Coal production still down

The U.S. coal production totaled approximately 75.3 million short tons in February, according to a report released March 27 by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

That production estimate is 3.2 percent lower than the production estimate in the same month in 2013. Coal production east of the Mississippi River totaled 32.2 mmst, while coal production west of the Mississippi River totaled 43.0 mmst.

U.S. year-to-date coal production totaled 21.8 mmst, which is 2.4 percent lower than the comparable year-to-date production in 2013.

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Horizontal drilling, fracking helping with oil, gas production

Increased precision and efficiency of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in oil and natural gas extraction is leading to an increase of oil and natural gas well productivity in many basins across the United States.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, many resource-producing basins are experiencing an increasing yield over time in either oil or natural gas.

The March productivity report showed that five of the six U.S. shale plays tracked by the DPR have seen increases in oil and natural gas production per rig over the past few years. The Eagle Ford Shale is leading in increased production per rig (463 barrels per day, up from 453 the previous month) and the Marcellus Shale is leading in increased production of natural gas per rig (6,476 thousand cubic feet per day, up from 6,402 the previous month).

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This trend of increasing rig productivity is one factor helping to increase the nation’s oil and natural gas production. The latest Annual Energy Outlook from the EIA forecasts that U.S. oil production will reach 9.6 million barrels per day in 2019, and natural gas production will increase by 56 percent through 2040.

New oilfield waste disposal regulations being drafted

The North Dakota Department of Health is drafting regulations that will be used to track the generation, storage, transportation and disposal of Technically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material.

According to the North Dakota Division of Waste Management, there have been numerous incidents where oilfield waste was not handled properly – in one instance in McKenzie County, hundreds of oil filter socks were discovered on two trailers, leaking oil and chemicals into the soil.

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Currently the state relies on the individual companies to dispose of contaminated and radioactive waste properly on their own. The TENORM regulations will be released to the public in June for comment and correction.

Refinery runs to hit record high in 2014

With U.S. refineries expanding their capacity to process more domestic light oil in the coming years, the U.S. Energy Information Administration is predicting refinery crude inputs to reach 15.52 million barrels per day this year and 15.61 million bbl/d in 2015, passing the all-time high of 15.48 million bbl/d, which was hit in 2004.

The surge in domestic production will cause U.S. crude imports to decline to 25 percent of total liquid fuels consumption, which would be the lowest level since 1971, according to the EIA.

Weatherford to sell pipeline business to Baker Hughes

Weatherford International Ltd. has agreed to sell its pipeline and specialty services business to Baker Hughes Inc.

Weatherford will sell to the fellow oilfield services company for $250 million as part of Weatherford’s efforts to slim down and focus on its core businesses. The deal will include $241 million in cash and $9 million in retained working capital.

Weatherford plans to spin off its fleet of international drilling rigs, expecting the separation to be completed by the fourth quarter.

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