Oil and gas situation

Oil Price, Oil Price, Who’s Got The Oil Price?

If you’re having a hard time figuring out where the price of oil is heading, don’t feel too sorry for yourself – you’re just one person sharing  a rickety boat with thousands of others.  And let’s be honest:  You aren’t getting any help from the experts and energy writers who cover and project oil prices for a living.

Friday, June 14 provides a fantastic snapshot of the abject confusion that reigns on this subject pretty much every day.  Here’s a sample of the contradictory  headlines we saw across the Internet on that day.

A New Sign of Fear for U.S. Drillers (But I guess “fear” this doesn’t apply to Texas drillers, who keep filing for more and more permits.  Then again, Texas has always thought of itself as its own country, so maybe this makes sense after all.)

In all serious, what is anyone to make of all of this?  In addition to this single day’s confusion, over the last couple of weeks we’ve seen Goldman Sachs predict the oil price could fall below $40, and others project it could be over $60 by the end of the year.   Who’s right?  Is anyone?  Probably not.

Perhaps the energy media should carry the following warning: “All ye who enter here expecting any sort of clarity, abandon all hope.”

If you read the Dallas Morning News for information about the oil and gas industry, you’d be best advised to do more than just scan the headlines.  Here are two examples of headlines that just don’t really match the content of the articles:

Trump Won’t Declare Dallas Firm’s Dakota Access Pipeline A Major Disaster – Well, no, that’s not at all an accurate description.  The state of North Dakota’s governor – Doug Burgum – did not ask President Trump to declare the Dakota Access Pipeline to be a “major disaster”.

Governor Burgum did ask the President to declare the site of the months-long protest/riot action against the Dakota Access Pipeline to be a “major disaster” in an effort to seek federal help in footing the $38 million bill for policing the often-violent protesters and cleaning up the epic mess they left behind when they finally cleared their illegal site.  Given that it was the federal government, under Barack Obama, that allowed these rioters to illegally occupy the site for half a year, it would seem that the Governor had a valid complaint.  President Trump disagreed, which is his right.  Either way, it would have been nice for the headline writer to accurately portray the content of the article.

But wait, there’s more!  Also on June 14, the Morning News ran an article with this headline:

Trump’s Failure to Fill Energy Panel Is Stalling Shovel-Ready Projects – Well, not exactly.  Again, the headline writer misleads the readers.

The story itself is fairly accurate:  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is missing three commissioners due to resignations of Obama holdovers that took place early this year.  While President Trump was fairly slow in submitting nominees to fill those vacant seats, the truth is the nominees were submitted weeks ago, and it is Senate Democrats – who have stalled every Trump nominee for any position – who are preventing the panel from being filled.

The Morning News story implies that this is nothing abnormal, saying “Trump has nominated three replacements, all of whom are tied up in various stages of the Senate confirmation process, which even in the best of times is tortuously slow”, but this is not normal at all.  In all previous administrations, such non-controversial nominees would have been approved very quickly.  Sadly, the Senate Democrats will feel no need to abandon their stalling strategy so long as major news outlets like the Dallas Morning News mis-inform their readers that it’s all President Trump’s fault.

So if you’re sitting at your desk feeling more than a little confused about what is going on in the oil and gas world, don’t feel alone.  You have plenty of company.  Trust me.

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