oil drilling

A Tulsa-based pipeline company says about 1,000 barrels of crude oil has spilled from a pipeline in Noble County.

Bruce Heine, a spokesman for Magellan Midstream Partners, said in an email Friday that the oil was released about 6 p.m. Thursday from a Magellan pipeline that stretches from Enid to Ponca City.

Heine says the spill occurred in a rural area near Billings. He says no injuries or evacuations were ordered and that no water was contaminated.

The greater sage grouse is a peculiar and distinctly Western bird. It's about the size of a chicken and about as adaptable as the dodo bird, which is to say it's not very adaptable at all — at least not in a human-driven time scale.

In biological terms, the greater sage grouse is perfectly adapted for its habitat: the rolling hills of knee-high silver scrub that's sometimes called the sagebrush sea. It's the oft-forgotten parts of the fast-changing West — The Big Empty, as settlers used to call it.

Joe Wertz

Slumping oil prices have fueled thousands of job losses in big energy states like Oklahoma, which is “gripped by a mini-recession,” economist Mark Sneed tells the Journal Record‘s Kirby Lee Davis:

“The notion that Oklahoma has diversified away from oil and gas is, at this point, many, many years away,” he said.

“Welcome to Quakelahoma,” writes VICE’s Matt Smith, “where in less than a decade the state has gone from having about two noticeable earthquakes a year to about two a day.”

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill and ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel about the Governor signing the $7.1B budget as well as the bill which bans cities and counties from banning oil and gas drilling.

The trio also discusses Oklahoma's Senators saying yes to a bill supported by President Obama: The USA Freedom Act, the decision to ban all prisoner marriages until the Supreme Court rules on same sex marriages and the ruling by the Supreme Court against Tulsa's Abercrombie & Fitch.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Two burly ben armed with sledgehammers take turns bashing a khaki-colored steel flange fastened to a pipe in the middle of a soggy, gravely lot near Wakita in northwestern Oklahoma.

The tangle of valves and fittings, called the Christmas tree, has to come off before Jay Storm’s crew can start their work in earnest.

“Everything is a little seized up this morning, so we’re having to manually try to get a couple different components separated by hand,” says Storm, completions supervisor for Tulsa-based Eagle Energy Exploration.

Low oil prices are causing a drop in new drilling and exploration in North Dakota, but not as much as you might expect.

Take the boom town of Watford City, over in the northwestern corner of the state and in the heart of the Bakken oil patch. Its population has tripled since 2010, and today, continues to climb.

Out on Oklahoma's flat prairie, Medford, population about 900, is the kind of place where people give directions from the four-way stop in the middle of town.

It seems pretty sedate, but it's not. "We are shaking all the time," says Dea Mandevill, the city manager. "All the time."

The afternoon I stopped by, Mandevill says two quakes had already rumbled through Medford.

"Light day," she laughs. But, she adds, "the day's not over yet; we still have several more hours."

Mandevill may be laughing it off, but Austin Holland, the state seismologist, isn't.

Michael Digg;es / U.S. Geological Survey

The daily occurrence of small earthquakes linked to oil and gas drilling in Oklahoma increases the likelihood of larger earthquakes, new research suggests.

The sign on the front door of Pecan Creek Catering in New Cordell, Okla., may say closed, but this kitchen is open for business. It used to be a cafe, but owner Chad Igo closed the restaurant years ago to focus on catering exclusively to the oil industry.

"We're kings when it's good. They love us. But as soon as it gets tight, we're the first one to get cut," he says.