Positive Changes Appear on the Horizon for Energy Developers – Petro River Oil
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Positive Changes Appear on the Horizon for Energy Developers

As markets continue to soar post-election day, with shipping company DryShips Inc. (ticker: DRYS) leading the charge with astounding 1600% gains, market watchers are closely scrutinizing sectors including banking, energy and defense as President-Elect Donald Trump has promised to overhaul regulations across the board.

The oil and gas industry is by nature optimistic, and with the recent strength shown by oil prices reaching the $50 range, shale producers have begun re-deploying capital into projects that just a few months ago were in hibernation.

The Trump Effect
Myron Ebell, director, Center for Energy and Environment, Competitive Enterprise Institute. Photo: Competitive Enterprise Institute
By appointing noted contrarian and Washington insider Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, to lead the transition of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Donald Trump has signaled that major energy policy changes are on the way.

In fact, Scientific American believes that “Ebell’s participation in the EPA transition signals that the Trump team is looking to drastically reshape the climate policies the agency has pursued under the Obama administration.”

U.S. government policies have restricted companies from commencing projects that could produce millions of barrels of oil, particularly in places like Alaska where Arctic drilling is prohibited, and in Oklahoma, where outdated policies have bogged down permitting and production across historic fields.

Ebell has long called for the opening of federal land for oil exploration, whereas the outgoing administration in 2012 shut down 1.6 million acres to oil shale development. If policies like these are reversed, drilling on federal lands could spark much-needed job growth across the sector. The federal government has been accused of intentionally slowing the permitting process on public lands. A Department of Interior Inspector General report revealed the fact that obtaining drilling permits on federal lands is a long process to say the least. Most state regulators take about 80 days to approve oil and gas drilling permits, while the U.S. government’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM), takes about 225 days to approve a permit, the report said.

The Trump Effect
Harold Hamm, chairman and CEO of Oklahoma City-based Continental Resources. Photo: Continental Resources
In addition to Ebell, Trump energy advisor and oilman Harold Hamm, Chairman and CEO of Oklahoma-based Continental Resources (ticker: CLR) was mentioned as an early favorite for Energy Secretary, although Hamm says he plans to stay focused on Continental.

All of this means oil producers, including majors like ExxonMobil (ticker: XOM) and Chevron (ticker: CVX) and independents like Resolute Energy (ticker: REN) have plenty of reason to be optimistic.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ pace for issuing drilling permits on the Osage Reservation in Oklahoma has been slow, but companies are in the permitting process and drilling rigs have been contracted to begin work in Osage County, the birthplace of Phillips Petroleum.

New York-based Petro River Oil (ticker: PTRC) is a small oil and gas company that has begun operations in the region by reworking wells on its Osage concession. Petro River has locked up more than 106,000 acres in Osage County on land that abuts the original Oklahoma mega-discovery—the Burbank field. The Oklahoma Historical Society said that from 1901 through 1930 alone 319 million barrels of Oklahoma crude were pumped from the ground in Osage County.

Petro River has applied for permits to drill four exploration wells on its Osage concession prior to year-end, or as soon as drilling permits are issued by the BIA.

Petro River’s Osage play is strictly conventional and the company has mapped out a program for shallow, vertical drilling which it hopes to begin in January 2017.  No horizontal drilling and no complex completions are required to generate oil production from the Osage concession, and Petro River has pinpointed the drilling locations using 3D seismic data. The shallow depths of the reservoirs and lower operating costs make Petro River’s 106,000-acre position attractive in today’s oil price environment.

The so-called “Trump Rally” has made some unlikely market darlings of late, and if the new president is successful in rolling back restrictive regulations and is able to speed up permitting on federal and Indian lands, a slew of independent E&P companies could be next up.

Read the full article on Oil & Gas 360