FEDERAL - REGULATORY: Rescission of BLM Hydraulic Fracturing Rule. On December 29, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published its final rule, Oil and Gas: Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands; Rescission of a 2015 Rule (82 Fed. Reg. 61924), which repeals the Obama-era federal lands hydraulic fracturing regulation, Oil and Gas; Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands (80 Fed. Reg. 16128) which sought tighter controls over hydraulic fracturing and specifically focused on three areas: "mandating that companies disclose the chemicals they use to frack, requiring them to cover surface ponds that house fracking fluids and setting standards for the construction of the wells." However, that Obama rule never took effect since it was overturned by a federal court which held that the BLM never had the authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing. "The rescinding of this burdensome rule, which was never enacted due to IPAA and Western Energy Alliance's ongoing legal challenge, will save our member companies and those operating on federal lands hundreds of millions of dollars in compliance costs without any corresponding safety benefits," said Barry Russell, president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. Read more.FEDERAL - REGULATORY: Migratory Bird Treaty Act Revisions. On December 22, in a decision hailed by the energy industry, the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office of the Solicitor issued a Memorandum (M-37050) which loosens the enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). This issuance "has quietly rolled back an Obama-era policy aimed at protecting migratory birds, stating in a solicitor's opinion that it will no longer prosecute oil and gas, wind and solar operators that accidentally kill birds." According to the law firm, Welborn Sullivan Meck & Tooley, P.C, the Memorandum limits "the reach of the MBTA to intentional, unlawful acts of hunting and poaching." Read more.
INDUSTRY NEWS: Permian Basin production hits all-time record. According to business research firm, IHS Markit, "Permian production hit 815 million barrels in 2017, blowing past the previous record of 790 million barrels set in 1973." IHS also reports that the "Permian is now a model for development of more than 25 onshore 'super basins,' each with more than 5 billion barrels of cumulative production and more than 5 billion barrels of remaining production." Their estimates project that those basins "hold more than 840 billion barrels of oil, far more than required to meet 2040 global demand." Read more.