Over the past year, Energy Media Group has put together a top 5 stories specific our separate shale plays websites, which include Bakken.com, EagleFordTexas.com, Marcellus.com, PermianShale.com, Haynesville.com, and NiobraraChalk.com. Going forward, our Top Stories of the Week will be an all-inclusive posting of the stories that our readers across all areas found most engaging, including international headlines to those affecting oil-producing areas on a local level. So hold on to your seats! Here we go!
In International News
Nigeria has long been known for producing obscene amounts of oil. However, in a country where oil is affected by pirates, militants, ISIS and corruption, headlines about Nigerian oil typically include violence. This week, Desmond Agu, Bayelsa state commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, said his colleagues exchanged gunfire with heavily armed youth who attacked and blew up a crude oil pipeline that belongs to Italian oil company Agip. Another example of greed and corruption associated with the oil industry in the African country, now so plagued by problems that it no longer claims its position as Africa’s largest oil producer.
While never sexy, and often not exciting, safety is always a top priority in the energy industry, even if we don’t want to admit it. So headlines like this one never fail to grab our attention. That’s why the story of the man who survived a fall from a Kansas wind turbine was so resonant.
Not All Gasoline is the Same
The idea of choosing the right type of gasoline made big headlines when we started seeing gasoline with ethanol at our gas stations. Many argued there was no difference between the grades of gas. However, AAA released the results of a study that showed many motorists are clogging their car’s engine by not using gasoline with enough detergents.
More than one headline this week addressed the dreaded oil glut. Oil inventories. They tell a big, deep story. A million different factors affect the price of oil, including how much oil there is in storage. How much oil in storage is affected by about another million factors, from weather to refineries, to the month of the year and whether or not people are driving. It’s a complicated, messy and convoluted formula that predicts what’s going to happen next. But predicting what oil will do is what people are impatiently doing while we sit and wait for the price to go up.
Despite the fact that Friendsville, Maryland does not appear to be in a zone particularly conducive to natural gas drilling, the Marcellus formation does stretch underneath Garrett county where Friendsville is located. So to prevent the chance that a company might want to drill for natural gas there, the city voted this week to ban hydraulic fracturing within its borders.
Fracking bans are nothing new, and we’ve watched cities across the country implement them and repeal them, mostly due to environmental concerns about the practice. One Friendsville town council member cited drinking water protection as one of the main reasons for the ban, since the Youghiogheny River could be compromised.
One reader commented, “Let them exercise their prerogative. Of course then maybe the natural gas providers in Maryland could exercise their prerogative as well and choose not to provide clean burning natural gas to the fine citizens and businesses of Friendsville.” We’ll have to see what happens. It’s a struggle among industry jobs, revenue, safety and environment. Sometimes those things just can’t seem to balance, and one part loses out.
A Strange Play of Opposites
While Friendsville bans hydraulic fracturing, the Maryland Department the Environment Maryland is approving mine expansion near Grantsville. The coal industry has been in dire straits, with presidential candidates declaring they’d cut back on coal production and the Clean Air Act regulating the heck out of coal-fired power plants. So it was surprising to see state regulators tentatively approve Cora Coal Corp.’s request to increase the amount of treated water that will be discharged from the mine into the Casselman River.