflict in Iraq.

Obama spoke by phone Wednesday with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. The White House says both leaders were concerned about Saudi Arabia's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric and subsequent attacks against Saudi diplomatic outposts in Iran.

Obama and al-Abadi are calling on all parties to show restraint and avoid inflammatory actions. They also discussed the fight against the Islamic State group and the campaign to drive IS out of Ramadi.

Oil

Stocks hit 2-month lows as oil dives and China worries flare

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks tumbled to two-month lows Wednesday as fears about China's economy slowing down led to more widespread selling. The price of oil plunged to its lowest level since 2008 on the prospect that global demand could fall further.

For the second time in three days, markets slumped on concerns about that the second-largest economy in the world is stumbling. A monthly survey of China's service industries slipped to a 17-month low. That helped knock the price of oil lower since China is a major consumer of energy.

Global markets were also rattled after North Korea said it had conducted its first successful test of a hydrogen bomb. Experts in South Korea and the U.S. doubted that the country had made that breakthrough, but the announcement still caused alarm.

Oil

Frack leases on W. Va. lands yield $18M; none from production

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia has brought in $18 million by leasing the right to drill for oil and natural gas deep below state wildlife management areas and waterways, including beneath the Ohio River.

But as natural gas prices stay low, no companies with the state leases have begun extracting gas, as far as state Department of Commerce officials know. As a result, officials say they have received up-front checks, but no royalties from the unearthing of resources from the deep shale deposits, a process generally known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The department first put horizontal drilling opportunities out to bid in the fall of 2014 and has since struck leases in the northern counties of Marshall, Tyler and Wetzel. They include parts of wildlife management areas at Conaway Run Lake, The Jug, Underwood, Burches Run Lake and Lewis Wetzel; Fish Creek and Middle Island Creek; and a few miles of the Ohio River.

Oil

Iraq must walk a fine line amid Iranian, Saudi tensions

BAGHDAD (AP) — While many Iraqi Shiites took to the streets in outrage over Saudi Arabia's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric, the country's prime minister has had to walk a more cautious line, trying to contain Iraq's own explosive sectarian tensions.

The execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr has inflamed the sectarian divide across the region. Shiite-led Iran has been the most vocal in its condemnation, and protesters stormed Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran over the weekend. That prompted Sunni-led Saudi Arabia to cut diplomatic relations with Iran, and the kingdom's allies have lined up behind it, either cutting or reducing their ties with Tehran.

Jack Gerard/Energy Guardian Photo
Oil

API's Gerard: US crude exports help keep prices low

WASHINGTON (AP) — Oil prices have remained low despite heightened tensions between two of the world's big oil-producing countries, Iran and Saudi Arabia, and a new law allowing U.S. crude exports helps explain why, the oil industry's top lobbyist said Tuesday.

Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, said the 3-week-old law lifting a 40-year ban on crude exports has already changed the dynamics of the global oil industry.

The potential for U.S. exports, combined with the ongoing U.S. oil boom, means "the United States has come in as a major player" in the global oil market, reducing the influence of countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, Gerard said.

US auto sales hit an all-time high in 2015

DETROIT (AP) — Americans are buying more new cars than ever before.

U.S. auto sales hit a record high of 17.47 million in 2015, topping the old record of 17.35 million set in 2000. Analysts expect sales could go even higher this year as unemployment continues to decline and more young buyers enter the market.

Automakers reported December and full-year sales Tuesday.

Oil

Iran, Saudi Arabia tensions can't halt slide in oil prices

DALLAS (AP) — Even the escalating tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia, two big oil-producing countries, can't halt the slide in energy prices.

Oil futures spiked briefly on Monday after the news that Saudi Arabia would cut diplomatic ties with Iran, a development that could be seen as a threat to oil supplies.

Investors quickly discounted those fears, however. After rising by $1.35, the price of benchmark U.S. crude ended the day down 28 cents to $36.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose in Asian trading on Tuesday, picking up 4 cents to $36.80. Brent crude, reflecting the price of international oils, was down 5 cents at $37.18 in London.

AP PHOTO
Oil

Oklahoma oil, gas regulators order changes after earthquakes

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The state commission that regulates Oklahoma's oil and natural gas industry ordered some injection well operators to reduce wastewater disposal volumes on Monday after at least a dozen earthquakes hit an area north of Oklahoma City in less than a week.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission said it was implementing a plan that affects five wastewater injection wells operating within 10 miles of the center of earthquake activity near Edmond, a northeast suburb of Oklahoma City. Among the recent quakes to hit the area was a 4.2 magnitude temblor on New Year's Day that caused minor damage but no injuries.

"We are working with researchers on the entire area of the state involved in the latest seismic activity to plot out where we should go from here," Oil and Gas Conservation Division Director Tim Baker said, adding that responding to the swarm of earthquakes in the region was an ongoing process.

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