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oil and natural gas

Untapped: The New West Texas

Nov 16, 2017

This piece is Part 1 of our Untapped series about the new West Texas.

The Permian Basin in West Texas leads the nation in oil and gas production. Midland and Odessa have long been the heart of this industrialized desert. But oil and gas development is expanding outward. In the past year, drilling operations have moved south and west into a region long written off as undevelopable.

The U.S. has pulled out of a pledge to conform to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, an international group that was formed to add transparency and accountability to how governments manage natural resources. The U.S. says it can't comply with all of the EITI's requirements.

A State Department spokesperson says the U.S. will remain as one of 17 "supporting countries" of the initiative. A U.S. representative also serves on the EITI's international board.

Courtesy of Kevin Pickard

Cars are lined up at some gas stations across North Texas — and fuel prices in the state and across the country have jumped by at least 10 cents since Harvey pounded Houston and the Gulf coast.

Tropical Storm Harvey has brought the mighty Texas oil refining industry to its knees, at least temporarily, and Texas drivers are just starting to feel the pain.

From Texas Standard:

Even though the Texas Legislature failed to pass measures to reform property taxes or the school finance system during the regular and special sessions, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says the Texas economy continues to grow at a solid pace.

Comptroller Glenn Hegar is the chief tax collector, accountant and revenue estimator for the state government. Among his responsibilities is providing the legislature with an estimate of state revenue before each regular legislative session.

 

The science on whether there's a link between oil and gas activity and a surge in earthquakes in Texas isn't clear-cut, says the new seismologist for the agency that regulates the industry here.

Scrolling through Twitter is not for everyone, but if it's the kind of thing you’re into you’re likely to come across many tweets that make no sense. A few weeks ago one of them said this: “Curve Crunch: WTI flips to contango. Backwardation banished!”

What could this mean?

Ask Texas State Demographer Lloyd Potter what caught his attention in a recent release of census data for Texas cities, and he’ll tell you: Houston, in Harris County.

“In the past three or four years, prior to the [2015-16] set of estimates, Harris County was the most significant growing county in the country numerically,” he says.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

At a community forum on Thursday night, Fort Worth and Arlington residents voiced concerns about a proposed saltwater injection well near Lake Arlington. The residents made their case to an audience of one: Ryan Sitton, one of three Texas Railroad Commissioners who regulates the oil and gas industry in the state.

Texas Scientists Worry About Research Funding Under Trump

Feb 2, 2017
Texas Tribune

Late one night last month, Rice University climate researcher Daniel Cohan spotted a headline on Twitter that stunned him: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was temporarily freezing all grants and contracts. He immediately worried that the climate change-related grant application his team had been working on for months "was a goner."

Rick Perry's Energy Legacy Is More Complicated Than You Think

Dec 13, 2016
Abby Livingston / Texas Tribune

As he said farewell to the Texas Legislature in January 2015, Rick Perry couldn’t help but reflect on how energy technology and policy had transformed the state’s landscape — and fueled its economy — during his record 14 years as governor. 

As soon as five years from now, global demand for oil might stop growing. That prediction may not seem surprising, if it came from an environmental group, but when oil giant Shell said as much in a recent conference call, it caused a stir.  Oil companies don’t usually talk publicly about people losing interest in their product.

Christopher Connelly/KERA

There’s a new start up in Fort Worth that wants you to skip the gas station and let them bring the fuel to you, courtesy of a smartphone app. 

Christopher Connelly/KERA

These days, oil prices seem to go nowhere but down. In Texas, drivers are paying less than $2 per gallon at the pump, on average. So what do low gas prices mean for consumers, and for this oil-producing state’s economy?

Texas Jobs Numbers: The Good, The Bad, The Meh

Sep 18, 2015
Matthew Rutledge via flickr

The Texas unemployment rate has dropped to 4.1 percent, the lowest rate since 2001. That’s the good news for Texas in the August jobs report. The bad news: The state lost jobs, especially high-paying oil jobs. Still, economists say there are some bright spots.

Courtesy Murray Family / Texas Tribune

While filling a cattle trough 15 months ago, Ashley Murray noticed something odd occurring in the shack housing her family’s water pump. High-pressure water was spraying everywhere.

WaggonerRanch.com

A couple hours northwest of Fort Worth, the Waggoner Ranch is up for sale. The legendary, half-million-acre ranch near Wichita Falls has a history almost as big as its $725 million price tag. KERA’s Justin Martin talks with Eric O’Keefe of the Land Report about the ranch’s outsized legacy. 

Cooper Neill / Texas Tribune

BREWSTER COUNTY — Peering from beneath the brim of his Indiana Jones-style fedora, David Keller marvels at the gently sloping mountains in Big Bend that frame everything in sight. 

Esteban Monclova / The Texas Tribune

The slide in oil prices has been good news for drivers, but it’s sent the Texas oil business into a ditch. James Osborne has been digging into the implications of the bust. He’s the energy writer for the Dallas Morning News, and he joins KERA’s vice president of news Rick Holter for this week’s Friday Conversation. 

Raw Gas Fuels Worry For Rural North Texas Homeowner

Jan 6, 2015
Joyce Marshall / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

A stiff winter wind smacks into the plate-glass windows of Jon Salis’ Lake Palo Pinto home as six space heaters work overtime to keep it warm. Natural gas used to keep his 2,100-square-foot house cozy. 

Christina Ulsh / KERA News

Denton made history Tuesday night, becoming the first city in Texas to ban fracking within city limits. The vote passed 59 percent to 41 percent, to the surprise of even the supporters of the ban.

An Unvarnished Interview With T. Boone Pickens On Plunging Oil Prices

Oct 30, 2014
Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

Crude oil prices are plunging, but T. Boone Pickens isn’t surprised. The billionaire oilman has seen plenty of spikes and dips during more than 60 years in the industry, including some he predicted.

Natural Gas Fueling Stations Surge in Texas

Sep 8, 2014
Scott Lowe / Flickr

Those who drive natural gas-powered vehicles around Texas are quickly getting more fueling options. The state now holds 104 natural gas fueling stations, according to a map released Monday by the Railroad Commission of Texas. 

A Vantage Energy natural gas rig in southwest Arlington just south of Interstate 20, Monday, December 23, 2013
Paul Moseley / Star-Telegram

The city of Denton could take another step Tuesday toward becoming the only Texas city to permanently ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. 

While fracking for oil along the Texas border has become a big business for petrol companies, a new entity seeks to tap into the lucrative market – drug smugglers.  

As infrastructure and activity increases to meet the demand of the booming industry, drug smugglers are starting to take advantage of the new roads and increased traffic, much of which is located on private ranch lands.  

“Because there are so many different companies, and so many different trucks going through that area, it provides a sort of way to blend in if you will,” National Journal writer Ben Geman tells The Texas Standard's David Brown. “Essentially what’s happening is you’ve got smugglers who are stashing marijuana, or other drugs, in trucks that are either 'cloned' to look like one of the industry trucks, or some type of truck that seems to fit right in driving around on these ranch lands.”

South Texas is in the midst of a massive oil boom. In just a few years, it has totally transformed once-sleepy communities along a crescent swoosh known as the Eagle Ford Shale formation and has brought unexpected prosperity — along with a host of new concerns.

Among the towns drastically changed by the drilling is Cotulla, southwest of San Antonio, about 70 miles up from the border with Mexico. The area is called brush country — flat, dry ranch land, scrubby with mesquite and parched by drought.

A gas pipeline has exploded in Ellis County – and evacuations are underway.

Update, 2:54 p.m.: KERA's BJ Austin reports: Emergency crews called for the evacuation of Milford because of the thick, black, low-hanging smoke blowing that way.

Steve Fano with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth says an inversion – warm air on top of colder air – was acting like a lid.

Daniel Foster/danielfoster437/Flickr / www.pixsy.com/collection/natural-gas/

The city of Denton is seeking a restraining order against a driller, alleging the company is working on two natural gas wells without the city’s permission. 

The Texas Tribune reports that a complaint was filed Friday in the Denton County District Court. Denton says the Dallas-based EagleRidge Energy ignored the city's demands to stop working on wells about 5 miles southwest of downtown. The city never permitted the development, the complaint says, and the wells lie too close to housing development, violating city rules.

Sarah Fields Photography / Shutterstock

The largest federally-owned wind farm is about to be built at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced today. The five-turbine project will power more than 60 percent of the plant once it is complete.

A new study of 100 private water wells in and near the Barnett Shale showed elevated levels of potential contaminants such as arsenic, according to a team of researchers led by UT Arlington.

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