Harvey slows oil and gas activity

Oct. 8, 2017 at 9:02 p.m.
Updated Oct. 9, 2017 at 6 a.m.

The Victoria Citgo Terminal in the 1700 block of Ben Jordan sustained wind damage because of Hurricane Harvey.

The Victoria Citgo Terminal in the 1700 block of Ben Jordan sustained wind damage because of Hurricane Harvey.   Olivia Vanni for The Victoria Advocate

Oil and gas business activity continued to increase in the third quarter but at a slower pace, according to the quarterly Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Energy Survey.

The business activity index fell from 37.3 in the second quarter to 27.3 in the third. Positive readings in the survey generally indicate expansion, while readings below zero generally indicate contraction, according to a news release.

This quarter's survey includes a series of special questions about the expected impact of Hurricane Harvey on the energy sector. A little more than half of responding oil and gas executives said the storm had a slight negative impact on their business.

"Respondents reported widespread but generally limited impacts on their operations due to Hurricane Harvey, and most believe these effects will be gone six months from now," said Michael D. Plante, Dallas Fed senior economist. "When asked about the broader energy sector, which includes refineries, many believe there will be some minor lingering effects six months from now."

The special questions also asked respondents about their forecasts for U.S. production at the end of 2018. Responses were generally above current production levels, with about 30 percent of responses falling between 9.5 and 9.99 million barrels per day and 39 percent between 10 and 10.49 million barrels per day.

Oil and gas production increased for the fourth quarter in a row, according to executives at exploration and production firms. The oil production index rose from 10.2 in the second quarter to 19.3 in the third quarter. Likewise, the natural gas production index rose from 10.6 to 17.3.

Labor market indexes point to rising employment and employee hours, albeit at a slower pace than last quarter. Growth in employment was driven primarily by oilfield services firms. The employment index was 24.6 for services firms versus 5.2 for exploration and production firms.

The company outlook index posted a sixth consecutive positive reading and rose from 20.3 in the second quarter to 28.2 in the third quarter. The uncertainty index regarding the outlook plunged from 35.0 to 4.9. Only 22.5 percent of firms reported increased uncertainty about the future, down from 46.7 percent last quarter.

On average, respondents expect West Texas Intermediate oil prices to be at $50.20 per barrel by year-end, with responses ranging from $40 to $63 per barrel. WTI spot prices averaged $49.91 per barrel during the survey collection period.

Data was collected Sept. 13-21, and 143 energy firms responded to the survey. Of the respondents, 78 were exploration and production firms and 65 were oilfield services firms.


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