Clifford Krauss | The New York Times
February 24, 2016
SEMINOLE, Okla. — The plunging price of crude has inflicted pain in the Oklahoma oil patch, and now it is threatening to take out the smallest of the small operators, those that have survived decades of booms and busts.
Moran Oil Enterprises is losing $5 on every one of the 205 barrels it produces every day, forcing it to borrow $30,000 this month to meet a payroll that includes 24 employees and contractors.
One partner at RKR Exploration is so distressed by debt payments he has taken to bringing his garbage to the office to save the $25-a-month fee at home.
And the Columbus Oil Company, losing more than $10,000 a month, has given up its rented postage stamp machine.
“How much can I keep bleeding before I say enough is enough?” said Darlene S. Wallace, the president of Columbus Oil, who is preparing to sell her house in Oklahoma City and live full time in an apartment above her office.
Ms. Wallace’s firm is among the 7,500 small, mostly privately owned businesses that operate more than 400,000 aging oil wells nationwide. They are commonly known in the industry as “strippers’’ because they strip out the last barrels. Full Story