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Ben Casselman

New York, NY

Ben Casselman

Senior editor and chief economics writer for FiveThirtyEight. Previously covered economics and energy for The Wall Street Journal.

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The Conventional Wisdom On Oil Is Always Wrong

In 2008, I moved to Dallas to cover the oil industry for The Wall Street Journal. Like any reporter on a new beat, I spent months talking to as many experts as I could. They didn’t agree on much. then over $100 a barrel for the first time — keep rising? Would post-Saddam Iraq ever return to the ranks of the world’s great oil producers?
FiveThirtyEight Link to Story
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North Dakota’s Oil Bonanza Is Unsustainable

A decade ago, North Dakota was a wind-swept also-ran in the oil industry. Wildcatters struck oil there in the 1950s, but the rock was too dense to get most of it out, and the fields never amounted to much. The state produced about 30 million barrels of oil in 2004, enough to satisfy U.S. demand for about a day and a half.
FiveThirtyEight Link to Story
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Gulf Rig Owner Had Rising Tally of Accidents

The Wall Street Journal. Link to Story
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Aging Oil Rigs Expose Gulf to Accidents

GALLIANO, Louisiana—On June 10, 1947, Stanolind Oil & Gas Co. won an auction for the right to drill for oil on a plot seven miles off the Louisiana coast. The company built a spindly steel platform and drilled a well in shallow waters. It struck oil, and in 1950, Stanolind sold its first Louisiana sweet crude for $2.67 a barrel. More than 60 years later, the West Cameron 45-A platform is, according to government records, the oldest functioning platform in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico. One of more than 100 structures built in the 1940s and 1950s still in operation, the platform has survived seven Category 2 hurricanes and a major fire. On Dec. 4, 2009, a severely corroded pipe connecting the structure to a high-pressure gas well gave way during routine maintenance, releasing explosive natural gas into the air. Unlike most modern platforms, this one had no remote shut-off switch. Emergency valves that should have cut off the flow of gas automatically didn't close properly—in part, a subsequent investigation found, because a control panel was caked in bird droppings. Workers who had fled by boat to a nearby platform were finally able to shut down the well.
The Wall Street Journal. Link to Story
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BP Decisions Set Stage for Disaster

The Wall Street Journal. Link to Story

About

Ben Casselman

Ben Casselman serves as senior editor and chief economics writer for FiveThirtyEight, the definitive website for data-driven journalism. As senior editor, he oversees all economics and criminal justice coverage for the site.

As chief economics writer since FiveThirtyEight's relaunch in March 2014, he has used a mix of traditional reporting and original economic analysis to dive deep into subjects such as long-term unemployment, education, energy and entrepreneurship. His weekly "In Real Terms" column covers a wide range of topical issues in economics.

Prior to joining FiveThirtyEight, Casselman spent more than seven years as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where he was most recently the paper's senior New York-based economics correspondent.

From 2008 to 2011, Casselman worked in the Journal's Dallas bureau, where he reported on the economic, environmental and political implications of the recent U.S. drilling boom, as well as on offshore drilling, global oil exploration and energy prices. His coverage of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in national reporting and won a Gerald Loeb Award. Previously, he wrote about residential real estate for the Journal's Weekend section.

A graduate of Columbia University, Casselman lives in New York.