Oklahoma City reached a costly milestone Sunday as gas prices reached their highest point ever at $3.963 a gallon, according to AAA Oklahoma.
The previous high was July 16, 2008, when the city’s average price was $3.909.
“The good news for the Oklahoma City motorist in all this, if there is any, is that it appears over the last eight hours, gas prices have dropped just a bit,” AAA Oklahoma spokesman Chuck Mai said Sunday morning. “Whether this is a trend or just a blip is anybody’s guess.”
Oklahoma’s statewide average continues to inch upward, now at $3.904 but the Tulsa average actually dropped three-tenths of a cent overnight to $3.846 this morning.
The state’s all-time high of $3.955 was set on July 16, 2008. Tulsa’s record high was also set that day: $3.927.
“It appears at least part of the reason for these breathtaking price spikes is limited gas supplies caused by a couple of refineries in the upper Midwest going offline,” said Mai. “But these shortages have only impacted selected locations.
“For example, the average price for regular gasoline in Texas today is $3.43, which is 47 cents below that of Oklahoma. And Arkansas’ average today is 48 cents below Oklahoma’s.”
In the contiguous 48 states, six have gas price averages today above $4 per gallon: Minnesota, $4.272; North Dakota, $4.204; California, $4.057; Illinois, $4.05; Nebraska, $4.031; and Iowa, $4.002.
Craig Wright was one of the most ardent advocates for compressed natural gas I’ve ever met.
CNG Interstate got its start in Utah, but quickly established a foothold in Edmond. Last year, Wright told me the business had grown by about 500 percent in less than a year.
We’ve talked a number of times since then, each time making it clear that Wright truly believed natural gas was a viable alternative to gasoline and diesel.
Nothing proves that more than our last visit, when Wright showed off a 23-foot ski boat he had modified to run on natural gas.
He had hoped to get the Malibu Wakesetter on the water shortly after our visit in late March, but he was confident it would meet expectations.
Wright also talked excitedly about his plans to use CNG in recreational vehicles to create a fuel-efficient rental fleet for adventure-seeking travelers.
It sounds like a workable plan, but someone else will have to make it work now.
I hope it happens.
I’d like to take a trip in CNG-fueled RV someday.
ALSO: Wright is survived by his wife and five children, with one more on the way. Friends are raising money to help support the family as it copes with its loss.
As debate over Keystone XL pipeline continues, one group opposed to the transcontinental pipeline is claiming the project will cost up to $100 billion a year in damages to health, property, ecosystems and the climate.
Oil Change International, which is dedicated to facilitating the transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy, on Tuesday released its study on the actual cost of the pipeline, which would move diluted bitumen and crude oil from Canada to refineries along the Gulf Coast. Read the full report here.
“Americans are fed up with footing the bill for corporate pollution. The Keystone XL Pipeline will cause billions of dollars in damages every year that no one wants to pay,” said Lorne Stockman, research director for Oil Change International.
“TransCanada is proposing a massive wealth transfer from our own pockets to Big Oil — we will pay in hospital visits, rebuilding after super storms, and in clean up efforts in communities like Mayflower and Kalamazoo.
That’s outrageous, and President Obama should reject this pipeline immediately as a lose-lose gamble.”
Supporters contend it will be a boon to the economy and North American energy security, while opponents fear future ecological disasters and other climate impacts, citing past pipeline spills in Michigan and Arkansas.
The southern leg of the project, dubbed the Gulf Coast Project, is nearing completion in Oklahoma and Texas, despite scores of protests by opponents. The 485-mile pipeline between the oil storage hub at Cushing and Houston-area refineries is expected to be in operation by the end of the year.
The ongoing investigation of one of the nation’s largest truck stop chains has nothing to do with Oklahoma City’s Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores.
Love’s added 40 locations when the two former rivals merged in 2010, but founder Tom Love on Monday used the fraud allegations as an opportunity to reiterate the company’s business practices in a letter to all Love’s employees.
“Since the founding of our company 50 years ago, we have always strived to run our business in a straightforward and transparent manner. Our core values -customer focus, integrity, strong work ethic, innovation and perseverance – are the foundation on which I built this company. These are also the values that guide our everyday actions, decisions and behavior as employees. Nothing is more important than focusing on meeting the needs of our customers.
Our employee base, from sales teams to drivers to store cashiers, is made up of talented professionals who are respected for their kmowledge of the trucking and transportation industry we serve. Our approach to working with customers and potential customers reflects the same core values we all abide by at Love’s, and we are all held to the highest standards of accountability for our actions.
Moving forward, I encourage you to continue taking care of our customers with the same core values they have come to expect from us. Let’s be difference-makers today.”
Love’s. which was founded in 1964, has more than 290 locations in 39 states. It has about 10,000 employees.
Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa is SandRidge Energy Inc.’s largest shareholder. His Fairfax Financials held about 12.7 percent of SandRidge’s outstanding stock as of February.
Watsa, who is known as the Canadian Warren Buffett, was largely silent during the Oklahoma City oil company’s proxy fight with TPG-Axon Capital, which ended last month with the hedge fund gaining a foothold on SandRidge’s board while pushing CEO Tom Ward toward the door.
Watsa wasn’t too optimistic about the company’s future when he talked to an investor about SandRidge recently at Fairfax Financials’ annual shareholder meeting in Toronto.
“It’s unfortunate, but we think that TPG is just going to flip it and sell it,” he said. “I mean yeah, we are going to make money on this, but we think that if Tom stayed in and grew value into the business, we think it could be worth 20-something a share.”
SandRidge was trading for less than $5 a share on Tuesday.
Watsa repeatedly expressed his support for Ward, whom he called an “amazing individual.” He praised Ward’s accomplishments at SandRidge and as co-founder of Chesapeake Energy Corp. with Aubrey McClendon.
“The man grew up living and breathing oil and gas. He helped built two great empires all from nothing,” he said. “We were really disappointed, because we knew that Tom could realize significant amounts of the assets. While we did disagree a little on the compensation, we think that Tom is great.”
The Fairfax team believes TPG-Axon ignored the long-term value of SandRidge’s holdings in the oil-rich Mississippian play as it pushed for control of the company, contributor Wilson Wang wrote for investment research site Seeking Alpha. Fairfax also is bullish on natural gas.
Faced with a lingering cash crunch, Chesapeake Energy Corp. is looking to sell up to $7 billion in assets this year.
The company has added close to 100,000 acres in Ohio’s Utica Shale to the properties it has listed with broker Meagher Energy Advisors. Chesapeake last summer listed more than 330,000 net acres in the area.
Chesapeake is refining its focus as it tries to rein in its budget and reduce drilling costs, acting CEO Steve Dixon said in a conference call last week.
Dixon said many of the assets Chesapeake will sell this year will be smaller acreage packages.
We are particularly pleased with the market’s response to the multiple small asset packages that we have offered,” he said. “Many of these assets may not be individually noteworthy to investors, but in aggregate, the combined value that we anticipate collecting this year will likely be very meaningful and lead to further progress in improving our balance sheet.”
The latest Ohio assets to hit the market include about 94,000 acres in Portage and Stark counties.
A while back, I spent some time with John Funk, an energy and utilities reporter for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. He was visiting Oklahoma City to get a look at how the energy industry has shaped the state.
His stories ran over the weekend. One looked at the state and its energy sector, while the other focused on Chesapeake Energy Corp., which has been a major player in Ohio’s emerging Utica Shale formation.
“Oil has been a leading industry in this state for at least three generations. It is so ingrained into the culture that it’s a way of life for people who live and work there. And now the industry is drawing a couple of thousands of new residents each month to Oklahoma City,” Funk wrote.
Questions still loom about how the discovery of new reserves of oil and natural gas will impact Ohio, where many people are concerned about the environmental impact of fossil fuel exploration and development.
Funk did not find evidence of such issues in Oklahoma.
“Wellheads and pump jacks are everywhere. So many they appear to outnumber the trees. Oklahomans seem unfazed by their existence. The oil and gas producing equipment is in shopping center parking lots, along city streets and interstate highways, at the Will Rogers Airport, even on the grounds of the state capitol building.”
Seems to me that John did a pretty good job of capturing our city during his visit. What do you think?
Anadarko Petroleum Corp. Executive Chairman James Hackett plans to attend Harvard Divinity School later this year, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“Jim Hackett will be attending Harvard Divinity School to become better prepared to write, speak and teach about faith and leadership, which has been a long-held interest of Jim’s and one of the key reasons he is retiring from Anadarko,” Anadarko spokesman John Christiansen said.
Hackett, 59, was president and chief operating officer at Devon after its 2003 merger with Houston-based Ocean Energy Inc. He became CEO of Anadarko later that year, then led the company’s 2006 acquisition of Oklahoma City’s Kerr-McGee Corp.
Hackett, who retired as Anadarko CEO in May, reportedly turned down the opportunity to replace co-founder Aubrey McClendon at Chesapeake in January.
Chesapeake is expected to name McClendon’s successor before he leaves the company April 1.
The founder of TPG-Axon Capital said Sunday he was not surprised by a Delaware court’s ruling that barred SandRidge Energy Inc.’s board from soliciting votes in an ongoing proxy fight.
“This is just the latest in a pattern of this board of putting their own interests ahead of shareholders – this board simply has no shame,” TPG-Axon CEO Dinakar Singh said. “This is the second time during our solicitation that this board has chosen to waste the company’s resources in a useless court battle in a desperate attempt to entrench themselves.
However, this is hardly surprising, given their record of presiding over a truly singular degree of value destruction and mistreatment of shareholders.”
The New York-based hedge fund is asking SandRidge shareholders to oust the current board in favor of its own nominees. It blames CEO Tom Ward and other SandRidge leaders for the poor performance of the company’s stock, which has lost 80 percent of its value since its initial public offering in 2007.
The SandRidge board has refused to approve the TPG-Axon nominees to prevent a change in control at the company from potentially costing billions of dollars.
A Delaware chancery judge on Friday blocked the company from fighting TPG-Axon’s takeover bid until it acknowledges the hedge fund’s board nominees are qualified to lead a public company.
SandRidge has said its current board is best suited to run the company, urging shareholders to reject TPG-Axon’s efforts. It has not commented on Friday’s court ruling.
The board, led by Ward, has said a change in control like the one sought by TPG-Axon would trigger a default in its credit agreement, forcing SandRidge to offer to buy back all of its outstanding senior notes. It initially put the price tag for such a development at about $4.3 billion, but later backed off that figure.
SandRidge shareholders have until Friday to decide if they want to stick with the current board or let Singh and TPG-Axon’s other nominees take over.
Chesapeake Energy Corp. prides itself on having a leading acreage position in most of the United States’ most productive oil and natural gas plays.
But the Oklahoma City-based company is apparently throwing in the towel in the oil-rich Bakken Shale in North Dakota and Montana.
Upstream, an international oil and gas newspaper, reports Chesapeake is selling its entire 427,000-acre position in the Bakken, acknowledging it used flawed geological concepts when it amassed its position there in 2010 and 2011. The article is available only to subscribers, but free two-week trials are available.
Chesapeake, which does not list its Bakken holdings on its website, did not respond to a request for comment from The Oklahoman on Friday.
Chesapeake’s acreage is concentrated in two counties along what is believed to be the southern edge of the Bakken and Three Forks plays, according to Upstream, but the company’s drilling in that area was not fruitful.
Chesapeake’s inability to find oil there has been called the biggest drilling failure in North Dakota since the 1980s, KXNews reported in January.
Chesapeake now acknowledges it does not have the time or money to continue drilling in its Bakken acreage, Upstream reported, citing its review of sales documents.
Chesapeake has been selling assets since last year to overcome a cash crunch. The company, raised more than $11 billion last year, this week announced a joint venture with China’s Sinopec that will bring in another $1 billion for a stake in acreage in northern Oklahoma’s Mississippi Lime play.