Energy Tomorrow Blog
Posted October 15, 2020
While objective interpretation of economic and energy data always is challenging, it’s especially difficult in this pandemic-impacted year to determine whether current data signal good news for consumers, the broader economy, and the natural gas and oil industry that is a key driver in the U.S. economy.
That said, API’s new Monthly Statistical Report (MSR) shows progress. Here’s what we see in the latest petroleum data from September, and it says a lot about resilience amid stressful circumstances.
API’s primary data on U.S. petroleum markets for September suggested that crude oil supply and exports rose, while demand – which since 1945 has dropped on average by 4.3% each September following the peak summer driving season – fell by much less than normal. In other words, 2020 didn’t exhibit typical seasonality, since there was less discretionary travel through the COVID-19 pandemic and relatively more driving out of necessity. Thus, it’s not surprising that petroleum consumption held up better than average in September.
Posted September 25, 2020
A call for environmental justice (EJ) is featured in U.S. House climate legislation being debated in Congress. While the EJ section of House Democrats’ climate plan focuses on environmental goals, one part calls for an energy justice and democracy program at the U.S. Energy Department to reduce energy poverty and to ensure communities have equitable access to energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Building or expanding America’s natural gas pipeline network is key to reducing energy poverty in the U.S. – seeing that Americans, no matter where they live, can get affordable natural gas for home heating, cooking and other uses. Thanks to abundant, affordable natural gas, U.S. power sector emissions of carbon dioxide are at their lowest levels in a generation. Increasing infrastructure capacity, increasing natural gas use, supports this beneficial trend.
Unfortunately, this kind of energy fairness isn’t a reality everywhere in the U.S. Some Americans have no choice but to use wood-burning fireplaces or stoves to heat their homes, due to the lack of safe, reliable pipelines and other infrastructure to get energy where consumers want and need it.
Posted September 24, 2020
Four observations about California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order requiring that by 2035 all new cars sold in the state must be zero-emission vehicles – as well as his push for halting fracking in the state:
1. The governor's executive order could seriously impact middle-class Californians.
2. Seriously, a zero-emissions mandate in a state that has struggled to keep the lights on?
3. There's rhetoric and there's reality.
4. State natural gas and oil production is being targeted.
Posted July 30, 2020
There’s a basic principle in play in recent news developments in Massachusetts and Ohio – that public energy policy should serve people, not the other way around. In both states, access to clean natural gas, for affordable, reliable energy, means benefits for consumers.
Start in Massachusetts, where the state attorney general struck down the town of Brookline’s bylaw that would have barred new residences from installing natural gas infrastructure for space heating and hot water – mimicking similar restrictions imposed by Berkeley, California. That doesn’t necessarily mean Massachusetts AG Maura Healey has an affinity for natural gas; her decision was based on the primacy of state law and regulations.
No matter, consumers win. And in the process this point is elevated: Public bodies should ensure that dependable, affordable energy is available to consumers – instead of erecting artificial, market-distorting barriers to service.
Posted July 21, 2020
Through the recent COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shocks to energy markets around the world, U.S. natural gas has remained a relatively bright spot.
Record low prices have benefitted consumers, and at the same time many producers dedicated to natural gas in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Louisiana and East Texas have remained viable as cutbacks in oil and associated natural gas from other regions have taken effect. And now about 90% of U.S. drilling for natural gas is concentrated in these regions, that is Appalachia and the Haynesville areas.
The drilling activity has reflected two fundamental observations. The first is that, according to BTU Analytics, the recent breakeven price – that is, the Henry Hub wholesale market price needed to at least break even in drilling a new well – on average has remained near market prices despite COVID-19, a relatively warm winter and broad financial market concerns. The second observation is that natural gas well productivity, as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, were resilient after some unexplained variation at the beginning of the year.
Posted May 5, 2020
News reports of a “flotilla” of oil tankers from Saudi Arabia, sailing to the U.S. with more than 40 million barrels of crude oil in their holds for delivery this month, has many Americans questioning why the U.S. – the world’s largest oil and natural gas producer – imports any oil when oversupply associated with the government response to COVID-19 has a number of U.S. operators hurting financially.
Some think President Trump should send the oil fleet home or impose import tariffs. It’s a new chapter in an old debate over why the U.S. imports oil when our domestic production is among the globe’s leaders. In the case of this imported Saudi oil, the answer has much to do with the supply needs of the U.S. refining system.
Posted March 11, 2020
Several states are taking the lead to promote electric vehicles (EVs), and they’re not the states that produce them. From California and Oregon to New Jersey and Maryland, their promotions are mainly efforts intended to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
But even with large state incentives, are consumers onboard?
Posted March 9, 2020
From recent remarks to a meeting of the Aurora, Colorado, Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Business Roundtable.
The Aurora Chamber aspires to be a catalyst, convener and champion of the Aurora business community. That caught my attention because at API, we see ourselves in much the same way, especially now, when the State of American Energy is one of leadership. America is the global leader in energy development, carbon emissions reductions and environmental performance.
Our industry is built on the catalysts who meet the world’s ever-growing energy demand, conveners who address the risks of climate change, and champions who promote all the Americans working 10.9 million jobs supported by the natural gas and oil industry.
Posted March 6, 2020
It’s been a big week for announcements coming out of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the nation’s natural gas and oil industry.
On Monday, EIA said that annual U.S. oil production broke another big record in 2019, and swiftly followed that with news on Tuesday that U.S. natural gas use has reached new record highs. Both are great news for American energy and national security, the economy and the environment.
Posted February 3, 2020
So far this year, U.S. natural gas prices at Henry Hub have made for the lowest January record in over 45 years, adjusted for consumer price inflation.
As of Jan. 29, the U.S. natural gas spot price at Henry Hub was $1.94 per million Btu – nearly 35% below the price of one year ago and 76% lower than in 2008.
In fact, we know from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that U.S. households saved an average of more than $120 per year on natural gas in 2018 compared with 2008. That’s $10 per month for more than 127,000,000 households – or $52 billion less spending on home and water heating.