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Oilfield News: Arrested on suspicion of theft of oil fields


Fewer wells spitting but more footage being drilled: That’s the Independent Oil & Gas Service’s ongoing assessment of current drilling activity in Kansas. IOGSI reports 134 spuds in the week to Feb. 16. Total footage exceeded 391,000 feet. Kansas Rig Count west of Wichita was down five rigs to nineteen. Drilling was underway Friday on a lease at Ellis. Stafford County operators were drilling under a lease and preparing to spit two new wells.

Kansas regulators approved 25 new drilling permits last week, including nine in western Kansas, including two in Barton County and one in Stafford County. That’s 193 new drilling locations statewide since New Year’s Day, up from 138 this time last year. Operators completed sixty new wells in Kansas last week, including one in Barton County and two in Ellis County, according to the Independent Oil & Gas Service. This is their best weekly tally since January 2019.

Baker Hughes’ Weekly Rotary Rig Count on Friday showed 760 active rigs in the United States, up by one natural gas rig, but the oil rig count fell by two. The count in Louisiana was two decks down. New Mexico was down by one. Oklahoma was ahead.

Domestic crude stockpiles grew by more than 17 million barrels to 471.4 million barrels as of Feb. 10. The Energy Information Administration says it’s about 8 percent higher than the five-year average for this time of year.

The government reports a slight increase in US crude production last week. Traders pumped 12.256 million barrels a day in the week to Feb. 10. This is about 4,000 bpd from the previous week and nearly 700,000 bpd higher than a year ago.

EIA said imports fell to 6.2 million barrels a day, down more than 800,000 barrels.

The Triple-A automobile club reports that the national average price at the pump of gas on Thursday was down a cent from the previous week to $3.42 a gallon. Diesel prices were also a cent lower at $4.53 a gallon. In Kansas, pump prices fell two cents for gasoline to $3.14 a gallon and four cents for diesel to an average price of $4.06 a gallon.

US oil shipments by rail fell for the week but remain about ten percent higher than a year ago. The Association of American Railroads reports that 10,662 tank cars loaded with oil and petroleum products traveled the tracks in the week ending Feb. 11. It’s down more than 100 loads from the previous week, but up 10.2% year over year. AAR says Canadian traffic increased during the week but was down just over one percent from last year.

Operators of the Keystone pipeline blame a faulty weld and what has been called “flexural stress” for a crude oil spill in northern Kansas on Dec. 8. TC Energy says the stress on the weld defect led to a crack and ultimately instantaneous failure. A press release posted on the company’s website on Feb. 9 said the welding was completed at a manufacturing facility in accordance with applicable inspection and testing standards. The company said the pipeline was operating within maximum pressure limits, although independent analyzes show a dramatic increase in volumes shortly before the spill. TC Energy also reduced its estimate of the amount of crude oil actually spilled to just under 13,000 barrels. This is based on the amount of oil needed to refill the pipeline when they restarted it. The company estimates that the pipeline spill cost them $480 million.

Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir announced the arrest of two suspects now charged with drug possession and oil field theft. Deputies arrested Lori Fiscus, 42, and Kurt Woods, 29, both of Great Bend, during a traffic stop on Feb. 14.

The government has reported a slight increase in the number of wells in the US that have been drilled but remain incomplete. The count through January increased by 42 wells nationwide. The Eagle Ford shale in south Texas was the only basin that experienced decline. The largest increases were in Colorado and Wyoming.

OPEC’s monthly analysis shows an acceleration in world economic growth along with global oil demand. The oil cartel expects global demand to rise by 2.3 million bpd this year to nearly 102 million bpd. OPEC’s monthly oil market report also reports that U.S. crude imports hit a three-year high in January, while exports fell.

Natural gas prices in Europe fell to their lowest level in nearly 18 months, dodging a much-feared energy crisis. The government says wholesale prices fell nearly 5% on Friday to $52 per megawatt-hour, the lowest level since September 2021 and a fraction of the all-time high reached in August last year. This according to data from the Independent Commodity Intelligence Service. CNN reports that prices are falling due to unseasonably warm weather this winter as well as the region’s efforts to conserve gas, find alternative suppliers and fill storage facilities.

The Kremlin has announced a cut in crude production in response to Western sanctions prompted by the invasion of Ukraine. Russia says it will cut its oil output by 500,000 barrels a day in March, in response to sanctions and a price cap for Russian crude. Bloomberg and Reuters quoted anonymous delegates from the OPEC-Plus group as saying the rest of the group will stick to the production targets agreed last week and will not ramp up output to make up the difference.

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