5 things to know in Texas energy this week via HBJ By Suzanne Edwards

5 things to know in Texas energy this week

Aug 24, 2015, 9:10am CDT


The bludgeoning continues as oil prices hit new lows and regulators propose new restrictions on hydrocarbon producers. But no matter to Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Williams Companies Inc. (NYSE: WMB), which got a nod from another potential buyer. Here’s five things to know in Texas energy this week.
▪Ripping the bandaid wide off the oil and gas sector, U.S. crude oil prices fell below $40 a barrel last week for the first time in more than six years. West Texas Intermediate prices for October delivery dropped to $39.86 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange just after noon Central Time on Aug. 21, according to the Wall Street Journal. That alongside Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) reporting a nationwide increase in oil drilling rigs by two for the fifth consecutive week drove up concerns about supply.
▪And if the industry didn’t have enough to contend with, regulators are throwing some new emission targets into the mix. Texas Railroad Commission Chairman David Porter is calling the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed cuts to methane emissions in the oil and natural gas sector a weapon in the “war on fossil fuels.” Earlier in the week, the EPA said it wants to cut methane emissions from oil wells and natural gas facilities by 40 to 45 percent by 2025 through improved leak detection and capture technology.

▪With tidings like these it’s little wonder that investors are fleeing. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.(NYSE: BRK) sold off its stake in a few Houston-based energy companies, according to reports. The Nebraska-based firm sold all of its shares in Phillips 66(NYSE: PSX) and National Oilwell Varco Inc.(NYSE: NOV) during the second quarter. Berkshire Hathaway had held nearly 7.5 million shares of Phillips 66 and nearly 1.98 million of National Oilwell Varco, according to Benzinga.
▪At least one company is feeling loved. The Williams Companies Inc. reportedly has garnered the interest of Houston-based Spectra Energy Corp.(NYSE: SE). People familiar with the matter told Reuters that Spectra is “bidding for the whole of Williams,” even though the Oklahoma-based company has a market capitalization about twice the size of Spectra’s. Prospective bidders submitted an initial round of bids in late July, and final bids are due the last week of August, Reuters reports.

▪As one company revels in popularity, another is staring the status of company-non-grata in the face. On the same day that federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against Houston-based Black Elk Energy Offshore Operations LLC related to the 2012 rig explosion that left three workers dead, the offshore driller’s creditors also filed a petition to place the company in involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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