US oil producers improved their cash flows in the second quarter, helped by stronger oil prices and growing production, according to the Energy Information Administration. During the period, 55 US drillers brought in $11.9 billion in revenue from selling oil and natural gas, the biggest amount since the third quarter of 2015, and produced 5.3 million barrels of oil per day, up 1% from a year ago.
The gap between West Texas Intermediate and Brent crude prices soared to a two-year high of $6.30 per barrel in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, heralding a boom in US crude exports as foreign refiners rush to take advantage of the price differential. Analysts at Energy Aspects expect crude export volumes to hit a record 1.3 million barrels per day in the final quarter of 2017, more than double from a year earlier, even though the WTI-Brent spread is seen narrowing to $3 per barrel over the next two to three weeks, according to Macquarie.
Colorado's economy is showing signs of expansion, helped partly by improvements in the state's oil and natural gas sector, which has been slowly recovering following the downturn, according to the Office of State Planning and Budget. "Sales taxes and individual income taxes are rebounding in 2017 as the economy strengthens from the oil and gas downturn and moderate economic growth of 2015 and 2016," the office said in its quarterly forecast.
The Energy Information Administration's projections that US oil output would grow by more than 1 million barrels per day this year are "exaggerated" and "just flat wrong," according to Continental Resources Chairman and CEO Harold Hamm. "We have capability of producing a whole lot, but you have to get a return on investment," Hamm said, blaming these over-optimistic predictions for giving rise to oversupply concerns that are keeping oil prices in check.
Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Christi Craddick praised the state's oil and natural gas sector for its "extraordinary resilience" during the downturn and ability to grow despite low oil prices by historical standards. Exploration activity in the Permian Basin could account for about 20% of the state's growth through 2021 if the price of oil tops $60 per barrel from 2019, according to McKinsey.
The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday threw out a lawsuit over an Obama-era hydraulic fracturing rule and also overturned a lower court's decision saying that the Bureau of Land Management had no authority to regulate fracking. The appeals court said it would be a waste of time to rule on the regulation since the Trump administration is in the process of rescinding it.
Seismologists say the two recent earthquakes in Mexico along the Cocos tectonic plate probably are unrelated because of their long distance from each other. Tuesday's magnitude 7.1 quake occurred 120 kilometers southeast of Mexico City at a depth of 50 kilometers, and the magnitude 8.1 quake on Sept. 7 occurred off the coast of southern Mexico at a depth of 70 kilometers.
Researchers who used sound waves to collect high-resolution images of the subduction zone along Alaska's Aleutian Islands found the zone's Shumagin Gap may pose a severe tsunami risk. Scientists, who studied fault lines and gathered rocks and sediment below the seafloor, say the gap is similar to a part of the Japan Trench that caused a devastating tsunami in 2011.
Parts of Oregon's landslide-prone Columbia River Gorge, which was scorched by wildfires this year, have become more vulnerable to major landslides, geologists say. The fires wiped out some of the surface growth, allowing water to infiltrate the ground and increase the likelihood of landslides.
Despite 23 small earthquakes around Mount Rainier in Washington state since Sept. 11, seismologists say they see little chance of an eruption. The earthquakes in the swarm, common at volcanoes, have been shallow and unrelated to magma movement, said Paul Bodin from the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.
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