oil

Oil prices are low, and likely to stay that way for a while. And while low prices can be brutal for oil producers, they're also an opportunity: When the going gets tough, Big Oil often gets even bigger.

But will the pandemic-induced price collapse lead to dramatic deal-making and companies scaling up? Some analysts aren't holding their breath.

"I do believe that the golden age of the mega deals in oil and gas may be gone," says Muqsit Ashraf, who leads the energy practice for the consulting firm Accenture.

The Dakota Access Pipeline may continue to pump crude oil through South Dakota after a federal appellate court on Tuesday temporarily blocked a shutdown ordered by a lower court that was to begin next month.

The Economic Benefits And Perils Of Adopting Medicaid Expansion

Jun 30, 2020
Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

The campaigns on both sides of State Question 802 have made numerous claims about the potential benefits and perils of Medicaid expansion, which is being voted on today.

Geologist Keri Belcher had a moment of relief earlier this year. Her employer, a medium-sized oil and gas company, had a round of layoffs — and she made it through. She still had a job.

Then came the coronavirus and the complete collapse in oil prices. This time around, she was laid off.

"It was kind of unfortunate, too, because I just re-signed my apartment lease," the Houston resident said.

In the endless boom and bust cycle of the oil business, there has never been anything like 2020. The oil patch is reeling from historically low prices. Futures for West Texas Intermediate crude closed at $25 a barrel on Friday, down from more than $60 a barrel at the beginning of the year.

On a normal day in Andrews County, you can look in any direction and see the bobbing horse heads of pump jacks stretching to the horizon, sucking up oil from deep in the Earth. But these are anything but normal days.

In Texas, a proposal to cut the amount of crude that oil companies are allowed to pump from the ground appears dead. The regulator who proposed it — Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton — says commissioners "still are not ready to act" on the plan, which would have cut production 20% to try and stabilize prices amid a historic oil glut. Regulators had been expected to vote on the plan Tuesday.

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The scale of oil market turbulence is on stark display along the California coast. About three dozen massive oil tankers are anchored from Los Angeles and Long Beach up to San Francisco Bay, turning into floating storage for crude oil that is in short demand because of the coronavirus.

With the global economy in a pandemic-induced coma, the world just doesn't need a lot of oil.

But oil is still flowing out of wells, and with nowhere else to go, it's filling up the world's storage tanks. The oversupply is so intense that this week U.S. oil prices briefly went negative.

But why is that oil still flowing, anyway? Why don't producers turn off the spigot when demand falls?

Updated at 4:29 p.m. ET

A severe oversupply continued to hammer oil prices a day after they turned negative for the first time ever. That sign of crashing demand in the global economy sent stocks indexes down again.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 631 points Tuesday, a drop of nearly 2.7%, after tumbling 592 points, or 2.4%, a day earlier. The Dow is down 22% from its record high in February.

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