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US oil production grew more in 2012 than in any year in the history of the domestic oil industry back to the Civil War

Mark J. Perry | January 20, 2013, 12:48 am

From Saturday’s WSJ:

U.S. oil production grew more in 2012 than in any year in the history of the domestic industry, which began in 1859, and is set to surge even more in 2013. Daily crude output averaged 6.4 million barrels a day last year, up a record 779,000 barrels a day from 2011 and hitting a 15-year high, according to the American Petroleum Institute (API), a trade group. It is the biggest annual jump in production since Edwin Drake drilled the first commercial oil well in Titusville, Pa., two years before the Civil War began (see chart above).

The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts 2013 will be an even bigger year, with average daily production expected to jump by 900,000 barrels a day. The surge comes thanks to a relatively recent combination of technologies—horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves pumping water, chemicals and sand at high pressures to break apart underground rock formations.

Together, they have unlocked deposits of oil and gas trapped in formations previously thought to be unreachable.

That has meant a resurgence of activity in well-established oil regions, such as West Texas’s Permian basin, as well as huge expansions in areas that had been lightly tapped in the past, such as North Dakota’s Bakken shale region. The Bakken has gone from producing just 125,000 barrels of oil a day five years ago to nearly 750,000 barrels a day today.

The benefits of the surge in domestic energy production include improving employment in some regions and a rebound in U.S.-based manufacturing.

MP: Actually, the API’s estimate of a 779,000 barrel per day (bpd) increase in domestic oil last year is pretty conservative compared to year-end comparisons of EIA data for weekly US oil production. Compared to oil output at the end of 2011 (5.846 million bpd), US oil production increased by 1.139 million bpd last year to almost 7 million bpd during the last week of December 2012. Alternatively, using the EIA’s four-week production averages show an increase of 1.063 million bpd from December of 2011 to December 2012. The reason that the yearend comparison shows a much higher annual increase in US oil production (about 1 million bpd vs. 779,000 bpd) is that domestic oil production accelerated during the second of last year – crude oil output increased 14.6% during the second half of 2012 compared to the 4.2% increase during the first six months.

The record increase in oil output last year reminds us the US oil and gas industry continues to be at the forefront of the otherwise sub-par economic recovery, and without that sector’s strong growth in output and jobs, the economy’s sub-par performance would be even more lackluster. The 1 million bpd increase in domestic oil production last year has delivered a powerful energy-based economic stimulus to the economy, creating thousands of new direct, shovel-ready jobs in oil and gas activities, and igniting many spinoff business and indirect jobs throughout the oil and gas supply chain like the “oil-by-rail shipping boom.” The future of the US economy over the next few years looks a lot brighter because of America’s surging domestic energy production.

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Deep Down Receives Umbilical Carousel Order (USA)

Deep Down, Inc., an oilfield services company specializing in complex deepwater and ultra-deepwater oil production distribution system support services has been successful in its proposal to a major international umbilical manufacturer for the manufacture, installation and commissioning of a portable umbilical carousel.

The project has an estimated value of $4 million in revenue to Deep Down and is scheduled for delivery in the second quarter of 2013, with procurement of long lead items commencing this month.

Ron Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Deep Down, Inc. stated, “We are delighted with this opportunity. We currently have outstanding quotes in excess of $30 million for our carousel design and this project further recognizes that we are a leading provider of innovative umbilical solutions to the oil and gas industry.”

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Drop in energy prices lowers the boom in Texas oil patch

August 1, 2012
by Zain Shauk

Falling oil prices halted a 30-month growth spurt in Texas’ oil and gas industry boom in June, a new industry report shows.

The Texas Petro Index, which has measured job numbers, rig activity, production totals, wells completed and other related figures across nearly two decades, dropped for the first time since a rush to draw oil from shale caused a surge of drilling in Texas.

The index fell to 270.4 in June from its recent peak in May of 271.5, which was the highest since rapid industry growth pushed it to a record 287.8 in October 2008.

A trend of declining oil prices added to already low natural gas prices to push the Petro Index down, said Karr Ingham, an economist for the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, which released the study Tuesday.

He said the number of active oil and gas rigs in Texas has fallen further in recent weeks to 900, the lowest level since September 2011, as companies have reassessed expensive operations that are no longer yielding high returns.

Not coincidentally, he said, oil prices have fallen from near $100 in early 2012 to about $79.08 in June. Benchmark crude lost $1.72 Tuesday to end the day at $88.06 per barrel.

Companies may have grown more cautious about aggressive drilling operations, but the leveling off doesn’t necessarily mean a bust is on the horizon, said Michelle Michot Foss, chief energy economist for the University of Texas Center for Energy Economics.

“They’re trying to get a feel for what the price trajectory could be and it’s affecting decisions,” Foss said. But, she added, “I think you would need a much, much more substantial fall in prices to see a really serious drop in activity.”

Contraction ahead?

Texas employment in the fossil-fuel exploration and production industry hit a record of 251,600 in June, Ingham said. But he noted some indicators that point to possible contraction ahead. Texas crude oil production is at its highest level since 1999, but the weakening world economy is pushing demand down, he said.

That has left resource prices languishing.

The recent 30-month rise in the Texas Petro Index was almost exclusively fueled by oil drilling because low prices have curtailed natural gas production relative to its levels in previous expansions.

The monthly average value of Texas oil and gas production exceeded $9 billion in 2008 but has been around $6 billion during the most recent peak in the index, Ingham said.

During the current shale-driven boom, however, employment has soared well above levels in October 2008, he said.

If declining prices bring about a further reduction in drilling activity, Ingham said, “employment will ultimately be affected and there’s of course no way it could not be.”

European crisis

Turmoil in Europe and a weakening domestic economy have also affected the industry by depressing oil prices, Ingham said.

“All of these terrible things happened in the second quarter and sort of threw a little bit of rain into our parade,” he said.

But Texas oil prices and drilling activity may not be as influenced by broad economic trends as they may have been by recent pipeline developments, said Ed Hirs, a professor of energy economics at the University of Houston.

A recent increase of pipeline capacity bringing oil to the U.S. Gulf Coast may also be pushing prices down, he said.

“Right now you’ve got more domestic supply coming online than the country is accustomed to handling,” Hirs said.

The alliance’s index dates to 1995, when the index was set at a base level of 100.

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USA: Schlumberger, NOV Complete Wilson Transaction

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Schlumberger Limited has completed the sale of its Wilson distribution business to National Oil well Varco, Inc.

Terms of the all-cash transaction, which remains subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval, were not disclosed.

Founded in 1921, Wilson is a leading distributor of pipe, valves and fittings as well as mill, tool and safety products and services to the international energy business and to other industrial customers. The company manages a distribution business of approximately 200 sales and operations locations across the United States with a growing presence in other key international geographies. Wilson employs approximately 2,500 employees as a standalone Schlumberger business unit.

National Oilwell Varco is a worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and sale of equipment and components used in oil and gas drilling and production operations, the provision of oilfield services, and supply chain integration services to the upstream oil and gas industry.

Additionally, Schlumberger has committed to divest the remaining portion of its distribution business by agreeing to support NOV’s previously announced proposed acquisition of all outstanding shares of CE Franklin Ltd.  for CAD$12.75 in cash per share. Schlumberger owns 9,729,582 common shares of CE Franklin, or approximately 56% of CE Franklin’s outstanding common shares.

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Houston,Texas: TWMA Opens New Manufacturing Base in Houston (USA)

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TWMA, a leader in integrated drilling waste management and environmental solutions, has recently launched its U.S. expansion with the opening of the company’s newest manufacturing base in Houston. The new facility will allow TWMA to manufacture American-made equipment and meet growing demand for its services in the United States and around the world.

“This new office has the potential to change the dynamics of the entire company,” said Ian Nicolson, TWMA’s Vice President of the Americas. “We’re bringing a whole new range of services and technologies to the U.S. oil and gas industry. We can save operators $30 to $40 thousand dollars per well by handling and treating their drilling wastes with our specialized waste management solutions.”

Demand for TWMA’s waste management solutions is booming. The company has already won several U.S. contracts with oil and gas operators, which has helped fuel the expansion.

Operating both offshore and onshore, TWMA handles and treats drill cuttings and associated oil industry wastes. Using state-of-the-art technology, drilling wastes are recovered, recycled and reused, recovering significant operator costs whilst minimizing environmental impact.

While initial plans focus primarily on expanding in the U.S. market, having a Houston-based facility will allow TWMA to extend its reach into Canada and South America, Nicolson said.

Through the Houston office, TWMA will increase the production capability for its entire range of waste management solutions to service the U.S and international markets. This will include the TCC RotoTruck and TCC RotoMill, which are currently utilized globally to thermally process drilling wastes onshore and offshore, and supporting equipment including vacuum systems, dryers and TWMA’s cuttings collection and distribution system (CCDS).

TWMA has been operational in the United States since 2008, but the new Houston facility will be the company’s first regional manufacturing site. Currently, 20 employees have been hired to work at the new facility. TWMA expects to triple this number by July and plans to have 200 to 300 employees hired in the next 24 months.

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