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Top 5 Marcellus region stories of the week. Photo by Pixabay.

Marcellus Top 5 Stories of the Week March 12-18

News that interested readers in the Marcellus region didn’t necessarily focus on Pennsylvania and Ohio this past week. For this week’s Top 5, it seems energy headlines from all across the country as well as news from overseas resonated instead, from news of former Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon’s fatal car accident to news out of China.

And while talk about oil prices seems more like old news than a top story, you can’t overlook oil hitting $40 for the first time in 2016, gaining ground lost since January. Yesterday was the first time this year oil prices traded above the $40 mark, a 53 percent recovery from the Feb. 11 low of $26.21 per barrel.

When you get to the bottom of the top 5, you’ll find a bonus story. You’re never going to believe this one…

5. Eagle Ford, Bakken production continues to drop

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Two of the biggest oil producing shale plays aren’t playing like they were a couple of years ago. The Eagle Ford in Texas and North Dakota’s Bakken both continue to see production numbers drop along with rig counts.

According to Platts Bentek, oil production in both the Eagle Ford and the Bakken formations were at their lowest levels since Platts started tracking them in October 2012.

“Current internal rates of return in both the Eagle Ford and Bakken shales are weak, under 10 percent,” Platts Bentek analyst Sami Yahya said. “And producers need to continue generating cash flow for their operations. The number of active rigs in those basins has gotten so low that it is almost a certainty that producers are dipping into their inventory of drilled but uncompleted wells.” Read more…

4. China says slowing economy won’t stop anti pollution efforts

In this March 3, 2016 photo, women pose for selfies during a polluted day at the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing's Great Hall of the People. China will not go back to its era of pursuing economic growth at the expense of the environment despite its slowing economy, the country's Environment Minister Chen Jining said Friday, March 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

In this March 3, 2016 photo, women pose for selfies during a polluted day at the opening session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. China will not go back to its era of pursuing economic growth at the expense of the environment despite its slowing economy, the country’s Environment Minister Chen Jining said Friday, March 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

China will not return to its era of pursuing economic growth at the expense of the environment despite its slowing economy, the country’s environment minister said last Friday. Chen Jining said China would continue to restructure its economy away from heavily polluting companies to create more room for “good companies” to develop and focus on technological innovation, for example.

China is asking local governments to be more accountable, while at the same time finding many of its wealthy citizens are more and more interested and concerned about the consequences of environmental pollution.

China’s slowing growth, attempts to refocus its economy on services and long-term efforts to get rid of overcapacity in industries including coal and steel are helping to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases. Read more…

3. Nevada lawmakers meeting with Elon Musk at Tesla Gigafactory

A digitally rendered aerial view of the Tesla Gigafactory. (Image courtesy of Tesla Motors)

A digitally rendered aerial view of the Tesla Gigafactory. (Image courtesy of Tesla Motors)

Actor Leonardio DiCaprio happened to join Nevada lawmakers and economic development officials getting a closer look at Tesla’s massive Gigafactory and hearing directly from CEO Elon Musk about the future of energy technology. Who isn’t interested in what Elon Musk is doing next? From battery storage to solar panesl. Oh, and doesn’t he do something with cars?  Read more…

2. Energy Sector Movers, Losers and News: Crude price recovery drives stock market gains

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On Thursday March 17, 2016, crude oil traded above $40 for the first time in 2016.

WTI crude opened this morning at $40.25 per barrel and is still making gains. This is a 4.5 percent increase from last week when it closed at $38.50. Yesterday was the first time this year oil prices traded above the $40 mark, a 53 percent recovery from the Feb. 11 low of $26.21 per barrel.

One reason oil prices found an upward turn is a missing 800,000 barrels of oil per day from last year. AWall Street Journal article notes these barrels were unaccounted for by the International Supply Agency and they may never have existed. Some think they may be in China while others argue flawed accounting practices may be the reason there are missing barrels. Regardless, the missing barrels allow a price increase as the actual supply is closer to the demand. (Did they just say 800,000 barrels of oil per day is missing?) Read more..

  1. Police: Gas pedal floored before McClendon crashed SUV

Police: Gas pedal floored before McClendon crashed at 78 mph

In a Sept. 8, 2009, file photo, Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon speaks during the opening of a compressed natural gas filling station in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City police are to release a report on the crash that killed energy executive McClendon. (AP Photo/File)

There’s been much speculation surrounding the death of former Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon. Police reported McClendon had the gas pedal floored in his SUV moments before it slammed into a bridge support at 78 mph earlier this month.

McClendon tapped his brakes multiple times before impact, but not enough to slow his vehicle significantly, Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said at a news conference. There was no evidence McClendon tried to veer away or brake completely before impact. Read more…

 

BONUS: The biggest story from this week last year

Pickens: Expect $70 per barrel this year

Thomas Boone Pickens, 26 March, 2009. By Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA (T.Boone Pickens Uploaded by scillystuff) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Thomas Boone Pickens, 26 March, 2009. By Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA (T.Boone Pickens Uploaded by scillystuff) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Remember our good friend T. Boone Pickens? Last year, he introduced the Pickens Plan. Anyone recall? Here’s a line from last year’s story:

Could an oil and gas bounce-back loom in America’s near future? During his appearance on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” energy magnate Boone Pickens seems to think so, forecasting prices to rise to $70 per barrel by the end of the year.

Well, we know $70 didn’t happen. Read more to see what the energy magnate had to say last year. Try not to chuckle too much, or cry. 

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