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The top 5 Bakken stories of the week

Rig Count: 188

5. Shareholders approve acquisition between pair of Denver-based company’s

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Oil well pump jacks at the Lost Hills Oil Field in central California. (Photo: Richard Masoner via flickr)

Whiting Petroleum Corp. shareholders have approved the acquisition of Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp. in an all-stock deal, according to the Denver Business Journal. The deal is valued at $6 billion.

A merger between the two companies was announced back on July 13 of this year. It is expected that this merger will make Whiting Petroleum the largest crude-oil producer in the Bakken shale region of the northern Great Plains. Read more.

4. Exclusive: U.S. oil and gas well permits plunge 37 percent in November

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A worker monitors water tanks at a Hess fracking site near Williston, North Dakota November 12, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen

Sinking oil prices caused a nearly 40 percent drop in the number of new well permits issued across the United States in November, pointing to a sudden pause in the growth of the U.S. shale oil and gas boom that started around 2007.

Data provided exclusively to Reuters on Tuesday by industry data firm Drilling Info showed 4,520 permits for new oil and gas wells were approved in November, down 37 percent from 7,227 in October. Read more. 

3. Oil price drop and its effect on the Bakken

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Zach Koppang// Shale Plays Media

CNBC’s Brian Sullivan reported from Williston, North Dakota, this morning to discuss falling oil prices’ effect on the area’s production companies. In two short segments Sullivan explains that it is not the price of oil itself that is the concern, but how fast it has gone down. In an interview with CNBC, Tom Powers of Texas stated that for falling prices in the Bakken area to affect producers“It would take an excess of 6 months to a year. We still have a lot of work to do out here.” He added, “The wells that have already been drilled will not be shut in.” Read more.

2. What happened to Brandon Belk? Could better safety measures have saved him?

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Getty Images via NewsCred

Environment & Energy Publishing released a story today outlining the suspicious death of a Bandlands Power Fuels worker named Brandon Belk in Watford City, North Dakota. Belk’s parents stated in the interview that they believe his death was caused by inhaling solvents and other petroleum products while cleaning a frack tank. The autopsy says that he died from pneumonia or fluid in his lungs, which remains consistent with their theory.  There were unfortunately also traces of methadone and citalopram in his system. The autopsy, his former employer and OSHA all have declared his death a result of the methadone (there was not a lethal dose found), and as a result  they have denied death benefits to his 13-year-old daughter. Read more. 

1. Time to help America’s oil industry compete with OPEC

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Over the Thanksgiving holiday some news broke that no doubt has many North Dakotans – private citizens and policymakers alike – feeling a bit nervous. OPEC, the international oil cartel, has announced that they won’t be cutting oil production in the face of dropping prices. That means oil prices are going to remain low for the foreseeable future, and places like North Dakota, which are high-cost oil plays due to factors like weather and the quality of oil produced are going to be hard hit. Read more.

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