By JOHN P. TRETBAR
Officials blamed severe weather for a pair of oil tank fires over the weekend. The weather also forced delays in putting them out. There were no injuries reported in either incident. Officials in Herington say they were forced to put out two burning oil tanks during a severe thunderstorm Saturday morning. A lightning strike is believed to have sparked the fire. Officials said access to the site was made difficult by flooding that washed out roads.
In Barton County, a tank battery caught fire Saturday night in Ellinwood, near the intersection of South East 90 Avenue and South East 50 Road. The Ellinwood Fire Department and Barton County Sheriff’s Office responded. Sheriff Brian Bellendir said lightning sparked this fire as well. The Sheriff said at least two production tanks and a gun barrel were a total loss. The fire was a quarter mile away from the nearest road.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports crude-oil inventories increased by 5.4 million barrels to 472-million barrels for the week ending May 10. Stockpiles are now about two percent above the five-year seasonal average.
The government reported a slight drop in U.S. crude oil production. EIA said U.S. operators produced 12.081 million barrels per day for the week ending May 10. That’s a drop of about 95-thousand barrels per day from the week before but more than 1.3 million barrels per day more than the same week last year.
EIA reported an increase in U.S. crude oil imports of 919-thousand barrels per day to an average of 7.6 million barrels per day. The four-week average if about 9.6% less than the same period a year ago.
Independent Oil & Gas Service reported 26 active drilling rigs in Western Kansas for the week, an increase of two rigs. East of Wichita, there was just one active rig, which is down three from a week ago. An operator is about two spud one new well in Russell County. Last week’s Rotary Rig Count report from Baker Hughes showed a drop of three oil rigs and a gain of two rigs seeking natural gas. Texas and Pennsylvania each reported a drop of three rigs, while Oklahoma and Alaska were each down two. Those losses were offset by a gain of four rigs in Ohio, three rigs in Wyoming, two in Louisiana and one in New Mexico. The report noted a drop of six horizontal drilling rigs last week. The count in Canada was unchanged at 63.
Kansas regulators approved 21 new permits for drilling at new locations over the last week, five in eastern Kansas and 16 west of Wichita, including one in Russell County. There are 339 new drilling permits across the state so far this year.
Independent Oil and Gas Service reported 29 newly-completed wells across the state, 591 so far this year. There were two new completions east of Wichita, and 27 in Western Kansas, including one in Barton County.
The latest numbers from the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources show operators there set a record for the amount of natural gas captured from oil wells, an ongoing issue in the state, which lacks adequate pipeline infrastructure to move that gas to market. The department measures that statistic in MCF, or thousand cubic feet. In March, operators captured 2.24 million MCF per day. That’s still just 80% of the gas produced, meaning 20% of the natural gas coming out of oil wells in North Dakota is being burned off at the well head.
The Houston Ship Channel reopened last weekend as cleanup continued in the wake of a collision and gasoline spill. According to the Houston Chronicle, an estimated 9,000 barrels of gasoline poured into the busy waterway. Deep-draft ships were allowed to enter and exit the channel under tow, so as to minimize their wakes. The channel was closed after a tanker collided with a tug boat pushing two barges. One of the barges leaked a gasoline product called reformate. The Chronicle reported that the man-made 50-mile channel is one of the busiest ports in the world, and said even short closures carry hefty price tags for companies that have to delay or re-route shipments.
For the week ending May 11, oil-by-rail traffic was up to more than 13-thousand rail cars, a gain of 28.6% compared to the same week last year. The year-to-date total is up more than 24% year-on-year. Canada figures gained 39.1%.