Oil and Gas

NEW YORK (AP) — Chesapeake Energy, a shale drilling pioneer that helped to turn the United States into a global energy powerhouse, has filed for bankruptcy protection. 

The Oklahoma City-based company said Sunday that it was a necessary decision given its debt. Its debt load is currently nearing $9 billion. It has entered a plan with lenders to cut $7 billion of its debt and said it will continue to operate as usual during the bankruptcy process. 

Chesapeake Energy

Chesapeake Energy, which has warned that it’s unsure if it can survive much longer, failed to make $13.5 million in interest payments that came due this week, according to a federal filing.

The pioneering energy company grew to become one of the largest natural gas producers in the U.S., but it’s racked up nearly $9 billion in debt. The Oklahoma City driller warned in May that “there is substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern” with natural gas losing about a quarter of its value this year alone.

The George Kaiser Family Foundation is commiting $50 million to a project that aims to turn Tulsa into a tech hub.

Tulsa Innovation Labs announced Wednesday it has narrowed it down to five areas of focus for the city’s tech niche: virtual health, energy tech, drones, cybersecurity and analytics. Co-founder and Managing Director Nicholas Lalla said Tulsa has existing assets in each of those areas, so nothing needs to be built from scratch.

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A U.S. judge on Monday revised a recent court ruling that threatened to hold up thousands of utility projects crossing streams and wetlands, but left in place a requirement for new oil and gas pipelines to undergo further environmental review.

File Photo-OU

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma-based oil and gas drilling company will pay $650,000 to resolve a lawsuit filed on behalf of a fired worker and hundreds of unsuccessful job applicants who claimed they were victims of age discrimination.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity announced the settlement on Friday with Purcell-based Horizontal Well Drillers LLC.

The agency alleged in its lawsuit that the company fired a rig hand based on health information obtained from an unlawful medical exam and rejected rig hand applicants older than 40 because of their age.

Justin Russell on Flickr, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

In a letter to President Donald Trump on Friday, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt requested that the White House declare an "Act of God," a legal maneuver the governor said is "a necessary step to encourage and support those operators who choose to stop production until demand returns and storage becomes readily available." 

Oil and gas industry insiders are split on whether that's true. 

Magellan MidStream

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has suspended a nationwide program used to approve oil and gas pipelines, power lines and other utility work, spurred by a court ruling that industry representatives warn could slow or halt numerous infrastructure projects over environmental concerns

Roy Luck

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission approved an emergency order on Wednesday declaring oil production in the state could constitute economic waste during the current price slump.

That will let energy companies temporarily halt drilling — or shut in wells — while the battered oil market recovers.

LPD Energy owner Lee Levinson filed the emergency application. He said it takes prices of $30 to $40 a barrel for many companies to break even, but state law requires them to keep extracting oil.

File Photo-OU

Oil Market Turmoil Likely To Have Economic Repercussions On Both State And Local Levels

Former Tulsa mayor Dewey F. Bartlett Jr. has seen a lot over his decades in the oil and gas industry, but he said he's never seen anything like this week's market turmoil, and never thought he would.

"Never," Bartlett said. "Not to this degree, and not this quickly. Not even close."

"It's as bad as it seems."

Tulsa County on Twitter

Tulsa County Engineer Alex Mills said on Monday that the slate of major road projects planned for summer will almost certainly be reduced as a result of the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Diesel tax, gasoline tax, gross production tax — that is the bulk of our funding," Mills said. "The numbers from March showed a pretty significant drop."

Mills said that the numbers for April are likely to be even more significant.

With prices already tanked, forecasters are now starting to estimate how much global oil demand will fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oil and Gas Journal Managing Editor of Economics Conglin Xu said it will likely be a steep drop.

"I expect that oil demand this year will decline 13% from last year to 87 million barrels per day. The size of the collapse is almost six times heavier than the collapse during the 2008 financial crisis period," Xu said.

TC Energy

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A U.S. judge canceled a key permit Wednesday for the Keystone XL oil pipeline that’s expected to stretch from Canada to Nebraska, another setback for the disputed project that got underway less than two weeks ago following years of delays.

Judge Brian Morris said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to adequately consider effects on endangered species such as pallid sturgeon, a massive, dinosaur-like fish that lives in rivers the pipeline would cross.

State Impact

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Canadian company said Monday that it’s started construction on the long-stalled Keystone XL oil sands pipeline across the U.S.-Canada border, despite calls from tribal leaders and environmentalists to delay the $8 billion project amid the coronavirus pandemic.

File Photo-OU

NEW YORK (AP) — In Montana, a father and son running a small oil business are cutting their salaries in half. In New Mexico, an oil truck driver who supports his family just went a week without pay. And in Alaska, lawmakers have had to dip into the state’s savings as oil revenue dries up.

The global economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic has devastated the oil industry in the U.S., which pumps more crude than any other country. In the first quarter, the price of U.S. crude fell harder than at any point in history, plunging 66% to around $20 a barrel.